Monday, May 4, 2015

Protecting Our Daughters from the Mama Drama

 image courtesy of Kirstin, blog.violetaharrington.com
You can sometimes tell a lot about a girl's mom by the way she behaves.

A fiercely competitive girl may belong to the mom who screams criticisms from the sidelines of a soccer game. The child with perfectionistic tendencies might have a mom who spends a lot of time making hospital corners on her beds at home. It's natural and logical for the daughter's behavior to mimic her mother's. This is all the more reason us moms need to examine the condition of our heart and identify where we create and thrive on drama while our daughters look on.

I have four daughters and 22 years of parenting experience and I've learned thing or two in all these years. One thing every mom needs to remember is they are watching you. They are intently listening to you.  Your daughter's behavior is often a mirror image of who you are.

Many years ago, I sat with another mom as we complained about our sassy teenage daughters. Our pastor, who was in close proximity, leaned in and politely advised: they talk to you like that because it's how they hear you speak and likely how you speak to them. Ouch! After some careful (painful) evaluation, I realized he was right.

Sometimes the behaviors we exhibit to observant eyes are dangerous and damaging. I call this 'Mama Drama'. I've often found a girl prone to gossip and drama has a mom prone to the same. It's those moments we choose to speak negatively and complain about another mom in our daughter's presence. It is those moments our daughter hears us slander another woman while speaking with a friend. This is where the Mama Drama begins and with your daughter is likely where it will continue.

We may believe we are discreet and our daughters never hear these things from our mouths. But our daughters are good students and not much gets by them. How often have we drug our daughters into our drama? The only solution? The Mama Drama needs to to end with us. Because not only is it our job to protect her from trappings of the drama, it is healthy and godly for us to avoid it ourselves.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

We need to teach our daughters to search for the good in people, to extend grace when wronged, to allow room for forgiveness, and to refrain from judgement.  We need to school our daughters in a more constructive means of bonding with women that isn't tearing each other down.  And we need to teach them how to become authentic encouragers of other women; to understand we don't need to be the best, or the first and that being last and sometimes even excluded is okay and actually quite normal even though it doesn't feel good.

And it is so hard sometimes to resist the temptation of the flesh, and so easy to succumb to what seems to come so naturally. But when it comes to our daughters -our precious daughters- it is a whole other level of accountability,  We do better by them when we do better for God.  It's really all about the condition of our heart. Where is your heart as you read this? If you don't know, take a long hard look at your daughter and you just might find out.





Saturday, April 25, 2015

Life from Inside the Fat Suit Part II -Fighting Back

A while back I wrote the beginning of this story providing a little insight from a fat girl's perspective. You can find it HERE. Writing that piece was a plea of sorts to those who find themselves passing over the less outwardly attractive people. A plea to pause and take a closer look inside of people they may not ordinarily look at. Writing those words, I knew I also needed to examine myself, not on the outside, but way down deep on the inside. Here is my sequel to that story and what I've learned since then.

Our Pastor has been talking about bondage lately.  I have a rather sordid past, but I walk each day knowingly redeemed and restored and forever in love with a God who did that for me. Until recently, I have really not seen myself as one who remains in bondage any longer.  I have simply viewed myself as someone who struggles to maintain her weight and eats just a bit too much just a bit too often among numerous other infractions.  Pondering the true meaning of bondage has required me to examine myself more closely. I feel while I've done some housekeeping and the house looks pretty tidy, there are some corners and cobwebs I've missed. When I look up the definition of bondage, I find this:

bond·age
ˈbändij/
noun
  1. 1.
    the state of being a slave.
    "the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt's bondage"

This causes me to realize that food is not just a pesky nuisance in my life. It is my captor and it has enslaved me. It is merely a symptom and when I look really closely at it, here is what I find-

I have a love affair with food. I love the way it looks, the way it smells and the way it tastes. I love to prepare it, I love to present it but most of all I love to eat it. Food and I have a most complex relationship because for all the affection I have for it, it has become both friend and foe, a comforter and a relentless taunter. It has become a thief. It has become my worst enemy. Or rather, the tool of my worst enemy. Of course it's a perfect tool.  And there is where I venture deeper still.

Paul writes in Romans, For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. And I know exactly how he felt. Brief and fleeting moments of pleasure and comfort resulting in lengthy periods of self-loathing. A cycle of self-loathing. Acknowledgement of self-loathing only requires the peeling of yet another layer of why this has such control in the first place. I easily become exhausted peeling back the layers.

The source of self-loathing can be traced back to a myriad of things. In my nine year-old self sexually assaulted by a friend's father, or in my regret of not finishing college, or in my continual slew of bad decisions in my youth. I can factor in my ex-husband's alcoholism and abuse and subsequent affair and abandonment. I don't have to describe the havoc these things wreak on one's self-worth. And it all sat like a dormant volcano with the capstone of silence for fear of what people would think if any of it were spoken aloud for many years. And although food was not my choice for comfort in my earlier years, as I became a follower of Christ, it seemed to become the only acceptable one.

I have justified my weight with the years of prednisone and chemotherapy drugs and by my disease. I have rationalized my obsession with food as a penchant for cooking delectable dishes and my Italian upbringing. But if I really want to be free - I need to admit choosing the wrong foods often, eating more than I should or more often than I should is the result of self-medicating with a socially acceptable drug. It's the result of not liking myself and not relying on God in all of the ways that I should. It imprisons me and hampers a full life and relationship with the One who saved me from all of it in the first place.

Maybe you live here, too. Maybe you peek out from inside the fat suit hoping someone will dare to look in. Maybe your suit looks different.

What I've learned since my last post is this- God will hold my hand as I do the hard work but I must choose to do the hard work in this area, too. What has taken years to build must be deconstructed and rebuilt. Just like everything else did.

 I knew in the first moments I returned to the gym I had decided to fight back and choose the hard work. Every bead of sweat that drops is my spit on an enemy I have allowed to imprison me far too long. Every ounce of restraint, every adjusted mentality, every new choice screams freedom and leaves defeat in my dust.

I remind myself of the following words. A piece of my mantra. Words that have reminded me who I am in the sight of a Lord who died for me. A reminder of what has brought me down a road to redemption so many times before.

I will not be defined or held captive by my past, by regrets, things beyond my control, by disease or by other people. I do not listen to an enemy who sits on my shoulder and whispers words that only an enemy would spew. 

I am not his captive. I am Free.

You may be overweight, but it is not bondage that holds you there and this is not your story and that is okay. It just happens to be mine. But if something does hold you in bondage today-like this or something else. Choose to do the hard work. God did the hardest part already and He will hold your hand. I promise.