Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resentment turning into confusion...

Sometimes resentment can fuel us into holding a firm line. But when our kids are confused and hurting, grace kicks in. And then it gets all muddled up.

If i can let the resentment go, if I can stop asking how it makes me feel, and start to focus on them and how I can help them, they have such messes that I can't even sort them out.

The problem is that once I put forth a bunch of energy to figure out how to help, they often change their minds and head off in a direction different than one I can recommend.

Today I wrote another chapter of my book (which may explain why I am not blogging as much). I decided that maybe I should start sharing a snippet of the book in my blog posts so that I can at least give you something to read....

So here is a quick segment from the chapter called "Tell Yourself the Truth" In fact, in writing that chapter I've decided to expand that topic for my next book. I am finding writing pretty fun lately.

It’s not about me. I have had to remind myself of this every day as a parent, wife, and friend. The moment that I begin to focus on myself and why things aren’t going my way is the moment things start to unravel. Feelings like irritation, frustration, annoyance, bitterness and resentment begin to trickle in and they slowly poison me until my heart starts to harden.

I am not advocating a mindset that says that I am not worth any of my own attention or that taking care of myself is not important. But I am saying that recognizing that it isn’t all about me keeps my head on straight.

Most of us put others first naturally as a result of our love for them. We might give a piggy back ride to a toddler even if our back hurts, or a ride to a teenager even though we have a deadline on a project. We cook meals when we have upset stomachs and don’t feel like eating. We attend band concerts of 7th graders whose instruments are screeching with errors and smile and clap even though on the inside (which we would never confess to anyone) we are bored senseless after the third number and the music is giving us a headache. This is just what we do because we love our kids.

But when we begin to focus on ourselves life becomes an incredible burden. When we begin to perform acts of love from another part of us they become acts of duty or acts of fear (if I don’t do this, will my family leave me). At this turning point, when what we do stops being about our love for others, and we start to dwell on our own needs, we start to lose our ability to cope.

If your focus is a bit off today, it’s easy to realign it. Remind yourself that love is selfless. It’s not about you. Love is about giving without expecting to receive in return. C.S. Lewis taught that we should not wait until we felt like loving before we began to act lovingly, because the loving acts would bring about loving feelings. Try it sometime and see if it doesn’t turn things around.


Kathleen said...

and remind yourself that love is a verb, even when it's not a feeling. ;-)

Lisa said...

This is so....good and exactly what I need to hear today!! I am starting to slowly come to a place of peace about some issues with my teens (almost 17 and 18) and yet am so conflicted about what I should be doing. I want to fix everything, but they won't allow me to - not really anyway - because they continuously sabotage every plan we make together. I have been questioning "What's in it for me?" way....too much. I know that is a catch phrase for dealing with RAD kids, but what if you think they're RAD and it's really more of a personality disorder (BPD) or mood disorder (BP) or FASD that is the root of it all? I've done all of the things you mentioned out of love for my kids, but over the past few years, I've started avoiding life and taking every disappointment very personally. Resentment and depression seem to be hounding me at every turn. This excerpt from your book puts things into perspective for me - I'm still a Mom, will always be a Mom, but instead of loving conditionally like I have been - I need to just let go of the resentment and do what I can - not necessarily what I want or what the kids want. THANK YOU!!