Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Mom: Beyond the Entrapment of People-Pleasing

“[I, the Lord, have come] to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah 42:7

“What a curious phenomenon it is that you can get men to die for the liberty of the world who will not make the little sacrifice that is needed to free themselves from their own individual bondage.” Bruce Barton, It’s a Good Old World

 

  • Today, the invitation from the Holy Spirit is to come to Him, allowing Him to reveal places of brokenness or bondage that may be keeping you from experiencing freedom and truth.
  • Open your Bible and read John 8:31-36. What do these verses teach you about God’s desires for your life?

In C. S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the author describes the plight of Edmund, a young man who finds himself in prison. He thought he was going to receive an endless supply of his favorite candy, Turkish Delight, but instead, he has nothing to eat and is bound in a cold, dark dungeon.

When I think of my life and the lives of my children, I recognize how truly bound we are by this world. We are slaves to our smartphones, our jobs, making more money, being more successful, and looking more youthful. Our children are slaves to peer pressure, cultural and societal norms, and their feelings of inadequacy and loneliness in an era when they are more “connected” than any generation that has preceded them.

Often, people-pleasing moms feel sorry for their children and want to make life easier for them, or they simply can’t say no for fear of being rejected and alone. Either way, whether because of pity or fear of rejection, this type of family dysfunction enables children to become stuck in destructive or childish behaviors and so brings bondage for all family members.

When psychologists use the term “enabling,” they mean helping (through action or lack of action) a person to indulge in destructive behaviors. Parents don’t mean to enable their children to do things that will ultimately harm the children, but sometimes pity or fear of rejection tempts a parent to do just that.

Psychotherapist Don Carter states, “Enabling behavior is born out of our instinct for love. It’s only natural to want to help someone we love, but when it comes to certain problems—helping is like throwing a match on a pool of gas.” In the true sense of the word, to enable is to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity to be or do something—to make feasible or possible. In its true form, then, enabling behavior means something positive. It’s our natural instinct to reach out and help someone we love when they are down or having problems.

In becoming a spiritually healthy mom, you will need to assess your current ways of dealing with difficult situations and determine if you are helping or hurting in the way that you respond. The “helping” responses breed freedom, while the “hurting” responses breed bondage. I wonder how often we choose not to live in freedom, in essence not living the abundant life that Jesus has promised. In Christ, the chains are broken—and yet all too often we cower away in our prison cells, starving, afraid, and alone.

Isaiah 42:7 declares that Jesus came to open blind eyes, free captives from prison, and release those who sit in darkness from the dungeon. In order to be truly free, I must answer these questions:

  • Where am I blind?
  • To whom am I a captive?
  • Where do I sit in darkness?
  • Essentially, what am I enslaved to?

Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). What did Jesus mean when He said these words, and what impact does this freedom have on our lives and on our children’s lives? Let’s first back up a few verses to where Jesus said in John 8:31b–32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Truth is, by definition, objectively true regardless of any consideration. Our very real enemy, Satan, will continually try to sabotage this by making us feel or think that truth is relative to our situation or pain. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can justify incorrect thinking based on our circumstances? I find myself doing it all the time. It’s one thing to believe something until it stands in the way of security or personal gain. When we are willing to declare the truth as truth, no matter what, we begin to understand freedom.

Blessings and Love,

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Questions to Ponder

  • Consider where you are displaying “I-Can’t-Say-No” tendencies in your relationships. What is at the root of needing to keep peace and have others like you?
  • Ask yourself: Am I positionally free but functionally in bondage? Consider what circumstances and life events have led you to this place.
  • Write out the things that are keeping you from experiencing freedom. Be specific. Where am I blind? To whom am I a captive? Where do I sit in darkness? Essentially, to what am I enslaved? Next, find someone safe to share this list with, and create a plan for implementing healthy boundaries in each category while holding yourself accountable to this person. Note: Sometimes this is a friend or family member, but sometimes hiring a professional counselor is helpful too.

Faith-Filled Ideas

Take a quick assessment. As you think of your relationship with your children (or child), how many of these categories are you guilty of?

  • Repeatedly bailing them out of “tight spots” they get themselves into
  • Giving them “one more chance,” then another…and another
  • Ignoring the problem because they get defensive when you bring it up or because you are hoping it will magically go away
  • Joining them in blaming others for their own feelings, problems, and misfortunes
  • Avoiding problems—keeping the peace, believing a lack of conflict will help
  • Doing for them what they should be doing for themselves, such as chores or other responsibilities
  • Softening or removing the natural consequences of problematic behavior
  • Trying to “fix” them or their problem
  • Trying to control them or their problem

As you identify areas in which you can practically improve in order to not be a “push-over” mom, bring those to Jesus and ask Him to help you in these areas.

 

 

Michelle Anthony

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