Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thinking Biblically About Frustration (+ Great News from CCEF)

I am absolutely delighted to share with you that the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation has finally re-launched the Journal of Biblical Counseling. YES!

You can read all the articles for free online, but a Kindle download of the complete journal is only $3.99. I downloaded a sample, and within the first two or three screens found myself trying to highlight things (which is disabled on a sample). Obviously I just needed to buy it (I read so much more carefully and thoughtfully in real books, whether print or Kindle, than online). David Powlison's introductory editorial alone is worth the four bucks! This stuff isn't just for counselors--it's incredibly insightful for any Christian who desires to grow in her understanding of the human heart and the God who created and redeems us.

One of the articles is a personal application piece called "Stomping Among Lilies" by Chris Carter. The article is about husband-wife interactions, but I found it especially convicting and applicable when I read it in light of my relationship with my children. I highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with anger or frustration toward their spouse or kids (which means, pretty much all of us who are married or parents, right?!). Here's a taste, with edits in brackets reflecting how I was thinking through it as a mother.
“I find a frustration within my heart at times…that strangles the grace from simple, unguarded moments [with my children]. It is impatient. It expects its own way. It doesn’t have time for the gospel. This frustration is especially destructive within the vulnerability and intimacy of [the parent-child relationship].

“…frustration deconstructs togetherness. Even when it is subtle on the outside, it is always destructive on the inside. Frustration is the experience of interpreting something or someone as an obstacle to one’s own desire, and wanting that obstacle removed or changed. When I feel this way toward my [son], I necessarily turn myself against [him] because [he] has become that obstacle. …Because I have turned on [him] in my heart, my [son] finds [him]self momentarily abandoned by [his parent, mentor, protector, coach, nurturer, teacher] and support.

“All of a sudden I dismiss [his] feelings because [he] seems [oblivious] to mine. All of a sudden I complain because I am unhappy that [he] needs me in an ‘untimely’ moment. All of a sudden I criticize [and yell at] [him] because [he] does not…meet my…expectations. Frustration within [parenting] always produces [disconnection and distance, a breach of trust] because, rather than fill the space between [parent and child] with constructive, tender, grace-oriented communication, it fills the space with destructive, divisive, self-oriented dissatisfaction.”
Ouch. Click over to the Journal to read the rest of the author's journey in working through frustration and turning, slowly but surely, toward Christ. And check out or download the other articles while you're there--I promise it will be WELL worth your time!

No comments: