Displaying items by tag: Linked
Ask This Mom: How do I find inner peace?
Ask this Mom is a monthly post directed to younger adults to answer their spiritual questions. Although it addresses their concerns it is also a resource for older adults to help understand and in turn mentor this up-and-coming generation.
How do I find inner peace?
Inundated with information of crisis after crisis, it is easy to become overwhelmed with thoughts about the future. Driven by passions to improve the world around us, we strive to impact our community, but the bad feels like it overcomes the good. I heard a social worker state that as a society “we are still in survival mode.” Our fight or flight reaction is easily triggered after prolonged exposure to multiple stresses.
God’s peace transcends this life, it anchors our security in His salvation not in earth’s unpredictable events. So, how do we get from stressing over the world to a place of peace? Practice, patience, and perseverance.
There is no shame in feeling anxious. I have worked with individuals who are anxious about being anxious. This then gives room for shame, and they hide their feelings from others and themselves. This allows their hidden feelings to fester and grow. Get it out in the open! I love that Gen Z and Millennials are more likely than other generations to talk about their mental health with the goal to become healthier. This is a great first step.
Accepting we cannot control others or outcomes of our life, produces peace. We can do our best to move forward toward our goals but sometimes life gets in the way. Remember Jesus gives us peace. He gifted it to us before He left this earth. Slowly read John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. “(NLT)
This peace Jesus extends produces a security in us that is difficult to explain. It allows us to step out of our circumstances and into greater security. We know we have access to this gift but unwrapping and using that present can feel impossible. We just don’t know where to begin to peel back the tape and open the box. Here are a few ideas when you feel stuck:
- When you recognize the signs of unrest, investigate the source of your lack of peace. Is it a real danger or triggered fear? Take a deep breath and examine the “why” of your feelings. Does my unrest change or save me in this situation?
- If unrest comes from a situation out of your control, stop and refocus on the wonder around you. Use your senses to recognize the beauty you experience. Take a moment to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste items in your environment. Now take this grounding tool one step further by expressing gratitude to God for those things. If you have time, write it down and celebrate your gratitude to God. (Read more about this in the article Beauty Hunting)
- Peace is a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). If you want to produce the fruit you nurture it. Like any fruit-bearing plant, time is part of the process of growth. We nurture peace in our life by slowing down, sitting in silence before God. Breathing in and out in a slow manner, brings us to stillness we seek in God. We feed and water peace through the study of Scripture and prayer.
By seeking Jesus and the peace that comes from Him, we are restored. If you have difficulty doing that on your own, seek help from a mentor, pastor, or professional counselor to find your way to well-being. It is not that we shouldn’t feel turmoil, it is recognizing we don’t have to live that way.
Balance Part 4: A Life of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a lifestyle. It just isn’t a thing we study or read about; it is the way we are to live.
As we continue to work toward balance in 2023, (Five Habits of a Balanced Life) we need to recognize the importance of forgiveness. Forgiving others is a common theme in our pursuit of Christlikeness, but do we live it? I find myself rushing through familiar Scripture without giving it much thought. I know these verses about forgiveness but how are they intertwined in my daily life.
Driving to the grocery store the other day, I found myself behind a garbage truck. The truck slowed and pulled to the side but not completely off the road. I stopped behind them as I couldn’t judge the speed of the oncoming traffic. The pickup behind me honked and I could feel their impatience. My overly cautious hesitation annoyed them. As I continued to drive, I found my thoughts drifting to the correction that the pickup truck driver obviously needed. Maybe I would follow them and give them a piece of my mind.
Then the words from my morning reading drifted into my mind. Mercy must overcome bitterness. Wow, how quickly my mind went to judgement instead of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a lifestyle and who knows why that driver impatiently honked. I forgave them and prayed that the Lord would be with them.
Forgiveness is an act of our will. We choose to forgive every time the incident comes to mind, we declare that forgiveness again. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a choice, but it certainly wraps itself in emotions. Surrendering those feelings every time the offense comes to mind eventually brings us to a place of peace.
Forgiveness is God’s will and an act of my will. The more I know Jesus, the easier I can forgive, but it takes practice and intentionality. Jesus taught us to
- Forgive those who sin against us.
- Forgive so we will be forgiven.
- Forgive seventy times seven.
- Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against.
- Forgive others and you will be forgiven.
Forgiveness does not excuse the actions of others; it releases the judgement and leaves the justice to God. I know it is not easy, but forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a decision. We choose it and it brings freedom. Luke 6:37 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
As we enter into holy week, let us dwell on Jesus words on the cross.
“Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. ‘” (Luke 23:34).
Each of us chooses to live as He modeled and directed - a life of forgiveness.
Ask This Mom - Where do I fit?
Ask this Mom is a monthly post directed to younger adults to answer their spiritual questions. Although it addresses their concerns it is also a resource for older adults to help understand and in turn mentor this up-and-coming generation.
As I was bustling down the hallway, on a busy Sunday morning, she strolled by me. The young woman who had been on my mind for the last week was right in front of me. Calling her by name, I asked if she was interested in meeting with me. Without a moment’s hesitation she agreed to come to my office later in the week.
On Wednesday morning, she sat on the other side of my office, twisting a napkin in her hands. Nervous ,but also she seemed excited to update me on her life. She talked about the older people, people my age, in our congregation who encouraged her on a regular basis. This had made our church her home.
Staring at her lap, she then said, “but I don’t feel our church makes a space for other people my age.”
Together we investigated some possible solutions to her dilemma. How can we make our church a welcome place for your generation, Gen Z, who wrestles with anxiety and aspirations?
Gen Z is coming of age in a time of uncertainty. They are a highly talented group of young adults who recognize they possess little control over much of what happens in the world.
That must feel frustrating, but our generations can find the balance together.
Part of life’s journey is to draw you closer to where you belong. The church should be a safe place for you to explore your ideas and share your feelings. A place where correction draws you closer to God; not stifles your spiritual curiosity. You want to belong to God’s people, but how do you find the place for you?
Here are some strategies that might work for you.
- Like the young woman in my office, look for a place that sees you. Ask your friends for places that they feel welcomed, heard, and supported.
- Do you know someone who lives the Gospel in their day-to-day life? Find out where they attend and follow them there.
- I know it is difficult but seek out an older person you admire to mentor you. This is going against your generation’s norm, but you can do it. I’m giving you permission to ask.
To you who are the older generations, are you making a space for young people?
This quote from Fuller Youth Institute caught my attention:
“I’m tired of the church answering questions I’m not asking.” – anonymous Gen Zer
To answer the right questions, we need to know this generation. Not just understanding statistics but face to face relationships that edify both of us. They want to know you, but they are waiting for you to make the first move. It all starts with a hello, remembering their name, and inviting them in.
One young woman said it this way, “I want a safe place where I can ask the hard questions.”
If we are answering the wrong questions, we will lose our relevancy. Honor the Gospel and make a space for them to continue to deepen their discipleship in Jesus Christ.
A ministry can be built that is a ministry run by young people for young people. Partnering with older mentors, it will become a place where they can investigate the beauty of the Gospel and passionately serve the people around them.
This will be healthy and productive for both generations.
Ask This Mom: How do I return to my faith?
I’m starting to hear this question a lot. Interlaced with this desire comes a great deal of pain and loneliness. Here is the common litany of statements I’ve gathered.
I still love Jesus.
I’m exhausted by all I’ve been through in recent years.
I’ve lost hope due to all the chaos in this world.
I don’t trust the church.
My friends have turned their back on God and encourage me to do the same.
I believe God is real, but I don’t know how to find my way back to Him.
Looking at our young adult generations, Gen Z and Millennials, they both struggle in this area but look for fulfillment in different ways. Young millennials, now in their mid to late twenties, desire authentic, meaningful connections. They want to impact their world positively and powerfully for the better. In contrast, Gen Z desires financial stability and security. They are passionate about normalizing mental health. Both struggle with loneliness, isolation, and anxiety.
If this description fits you, I’m here to invite you in. You are welcome here.
- I ask your forgiveness for any way the church has let you down. Many of you see us as hypocrites and at least for me you are correct. I make mistakes, missing opportunities to react and love like Jesus. So please forgive me.
- This world is full of disappointment, and it is not the source of hope. Evil has encroached in all sorts of horrifying ways and it makes us feel powerless. But our hope is not in the world, it is in Jesus. Even if your hope has been whittled to the tiniest fragment, nurture it.
- You are not alone. I pray you can find a mentor to walk you through this journey back to God but if not in person, know you can lean on me. I’m extending the invitation; I hope you receive it that way. Reach out in email or on social media. This is not just a hobby for me, I am all in and ready to partner with you. I know of other women who feel the same. We need to find ways to bridge the disconnect and build safe relationships.
- Pray Mark 9:24b “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” as often as it comes to mind. It is beautiful to me that the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to write this down for us. It is okay to doubt but you don’t have to stay there.
- Find people that are like-minded. Spend time with authentic people who allow you to explore this relationship. Take time to develop safe relationships that will allow you to grow.
- When you are ready, return to church. We miss you.
No matter what know this: YOU ARE LOVED. God’s love is unconditional, extended to you with an ever-present invitation.
Ask This Mom: How do I navigate differences in life opinions with my parents?
How do I navigate differences in life opinions with my parents?
This question comes up often with a mixed bag of emotions. Some are sad and others are angry, but the underlying motivator is the chasm they now feel with their parents. As we move into adulthood, we start to see flaws or perceived flaws in the people we love, as we are all imperfect. Here are steps to build stronger relationships.
Looking for common ground helps this process. Before spending time with your family ask yourself these questions: How have I changed in my faith? How have my parents changed? Where do we have common ground?
Work through the following steps:
- Pray before you go. Ask for wisdom and peace.
- Jesus commands us to love, even love our enemies. (Luke 6:27-28) How can you show your parents love without compromising your beliefs?
- Be your authentic self without antagonizing your parents. Avoid controversial subjects but also respectfully stay true to yourself. Ask them if you can agree to disagree and move on. Remember you don’t have to prove yourself right or prove them wrong. Trust the Holy Spirit to direct their steps.
- Listen to them, recognize they are passionate about the world around them. Try to patiently allow them to express themselves. Being heard is powerful. James 1:19 Reminds us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Listening does not necessarily mean you agree.
- If you feel the need to challenge something they say, do so by asking questions. This is the way of the Rabbi, Jesus asked questions all the time. Watch your tone as you ask, leave sarcasm out of your conversation.
Why is this important to you?
Where did you learn this?
Why do you think that is true.
You might be surprised by what you learn as you respectfully listen. You certainly will see where their thoughts diverge from yours, but you may also see beauty and wisdom in there as well.
- Reassure your parents that you do love them no matter what they say or do. Just between you and me, you may not like them but you don’t have to communicate that to them. Scripture tells us to honor our parents, you can do this even when you disagree through love and respect.
We are complex, emotional beings, and establishing an adult relationship with your parents may be difficult. Assuming the center of your lives revolve around Jesus, use this as your unifier. Opinions are based on views or judgements, sometimes the facts get skewed as we work through them. As we grow, we work to gain knowledge, understanding grows from the application of the knowledge, and finally we apply it with wisdom. No matter how your parents respond, live this life exploring the richness of faith.
Mary wasn't alone
Mary had great faith but she was just a kid. Maybe as a teenager her naivety protected her from full understanding of what she would endure.
Luke 1:48-49 (NLT) “For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”
She believed the angel. Then God provided evidence to continue to build her faith.
Mary was highly favored. Luke 1: 28 (NLT) “Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Gabriel spoke these words over Mary before it all began. Yet, look at her life from a historical point of view. Mary was the only one who knew Jesus from conception all the way to Pentecost. Mary was at His birth, childhood, and first miracle. She witnessed His ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and was present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit empowered His followers. Reread that. Can you fathom the honor of her position? She sacrificed much but she witnessed the greatest events in history.
Not only was she visited by an angel, God prepared others to support her too. Older and wiser people walked along side her as she stepped into the position of mother of Jesus.It is another example of the importance of intergenerational relationships that empower each of us to live out our part of God's story.
Joseph – Her husband-to-be knew exactly what was happening. He loved God and loved her through it. (Matthew 1:20-24)
Elizabeth – Her cousin was empowered by the Holy Spirit to know the child Mary was carrying before Mary spoke a word. (Luke 1:41) Elizabeth, pregnant before Mary, it is believed that Mary stayed with her as little John came into the world. Her visit equipped her in her own motherhood journey.
Simeon – The Holy Spirit guided him to the temple to meet Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they came to present the baby to the Lord. He spoke words that confirmed Jesus was the Messiah. (Luke 2:25-35)
Anna – This prophet recognized Jesus immediately. She praised God and was filled with joy when she saw the family in the temple. (Luke 2:36-40)
Who in your life is there to support you and who are you called to support?
Mary remembered God’s promises and provision. Luke 2:19 (NLT) “but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” When times became confusing, she remembered God’s promise. This boy, her son, was the Messiah. God’s promised deliverer. His life purpose would come to pass.
She faced hopeless and helpless situations according to the world’s standards, but God saw it differently. She trusted God, although an ordinary woman, God did extraordinary things through her.
Victor in Christ, faithful to belong, noble in character and ready now to follow His lead we will go forward into a new year.
Ask This Mom: What is Truth?
Perplexed by the choice in front of her, she hesitantly expressed her concern. The din of the coffee shop almost drowned out her voice, and the cup she wrapped her hands around grew cold. We weren’t there just for the coffee that day, her face expressed the confusion she felt.
Repeated by today’s younger generation, this famous quote from Pontius Pilate feels hauntingly relevant. “What is truth?” With echoes of “false news” ringing in their ears, how can they measure God’s truth.
The Apostle John gave us a simple answer test the spirit.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
Confusion over truth is not new. John addressed this issue after the Gnostics introduced confusion about Jesus’ identity. The Gnostics claimed Jesus, a mere man, received God when God descended on Him at His baptism and left Him before Jesus suffered on the cross. This prompted John to encourage his readers to test the spirit.
John knew that Jesus, the Son of God, was God from conception on. This is an intricate part of our faith and one we stand on as truth. With acceptance of Jesus as our savior we receive Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Truth.
The Spirit of Truth radiates out of us. It empowers us to live in this world, preventing us from to be pulled into legalism or grace without boundaries. None of us get this one hundred percent right every time. Just look at the history of the church. In hindsight we can see the errors. We need to look at each situation with humility.
Our job is to point others to Jesus, not fix their flaws. We need to recognize we don’t always get it right ourselves. I know I am flawed and can’t possibly be right in everything and neither can you. We need grace for each other, so much grace.
Our goal is to be self-aware, testing what we are learning. Walking along side others as they are doing the same, guiding them gently and humbly into the truth.
When we are listening to others who are seeking spiritual truth, we can ask these questions so they can see it through the lens of Jesus.
- Do they claim Jesus is God? Knowing their spiritual roots helps discern where the information is coming from. It doesn’t mean you can’t get good information from non-Christian sources; you just need to measure it accordingly.
- How would Jesus respond to them? We see countless interactions in Scripture of Jesus response because Jesus loved people. He offered gentle guidance to those caught in sin and firm rebuke to the religious leaders who did not recognize His authority.
- Do they reflect the character of Jesus? Do we see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the people expressing this ideology? Does it fit with the Bible’s description of Jesus, the Word.
- Does it line up with loving God and loving people? This is a tough one, I think we get this wrong so much of the time. We either extend too much grace or we extend judgement. That road is narrow just as Jesus described. We need to tread prayerfully forward.
- Does it line up with Scripture? Does this information you are examining line up with the Bible. We must use Jesus’ Word, in His way, giving life.
If they are still uncertain after all these questions, then we err on the side of grace. As we walk with them through the outcomes. We ask Jesus to continue to teach us and prayerfully surrender each step to Him.
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Ask This Mom – Why are some Christians so divisive?
I opened the conversation as usual, “What would you like to discuss?”
Suddenly animated, the young woman across from me, hit the table with her fist and exclaimed “why are some people at church so angry all the time?”
“What do you mean?”
“You can’t disagree about anything without getting a lecture back.”
“What is your reaction to that?”
“I’ve stopped talking to them and I may even stop going to church to avoid it.”
Sadly, I’m hearing this question over and over.
I’ve tried to look at this topic from all sides, remembering that the end goal of our journey here is to build the Kingdom of God. Our society has developed an either/or culture. In general, it plays out as either you are with me, or you are against me.
With the pandemic we became more isolated, siloed with like minded people. We sought out information that we agreed with and interacted with only those sources, especially on social media. Once we reunited with others, many of us were set in a cultural truth we believed. In addition if you disagreed with me you were simply wrong.
To many those who disagreed were perceived as a threat to their way of life. This was true on both sides of each debate. So much so that their “either/or” became paramount in their mind and needed to be protected.
We became so entrenched in the “either/or” we have forgotten how to live in the AND. What does that mean? You are welcome at my church AND can disagree with me. Jesus is the center of our unity. Yes, the fruit of our lives reflects our relationship with Him. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit pours out of us with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patients, self-control, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and goodness.
As young people inundated with information, you are continually making choices of right and wrong. Discussing and debating issues allows us to develop our ideas of the truth but it also needs to be in a safe environment.
We each need to answer Jesus’ question of Mark 8:29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” This is the foundation of our faith. However, even if you don’t agree with Peter, as I do, you can still be my friend if you accept me for who I am. A believer of Jesus and a minister of the faith.
To my older friends, on current events and cultural issues, I ask these questions:
What do you value?
What causes do you care about?
Where do you want to grow?
How does that line up with Jesus’ teachings?
I follow up with their belief statements with:
Where did you hear that?
Why do you believe that?
In the process of examining our own answers to these questions we develop the ability to think for ourselves. This practice of critical thinking prevents us from the sway of the next social media influencer that comes along. The process of dialoguing develops relationships that grow with grace. It allows the participants to grow in understanding with unconditional love. It invites in, instead of pushing out.
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Ask This Mom – Is it ok to leave the church I grew up in?
On a steamy July evening, we sat on the porch reflecting on her faith journey. She had spent the last ten weeks away from home for the first time. At twenty-one, she tasted independent living, although she entered it with anxiety and she’s now leaving with a newfound confidence.
“I’m thinking of looking for a new church home, is that ok?”
Certainly, that is ok.
The question to answer is why?
This was the church she grew up in, her family still attends there. She, however, no longer felt like part of that community.
You may relate with her concern but feel conflicted over this move. Especially if you experienced a healthy church life as a child, you may struggle with feeling disloyal. Your loyalty lies with Jesus first and your church family second. Pray and ask Him to show you whether you need to stay or go.
The church or Ekklesia, is the gathering of people who share in their belief of Jesus Christ. This group of people are meant to be family, sharing in worship, serving one another, and building the Kingdom of God. It is to be a place where the participants learn and grow to be more like Jesus.
Every church is flawed with imperfections of one kind or another. This is part of the human condition, so if you are leaving to find the perfect church, you aren’t going to find it. But leaving your childhood church, to see what else is out there, may help your faith move to the next level. As young adults, especially Gen Zers, you are looking for autonomy, for a place in which you will be treated as an adult.
Here are questions to ask yourself as you explore new congregations:
- Can you authentically serve in your current church?
- Does this church draw you closer to Jesus? Do you reflect Jesus to others because of attending there?
- Are you building community or see the potential to build community – especially an intergenerational community?
- Are you recognized as an adult, ready to commit to this community?
We are to avoid cherry picking, taking what we need, to meet our own needs. We need the love and support of other people to continue to pursue Jesus. True, as a young adult, you are going through a lot of changes, but you are also setting habits that will last a lifetime. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” We each need a place to learn to live vulnerably in community.
Ask This Mom - Why is my mom so clingy?
She staired into her steaming cup of tea, tension creased her forehead. A recent college graduate, she haltingly expressed her concern.
“I love my mom but…”
“But she’s driving me crazy. She is constantly texting, calling, or dropping by. I feel guilty saying this, but she is so clingy!”
The words rushed out; a mix of emotions washed over her face. This wasn’t the first young person to share this complaint, so let’s dive in why is she so clingy?
Launching children into adulthood is a bittersweet event for most parents. If unprepared the parent can get lost in navigating the new landscape. As you mature into your new life of responsibility and independence, mom may not know how to respond.
Dear young friend, like you, your mom is in transition from one phase of life to the next. Her role until now, has been to get you to adulthood. From the day of your birth, her responsibility was to raise you to be an independent adult. This is a bittersweet time for your mom.
True confession, I’ve been tempted to be the clingy mom. I’ve said manipulative, guilt induced things which I later apologized for. Not be most stellar moment. I didn’t expect their launch into adulthood would leave me feeling discarded and old.
The negative emotions surprised me—I had higher expectations of myself. What should have been an exuberant time of my husband and I planning and pursuing our previously set-aside dreams became a dissatisfying lull I learned the Mayo Clinic identifies as Empty Nest Syndrome.
Which means the dynamic is prevalent enough to warrant a name. But since it’s not a clinical diagnosis, there’s not an exact or easy cure.
Your mom is excited for the new life you’ve found. She misses you, but she’s also happy for them. You worked hard to achieve all your accomplishments. Living on the edge of new adventures we call adulthood you are ready to go and she’s wondering what happened!
Remember your mom is more than your mom, she’s a person. She may be experiencing emotions she’s never felt before. As you traverse this new territory, respectfully address your concerns. Think of ways you can support her autonomy without threatening your own independence.
Some moms need time to adjust, and others may never change but they will always be your parent. Scripture reminds us to honor our mother and father, my prayer is you will develop a stronger relationship with your mom that lets you easily honor her.
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