Connecting the Generations

The notion of a “generation gap” is not new. It was well established in the 1960’s when I was in my youth. Back then it seemed the younger generation was intent on separating itself from all that had gone before. Youth were determined to be free from constraints and expectations put on them by their parents.

Wearing jeans, having long hair and listening to rock music were signs of rebellion by youth, who did so against the wishes of their parents, to prove that the youth could make their own way and not be subverted by parental expectations.

We had the sense back then that prior to our time things had continued with greater continuity from one generation to the next. It seemed to us that a revolution was underway and that children were cutting themselves off from their parents more seriously than ever before.

I don’t know that the perception was completely accurate. But it is easy to believe that a process of increasing separation from previous generations was underway.

Today’s Disconnect

Today, however, that sense of disconnect from the previous generation is more acute than ever. We now speak not of the young versus the old, but of there being multiple different cultures in increasingly narrow age bands.

The “baby-boomers”, which accounts for my generation, were different to the “veterans” who went before them, and are quite apart from the Gen X’ers who followed. But while both boomers and X’ers are on the scene Gen Y is already upon us. Supposedly the gap between Gen X and Gen Y is as great as between the Gen X and the boomers.  To top it off today’s youngsters are now dubbed Generation Z, or digital natives, who are expected to have yet a different set of values to Generation Y.

It seems that a process of cultural disconnect is accelerating and what may once have been a generation gap is now becoming a gap of multiple generations.

An Anointing Is Needed

With that background take a moment to reflect on the last verses of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:5,6.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5,6

A prophetic anointing has been promised by God to do what might today seem impossible: to turn the hearts of parents and children toward each other.

So there is an anointing which God provides that is able to do just that, despite how much more difficult it might seem in today’s situation.

Don’t Be Fooled by Labels

While it may seem intriguing to think of today’s kids as different from youth a hundred years ago don’t be too hasty to swallow the idea.

Remember that God created man thousands of years ago and the heart of man has remained the same ever since.  Man’s heart is evil and deceptive, sold under sin.  Man is readily seduced by worldly values, especially those that appeal to self gratification, appease our sense of value and feed our pride (the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life – 1John 2:16).

Men, women and youth were categorised by King Solomon, in the height of his benchmark wisdom, into a few basic distinctions, including fools, wise, evil, angry, and so on.

All the labels in the world, created by worldly observers, may trick you into thinking that there is a real and tangible gulf that should exist between you and those of different generations.  Yet mankind has not changed.  Evil people are still evil people.  Fools are still fools.  Godly are still godly.  And so on.

And people of vast age differences have always been able to relate, despite man’s tendency to be selfish, rebellious and foolish.

Heart Connection

Notice that the intergenerational connection promised in Malachi is not one of mind, interests, fashion, joint ventures, playing on the same team, or the like.  It is all about the heart.  The heart is the heart of the matter.

God, by His Spirit, is ready to create a heart connection between the generations.  It is about the heart and a heart bond.  It is about compassion, respect, care, bonding, love and relationship.

People of different professions, different ages, different political persuasions, with different tastes, abilities and interests, can love one another and care for one another.  That is readily obvious when we see parents care for children who have chosen a vastly different life direction to that which the parent wishes for them.

So God has an anointing which will turn the hearts of the parents toward those children who now seem so hard to understand and so difficult to relate to.  And God has an anointing which will turn the heart of those children toward those parents who seem to them to be so out of touch, irrelevant, overbearing, or otherwise disconnected to them.

Don’t Lose Heart

If generational barriers have invaded your home or put a gulf between you and others, don’t lose heart.  All is not lost.  This is not something that has to be.  God has an anointing that will bridge the supposed gaps and turn the hearts toward one another.

If you are struggling with generational gaps let me suggest a prayer for you to offer to the Lord.

“Lord God, You know that my heart is not perfect before You.  I am susceptible to the same things that distract others.  So I don’t come to You because I deserve anything, but I come to You asking for grace and mercy on me and my family.  I ask You to turn my heart toward my children and those around me who I am distanced from.  And I ask You to turn their hearts toward me.  Give us Your grace so we can love, accept and forgive one another.  Turn each of us toward You, so we each come closer to each other.  Give me such a heart of compassion that I overlook and even hide a multitude of sins, rather than reacting to them and letting them pollute my heart.

Please send Your anointing into me and my family, and bring about a healing.  Remove all the offences, injuries, resentments, distrust, shame, pride, selfishness and other rubbish that has polluted our home and our relationships.  And please glorify Yourself in my family.  Cause Your name to be exalted by what others see that You have done in me and for me, and in my family.  Be glorified by acting gloriously in my situation.  I ask this in the lovely and powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Creating a Lifestyle for Your Child

Parenting is a great joy. It brings many wonderful blessings to both mum and dad.  So let me help those who are not so confident, with some Biblical insights.

A command given to parents is to train your child.  The Bible also gives advice about what we train into the child.  We train the child in the “way he should go”.  That means we create in our child a lifestyle they will follow.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Way to Go

We might better understand the phrase “way he should go” by thinking of it as the “lifestyle” the child will follow.  The way is not just a couple of key things we want the child to value, such as good manners or going to church.  The idea here is of a whole life orientation, not just a select few things.

In past generations Christian parents insisted on certain behaviours from their child, but let the world sow its lifestyle values as well.  The child then followed the lifestyle of the world, and may or may not have kept the particular few things the parents taught.

So give some thought to the “lifestyle” you want to create in your child, not just the few token behaviours that are important to you.

Course of Life

The Hebrew word translated as “way” in Proverbs 22:6 is ‘derek’, which refers to a road we tread (a ‘walk’ rather than a highway we drive along), and has the figurative meanings of a course of life or a mode of action.  The word is at times translated in the King James Bible as “conversation”, which does not mean talking, but “lifestyle”.

You, as the parent, train your child in the course of life and mode of action.  You determine the path they tread and cultivate the lifestyle they will live.  You are commanded to do so.

Do Not Abandon Your Child

If you are not training your child you are leaving him to himself.  You are warned in the Bible not to do that, because a child left to himself will bring his mother to shame.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

Children need training.  You are to correct their wrong behaviour and direct their actions into the way you want them to live.  If you do not do that, maybe because you think their naughty actions are cute, or that you are supposed to let them discover their own way, you have failed the child and failed God.

A key aspect in training a child is to discipline them for their wrong choices, wrong actions and foolishness.  This basic Biblical training method is so essential it led to the saying, “If you Spare the Rod you Spoil the Child”.  To ‘spoil’ means to ruin, like food that has gone rotten. It is spoiled.  Do not abandon and spoil your child.

Core Lifestyle Values

To train a child in the right lifestyle you need to know what that lifestyle is.  Simply stated it is a ‘godly’ lifestyle.  It is a lifestyle centred on desire to glorify God and to live as God wants us to.  We know this from the prophet Malachi who explained that the reason God created marriage is to produce “godly seed”.

“And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” Malachi 2:15

Note that being godly is not something we add on to our lifestyle, but is the core lifestyle value.  Some people who live for self, money, success, fame or other things are able to go to church, do good deeds and look quite godly.

But someone who is godly at heart has the desire to glorify God and to be blessed by God as their primary goal, not self, money, success, pleasure or those many other things.  While on the outside the behaviours may seem similar, at heart they are very different.

Training the Heart

God looks at the heart of your child.  God knows when your child loves self, the world, pleasure or other things.  It is vitally important for you to train the heart of your child.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

Since God sees the heart of your child and will reward your child accordingly, you also must look into the heart of your child and train their tender heart to love and respect God.

One way to do this is to have a close, heart to heart bond with your child, so they open their heart to you and you can speak into their life at the deepest level.

King Solomon expressed the father’s desire to have his son open his heart to his dad.

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

Both Parents Training the Child

Another key point is that training the child is done by both parents.  It is not the mother’s job or the father’s job.  Both mum and dad have a part to play and they work together to create the best outcome.

The Bible calls children to obey both mother and father, so obviously both parents are training them in the right lifestyle.

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20

King Solomon reveals that the mother and father have complimentary roles.  He refers to the father’s actions and the mother’s contribution as different, yet obviously working together.

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother” Proverbs 6:20

A Godly Lifestyle

To train your child to a godly lifestyle you need to know what that lifestyle looks like.  It looks quite different to the values and actions of typical children and youth.  Western culture has moved far away from godliness and is based mostly on selfishness and worldliness.

If you allow your child to learn the values of their peers and what is found in everyday music, movies, advertising and role models then they have no hope of being godly.  You will not have trained them in the correct way.

Remember that you are training their heart to be tender toward God.  You want to develop in them a love for God and confidence that serving God and keeping God’s requirements brings them the greatest blessings, because it does.

Your Own Lifestyle

If your own lifestyle is full of addictions to this world, selfish interest, keeping up with the trends, gobbling down the latest and greatest that the world has to offer, and so on, then you will not really know the godly way to create in your child’s heart.  And you will also automatically train your child to be like you.

An important starting point is to humble yourself before God and ask Him to create a clean heart in you and to lead you to love and worship Him fully.  As you learn to do that you can then bring your child along in the same experience.

It is not wrong to have things that are in the world, but the extreme danger is when we love those things.  We know we love them when we refuse to give them up.  Rather than giving up or shutting down those things that could contaminate your child, you will be tempted to find reasons to keep them in your life.

I challenge you to love your child enough to seek God until you love Him enough to clean out your lifestyle of all things that tempt your child to love something other than God.

Parenting is Joy

It is a joyful thing to have godly children you have trained who fill your life with good things.

“Correct your son and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Proverbs 29:17

You do not need to be ashamed, pained, disturbed or anxious about your children.  The benefits of good parenting are not only enjoyed in your child, but they come back to you as lovely and delightful rewards as well.

The Lord bless you as you give Him your heart and lead your children to love Him too.

Legalistic Dad

How do you help a legalistic dad?  You know the kind.  He demands his family do as he wants, the way he wants, on the basis that he has GOD on his side.

I have had to deal with several dads over the years that have dug themselves into a hole but refuse to change because they are the DAD and the Bible tells the kids to obey them.  The children become hurt and rebellious and that only affirms to the dad that he is on the high ground and they are wrong.

Call For Help

I was asked recently by a Christian counsellor for some suggestions to help a legalistic dad face the mess he has created and the pain he and his family are living in.  The dad appeals to the Biblical command that children obey their mother and father as his trump card to justify his stern stand.

As I considered the question, my thoughts about sad situations I have seen over the years led me to a new suggestion to help a legalistic dad.

The problem is getting the dad to listen and to be prepared to review his own actions, when he has a strong sense of being “right” and others being wrong.

Test the Fruit

Jesus told us we can know the truth about people by the “fruit” of their life.  A father’s life is not measured by the legal ground he claims as his authority, but by the fruit of his actions.  “By their fruits you will know them” is a basic litmus test we can apply quite widely.

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Matthew 7:16

“So by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:20

I suggest we can apply this to test those legalistic dads who think they are right and others are wrong.

Fruit in the Family

A child starts out as a blank page.  And children are very resilient and forgiving.  They have the ability to cope with disappointments and the distractions of their parents.  And children learn much of their concept of life by watching their parents at close quarters.

So, at least in general terms, the way the kids turn out can be regarded as the “fruit” of the family.  If a family produces selfish, proud, loud, disobedient kids, you know that the home has some serious problems.  If a home produces quiet, obedient, loving, thoughtful children, the quality of the home is attested to by those kids.

So let’s use that fruit factor as a searchlight on the legalistic dad.

Stubborn Kid from a Stubborn Dad

When a legalistic dad digs in his toes and will not budge from his conflict with a child, and the child digs in his or her toes and will not budge either, we can see that the child is the “fruit” of the father.  The stubborn father has produced that stubborn child.

So, if the dad thinks he has the ‘moral high ground’, standing in the place of being right while the kids are wrong, he had better re-think things.  The “fruit” of what he has produced is a public testimony to his failure.  Instead of standing on moral high ground, he is standing in the place he accuses his kids of standing on.

Humility in the Home

If the dad is looking for a spirit of humility in his children, then we need to see that same fruit in him.  If he doggedly defends his opinions and the rightness of who and what he is he can only expect his children to be as stubborn in their stand for their own rightness too.

First let’s see the dad humble himself before God and admit that he needs God’s wisdom.  Let’s hear the dad admit that he has failed in his role as dad.  When we see that kind of humility we know there is hope for the family.
If dad defies the evidence then he has invalidated his stand before God.  God gives grace to the humble, not to the defiant and arrogantly proud.

Heart Issues

Another important truth for a legalistic dad is that the issue is not rebellious kids, but the condition of the dad’s heart.  Yes, rebellion in the family is wrong and the rebellious children need to have that resolved.  But the dad is the head of the home and it is vital to get him sorted out as a key to healing the whole family.  And getting dad sorted out means dealing with dad’s heart.

The Bible points out that the real “issues” of our life are not the things that come against us but the things that come “out of us”.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

When we seek to heal a home, the real “issues” are not the rebellion of a son or daughter, but those things that come out of the heart of the dad and mum.  In the case of a legalistic dad in conflict with his children, it is what is coming out of the heart of that dad.

Out of the Heart

Listen to what Jesus said about the significance of what comes out of us.

“And he said, That which comes out of the man defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23

The issue that is defiling the father and likely bringing real problems into the home is whatever is coming OUT of the father’s heart.

And we know what is coming out of the heart by what people say.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Legalistic Speak

A legalistic dad will speak judgment of his children, rejection, condemnation, fault finding, pride in his own standards, negativity, contention, and so on.  And those words of his mouth reveal that he is not standing on moral high ground, but is polluted.

A heart that produces evil speaking reveals an “evil heart”.  The legalistic dad has deep troubles in his heart that lead him to produce toxic speech and bad fruit.

The more a legalistic dad is challenged about his stand the more virulent he may become in attacking others, asserting that he is right, feeling rejected and intimidated and so on.

All of this reveals that the dad is not walking and living in God’s grace.

Fruit and Heart

The dual matters of the “fruit” of the dad’s fathering in the home and the “issues” in the dad’s heart expressed in his legalistic stance and speech, show that the dad needs help.  The home is what it is because the dad has internal issues that need to be resolved.  He will never be able to lead his family into joy and wholeness while he is beset with personal problems that have produced bad fruit in the home and which reveal bad issues pouring out of his heart.

Legalism as a Cover

If a dad has produced bad fruit in his home and his heart pumps out evil things he has issues.  And legalism may just be a way to cope with life and excuse his situation.  Legalism may be a cover.  By being legalistic he can point at others, rather than get free on the inside himself.

Just about anything could cause a person to become legalistic, but since legalism prompts a person to reject others it is reasonable to assume that rejection has a part to play in the legalistic dad’s heart.

Certainly there is a lack of the grace of God.  And the writer of Hebrews warns that failing to receive and give out God’s grace leads us to having a root of bitterness which causes us to defile others.

“Be diligently attentive lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” Hebrews 12:15

Legalism and the attendant accusation and rejection certainly defile and offend people so an important need in the life of a legalistic dad is to experience the grace of God and to give God’s grace to others.

Give Grace to Dad

If you suffer under a legalistic dad you will find it easy to become hurt, offended, resentful, judgmental, angry and so on.  And by so doing you will be tempted to let a root of bitterness spring up in your life.  If that happens then the problem has been passed down to a new generation, instead of being dealt with and rooted out of the family.

So if you have a legalistic dad press in to God for sufficient grace so you can give grace to your dad, even though he does not deserve it.  If you can give grace to those who have no grace, you will not come under the power of their failures and weakness but have triumphed into liberty for yourself and your children.

If your dad is legalistic and refuses to see that there is anything wrong in his life, you are in a very vulnerable place.  Determine with God’s help to give abundant grace to that graceless dad.

Blaming Others

A problem that emerges in most relationships involves upsets between two or more people.  Having wisdom about those upsets and what is really going on thus becomes very powerful in making those relationships work better.

A tell-tale sign of wrong attitudes in relationships is that process of blaming others.  Accusing and blame shifting are common practices when people are in tension about something.

We are all familiar with the example of a mother calling out in an angry tone, “Who brought this mud into the house?”

And we are all familiar with the chorus of voices saying, “It wasn’t me!”

Getting upset, and doing what we can to avoid trouble are two automatic processes that often get built into our interpersonal communications.

Properly Interpret What is Going On

When we have an idea about something we can be very reluctant to change our mind.  This is especially so if the new perspective suggests we are wrong or have a problem.

The whole “blame shifting” routine kicks in if someone tries to suggest that we are a cause of trouble.  We don’t like to be wrong and we don’t like to be accused, or exposed for our weaknesses.

In highly competitive contexts we may be very strong in asserting our innocence or trying to cover up our failures.

These human tendencies, based on our pride, become deeply ingrained and some people become famous for their readiness to accuse others or to make up excuses.  For example, alcoholics are famously recognised for their ability to cover for their addiction and failures.

It is important for our own health and the health of our relationships that we properly interpret what is going on in our relationships.

Different Perspectives

Consider the difference in perspective that could be applied in the following statements.

“You often upset me and it takes me days to get over it.”

Or alternatively it might be more accurate to say: “I get into moods about things and take days to get over it.”

“You upset me so you must be wrong.”

This might be better stated as: “I get upset by you, so there is something about my reactions that is not right.”

The Real Issues

Since our true “issues” are not what others do or say but how we react, then it is wrong for us to blame others for the mood we are in, or for our responses.  It is what comes out of us that defines the “issues” we have to deal with.

In an earlier article titled Issues of Life, posted on 1/10/11, I discussed a powerful Bible text that exposes what the real issues are in our lives.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

This verse tells us that the real “issues” of our life are not what people say or do to us, but what comes out of our heart.  Our responses and reactions define the issues, and in fact ARE the true issues.

Natural Impulse

When a parent gets upset with his or her child, when a husband or wife gets upset with their spouse, or a child is upset by their sibling, the automatic assumption is that the other person is wrong because it seems to the one who is upset that the other person caused it.

It is counter-intuitive to think that we are upset because of our own choices and the weaknesses of our own personality.

Yet the Biblical truth is that it is what comes out of us that is the problem, not what was said or done to us.

What happens to us could well be injustice and wrong.  I am not saying that if we are abused it is our fault.  People hurt and offend others and we all suffer at the hands of others in some way.

This discussion is about the tendency we have to get into a mood, or some other form or “reaction” toward another, that is really our own responsibility.

Touchy People

Some people have a “hair-trigger” and readily react toward others. They are so ‘touchy’ that others have to walk on egg-shells in order to avoid being at the receiving end of a tirade from that upset person.

This is the substance of manipulation, oppression, abuse of others, control, emotional abuse, imposing self-will onto others, belittling, etc.

People who indulge in such activity are out of order.  They have “issues” in their own heart and mind.  However they may be able to justify their outbursts, accusations, anger, sharp tongue or other attacks on others without realising they are the oppressor, not the one they are blaming.

Loving Others

This self-delusion, while intuitive, is destructive and a failure to “love others” and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, which is the Golden Rule given to us by Jesus Christ.

“As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

In fact, it may be that a central purpose of the two great commandments, to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbour as ourself, is to force us to realisations that we would be blind to if we thought the world revolved around us.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30,31

Maybe God’s intention in giving us His laws is not to enslave us to His will, but to lead us into revelation truth about ourselves that will set us free from folly and shame.

So, next time you hear yourself expressing your exasperation, disapproval, anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, contempt, prejudice, unforgiveness, intolerance, demands, despisement and similar rubbish toward someone else, even if only in your thoughts, stop and realise that YOU HAVE “ISSUES”.

By reflecting on what you are thinking and why you are doing it you can be led into health and release you don’t presently have.

Example

In my family seminars I share the account of my early married life when I found myself readily annoyed and frustrated with my first-born son, Stephen.  Susan and I were parents shortly before our fist wedding anniversary and had three children born in short order.

One day I realised that I was particularly hard toward my oldest son, and much more lenient toward the two other boys.  It struck me that I was being unfair on him.  For some reason I caught myself out being biased against him when it came to rebuke and discipline.

I could justify my reactions by saying, “He’s the oldest so he should know better”, but I sensed there was a deeper issue at work.

I prayed about the matter, confessing my evident bias and asking God to show me what was wrong and what to do.

As I reflected on the situation it struck me that I resented my son.  He was the first baby and therefore the first child to take my wife away from me.  Susan had to care for the baby, and she had various health challenges along the way.  A baby completely changed our married life and reduced our time together and or intimacy.  Unconsciously I held Stephen responsible for how that impact on me.

Having realised the impact of a baby I was far less reactive to the impact of my next two sons.  So my “issue” was only with Stephen.

Once I realised that situation I was able to pray about it, confessing my selfish responses and attitudes, asking God to forgive me and to heal my heart attitude toward my son.

Some time later I realised to my delight that I had a fresh relationship with my son.  I did not feel any of the hardness of heart that had been there before and I enjoyed him as I had not been able to before.

Set Free by Truth

My experience is a testimony to the veracity of God’s Word, which tells us that when we know truth that truth liberates us.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

So I share these insights with you, in the trust that you will refer back to God’s Word and allow God’s Truth to settle in your heart and set you free.

Your problem, as is common to all humanity, is that we will prefer to believe a lie, if it gives hides our pride, lust, self-will and shame.  You will tend to justify your actions, including your selfish and angry responses to others.  You will like the idea that THEY are to blame, not you.

I can only pray that the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you, to change your heart and cause you to step into the wonderful freedom that is available to you.

Get Over It At Home

Don’t get all worked up about something if you are not going to do something to resolve it. The advice you need if you have become one of those who rave on about things is, “Get over it!”

I opened this subject in a previous article titled “Get Over It”, and now I am elaborating on the theme, to make it more practically applicable to everyday life. To best understand what I am explaining here, be sure to read that first article.

Good truth is truth that works in everyday life. You know you have conquered something when you can live it out in the home. Your marriage and family are the testing ground for all your theories. If you think you’ve changed, but still act the same at home, then you are deluding yourself. So I’m now focusing the need to “Get over it!” on the home.

Worked Up

People get worked up about things that have stung them or found a weakness in them at heart level. We know the matter is anchored in the heart because Jesus Christ explained that what comes out of us originates in our heart.

“O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

What spills out of your lips and directs your attitudes, body language, tone of voice and so on, has its origins in your heart. If you are all worked up about something, then it is your heart that is really worked up.

Your heart harbours such things as jealousy, lust, pride, bitterness, shame, pain and so on. It is these conditions in our heart that prompt us to become preoccupied about things that happen around us. If a person is stuck on something, you can be sure that they have an issue in their heart that has caused that connection and reaction.

Heart Surgery

What you need to do is recognise that raving, complaining, endlessly rehearsing something, entertaining your fears, talking about something incessantly, or being totally distracted by something that is bothering you declares that your heart needs to be sorted out.

You need spiritual ‘heart surgery’. You need to resolve those things that stir you up, agitate you, distract you, make you afraid, and so on.

However, most people who get sucked into the vortex of some obsessive thought pattern, making them rave on, or be totally absorbed by something or other, do not immediately realise that they have a ‘heart’ issue to resolve. They tend to think that some person, action, situation, prospect, hope, or whatever, is the real issue.

Heart Issues

King Solomon, in all his wisdom, identified the heart as the real culprit in our lives, 3,000 years ago. He advised that the real issues of our life spring from our heart, not circumstances, people, experiences, fears, etc.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it (the heart) are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

That thing that is distracting you, pulling your attention back to it all the time, is anchored in something inside your heart. Even though some person has done wrong, or some situation has developed, or something was said, or you went through something or other, the real issue is still inside your heart.

Many people go through terrible things and come out without being distracted, absorbed, devastated, and so on. Whatever the source of their resilience, what has happened for them is that their experience did not get hooked in their heart.

If you have gone through things and been buried in reactions, attitudes, fears, distractions, or the like, then your heart has not handled the things as successfully as you need it to. All the issues of your life are ‘heart issues’.

Do Something

I pointed out in my first Get Over It article that you can test yourself with the question “Will you fix it?” If you don’t intend to do something about the problem or issue that has your focus then you will just have to get over it.

If you can’t fix it, such as because it is outside your scope of ability or authority, then you have no alternative but to ‘get over it’. You need to come to terms with your challenges and get on with life. You will do that most successfully with God’s grace helping you. Ask God for His grace to carry you through the challenging situations.

If you can fix it and won’t, then you have lost the right to complain or be preoccupied with it. If your pride or fear gets in the way, then you have stepped back from action. So, “Get over it!” You are now where you are because you have chosen to be there. Now, get on with life.

If you are not going to do something, then that decision exposes something more about your heart. You have a personal obstacle, such as pride, insecurity, unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, fear of people’s opinions, or any of a range of other possibilities. You need to get spiritual heart surgery on that thing you have just discovered in your chest.

In Marriage

To put a practical edge on this, let’s consider a husband who is lazier than his wife wants him to be. She can be exasperated with him, complaining to him and about him, belittling him to others, trying to manipulate him and feeling sorry for herself because he keeps disappointing her.

The best thing the wife can do is “Get over it!”

So, let’s ask the question, “Will you fix it?” She might answer, “I’m trying to!” Her nagging and complaining may be her attempt to change him. But a few months of poor response should alert her to the fact that her complaints don’t work. If she is still nagging him after a few months, then she is losing the plot and failing to see the reality of her marriage situation.

In the case of a lazy husband the wife does not have authority to change her husband. She also probably does not have the ability to do so. So, she can exhaust herself and frustrate her husband by her continued attempts, such as nagging, but that will only damage the relationship. Alternatively she can “Get over it!”

She can hand over her disappointment to God. She can release her husband from expectations that he will be a diligent and energetic man in her life. She can recognise that she is his helper, not him her servant. She can scale down her expectations to accommodate what he is able and willing to do. She can focus on the positives in the relationship, rather than her frustrations.

But, to do those things she will need spiritual heart surgery. She will have to let God change her attitudes and resolve her inner thoughts and feelings. That will take God’s grace.

The Kids

In a case where a father is disappointed in his child because the child doesn’t meet his expectations he too has to “Get over it!” Let’s assume that a child doesn’t have the sporting, academic and personality qualities which the dad always imagined his children would have.

If we ask the dad, “Will you fix it?” he would probably say that he has tried everything he knows to do, but the kid just doesn’t come up to his expectations. If it is a matter of training and discipline then the dad has to accept responsibility for the outcome, and repent before God, asking for God’s grace and guidance to correct the situation.

If it’s a matter of natural ability, personality and interests, then the dad cannot make the difference he might want to see and so he has to come to terms with who and what the child is. The dad has to give his hopes and expectations to God. In his heart he has to forgive the child for being different to what he wanted. He has to learn how to love the child for who the child is, helping his child become the best fulfilment of who God created them to be, even if that is not what the dad wanted in a child.

If he won’t do that he will end up projecting rejection into his child. The child needs to be loved and cherished by a father who accepts them for who they are and helps them become the person God wants them to be.

Stop Complaining

You have the power to experience change. If a situation needs to be fixed and you can fix it, then stop complaining and get about the business of making a difference.

If a situation cannot be changed, or at least you don’t have the power or authority to do so, then “Get over it!” Get on with life, by experiencing change in your heart. You have the power to experience change on the inside, by bringing your heart issues to God. Let Him deal with your frustrations, fears, pride, shame, anger, unforgiveness, or whatever. Then, even if a less than happy situation exists which you cannot change, you will still be able to get on with life and be free from distraction and debilitation.

So, let me share with you some profound advice for your situation…. “Get over it!”