Tag Archives: Healthy

Healthy Shame

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.
1 Corinthians 4:9-13 (NIV)

A friend told me the other day of his teenager who had been faced with the truth of their self-centered, uncaring attitude. When the reality of the teen’s selfishness set in, the teen was crushed in spirit and retreated to their bedroom to sulk. The father chose not to rescue the teen from their emotions in that moment, but to allow the realization and resulting feelings of shame to set in.

I have done a lot of study on the topic of shame and have even given messages and workshops on the subject. Unhealthy shame can certainly be toxic to life in an abundant ways. Shame, however, can and does serve healthy purposes as well.

When I was a young teenager I was gently shamed by a teacher when she publicly pointed out in front of my peers that I acted selfishly towards the group. It was not unhealthy shame which says, “You are an awful and completely worthless individual. There is no hope for you.” It was, rather, healthy shame which says, “Your actions are self-centered and hurtful. You can, and should, be better than this. Something in you needs to change.” That moment of healthy shame in the Home Ec room of Meredith Junior High School, and the awful feelings it created in my soul for a long time, was one of the most important moments in leading me to the realization of my deep need to change, and my utter need of a Savior.

My friend chose to let his teen sit in their room stewing in healthy shame, even though it was hard to see his child struggle. There’s a piece of a parent’s heart that always wants to rescue our child from pain, but it is absolutely critical that a parent have the wisdom to know that some pain and suffering is essential to growing up and maturing spiritually, emotionally, and in relationships.

I am concerned as I see a generation of children growing up with parents and a culture intent on shielding them from any and all discomfort or suffering. We seem to be under the delusion that any pain is bad for us: Cheer up. Take a pill. Entertain yourself. Throw a party. Whatever you do, don’t feel bad.

God’s Message says the opposite of that. We should rejoice when we suffer discomforts in this life because of the truth that our suffering produces perseverance, character, hope. I think it’s important to point out that the opposite is equally true. If we avoid suffering it produces in us laziness, foolishness, and hopelessness.

Today, I’m thankful for suffering healthy shame which taught me humility and my need of God. I’m hopeful that I have been wise in knowing when to shield my children from pain and when to let them feel their discomfort. I am prayerful that their continued struggles and sufferings in their young adults years are producing measurable depth of character, perseverance, and hope.

Steering Out of Unhealthy Ruts in Life’s Road

The Road to Home
Familiar ruts (Photo credit: Universal Pops)

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.
Psalm 116:7 (NIV)

There is an ebb and flow to life. Things cycle. Relationships repeat familiar refrains. We often wander thoughtlessly from day to day, then wake from a daydream to realize that we are in the same place we’ve been before. If you’ve noticed, our life journeys follow patterns of our own unconscious making. Like tires that slip easily into the well worn ruts of a dirt road, we slip into well worn patterns of thought and behavior.

Over the past few days I’ve found myself in an emotional valley. I recognize this place. I’ve been here many times before. I’ve come to know that the depth of winter is a difficult seasonal stretch of the journey for me. Short, gray days give way to long, dark nights. The holiday hoopla is over and with it comes a certain physical, emotional and relational hangover. My subconscious links familiar sensory stimuli to painful memories of seasons past. With my guard down, anticipation for the year ahead is lined with an uncertainty that easily lends itself to anxiety and fear. Ugh. Back in the rut.

I ran into the above verse this morning and I heard in it the whisper of the Spirit calling gently to my soul. Return to the rest God has for me in healthy paths and patterns. I have learned from experience that the first step in progressing out of unprofitable emotional or behavioral ruts is to recognize that I’m in it. Once aware of the situation, it takes a conscious resolve to steer out of the rut, which may require an initial jolt of personal effort and energy:

  • Replace: Combat negative thoughts with positive affirmations.
  • Replenish: Do one tangible thing each day to show care for myself.
  • Refresh: Do something loving and unexpected for someone else.
  • Relate: Make time with friends and family who will encourage and fill my life and love tank.
  • Return: to familiar, healthy patterns and paths that have led to good places in the past.
  • Remind: myself daily. Without conscious attention, I easily slip back into mindless, unhealthy ruts.
  • Repeat: There are cycles and patterns to life. Healthy, positive ruts will not made by doing things once, but many times over and over and over again.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sexual Healing

English: The Meeting of Isaac and Rebekah (Gen...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 24

And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother. Genesis 24:67 (NLT)

Back when I was in high school, one of our youth leaders stood before the youth group on a Wednesday night and railed angrily against the number one song on the Billboard charts at that time: Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye. She ranted and raved about how terrible of a song it was and what a lie it was to think that sex was the vehicle for any kind of healing. I look back on her fire and brimstone lecture and quietly shake my head with sadness. While I agree that sexual relationships that are out of bounds can be destructive, I also have learned that ol’ Marvin had a point. I’ve experienced the healing properties of a healthy sexual relationship and that’s a good thing.

One of the honest struggles I have with contemporary Christian culture and the organized church is what I would characterize as “limited conversation.” There are certain subjects and topics that we just don’t talk about. There are topics considered at best inappropriate and at worst downright sinful. At the top of the list of limited conversations is the topic of sex, which I’ve observed is generally constrained in Christian circles to the discussion of prohibited sexual activities/practices, conviction of sexual sin and whispered gossip about who is rumored to have done what with whom.

I find this limited conversation about sex very sad and very unhealthy. Sex plays such a huge role in our lives and relationships. I suppose one reason we tend to focus on the negative aspects of sex is because when sex bleeds out of bounds the wounds it creates for spirit, mind, body and relationship can be devastating.  But what we don’t talk about is that the opposite is also true. When husband and wife enjoy a healthy, active sex life the benefits to spirit, mind, body and relationship are enormous.

I can’t speak for others. I can only speak for myself. I have experienced the consequences of both unhealthy and healthy sexual relationships. I find the healing properties of a healthy sexual relationship to be so rich and potent that I want to talk about it. The truth of the matter is that there is both a physiological and spiritual alignment that takes place when I make love to my wife that calms the spirit, soothes the soul, and gives rest and refreshment to the body. There are times when life seems somehow out of whack, but in the sweet afterglow of sex I feel like I’ve just had a spiritual and emotional chiropractic adjustment. Things are back in line and all is right with the world.

What a beautiful description of Isaac and Rebekah’s relationship in today’s chapter. What a beautiful start to their life together. He takes Rebekah into his mother’s tent (the mother who had died, the mother he was deeply grieving) and she became his wife (fyi: they had sex) and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother. The healing virtues of Rebekah’s love and love making comforted Isaac and his life found restored alignment.

I believe that more open and honest conversation about healthy, active sexual relationship would lead to more husbands and wives experiencing the fullness of it. How wonderful it would be for more people to experience the healing properties of the sexual relationship rather than it becoming an infected wound within their marriage.