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It is a good thing I call myself evolvingelder rather than elder, because I still have a long ways to go in the attaining wisdom department—I still from time to time find myself bogged down in a reactive rebellious adolescent mode. At a bible study I was at last week I automatically, loudly, and somewhat rudely reacted to the word “discipline.” This morning, a close friend helped me examine what might have been the source of my outburst. In the course of our conversation, I realized that I react to the words perfection and authority exactly the same way.

My friend suggested I try to go back in my memory to explore where this aversion to the three terms of authority, discipline and perfection might be coming from.  I had a father who was a strict disciplinarian, and when I was young and hadn’t yet learned better, I’d ask him “why” when he gave a command. At that point I was seeking information and understanding, but I would, instead, get additional scolding and a spanking. At least I didn’t get spanked with a belt or switch, but being held up by one arm swinging back in forth while you are being punished is not much fun either. So the authority and discipline I grew up with were extremely unpleasant—–not so much because of the physical pain but because of the strong messages implanted in my mind that I was bad, not good enough, and definitely not worth an explanation.

One might ask where “perfection” comes into this.  My mother was a very critical person who demanded perfection—-or so it seemed. She was particularly perfectionistic  and critical when it came to piano playing, sewing and knitting. Of course, I tried to learn these things from her and was criticized to the point that I felt like whatever I did was not good enough.

In all fairness, I must point out that in spite of these questionable parenting practices both of my parents loved me and also gave me positive attention. I do not remember the words “I love you” being spoken, but I remember the times my mother read to me when I was a child, all the clothes she sewed me, and how she would stand up for me if she thought I was treated unfairly—be it at bible school or nursing school. I remember my father playing with me when he got home from work when I was a wee one—later there were the times he took me fishing, flying in his plane, and on family summer vacations.

Perhaps, as I have been known to say to clients during the years, it is not important what caused something, what is important is what you are going to do about it now. I realized this morning was that I have projected my parent’s characteristics onto God—–meaning that while I can accept the concept of a loving God without any problem I still have a strong visceral reaction to an authoritarian deity who demands perfection and punishes his Creation, sometimes in seemingly cruel ways.

It is time I started perceiving my God/Creator in an adult manner rather than in the manner of  a small child who can see only all good or all bad. I have prayed about this. Hopefully, I am and will be changing this lifelong pattern of resenting authority, discipline, and perfectionism. I am starting to understand that God loves me, but it is because of his love that he sometimes needs to protect, guide, or give me “negative reinforcement” in order to protect me and to help me be and do what he has put me on this earth to do. Questioning and rebelling against that kind of authority puts a barrier between my Creator and myself.

Who knows, maybe I am finally spiritually growing up. One would hope so. I apologize if I have sounded “preachy”——my intent was to change my own behavior and thought patterns . Of course, if my spiritual and mental meanderings are helpful to anyone else, that would be delightful. God bless and keep you.

 

 

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