Praying for God

raised handsIt’s so obvious, I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. It’s so unthinkable, I cannot fathom it even now.

It may be obvious but unthinkable, to you too, for I suspect you know this prayer. Would you want to know if there’s more there than you have seen?

If so, I invite you, the deepest part of you: Notice!

 

The prayer Jesus taught

Jesus uttered what we call, “the Lord’s Prayer.” But Jesus didn’t pray it. Rather, he taught it. He said:

This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matt. 6:9-13)

Notice: These verses don’t teach confession or thanksgiving or praise. While other scriptures show other facets of prayer, the Lord’s Prayer contains key petitions. Here, Jesus taught us what to ask for.

But also, he taught who to pray for. The second half of this prayer includes four requests. When we say them, we typically focus on what we’re asking for. But now notice who we’re praying for: “give us,” “forgive us,” lead us,” “deliver us.

In a word, Jesus taught us to pray for people. Whether we call on God in behalf of ourselves, family and friends, leaders, the oppressed, strangers or enemies, we’re praying for “us.” It’s good and godly to recognize that people are people and to pray for us.

Yet Jesus also told us to pray for someone else. Indeed, he taught us to pray first for someone other than us. He said we should ask “our Father in heaven”:

Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

It’s not surprising that Jesus taught us to pray to God.

What’s stunning is this: Jesus taught us to pray for God.

If, in prayer, I ask that what you desire happens or that what you’re doing succeeds, I’m praying for you. If I pray for the respect due to you to come to you, I’m praying for you. So when we pray for the Lord’s kingdom to prosper, his will to be done and his name to be honored, we’re praying for him.

Notice too: Praying for God doesn’t mean politely gesturing his way before launching into lengthy prayers for us. The entire first half of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us what to pray for our Father.

That’s not meant to make us legalistic. It’s meant to show us that prayer doesn’t look as we have thought. It’s meant to call forth petitions that originate in our spirit – and birth what we have not even dreamed.

 

Praying from your soul

Typically, we pray from our souls. We pray for people (including ourselves) because people have needs. Indeed, people have a vast array of needs – little needs, overwhelming needs, physical needs, financial needs, spiritual needs, emotional and mental and social needs. We go to God, asking him to meet needs we’ve experienced or heard about or seen. We may keep lists to make sure we include all the people and needs we feel responsible to cover. We plead with greater passion when we have a deep emotional connection for the people or the need. We ask for what we think will meet each need best.

When we pray for people, we tend to pray from our souls. But you cannot pray for God soul-first. You cannot mentally figure out how to do it. You cannot summon up an emotional connection. The only emotion you may feel is offense. People everywhere have needs so vast and heavy that you could spend all day every day praying and still not scratch the surface. Yet, you’re supposed to pray first and foremost for the God who has all power and all knowledge, who created everything, who owns everything? How can such a God possibly have needs?

Notice what happens inside you when you pray the words: Give us. Forgive us. Lead us. Deliver us. You’re praying for “us.” You can’t help but identify, mentally and emotionally. That’s a soul connection.

Do you feel the same resonance when you pray these words? Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.

We may repeat these words that Jesus taught, because he did say to pray them. But try as we might, we can’t mentally grasp what we’re asking. We can’t emotionally relate to God’s name, his kingdom, his will.

 

Praying from your spirit

Good news! The most powerful, effective prayers arise, not from your mind or emotions, but from deeper within. Indeed, they originate from God himself. He is three-in-one: Father, Son, Spirit. God the Spirit lives in everyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. He relates to us Spirit-to-spirit.

“What no human mind has conceived … these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. … For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is … the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”(1 Cor. 2:10-12)

“Spirit can be known only by spirit – God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion.” (1 Cor. 2:15 MSG)

God’s Spirit calls to your human spirit. You choose whether your spirit will respond, or whether it will continue to be overruled by your boisterous and opinionated soul. (For more on spirit and soul, including an in-depth look at 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, see, “Humble your soul, release your spirit” and “Living by the Spirit.”)

As you humble your soul and release your spirit to move with Christ’s Spirit, you find yourself impelled by something stronger than emotion and more certain than knowledge. You long for your Father’s name to be hallowed, his kingdom to come. You pray for God.

Often, to your amazement, your soul joins in. Your mind and emotions participate joyfully in prayers they could not start. However, you don’t quit praying for God or yearning for what he wants when he takes you places that defy logic, places where your emotions scream not to go.

What’s more, when you begin to pray for God from your spirit, you begin to pray for people in the same way. Where before you asked for what you thought was needed, now you begin to glimpse the heart of God toward each one. You intercede with greater wisdom, authority and love, as God himself teaches you how to pray.

 

Asa’s prayer

Long before Jesus walked the earth, a king named Asa demonstrated the kind of praying the Lord’s Prayer teaches.

King Asa had a desperate need. His country Judah had a desperate need. A Cushite army of 1,000,000 men marched toward Judah, intending to conquer the people and devastate the land. By comparison, Asa had a tiny army. The Cushites had 300 chariots; Asa had none.

He took his troops out to meet the enemy, drew them up in battle formation – and cried out to God. Asa didn’t relegate prayer to the intercessors back home – though they too surely prayed. Standing on the battlefield as commander-in-chief, he did the most crucial, strategic and wise thing he could have done. He called on the Lord his God:

Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you (2 Chron. 14:11).

Asa brought a specific, desperate need to God. Asa cried, “Help us.” He cried out in behalf of himself, his army and his country. Yet notice the focus of his prayer throughout, the thrust from beginning to end:

Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.

Where we see the word Lord in this verse, Asa called on God’s covenant name. Asa spoke the Name three times in his short prayer. He twice acknowledged the Lord as “our God.” Every phrase of his prayer pointed toward God.

Asa did not use God’s name as a ploy to get what he and his people needed. Asa did not try to manipulate the Lord. God who knows the heart attested as much by the way he responded to Asa.

God saw Asa’s fear and concern for his people and his land. At the same time, God saw that the words of Asa’s mouth reflected the cry of his inmost being. First and foremost, Asa yearned for God’s reputation and God’s rule.

If he had prayed from his soul, Asa might have emphasized the enemy’s dire threat and the people’s great peril. He would have cared little that Judah’s defeat would damage God’s name. Asa would have ended his plea: “Do not let this vast army prevail against us.” Instead, Asa asked, “Lord … do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

Asa prayed to God – and he prayed for God.

In so doing, he prayed the most powerful petition possible in behalf of himself and his people. In answer, “The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah” (2 Chron. 14:12).

 

Cry from your inmost being

Today, God within you invites you to experience something stronger than emotion, more certain than knowledge. If you say yes, he will move you deep within to want what he himself longs for. You’ll find yourself praying for him.

What’s more, you’ll pray very differently – and far more powerfully – for us.

In time, if you do not turn back, your life will become a prayer. As you press in to your Lord, Spirit-to-spirit, you will pursue his will. You will seek first his kingdom. Continually from your inmost being, you will cry for the honor of his name.

© 2009, 2017 Deborah P. Brunt. Italics in Scripture quotations are mine.

Coming in the Praying for God Series:

  • The Forgotten Prayer
  • Trajectory
  • Lauren Daigle Praying for God

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12 signposts on the journey to rest

Return to Your RestReturn to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey, is now available on Kindle! May a book born from my own 10-year journey into rest help others who know they desperately need rest, but can’t for the life of them find it.

I’ve been helped on this journey by surprising insights gleaned from people in Scripture – about what rest is and how it looks. One of the first insights, and one of the most crucial, came from the ancient Israelites:

Entering rest requires pressing in to go where you haven’t believed it possible to go.

Here are 11 other signposts, placed in the path by people who came before.

Also from the ancient Israelites:

  1. Our Lord has designed rest as a place to live – and as a pause we regularly take. We enjoy either aspect of rest only as we learn to embrace both.

  2. The enemy of rest is not busyness alone. The prime enemy of rest is unbelief.

From Jesus’ disciple, Nathanael:

  1. Entering rest requires recognizing when I’m sitting under a fig tree that can never produce what it promises. Seeing, I refuse the lie: “Cling to the status quo, and all will be well.”

From Martha, Mary’s sister:

  1. Rest is refusing false responsibility. It’s not doing what Jesus says is not necessary. That requires learning to recognize his voice. It requires humbling my soul, because being “worried and upset about many things” may make me feel quite important.

From Mary, Martha’s sister:

  1. Rest is refusing false guilt. It’s calmly staying the course when I’m doing what pleases Jesus, but others disapprove.

From the tax collectors, Matthew and Zacchaeus:

  1. Rest lies in identifying what it is I’ve believed would make me whole or happy, and laying it at Jesus’ feet.

From Mary Magdalene:

  1. Rest is knowing my Lord and his truth, Spirit-to-spirit. It’s letting him calm me and refocus me when my mind and emotions have run, screaming, the wrong way. It’s hearing in my inmost being when he himself calls my name.

From the man called Legion:

  1. Rest is freedom from double-mindedness. When I live from a place of rest, my words and actions match.

From Mary, the mother of Jesus:

  1. Rest comes when I surrender to Christ. I’m not the one calling the shots; he is. That involves continually letting him show me when I’m “working him” to get what I want, and when I’m truly seeking to know and do his will.

From the shepherd-king David:

  1. Rest? It restores.

From the Lord himself, who said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me … and I will give you rest”:

  1. If what you’re getting isn’t rest, where you’re going isn’t to Jesus.

For all these reasons, and more, Return to Your Rest.

Return to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey

Return to Your RestSounds so simple. Seems utterly impossible. So how does it look to come to Jesus … and find rest?

Get Return to Your Rest on Kindle.

FYI: You can read Kindle e-books on your tablet, smartphone or computer, by downloading a free Kindle app.

Visit ReturnToYourRest.com.

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Song of rest

Beside still waters

Return to Your Rest is on sale March 1-7, 2017, for $.99!

I hadn’t previously thought it. But suddenly I knew: Psalm 23 is a song of rest.

Two years later, I learned: In the same time frame as my Spirit-to-spirit “suddenly,” Christian recording artist Matt Maher wrote a song, saying the same thing.

For me, the revelation happened in January 2014. It was a sunny Sunday morning in a valley-of-the-shadow season.

For years, I had been learning what it means to answer Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” Searching the Scriptures, I had explored the lives of eight people who came to Jesus while he walked the earth. I saw how rest looked for each.

But more, I saw the amazing ways the life of each intersected with mine. I saw what they who lived so long ago can teach us today about our deep need to return to rest, and the ways Christ provides it.

Writing what I was learning, I had drafted most of a book manuscript titled Return to Your Rest. However, I had no clue how to end it. What would tie together all I had learned about the rest God gives and the different ways it looks?

I’ve read or heard the world’s best-known psalm countless times. Yet, that bright-but-dark Sunday, when I read Psalm 23 in the New Living Translation, I saw what I had not previously seen. The entire psalm is David’s yes to God’s rest. In that same instant, I realized: The psalm beautifully summarizes what rest looked like for the New Testament women and men whose lives God had used to teach me so much. It could be my yes to rest too.

 

The past: Eight voices in harmony

Return to Your RestListen, as eight who said yes to God’s rest sing David’s song.

First up, Nathanael, who walked away from the status and power he might have had as a religious leader in order to follow Christ. He sings robustly: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

Next, we hear the voices of two who once were demonized – Mary Magdalene, in duet with the man called Legion, or in The Message paraphrase, “Mob.” They sing in wonder: “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”

Now, the soprano and alto of Mary and Martha ring out: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Then Zacchaeus and Matthew, the two tax collectors who invited Jesus for dinner, announce in tenor and bass: “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.”

And Mary, the mother of Jesus, sings with joy: “You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

Finally, in four-part harmony, all their voices rise: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

The present: Matt Maher sings “Rest”

One other thing I didn’t know in January 2014: I still had more to experience before I could finish and publish Return to Your Rest. Now, two years later, the book ends by meandering through David’s Song of Rest, embracing aspects of rest that Psalm 23 reveals.

This spring, while preparing to release Return to Your Rest as an e-book, I had another “suddenly” – a nudge to see if any contemporary songs focus on rest.

To my surprise, just a cursory search on iTunes revealed six different songs, each by a different Christian artist, and each titled, “Rest.” All but one of the songs was recorded in the last five years. What’s more, the six songs correspond in a rather startling way with the three sections of my book: “Resisting Rest,” “Snapshots of Rest” and “Song of Rest.” So I’ve happily included links on the corresponding pages of the e-book. (You’ll find a YouTube video of Matthew West’s “Rest” in my recent post, “Sort of like frog gigging.” I suspect some of the other “Rest” videos will appear in future Return to Your Rest posts.)

Most stunning to me of all: “Rest” by Matt Maher is his rendering of Psalm 23. Matt’s song is copyrighted in 2015, but as the YouTube video below reveals: He was already performing it in March 2014.

So, hmm, no less than six contemporary Christian songs reveal: We need rest, and God himself is calling us to receive it. He’s reminding us: Psalm 23 is a song of rest – a song David started, but anyone can sing.

Listen as Matt Maher echoes David’s psalm. Maybe this very ancient and very contemporary song can express your yes to God’s rest too.

Parts of this post are adapted from Return to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey, © 2016 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.

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Return to your rest

In the most brutal and exhausting seasons of my life, I’ve learned: Jesus meant it when he said, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.”

From personal experience, I can testify:

No matter how completely God’s rest seems to have disappeared from your life, he still holds it out, and he makes the way for you to return.

Restful road

Today, I’m in awe. Since my declaration on May 1, “I choose light,” the Lord has made a way where there was none for me to finish the e-book manuscript that has refused to be finished for two-plus years.

It’s a triple joy. For the finishing signals new victory in resting, even as I continue to learn. And now, God willing, the book being birthed can help others who know they desperately need rest, but can’t for the life of them find it.

Return to Your RestReturn to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey

Sounds so simple. Seems utterly impossible. So how does it look to come to Jesus … and find rest?

Get Return to Your Rest on Kindle

FYI: You can read Kindle e-books on your tablet, smartphone or computer, by downloading a free Kindle app.

Visit ReturnToYourRest.com

Browse posts related to Return to Your Rest

 

Return to my rest

Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 CEB)

Return to Your RestIn December 2013, I had written all but one chapter of a book manuscript exploring Jesus’ wonderful, but seemingly impossible, invitation, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” I knew the thrust of the final chapter, but had no words even to begin it.

After reviewing and editing the other chapters, I set the manuscript aside for the holidays, thinking I would write the closing chapter in January 2014 and have a new ebook published by spring. It would be titled, Return to Your Rest.

January 6, 2014, my father went in for a heart cath. January 13, he underwent open heart surgery. February 1, he died. At his passing, I wrote two posts that expressed the grief and acceptance I felt: “Homecoming” and “Eulogy.”

I didn’t know that the months ahead held far more than natural grief. For my father’s death triggered a series of events that turned my world upside down.

I’ve had other hard years, mind you, but 2014 proved the darkest yet. Strangely, as the year progressed, I had a strong sense that God was birthing something – almost as if I myself had re-entered the womb. Along the way, I could see glimpses of profound things the Lord was accomplishing. But that didn’t mean it felt good.

Most definitely, the rest I’d enjoyed previously had fled. For months, my thoughts and emotions ricocheted everywhere. At the same time, the Spirit of Christ continually said to my spirit:

The source of your rest lies in him who has invited you and to whom you have come. He has not forsaken you. His rest will return, if you do not give up but rather press in with Jesus to go through.

As the months of 2014 passed, I didn’t even try to revisit my manuscript or to start that elusive last chapter. I dared not return to my book until I had returned to my rest.

By the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, I had begun to see light and to feel lighter. Once again, I started reading and meditating on the psalm that, a year earlier, God had showed me would form the heart of that last chapter. It’s Psalm 23, David’s song of rest.

As I pondered and waited before the Lord, words began to flow again, along with the release to write them. At last, I saw what God the Spirit was showing me in this beautiful song.

What I had gained in the interim wasn’t so much new insight, mentally, as it was new awareness in my inmost part. Having walked the valley of the shadow in 2014, I can now sing David’s song from a deeper, richer place.

Life’s struggles and battles will continue, of course. And there may be other seasons when rest seems to have permanently fled. But now, from experience, I can say to myself and to you:

No matter how completely God’s rest seems to have disappeared from your life, he still holds it out, and he makes the way for you to return.

This week, I wrote the last chapter of my soon-to-be book. Once again, I’m singing a song of rest.

The ‘adulthood’ dilemma

The ‘Adulthood’ Dilemma series – #3.
Adapted from What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé.

Eye-to-eye equality

Here I am, learning eye-to-eye equality.

Recently, I found myself in an incredibly frustrating and exhausting place: I was truly growing – learning to hear God clearly, stepping out to follow him fully, seeking the whole time to honor others, including and especially those who objected to my chosen path. More than ever before, I was thinking and acting like an adult. Yet certain people didn’t see me as an adult or treat me as an adult … because all of us have been caught up in a system that does not count me qualified for ‘adulthood.’

Even when I appealed to those people, even when I looked in their eyes and tried to explain the truth, they could not hear me. From their one-up/one-down perspective, my appeal sounded as foolish as if I were a six-year-old, pleading to take the car out for a spin. So they rejected my plea and continued trying to beat down the boundary I had set. If I responded by getting angry and throwing a fit, they were even more convinced that I’m no older than six.

Spirit-to-spirit process

How, then, do I attain full adulthood? How do any of us get counted as adults?

We cooperate with God, Spirit-to-spirit, in the maturing process he’s tailor-made for each of us.

I had missed a key step in that process, a step Henry Cloud describes this way in his book, Changes That Heal: “coming out from under the one-down relationship that a child has to parents and other adults and coming into an equal standing as an adult on his or her own.”

Until God showed me the truth, I had not realized how much I still remained under this system of thinking – how much I was struggling to find my place somewhere in the world of one-up/one-down.

Eye-to-eye equality

As I sat before the Lord, undone by what he was revealing, he began to instruct me what to do in response. Here’s what he said:

Keep cooperating with ME in the maturing process. That process is ongoing as long as you live. Yet, you can reach a place of adulthood in this process. In fact, something’s wrong if you don’t. I designed you to grow up spiritually, as surely as I designed you to grow up physically.

Stop agreeing to act as if other adults are your parents and you are still a child. Listening to wise counsel is vastly different from seeking parental approval. Honoring your leaders does not mean looking to them for permission to think, feel or act. Repent for agreeing with a sinful, hierarchical system that categorizes adults as one-up/one-down.

Do not agree that you must live your life one-down. Renounce the lie that says a seminary degree qualifies you for adulthood. Renounce the lie that women are too emotional and too easily deceived to be able to hear the Lord for themselves. Know in the depths of your being: Womanhood does not disqualify a person from adulthood. Refuse to live as if it does.

But also, do not agree to the lie that you’re to be one-up. Repent for every attempt you’ve made to live toward other adults as parent-toward-perennial-child. Beware of relying on a title or position to make you feel grown up. Beware of counting either gender “less than” the other. Refuse the lie that your adulthood hinges on other adults being one-down to you.

Instead, actively affirm the adulthood of others. Ask ME to teach you moment-by-moment, from your heart, to see other people eye-to-eye.

As I’ve begun to walk out what God has showed me, I’ve seen a remarkable thing. Wherever people treat one another with eye-to-eye equality, we’re all affirmed in our adulthood. We all become more adult.

People caught in a one-up/one-down system may still rebuke me for walking in maturity. They may still pressure me to stop. But I’ve renounced agreement with that system. Now I see: The perceptions it creates are illusions. The people to whom I had looked for approval aren’t one-up at all.

As I relinquish all need for permission from anyone other than God, I no longer feel battered by others’ attempts to pressure me. When nothing in me is pleading for their approval, nothing in them has anything to push against.

What About Women?Adapted from chapter 12, What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé, © 2013 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.

Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud (Zondervan, 1990, 1992), Mobipocket Edition March 2009.

Other posts in The ‘Adulthood’ Dilemma series:
#1 – Case of the battered boundaries
#2 – Prolonged infancies

Look inside What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé
What About Women? webpage

Case of the battered boundaries

The ‘Adulthood’ Dilemma series – #1.
Adapted from What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé.

© Tammy McGary

© Tammy McGary

I could write a book about boundaries. Oh wait! Someone already did. I read the book several years ago, desperate for help.

If you missed it, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, teaches that people have boundaries, just as surely as property does. Property boundaries mark where one parcel ends and another begins. Personal boundaries mark where one person ends and another begins.

People dispute property boundaries all the time. People challenge personal boundaries too. Typically, the biggest disputes over personal boundaries involve two types of people:

  • Those who run roughshod over the boundaries of others;
  • Those who let others run roughshod over them – ignoring any boundary they set.

When I read Boundaries, I finished the book still perplexed. According to everything Cloud and Townsend described, I should have been in a good place, boundary-wise. It was my heart’s desire and my practice to honor other people’s boundaries. I also sought to establish healthy limits and was not easily guilted or coerced to let others mow them down.

Yet, something alarming had begun to happen: I would set a healthy boundary. I would identify it clearly and with kindness: “This is what I can do, and will do gladly. This, in good conscience, I cannot.” When tested, I maintained the boundary consistently. Yet in crucial situations, my boundaries were not being honored. Rather, I was pressured without ceasing to take them down.

In every case, the boundary involved a major issue – and a spiritual one. The line drawn marked a place I could not go beyond and still remain obedient to God. But people who should have been loudly encouraging the choice to follow God fully never stopped pushing against it. I faced instant and unrelenting pressure to recant – not just to move my boundary an inch or two, but to renounce it entirely. To stand where God had told me to stand, I had to exert an enormous amount of effort for a very long time.

According to the Boundaries book, that should not have happened. People tend to honor the boundaries of those who maintain them consistently. The boundaries may be tested immediately. But when they hold firm, the testers typically move on to people whose boundaries they can shift at will.

“Why is this happening?” I asked the Lord. At last, I began to see: The refusal to honor my boundaries hinged on the view of adulthood, in general, and womanhood, in particular, in the culture in which I live.

 

Adulthood described

In his book, Changes That Heal, Henry Cloud describes adulthood as a place of freedom, authority and “eye-to-eye equality” with other adults. Adults have freedom:

  • To make their own decisions without permission from others,
  • To evaluate and judge their own performance,
  • To choose their own values and opinions,
  • To disagree with others freely, and
  • To enjoy sexual relations with an equal spouse.

Adults also have freedom to give up rights and serve others in submission. Cloud writes, “When we submit in love, we are displaying our freedom; if we submit in compliance, it is not true submission. It’s slavery.”

Does that statement grab you like it did me? Reread it. Let it sink in.

Having substantial freedoms gives adults great authority. With freedom and authority comes a weighty responsibility. As adults, we’re accountable to God for every choice we make. Certainly, we’re not to live as islands. We’re to give and receive wise counsel, to exhort and confront one another in love. But “adults don’t need ‘permission’ from some other person to think, feel, or act.” Rather, adults answer directly to God.

Children, by contrast, relate to adults in a one-down/one-up relationship. Children need permission to make important decisions. If a child makes a choice the parents think unwise, they have the authority to intervene. In fact, if they see their child doing something harmful and don’t take action, they’re accountable. If parents say “no” to a child but the child persists in doing what the parents said to stop, the parents have a responsibility to stand firm and not to let the disobedient child have his or her way.

“Becoming an adult is the process of moving out of ‘one-up/one-down’ relationship and into a peer relationship to other adults.” Remaining “one-down” in relationships means “looking up to other adults for parental functions,” such as thinking for us, telling us how to live and what to believe.

We miss the important passage into full adulthood if we grow up physically, yet remain “one-down” in key relationships.

 

Adulthood denied

In every case where people have pushed relentlessly against my boundaries, they denied my adulthood. They saw themselves in a parental, one-up role in my life. If they had counted me an adult, they might have railed against my boundary temporarily, but when I said, “Thank you for your input. This is my choice,” they would have backed away and left me to sort it out with God. They did not do that. Instead, they determined, “One way or another, we will force you to comply.” In their minds, they are ones to whom I must listen and from whom I must get permission – and I’m nothing more than a rebellious child.

Adapted from chapter 12, What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé, © 2013 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.

What About Women?Quotations are from Changes That Heal, by Henry Cloud (Zondervan, 1990, 1992), Mobipocket Edition March 2009.

Posts in The ‘Adulthood’ Dilemma series

Look inside What About Women?
What About Women? webpage