Tag Archives: John Townsend

The Futility of Focusing on Deficiency…

     The last Listening on the Journey… post was entitled Link by Link, and I mentioned I was currently facilitating a Boundaries group at a local community center. While working on that post, I also worked on the next Boundaries lesson—Ten Laws of Boundaries.

     I recommend the book, Boundaries. Even though I was exposed to the concept of boundaries in previous professional training, I’ve benefited greatly from clear, scripturally sound and God-honoring approaches Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend introduce. Their most powerful reasoning to me is that in developing healthy boundaries, I am freed up to love in more Christ-like ways.

     I long to reflect the character of Jesus and to love in more God-honoring, life-giving ways. With my longing comes the realization I must be diligent about ways in which I allocate my energy.

     Living with unhealthy boundaries takes a lot of emotional energy.

     Law #8 in Boundaries is The Law of Envy. While considering this law, I realized envy is often the underlying cause of many links in the chains wrapped around our souls, links such as:

     comparison

          insecurity

               dissatisfaction

     These links were often formed by incidents experienced and messages absorbed during life’s most formative years. While the feelings are real, and their roots run deep, nevertheless, there comes a point in life when—if I’m going to walk in grown-up faith—I must put into perspective childhood wrongs.

     How?

     I believe first we must identify connections between what ‘was’ and what ‘is.’

     I knew a nice, wealthy older lady several years ago. When going to lunch at an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, she surreptitiously stuffed food items into a large purse—enough for her evening meal.

     This dear woman had lived through the Great Depression when food was scarce. She couldn’t rise above what ‘was’— a hungry childhood tummy. Instead, she acted in a way incongruent with ‘what is’—ample food in her refrigerator, a hefty bank balance that allowed her to buy plenty of groceries, and behavior that was actually ‘stealing’ since signs in the buffet stated clearly ‘to-go’ food wasn’t permitted.

     Many of us play childhood messages over and over. We replay comments spoken by a parent, teacher or another kid. Their words, whether unwise, flippant or even downright mean, implanted deep seeds into our souls.

     Possible scenarios are many. I have several of my own. On one occasion, I remember the ‘still, small’ voice of the Spirit speaking to my spirit, reminding me of words from scripture that counteracted words from my youth. This short sentence has helped me often sort through debris left over from past perceptions:

     Identifying childhood wounds isn’t intended for ‘blame.’ I’m convinced most people, including parents, teachers and religious leaders, do the best they know how to do. Some people are intentionally cruel and predatory, but most are simply mis-informed or clueless. It’s important to recognize what ‘was’ so I can understand connections from my past and make corrections in my present.

     What steps might I take

          when I resist becoming the person my heart tells me I was meant to be?

               when I fail to do what I believe God designed me to do?

                    when I don’t reach for what I dream of having or doing?

     While never an easy process, here are some suggestions:

  1. Figure out (I may need the help of a counselor or trusted friend):
    1. why I’m not who I want to be?
    2. why I’m discontented with or dislike my unique God-design?
    3. why I don’t have what I’d like to have or do what I dream of doing?
  2. Develop a plan and determine action steps. At some point, I must stop dreaming and start doing!
    1. When I begin this process, beware of “Yes, BUT’s…”
    2. If I am to be successful, I must be willing to say and do, “Yes, WHAT…”
  3. Sometimes, I may need to grieve what I cannot have or who I cannot be and discover ways to be content with what I have and who I am.
    1. I may never enjoy a loving, happy marriage, and the loss of that dream is huge, but my singleness or unfulfilling marriage doesn’t mean I’m not loveable and sentenced to a lifetime of unhappiness.
    2. My child may never choose to stop making destructive life choices, and that breaks my heart, but it doesn’t mean I must disown or stop loving my child or that I cannot be a positive influence to a “daughter or son of the heart.”
    3. I may never live in my dream house, and that makes me feel sad, but doesn’t mean I cannot make wherever I live a safe, welcoming place for all who enter.
    4. I may never have the close relationship I’d love to have with a family member or friend, but that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy deep, meaningful, supportive and treasured friendships.
    5. My prayer may never be answered in the way I desire, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me or that divine grace will not be enough to keep me going despite life’s disappointments.

I hope and pray these heartfelt insights have been meaningful in some small way to you today…

Sue Reeve