Handling Nellie Olesons

Those of you might remember Nellie Oleson, the sassy, outspoken classmate of Laura Ingalls in the book and television series, Little House on the Prairie. She was ruthless, heartless, self righteous, lacked compassion and never hesitated to put down another. We’ve all had face to face tine with Nellies.

Talked with them.

Been in relationship with them.

Hurt by them.

Their names may not be Nellie, they may not have blonde hair nor the snootiness that went along with an ungrateful upper-class lifestyle,  but their spirit, demeanor and attributes might bear a close resemblance.

It’s one thing to deal with the pains from people in our own lives as grown adults, or be challenged in putting to rest the unwanted hurts that came from the Nellies of yesterday, but when it comes to helping our children handle the Nellie Olesons in their lives, how do we best encourage and direct them to be God-centered when dealing those difficult people?

Our teaching must first start with our own clean and solid foundation. Perhaps we need to ask, “What are my responses in dealing with difficult people? What are my children seeing and overhearing as they observe my reaction when it comes to dealing with the offenses from others? What am I carrying or what filter am I projecting a possible negative attitude through from my past?”

Ouch!

You mean FIRST take the plank out from my own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s? (Matthew 7:3-5)

Yes.

Do I have to?

Yes, mama.

God calls us to do that. First.

When we can clean up our personal grudges, bitterness, and hurts and release the Nellies from our lives into God’s hands, including the hurt and frustration or perhaps sin we have committed from those pains, we can better equip our children to take the same approach and action. Do we really want them to hang onto those hurts others have caused or allow the affects of painful acts from people to tear down their beautiful spirits and all that God has for them and created in them?

No.

But over time, that pain of rejection can tear down spirits and cause discouragement and despair. Time brings healing but it can also be the catalyst for a snowball of bitterness and resentment that leads to all sorts of negative voices that speak into our minds.  You don’t want your children to have that kind of echo playing nor the kind of life that has harbored anger from years gone by.

Neither does God.

If we have tension, anger, are reactive and angry, we may very well parent and coach our kids from the same foundation and our children will take our cues. If we haven’t released  our resentment, our instruction might very well be tainted with the emotional charge that comes from our personal pain. We may subtly be teaching our children that holding a grudge and hanging onto resentment is the way to react and the direction to go. Ultimately, their relationships could greatly suffer later in life, and their ability to resolve conflict, never attained.

So let’s move them and ourselves in another direction.

Easier said than done, I know.

But God enables us. His strength, not ours.

I had a few Nellie Olesons as a child who definitely left scars. I wish I had then, known a God who could help me process that pain and to show me who I truly was by His design. Better late than never, and thankfully, my children will have a different view of themselves other than the perspective of their own vision and the vision of others. As long as I point them to God, I pray that their identity and self esteem will be founded on who He is, not determined by someone else’s opinion.

How about you? If you take that past hurt or problem and process it with God, you may very well be surprised as to how He can empower you through those spots where you feel vulnerable, release you from victimhood and replenish you with His perspective on who you are and who He has called you to be. You are no less of a Godly person because someone mistreats you. Your identity is in His care…not the care of others. People, bosses, friends, colleagues didn’t design you. God did. How you handle that mistreatment may very well be make the difference between healing and suffering and taking in love while releasing hatred. You might teach someone about the person of God through yoru ability to forgive and you (and your child), just might be the light somone needs in their lives.

So now that we have you taken care, how about your children? Like I said, when you start with yourself, that’s the first great step because now you are a source of credibility in knowing and understanding their pain. The difference is, while being empathetic when your child shares with you his/her pain, you are going to take the high road in your speech and not react as much as it might be hard to resist.

How?

You are going to first, understand. When they start expressing their emotions, you will of course listen with empathy, compassion and understanding. “Tell me about that.” “That must have been really hard.” I would be so frustrated and angry, too!” Be real with them. They are humans. This is human, yucky stuff. Being a child of God does not mean we don’t experience emotions.

And then help move them forward.

You might:

Pray with your child about their feelings and ask God for His direction and counsel–together.

Offer to pray with your child for that person who has hurt them (a hard one but nonetheless that person needs the power of God in their lives, yes?) Your child’s prayers might be the best thing that ever happened to that Nellie.

Decide to read through God’s promises together as a reminder of who God is (He is “an ever present help in times of trouble,” for example, Psalm 46:1). In situations like these, we have to study the character of God and give Him the focus in our troubles.   In return, He gives us His promises of strength, power and wisdom. He gives us peace. God needs to receive just as much attention and focus from us if not more, than the Nellies in our lives. Afterall, He is worthy of our praise and focus. Nellie is not.

Read about God’s people who experienced suffering at the hand of others (age appropriate, of course.) There are people in scripture who are encouraging examples of how God used their pain for something greater and how He empowered them to overcome their hardships (for example, Joseph, Gideon, Moses, Mary, Jesus Himself and so many more who were ridiculed, hurt, ostracized or met with opposition from an unfriendly foe.) But God took care of them. He also took care of their enemies. He is the ultimate judge…and in His time, He will act justly and accordingly with all of us. Everyone gives an account. (Romans 14:10-12)

Pray and ask God to give you and your child insight and wisdom. A level-headed response and a pure heart are the ways of the Lord and ultimately, the ways that make YOU and more like HIM. And you are not a Nellie. (“Create in me a clean heart Oh Lord and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10)

Hopefully, our children will have more Lauras in their lives than Nellies, but when those Nellies do show up, they don’t have to tear down our souls. If they do, we need to ask God for His power and over our abilities and where we feel weak. He will equip us and strengthen us.

And that truth you can take to any prairie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Speech of My Soul

Image credit: ivaleksa / 123RF Stock Photo

Regret those words you just snapped? Frustrated over how you delivered what needed to be said? The tone in our voices can be as hurtful as harsh words. In the moments of impatience, we can easily blow it and we’ve then arrived at sorrow, shame and guilt. Despair can set into our beings but it needn’t stay there nor define us as moms. You are still a wonderful, well-intentioned mom!

Pray these intentional and beautiful pleas and truths at the start of your day and in the moments you desire the right response…we all need a little help with self control at times! God knows that.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you O God.” (Psalm 19:4)

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Psalm 16:24

Pencil, Don’t Pen,Your To-Do List

The end of your year will be history in a matter of days; the newness of a future year lights up the December corner.

If it were one year ago, and someone had told you exactly what was going to happen this past year, how would you have responded? Had someone told me what my past year was going to look like, I would have checked myself into the Four Seasons…in Hawaii!

What was ahead would be agony over a decision to switch schools for one of my daughters. Was I really going to uproot her from a place we both loved? Yes.  Personally having to undergo significant surgeries in response to a pathology report that came back with results one doesn’t want to hear….I have to walk that road? Yes. Miraculously getting hired back at my old job after 10 years only to have it fall through at the last minute. Sorry, did that really just happen? Yes. The shocking news of a friend who would be diagnosed with a tumor….please repeat that. I am sure I misheard those words. You didn’t. Nor would I mishear the news of other friends who would be burdened with health-related issues.  Them too? Yes.

I had PLANS for this last year. Hopes. Goals. I had my “to-do” list.

What happened?

I was re-directed.

So was my time.

My energies.

I had no say. No input.

Different priorities, people and needs took their rightful place at the top of my “to-do” list.

Items got re-shuffled.

But for the better.

Twelve new months are before you, Mom.  A year from now, you will know what took place in the year to come. Of course, you have no way of seeing what each month will bring in your life, the lives of your children and in the lives of those close to you.  What’s going to come up? We don’t know, but we can know the One who holds whatever does come up. There’s a bigger picture in what’s happening.

What are you hopeful for, mom? Are there goals you want to pursue? Things you haven’t gotten to that will get transferred over to the 2014 calendar? Are your intentions specific? They might be crystal clear or murky. That’s okay. Very often, we are not clear on a lot of things.

But God is.

He doesn’t need us to be clear about our goals in order to work.

He IS always clear on what is best.

Even when we have a different opinion. I know, because I have often disagreed and had my own say as to how I think things should go. But He is patient and merciful, and allows me to have my pity parties until I am ready to come out from my crybaby corner.

Once again, perhaps like you, I will start the year with a list of goals that are meaningful and that I want to attain for myself and for my family but I know that I have little control over how far I’ll get. I think I have control, but as I live out each day and days turn into weeks and weeks turn to months, I look back and see that I am SO not in control. Just as I set-out in one direction, God often takes me in another.

Has this been true for you?

The desires of my heart can only be met by a God who has created me and who has specific plans and purpose(s) for my life, including work, ministry, my health, friendships, my husband and children. God has a to-do list for them as well as for me and I may very well be a vessel He uses in their lives to help accomplish His purposes. If I don’t pray about direction and priorities and submit my goals and hopes to Him, I don’t think I can receive the best He has for my life, nor can the people in it receive their best, and “my plans” will take shape very differently. There is His best and my best, but I’d rather have His best, or at least pray for the desire to want His best during those discouraging times when all I want to do is retreat back to my list.

Yes, my list.

But it’s not about me. It’s about bringing glory to God and to His to-do list.

I have learned that God is patient and not nearly as much in a hurry as I am in moving on to the next agenda item. He’s more concerned about our process through something than our reaching the end of something.  I have also learned that the parts of  life that I thought defined me, really don’t.

So the bottom line?

Write your to-do list in pencil and set it aside (the list, not the pencil).

Pray. 

Wait.

Trust and watch…

…how God directs you through your list. No matter what the next year brings, you can have hope that He IS your hope in all new things to come, including leftover things or things that are pending; the unexpected news, the beautiful joys and the surprises.

He is the One “to do” you can count on and you’ll be amazed as to how your list looks when He heads the top.

 

Morning Glory: Not

And then there are the mornings…..unbelievable how some of them go….how we go. Okay, how I go. I shouldn’t throw you into my mix.

We can plan how we are going to handle a situation (determined, fierce, go into whatever it is we are facing like gangbusters) or equally, be impulsively reactive. Guilty! I admit it, I am a huge reactor. I need a human, built-in “pause” button app. Come on Apple, can’t  you craft one of those?

“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:12-14)

I think when we pray for God to change our hearts and attitudes, the words we speak, the tones we use and the responses we have are calmer, purer, firm yet still loving, patient, steady and just plain old pleasing…to everyone and to the One who has HIS hand over our lives. Our emotions. Our fears. Our anxieties.  And isn’t everyone happier all around? Don’t we spend less time apologizing and more time conveying truth yet without the harshness, hurt and defensiveness that causes others to have pain? The pattern can create a vicious cycle.

Yes, things are going to aggravate us. People are going to hurt us and treat us and/or our kids unfairly. Should we pray for people to change and for their hearts to be softened? Sure. But more important, we need to pray for our hearts to be changed because the world is full of pain, unfairness and problems and we need to live with some of that muck and live with it well and righteously. Our right, Godly response is a far greater tool to have in our arsenals than the elimination of the problem in some explosive way. Let’s pray that God would shape our hearts since everything we are about comes from its condition. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:22)

We do have power, we do have control and we do have the ability to take the high road when life presents the low ones. Why? Because God can take our hearts and molds them to be pretty awesome, and that’s because we are pretty redeemed.

And then afternoon will come with a fresh, new start….