[00:00:00] Welcome to today's TLC. Whether you found this podcast on my website, through the emails I send, or simply from a friend, I'm glad that you've decided to add some TLC today.
[00:00:17] Hello, my friends. It is not the time for me to record a podcast. I was planning on going to bed, but as I was saying my night prayers, I had a moment with God where I was asking him what he wants me to share with you. And as I was having this conversation with him in prayer, I just had the feeling like I needed to hop on and share an experience with you. So here we go.
[00:00:45] Over the past few weeks, I have been struggling with one particular son. He and I have been butting heads quite a bit. He tends to be really all or nothing about whether he wants to make good choices or just kinda let everything be reactive. If he does something wrong and I pointed out he wants to just lean in and then he wants to do everything wrong or everything is going wrong. And I have struggled to know what to do because you know, I'm very aware of his mind and my mind and mental and emotional health. And when we go through therapy and we find all of these tools, we want to apply them to all the relationships around us and sometimes it gets in our own head and we are a little bit calculative about what we can do to solve the problem.
[00:01:40] *Have you ever felt this way?*
[00:01:42] Where you have a relationship that you are struggling with and all of the mental and emotional tools that you have learned from therapy and different things that you've experienced come to mind and you're trying to help the other person, but you really can't control them. And you can't give them the knowledge that you have through your learned experience by simply sharing it with them when you went through a really long journey to get there. So first I want to say having grace for the experience that you've been through and honoring where other people are going through their experience can be really freeing to let that go and let them have their journey.
[00:02:24] With my son, I have been going through this calculative process of trying to figure out what would be healthy, what would be helpful, how can I help him as his mom?
[00:02:34] It has been weeks where I have spent struggling with this and I see a pattern in myself as I learn and grow that sometimes it takes some time for me to try it my way before I'm willing to surrender and let go and invite a way that maybe, I don't know yet.
[00:02:57] I believe that one of the most powerful ways to show mental and emotional health is to honestly say when we don't know the answer. This last weekend I went through a process with God where I said, "I don't know how to solve this. I've tried the different ways that I know how, and it just seems to be getting worse." My son doesn't have to change for me to love him and my heart breaks every time he tells me that he is just bad because I pointed out something that he was doing that I think he can improve on. Like we all can. And don't you worry, he has had plenty of conversations with me about shame and how doing something does not mean that you are bad. It means maybe you did a thing that was bad, but that doesn't make you bad. And sometimes I honestly feel like I give him ammunition because we talk like this so he knows exactly what to say that is the opposite of the message I want him to hear. But anyway, total side note there.
[00:04:05] But I came to God and said, "I've tried what I can to help and my heart is hurting for my son. Please help me know what to do to solve this problem." And I came in fasting and prayer and was really meditative and purposeful about seeking this answer.
[00:04:27] If you're familiar at all with the 12 steps, the first three steps or this surrender process: 1) That I don't know the answer. 2) That there is a power greater than me that does know the answer. 3) And then I invite that power to teach me. So I went through this process this weekend and fully expected God to give me the answer to this problem. To say, "This is what you need to say to your son. This is how you need to parent him to solve this power struggle and shame cycle that has been happening." But the beautiful thing that happened instead was an even simpler, more powerful answer.
[00:05:09] *He said to me: "Listen."*
[00:05:13] *That's it.*
[00:05:16] He said, "Listen," but it wasn't just listen to my son, or listen to my heart. He said listen to the Spirit guiding me in each moment. I was trying to come up with some answer that would be more applicable to this pattern that I was seeing, that if I just said these words, or if I just approached my parenting in this way that we wouldn't get in these patterns. But that's not real life.
[00:05:49] *Mental and emotional health does not mean that you've solved for the struggle. It means that you can navigate the struggle.*
[00:05:59] I was struggling... but when I was willing to give that struggle to God and invite Him to teach me, each moment became a new opportunity to learn and grow. And ever since I felt that answer to listen, I have had way more space for my children, specifically for this son.
[00:06:25] There was a moment where we were trying to get in the car to go grocery shopping and he was mouthing off to me and I was trying to be patient and I turned to him and asked him to please talk respectfully to me and as had been the pattern, that simple piece of feedback led him to be frustrated with himself and start mouthing off more. I gave him chances, I told them some consequences that were going to happen if he didn't stop, I was really calm and tried to figure it out. But he was pushing me back to this power struggle that we had been getting into and I felt that start building in my chest, building in my throat that I knew that I was getting to a place of anger and I was wanting to control the situation. And instead of going in my mind, trying to solve for what would be the most healthy or appropriate or boundaried (or whatever my parenting brain wanted to say), I remembered that answer to listen. And I literally in that moment paused and said out loud, "Heavenly Father, I don't know what to do here. I love my son. Please help me know what to do." And I closed my eyes and folded my arms and I took a moment to listen.
[00:07:42] I silently listened to my own heart and in my mind told God some of the frustrations that my child was acting up again and I really, really wanted to leave him home (which I could have done because my husband was working from home and I could have set him up in a room and then taken my other kids) but I didn't know what God's will was for me and I really didn't know the right answer there. So I shared my frustrations with God and then I listened, willing to do whatever it was, even though my soul wanted to right the injustice and punish my son.
[00:08:19] And in that moment, God reminded me of my relationship with my Savior. How many times I didn't really deserve the grace that He offers me. That grace that I could then give my son.
[00:08:37] After my prayer, I turned to my son and I said, "I just said a prayer for you because I didn't know what to do as your mom. You have been treating me very unkindly and you honestly have earned staying home and not coming with us. But in my prayer God reminded me that Christ paid the difference so that we get to do things that we don't actually earn and I want to be Christ-like to you today. So I love you. You did not earn coming with us. But I want you here. So let's go."
[00:09:16] That moment with my son was so connecting. The look on my son's face after I gave him mercy melted my heart. His mouth quieted. He got in his seat and we drove off together to where we were going. His behavior wasn't perfect the rest of the day but I saw a shift in him—a shift that wouldn't have happened if I had stuck by what I thought was the healthiest way to approach the situation.
[00:09:52] Sometimes in life after therapy, the thing that seems the most logical or the most textbook "healthy," actually isn't what's going to get you the result that you want.
[00:10:05] Take a moment to think about some struggles that you're having.
[00:10:09] Struggles with a relationship.
[00:10:12] Struggles with yourself.
[00:10:16] Is there a way that you're trying to do the way that feels the most healthy that might need a moment of surrender?
[00:10:24] *When I talk about tapping into that light within you, that is what I'm talking about. That moment that you find guidance that is beyond the reasoning and the logic. *
[00:10:37] When you're willing to let God guide you, He can take the tools and knowledge that you have learned up to this point and help you apply them when they're helpful but drop them when something else might be helpful.
[00:10:54] *That's my invitation to you today: tap into that light and ask God how you can better shine. *
[00:11:03] *Because He needs you to shine and so do the people around you. *
[00:11:08] But it doesn't have to just come from you. He will guide you and give it to you. Each step that you are willing to listen.
[00:11:17] I'm practicing. It's okay that you're practicing too.
[00:11:22] Thanks for listening today, my friend.
[00:11:25] Keep shining.
[00:11:27] Life after therapy can be simple. Come learn how to think, light feel light, and live light at www.thelightcoach.com. I offer five free discovery sessions each week and one of them is for you. Together, let's discover the joy that's possible. In life after therapy.