The Opposite of Toxic

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How many of you have seen articles like the following?

  • “10 Signs You are Toxic Parent and Your Children Will End Up in Counseling Because of It”
  • “5 Phrases You Should Absolutely Never Say to Your Child Unless You Want to Singlehandedly Ruin Their Life”
  • “You are the Worst at Parenting and Here is an Article that Lays Out Exactly Why You are Failing”

I’ve clicked on them. I’ve said/done some of the things in them. The natural conclusion is that I am ruining my kids and they would be better off elsewhere.

Except NOT.

I am far from perfect at this parenting thing. But aren’t we all? I have yelled at my children and immediately regretted it. I’ve bribed, I’ve stomped around like I was the child, I’ve cried… I’ve had some bad moments y’all.

I have even gone to counseling because I was struggling so much with feeling angry most of the time.

I am convinced that no matter who we are, if we look hard enough, we will find an article that lists one of our behaviors as toxic. And then what happens? We leave that place feeling defeated and hopeless. Every time we repeat that behavior, we beat ourselves up for it, wallow in our awfulness, work really hard at never doing it again…JUST TO DO IT AGAIN.

What a way to live.

Can we agree not to do this to ourselves anymore?

Instead of running to the internet, let’s run to Jesus. His words are far, FAR different from the ones we see in those negatively titled articles. Jesus absolutely will not make a list of our failures and shove them in our face. Instead, He speaks life and truth to us while showing us a better way.

When I look to Jesus, I’m able to use my worst moments to lead me to be a healthy parent. I find strength to stand in prayer and hand my anxieties over to Him. I take the responsibility off of my own shoulders and place it on His. The more I do this, the less often I find myself yelling out of frustration. I am grounded in who God has created me to be!

I still have moments. Just this week, I got frustrated and yelled at my girls. I hate it. But instead of going into a dark, deep, negative spiral about what a failure I am, I use it as a teaching moment.

My girls know 100% of the time that my anger is NOT THEIR FAULT. Because I tell them this! I repeat to them why I love them and list off the reasons of why I am so grateful for them. I remind them that certain behaviors are not appropriate for them to do, but that is never an excuse for mommy to yell at them. I can say to my children, “I’m feeling frustrated, so I’m going to have a moment to myself and pray to Jesus.”

And THEN, when they have an outburst of anger or respond inappropriately, I can lead them in healthy alternatives of how to handle their emotions. I can tell them that I understand how they feel, but that we are still responsible for how we react. Because I am leaning on Jesus to show me a better way to live, I get to lead my girls in a better way to live. 

Talk about empowering!

If you fear that you are living in a negative cycle, get help. Pray to Jesus. Talk to a friend. Sign up with a counselor. But know that there is HOPE.

Jesus is in the work of transforming lives. You don’t have to stay in the darkness because He is the Light! Live in the freedom that is found in following Him.

And friend, I’m with you. I’ll be here to encourage you and pray with you. You are not alone!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

He Gave Us a Sword

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Image by MollyBrett Photography

A year ago, I was a mess.

I’ve talked about this a bit in some previous posts, so I won’t go into much detail now. The truth is, it’s hard for me to believe the contrast between this year and last.

Depression to JOY.
Anxiety to CONFIDENCE.
Defeat to VICTORY.
Anger to PEACE.
Loneliness to CONNECTEDNESS.

There wasn’t one moment that changed things, but rather a collection of moments and revelations. I’ve talked about some of it here, but I want to share a specific moment with you today.

This one happened in January during the 21 days of prayer and fasting at my church. During these 21 days there was an opportunity to get together with other believers at 6am Monday-Friday for a time of worship and prayer. A season for strengthening. I don’t often get the chance to attend because I have little ones sleeping in their beds, and my husband usually has responsibilities early in the morning. He does work there after all.

But I got to go one lovely Friday morning, and in a brief instant the Lord encouraged me through a simple phrase and an image.

“I have a sword…He gave us a sword.”

In my image I saw myself cowering. My surroundings were hazy and unclear. I knew there was a battle going on, but I was clearly losing; just barely managing to miss the arrows flying toward me. There was a sense of hopelessness.

But then, it started to clear, and I came to realize I wasn’t empty-handed. I had a weapon. A Sword.

I was armed, and with that realization came a strength I had not previously known. The fog continued to clear and I saw I wasn’t by myself after all. The body of Christ was standing together, proclaiming the coming victory, wielding their Swords with power. We were going to FIGHT TOGETHER.

Friends, I share this with you because as we move forward in Christ, the enemy has to step back. The more we recognize our identity in Him and utilize the tools He has bestowed upon us, the more powerful we become.

Are you living in defeat? There is more than what you can see in this moment. Call your enemy out for what he really is and grasp onto the promises your KING has for you.

Here are a few tools you can use to sharpen your sword:

Depression: “In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and SET ME FREE.” Psalm 118:5

Anxiety: “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY into God’s presence.” Ephesians 3:12

Defeat: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me VICTORY. This is my God, and I will praise him – my father’s God, and I will exalt him!” Exodus 15:2

Anger: “You will keep in PERFECT PEACE all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3

Loneliness: “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such PERFECT UNITY that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” A prayer of Jesus in John 17:22-23

The art of fighting with a sword requires practice and care. Our sword is our Bible. To use it well we must read it, memorize it, study it, and dwell on it throughout the day. Left unattended, it will rust and become useless. Don’t neglect your Sword.

Brandish your weapon. Victory is ours for the taking.