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Glasgow Pendulum

The Pendulum Effect

Glasgow Pendulum
Glasgow Pendulum

These are some observations I have made on this journey to become a godly wife that I pray might be a blessing to you. 🙂

TWO SINFUL EXTREMES:

With almost every aspect of the Christian life, I  picture a number line.  In one direction is one extreme and in the other direction is another extreme. In the power of the sinful flesh, all we can do is swing back and forth from one sinful tendency to another like a pendulum. We swing too far one way then too far the other way – and no matter which way we swing, we create dysfunction. It is VERY frustrating! Some examples:

 

Passive/Doormat <———-> Dominant/Control Freak

Too Quiet <———-> Too Talkative

Subservient<———-> Disrespectful

Afraid/Worried <———-> Apathetic

Perfectionistic/Legalistic <———-> License to Sin/Carelessness

This is often why those who don’t know Christ get so offended when I describe being a godly wife. The only options available to us when we are operating in our own flesh and our own human wisdom are these sinful extremes. They can’t see any other way. If I am talking about not being controlling and not being disrespectful – the world thinks the only option is to be a silent slave with no value, no voice, and no power.

GOD’S WAYS ARE MUCH HIGHER THAN OUR WAYS:

God is all about a proper delicate balance and tension between contrasting qualities.

  • He is Love but at the same time He is Holy and Just.
  • He is full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, but at the same time, He has wrath for sin.
  • He is patient and long-suffering, but He also has righteous anger and He carries out judgment swiftly when He knows it is the right time.
  • He is omnipotent and gentle.
  • He is omnipresent but He is a gentleman and does not force us to let Him reign in our hearts.
  • He is completely sovereign but He gives us free will and He does not override that.

We get a warped view of God when we focus on one attribute without understanding that all of His attributes are equally present all the time and that they exist in balance. Godliness is very similar – it is about proper balance.

 

SOARING ABOVE THE SINFUL EXTREMES:

The way I picture it, when we come to Christ and allow Him to be LORD and yield control completely to Him each day and each moment as best we know how – He doesn’t call us to swing on the pendulum anymore, He empowers us to soar on wings like eagles above those sinful extremes in a beautiful balance of godly characteristics. Of course, it does take time – sanctification is a process where we learn to allow God to work in us more and more – it is very much like learning to walk. We fall a lot, especially at first – but we are never exempt from falling. If we are not abiding in Christ and His Spirit is not in control, we can fall at any time into sin.

The world thinks of “power” and “freedom” as the “strength to do whatever we want whenever we want in our sinful nature.”

In God’s economy “power and “freedom” are the “strength and ability to walk in obedience to God for His glory.”

So, instead of:

  • passivity or dominance – we have the power to share our feelings, concerns, and ideas vulnerably and confidently but we don’t have to revert to doing nothing and we don’t have to try to steam roll people. God gives us the power to fly above the center of those two things in this sweet place of beauty and godly power.
  • being too quiet or talking too much – God prompts us when to be quiet and when to wait and when and what to say at just the right time in just the right way.
  • being too wimpy or too harsh  – God empowers us to be assertive and bold but with the power of His love motivating and compelling us to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.
  • subservience or disrespect – God empowers us to first of all reverence Him above all else and to respect Him properly, then we are able to show proper respect for our husbands and others out of reverence for God and a desire to bless others without viewing ourselves as subhuman. We have godly humility and no pride – but it is a healthy thing, not a destructive thing.
  • having fear or apathy – we realize that God is sovereign and we rest in His sovereignty and we realize that He is in control so we don’t have to be afraid even if we must face our greatest fears. We trust Him with our fears. And we can love because we aren’t trying to protect ourselves. We have God’s Spirit’s power of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • legalism/perfectionism or license to sin – we use our freedom in Christ to serve others in love. We know we don’t have to earn God’s favor through works. We are not under the Law of the Old Testament, but we are under Grace. We wouldn’t dare disrespect the Grace for which Christ died to share with us. We WANT to live holy lives out of gratitude for all Jesus has done for us. So we are no longer oppressed by legalism and trying to sanctify ourselves in our own strength and we are not involved in using the grace of Christ to trample the blood of Christ by saying, “let’s sin all we can so we can get more grace!” We want to please God and we have joy in living for Christ as His Spirit empowers us.
  • idolatry of others or idolatry of self – We tear out everything we have put above Christ in our hearts and set Him firmly on the throne of our lives so that He is by far our greatest priority and concern. We love Him far above others. We care about His opinion and His will more than anything or anyone else.
  • being enmeshed or being distant – We have the power to separate ourselves in a healthy way from others so that we are not trying to be responsible for their emotions or expecting them to be responsible for our happiness or our spiritual well-being but we don’t have to be cold and distant. We have the power to love with God’s love at just the right amount of distance/space.
  • seeking self-protection or martyrdom/resentment – I don’t have to try to protect myself when I know God is protecting me. I don’t do stupid things on purpose. But if I know I am in God’s will, that is where I want to be. I don’t have to fear getting hurt in my relationships because I know God will be with me and will empower me to deal with whatever may come and that He will use all things ultimately for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29). I don’t have to give grudgingly or as a martyr or be filled with resentment because I am no longer loving others to get what I want from them. I am loving others because God is in me and He is love. I don’t need reciprocity from other people when I have God’s power to love. I can love unconditionally and seek to bless others, knowing God is pleased and He will reward me.
  • trusting others too much or shutting down – I know that people will fail me. They are all sinners. I don’t expect people to be perfect. I don’t expect them to be Jesus to me. My primary trust is in God, not people. I don’t have to shut down from others because God’s Spirit empowers me to love. I don’t have to keep my distance out of fear. I can guard my heart wisely – but I don’t have to shut down because of discouragement, depression, hatred, or bitterness. I am free in Christ to love however He calls me to love.
  • people pleasing or selfishness –  People pleasing says that I must have the approval of others. Selfishness says that I only need my own approval. When I live for Christ, I don’t need the approval of other people or my own approval, my goal is only to have the approval of God. So I can live without man’s approval if I know I am walking in obedience to God by the power of the Holy Spirit working in me. I die to my own will and seek God’s will. It is ALL about Him.

 

EXTRA STUDY – GETTING OUR ACCOUNTS RIGHT WITH GOD:

When we receive Christ as our Savior and our LORD, we submit our will to His and His Spirit does the hard work. Jesus’ work saves us and makes us right with God. His death on the cross justifies us before God. That is an accounting term. He puts all of His perfect righteousness and holiness in our account when we receive Him. He takes all of our sin debt – our billions of dollars of sin debt – and He pays the entire debt for us on the cross. We are now justified. Our account has everything He is and all that He has done in it and no longer contains all of our sin.

There are 3 stages of salvation:

  1. Justification – cancels the penalty of sin that we deserved before a Holy God.
  2. Sanctification – cancels the power of sin in our lives as we learn to live in the power of the Spirit. This is a lifelong, gradual process that will not be completely finished until death. We still have the sinful nature with us. But God also gives us a new nature. The sinful nature cannot be sanctified. It must be crucified. In Christ, it was crucified so we can learn to live as if it is dead. The new nature doesn’t really need sanctification, it is already holy. But there is a learning process as we learn to take up our cross and allow Christ full control.
  3. Glorification – cancels the presence of sin.

All of these stages are done by God’s power, not ours. We cannot justify ourselves by legalism or works – by being “good enough.” We cannot sanctify ourselves by “being good enough” or “doing enough” in our own strength. And we cannot glorify ourselves in our own strength.

We are 100% dependent on Christ for every stage. It is all what He has done for us and what He does in and through us.

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53 thoughts on “The Pendulum Effect

  1. I admit, my life is one HUGE pendulum. I see brief moments of peace as I swing from one extreme to the other. Trying to pinpoint where and how I felt those brief moments was always a mystery to me. It was only until I accepted God into my life, asked Him to help me, and put my #1 goal in life to one day hear God say to me “Well done my good and faithful servant”, did I finally find that I was living in longer moments of that wonderful peace.

    In fact, as I learned about my sins and began the process of ripping them out, I knew I was on the right track when I felt at peace about it. I called them aha moments. It was at these points when a clearer understanding of how my husband might be feeling, or how misguided my thoughts, motives, or intentions might have been. I hope one day to keep the pendulum still, but the enemy constantly bats and blows at the pendulum.

    The closer we walk with Christ, the quicker we recover or the harder it is for the pendulum to move. Only God can give us the strength to resist and recover.

    Good post, April, this is a great way to put our extremes into some kind of focus. Thanks again for your guidance in God’s ways.

    1. LMSdaily115,
      God is so amazing! How I long for everyone to get to experience His presence, His love, His peace, His Spirit and the blessings of knowing and loving Him above all else. 🙂

      I’m glad this was helpful. 🙂

  2. You stated of God, “He is omnipresent but He is a gentlemen and does not force us to let Him reign in our hearts.”

    “Gentlemen”? God is a gentleMEN?
    I think you meant to say a gentleman. The problem is He says in the O.T. that He is not a man.

    Furthermore, you’re quite mistaken about God not using force to change people’s hearts — for He uses the greatest force in the universe — His holy spirit.

    1. brixken7,

      Thank you for catching that! I really appreciate it. 🙂 Instead of editing my post over and over last night like I usually would do – I was outside in the dark and rain working on my car engine that was overheating.

      God is not a man, true. I agree that He is deity, not a man. The point is that He always gives people free will to choose to love and obey Him or to choose to reject and disobey Him. He doesn’t demand that people worship Him. He didn’t want robots – that is why He gave Adam and Eve the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – so they had a choice to love and obey Him or not.

      ex:
      Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Rev. 3:20

      It is not, “I will force the door down and you will worship Me whether you want to or not!” He gives us free will in this lifetime. But then, even those who don’t choose Him in this life will eventually bow because He promises that every knee will bow.

      There are consequences that are vastly different when we love Him vs when we rebel against Him. He often gives a long period of grace for us to repent – but eventually, His righteous wrath must come because He is just.

      God does draw us to Him by the power of His Spirit. He opens our eyes to Himself. But He does not violently or forcibly make us worship Him.

      🙂

    2. brixken7,

      Greetings! As a linguist and professional grammarian, I couldn’t help responding to your comment, too. April did spell “gentleman” incorrectly since it referred to God (singular), comparatively speaking, but she used this word correctly as a direct metaphor (never meant to be taken literally) to help us understand one of God’s characteristics. The context makes it plain that she meant he does not use coercion (just as a gentleman never would) to make others love and worship him.

      Also, she used the word “force” as a verb, which means “to coerce,” and not as a noun, which means “a type of power” or “the Power of God,” so this usage was also correct. The English language can just be so pesky at times! 🙂 I love it that you’re interested in these things, in a day and age when most people don’t care. Glad to see you here! Much love, Elizabeth

      1. Elizabeth,

        My brain has been a bit mushy lately. I am sure thankful when people let me know when I make a grammatical error. I try to catch them all!

        Thank you so much for the wonderful explanation. Yes! My description of God being a “gentleman” was a metaphor, not a declaration that God is a mortal or sinful man.

        Although, I am thankful that Jesus is fully God and fully man who lived the holy life we could never live on our behalf.

  3. Great read April!
    I also tend to swing to extremes and have recently began to acknowledge this by prompting of the Holy Spirit. Its is through learning about the character of God that helps guide me on the path of righteousness. I’ll admit that it can take a lifetime to truly understand his character but the Holy Spirit is my guide if I’m willing to listen. I really appreciate this article. Good biblical advice. Much love sister.

    1. Cara,

      Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, my dear sister. 🙂 Isn’t it awesome to think about that we always get to continue learning in this lifetime, and that we will continue learning about God and His character and all that He has done into eternity! I love learning more about God, His wisdom, and His ways.

      Glad this was a blessing. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this timely post, April. My husband and I are currently undergoing extremes with a separation now and it’s been difficult. By God’s grace, I have been shown options to continue to respond in love even when hurt. What’s interesting is how quickly we fall into these extremes when we don’t realize there’s another choice and how humbling it is to realize we have the power to choose. What a victim of the enemy we become not realizing how much we hurt ourselves. God bless.

    1. Refined,

      Oh no! My heart breaks for the pain you are both experiencing. 🙁 How I grieve with you, my dear sister. I pray for God’s wisdom, power, healing, and victory for you both!!! Thank you so much for letting me know what is going on.

    1. MintheGap,

      Thanks for linking my post.

      I have definitely been guilty of being “too quiet” – not speaking up when God was prompting me to say something, saying nothing when I needed to address someone’s sin against me, not saying what I needed when I really needed to speak up and share my concerns…

      I enjoyed reading your insights!

  5. April,

    Another fantastic, very encouraging post! This concept of the ideal balance on a spectrum of two extremes fits so many situations and qualities in life: miser—thrifty yet generous—spendthrift, etc. As a high school teacher, when I observe students socializing or entertaining others at inappropriate times, I observe aloud that a gregarious nature and great sense of humor are two enormous personal assets, but they need to learn how to use those traits wisely (proper balance and timing), otherwise they can become negatives. Part of the maturation process–whether into adulthood physically or spiritually–involves learning through wise counsel and trial and error, to some extent. How fortunate we are to serve a God who understands our struggles and is patient with us as we keep trying. He never makes us feel “less than” while we’re learning. Thank you again for a great post!

  6. April!
    You were right, this post was very helpful! 🙂 Thank you for this…it was a good reminder for me to be patient with others when they are struggling or trying to find their own balance. Sometimes, we expect others to have the ability to see things that make so much sense to US. I cannot assume that when my husband is being “extreme” in my opinion that it is purposeful or even that he feels good about it. I can humbly remember several occasions in which I was ashamed of how I approached something but didn’t know how to do it better. Thank God for His ability to open our eyes and guide us….if only we are willing to follow!

    I also find comfort in your statement about it being a life-long proccess. As a “newer” believer, I can start to feel intimidated that I’m not as “knowledgeable” or as “solidified” but as you pointed out in previous posts, the amount of time a person has been a follower has nothing to to do with how they are doing in his or her walk with Christ. It is crucial to give grace, even to ourselves!

    BTW, I think our session went well last night. I prayed beforehand. The awesome thing is…we were asked what 3 things we wanted in our marriage and my answer was this: 1. God, 2. Putting each other first (in the relationship), and 3. affection. It was very liberating to share this because a year ago, my answer would have been very different (I don’t think God would be my #1 or maybe not even on the list). My husband’s answer was very similar, “God” being #1 also. So this gives me hope because with God first, there is limitless possibility for our marriage. Thank you so much for your encouragement throughout this new journey for me. Blessings to you!

    1. Novembergirl,

      There is a temptation to think that we will eventually “arrive” at total sinless perfection. We are especially tempted to think that WE will become so good that we will be above temptation or falling or stumbling. Of course, that is how pride comes before a fall. We are always totally dependent on Christ for anything good in our lives. And we will always have more to learn. Yes, we all need grace!

      I am so glad that your session with the counselor went well. And how wonderful that you and your husband have similar priorities that include God!!! WOOHOO! That is AWESOME!

      Much love to you! And the biggest hug. 🙂

  7. As always, a very, very good article. Pondering this, it all goes back to our motives—WHY we are doing what we do—our heart.

  8. Thank you so much for your insight and visual of the pendulum. Since September I have been on a painful but amazing journey of learning about myself and my relationship to and with both God and my husband and your site has been a great source to me. This post in particular. I’ve read it multiple times in the past 24 hours and each time am drawn to a different aspect and my relationship and responses Christ and my husband. Your posts always draw me to reflect and delve deep into my motivation among other things. I appreciate the amount of prayer, time, thought, and preparation that goes into each post as well. Lately I have begun to see change happening in the smallest ways and I am so relieved. Thank you so much for all you do and for being a part of my journey.
    Carolyn

    1. Carolyn,

      I’m so glad that this post and some of the others have been a blessing. That is a big answer to my prayers! Evaluating our motivations in light of God’s Word is SO very critical. I’m honored that God allows me to be a little part of what He is doing in your life. How I praise and thank God for His goodness! Thank you for walking this road with me, my dear sister. 🙂

      Let me know how you are doing and how I might pray for you. 🙂

      Much love!
      April

  9. Hi April,

    I have found your site really helpful for learning how to treat my boyfriend respectfully. This time I am looking for advice about how to handle a situation with my mom. She is really disrespectful in the way she talks to my dad. It’s not that what she’s trying to say is disrespectful, just that the way she says it and the tone she uses is often disrespectful. I believe she’s completely unaware of this, but if I ever try to gently mention it to her, she acts like she’s right and gets mad at me.

    Perhaps the easiest example to illustrate the situation is what happened a few weeks ago on my birthday. My mom told my dad that he “needed” to change clothes because we were celebrating my birthday and started saying that it was “nothing new” that we dress up for pictures and that he “should have known not to wear” what he was wearing. My dad usually goes along with her when she talks to him this way, but this particular time he got upset right back at her and she told him, “I know you’re stressed with work, but that’s no need to take it out on me.” She says this nearly every time he gets upset if she disrespects him. She doesn’t understand that her behavior contributes to the problem. My dad has a normal job and is not under a ridiculous amount of stress. She’s a housewife, so she can pull the “you’re taking your work stress out on me” card because he can never say it back to her. He’s not an unreasonable man – if she had phrased it differently and said, “Honey, would you please change into something fancier for the pictures?”, I doubt he would have had a problem with it.

    When my dad slammed a door an hour or so after this happened, my mom sighed and started mumbling under her breath and I said, “Mom, I think he’s just upset – you criticized him a lot today.” She responded by putting the blame on him, excusing herself because what had she told him was “obvious” and “something anyone should have realized.” She told me she didn’t want to hear me say anything else. She really thinks she’s always in the right.

    To give some background, my mom and dad are Christians, but my mom never had any kind of example of Biblical respect because her mother (my grandmother) talks disrespectfully to my grandfather. My grandmother grew up in a war-torn country and lost both parents before she was eighteen. My grandfather understands that my grandmother’s disrespect is just bitterness and sadness and he doesn’t get offended by it for this reason. My mom doesn’t have an “excuse” like this. I think she is just copying my grandmother when she talks this way. She truly has NO IDEA that she is being disrespectful – she really thinks it’s his fault every time she talks disrespectfully.

    I’m in college and hearing her talk this way to him and seeing his disappointment, hurt(?), and anger makes me feel sick and sad every time I go home. I’ll be home for about a week during Thanksgiving and I would really appreciate some advice on how to handle the situation. For example, what specifically can I pray about? How can I give my dad “extra respect” or build him up? Is there anything I can say to my mom or do when I’m around her that will help build my dad up in her eyes or maybe help tone down the way she talks to him? How can I keep myself from feeling sick or sad when she talks to him like this?

    Thanks,
    Flower

    1. Flower,

      I’m really glad you are able to see what is going on and that you don’t want to follow the example you have grown up with in regards to how your mom talks to your dad. In my experience, most women who do this do NOT realize what they are doing. They truly do think they are right. I did. I was the same way as your mom for over 14 years in our marriage and thought I was the best Christian wife ever and that the only problems in our marriage were my husband’s fault. 🙁

      I’m thankful that you are attempting to help your mom see what she is doing. It is not a gift to ignore someone’s sin. You can address it with her – respectfully – of course. But then, you can’t convict her. You are not the Holy Spirit. Only He can open her eyes. To her, what she is doing is reasonable. She saw it growing up. It is everywhere in our media and culture. Disrespect for husbands is “normal” and “expected” and respect for men is “weird” unfortunately. Many women do not know what respect is or how to be respectful even if they realize they are being disrespectful. It took me over 2.5 YEARS of constant study for hours every day and prayer to BEGIN to figure out what on earth respect looked like in real life.

      You can pray for God to open your mom’s eyes. You can defend your dad in front of him, or in private to your mom – respectfully. You can see if she might be willing to read a book or a post. The post at the top of my home page “Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected,’ or “Husbands Share Things That Are Disrespectful to Them,” may be good posts to start with.

      Another approach is – usually women who are very disrespectful/controlling are full of fear, anxiety, bitterness, and worry. Usually they are trusting self rather than God. They often have self on the throne of their lives more than God and think they truly know best for everyone and that they are the only ones who can “see clearly” and that everyone else SHOULD submit to them and do whatever they say because they are “so right.” That was me, too. You can begin to address these root issues like fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, unbelief in God, God’s sovereignty (and how we are not sovereign), idolatry of self, worry, pride, self-righteousness – as God leads you to. You will be putting yourself in the line of fire in order to do this. She may get very angry at you because you attempt to address these things. Sometimes, giving her a few posts or a book might be better, if she is willing to read it – because then it is the author talking with her, not you. But God can give you wisdom about what to do.

      The key is – you can’t change her. You can’t make her see. You can respectfully share. You can set a godly example. You can tell her that it hurts you and makes you feel sick when you hear her talk to your dad that way. You can ask her if you can video tape her so that she can see her facial expression and hear her tone of voice. That can be a wake up call. You can tell her how you see your dad’s countenance fall because of the way she is speaking to him. But you can’t make her understand.

      Another approach is to talk about healthy vs. dysfunctional relationships. Or about codependency. In healthy relationships, each person is responsible for his/her own emotions and decisions. In dysfunctional relationships, the boundaries are blurred and some family members try to take responsibility for the decisions and emotions of other people. I have a post about this “Control and Boundaries.”

      I also have videos on my Youtube channel, “April Cassidy” – one is called Advanced Self Control where I talk about tone of voice and facial expressions and give examples of disrespectful vs. respectful approaches. Also, I have one about Non-Verbal Disrespect that may be helpful. And the one I put up yesterday Two Communication Challenges may also be helpful.

      I think the most powerful thing you can do would be to:

      1. Share your emotions briefly when she is disrespectful. “Mom, I feel sick when you use that tone of voice with dad and I see how much it hurts him.” “Mom, I feel so sad when you talk like that to Dad.”

      2. Share what you would like to see her do instead. “Dad would probably respond a lot better if you used a friendly, pleasant tone of voice and asked in a non-controlling way, ‘Honey, I would love it if you would please wear something more fancy.’ But then let him make the choice himself. What he wears is his choice to make. What you wear is your choice to make. We each get to make our own decisions for ourselves as grown adults.”

      If she gets angry or resists you – you may have to back away a bit.

      You can’t keep yourself from feeling sick when you see your mom sin against your dad. Sin hurts. You will have to focus on forgiving her and not harboring bitterness, most likely. You can also talk with your dad and see what he would like for you to do.

      Some other posts that may be helpful – you can search my home page for:

      – fear
      – worry
      – bitterness
      – idolatry

      Much love to you!

      1. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions, April! I really appreciate it. 🙂

        I have another question that relates to my previous question, and I’m wondering if it changes how / whether I should address my previous question.

        My mom often talks to me the same way she talks to my dad. I know this dynamic is different because I’m her daughter and he’s her husband. Sometimes I am able to be polite to her and focus on the intent of what she said (“Okay, she’d just like me to do X. That’s fine, I’ll do X and ignore the way she talked to me.”) Other times I get angry and yell at her. I feel like neither option is good. Nearly always, the things she criticizes are things that don’t matter in the long run: for example, does it really matter if I don’t do much homework one day? I still get high grades and the school I’m attending is ranked very highly. I think she’s worried that I won’t run my life properly if she backs off. The few times I’ve asked her to stop, she says she will when I do what I’m supposed to. What more do I need to do? I already have high grades; I had a prestigious internship last summer; I eat reasonably healthy and maintain a healthy weight; my room is organized; I go home every other weekend to visit; I talk to my grandparents relatively often; I have a loving relationship with my boyfriend of 2.5 years. Do I just need to never goof off? That seems to be her biggest complaint – when she feels that I’m not focusing on my schoolwork and she worries about the consequences, because she loves me.

        Is it hypocritical to talk about her respecting my dad, when I haven’t even figured out how to respect her right? Am I wrong to think I can be trusted to mostly run my own life? Should I wait until I can be respectful to her before talking with her about him? Are these things (the way she talks to me and the way she talks to him) the same issue? Or if I’m more responsible, will the way she talks to me go away? How can I respond to her when she’s like this with me?

        Thank you for your advice,
        Flower

        1. Flower,

          Women who have self on the throne of their lives believe they are responsible FOR others and that if they don’t make things happen “right” that it will be a disaster and it will be “their fault” many times. She doesn’t understand healthy boundaries yet. If she did, she wouldn’t act the way she does. As your mom, she is still feeling very responsible for you – and if you are still living in her house – it can be really tough for a mom to let go of her child. Well, that can be tough even when a child is on his/her own years later, too. Some moms still try to control everything for decades.

          You can begin to lay down some new boundaries as you are becoming an adult. You can say, “Mom, I want to hear your concerns, but when you talk to me in that tone of voice, I feel upset.” You could also say, “Mom, thanks for loving me and wanting the best for me. I have my grades and homework under control.” Or, “Mom, what is it that you are afraid might happen? Let’s talk about it. Let’s pray about this. I hate to see you so upset and worried when this is my responsibility and I am taking care of it.” Is she paying for your college right now?

          Well, they are the ones who are supposed to be setting the more godly example. Sometimes, our parents aren’t more spiritually mature than we are and we need to set the godly example if God is showing us things to work on. But you can focus on speaking respectfully to your mom – even when she “doesn’t deserve it” so that you train yourself to respond respectfully in the power of the Holy Spirit when others wrong you. The posts I have about respect – many of those things you could apply in your relationship to your mom.

          I would guess that she probably has a control issue with everyone in her life – not just you and your dad – but y’all are her closest loved ones – so you will catch the most attempts to control you. You can certainly make sure you are being responsible and taking care of your responsibilities without her having to remind you. That may help somewhat – but what is coming out of her is probably largely due to her understanding or lack of understanding of God, herself, godly femininity, godly marriage, godly relationships, etc… and also is a matter of whether the Holy Spirit is in control or her flesh.

          You can determine to yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him empower you to change and become the woman God calls you to be no matter what your mom chooses to do. God may use your example even more than your words to reach her. We will pray God opens her eyes and that He opens your eyes to anything He desires you to change. 🙂

          I have a video on my youtube channel, “April Cassidy” called, “Handling Controlling People” that might be helpful. https://youtu.be/9HvRAPn64v0

          Also, you can watch, “What Causes Women to Become Controlling?” https://youtu.be/H7sD6EyodjI

          It is important to keep very clearly in mind what you are responsible for – yourself – and what you are not responsible for – her. You can’t control her thoughts, words, or actions. You can’t control her thoughts about you. You can’t “people please” enough for her to calm down. You can’t fix her. God can open her eyes. God can heal her. You can share truths you are learning. You can set boundaries. But you can’t make her understand or make her change.

          You can also check out “Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin” – the strategies and approach would be almost identical as you approach your mom.

          Here is an interesting post that may be helpful by Leslie Veronica – How to Deal with Toxic and Critical People http://www.leslievernick.com/newsletter/091713-newsletter.html

          I’m glad to walk beside you on this journey. 🙂

          1. Thank you so much, April! 🙂 This was really helpful. I have been wanting to talk to someone about this for a while. I really appreciate your advice and I will work on the things you suggested and watch the videos and read the posts you suggested. I hope you have a lovely weekend! <3

          2. Yes, she and my dad are paying for my college education. About once every few months this becomes an excuse – “you need to say how you’re spending your time because we have a right to know how our money is being used.” :/

          3. Hi April,

            My dad mostly just hates when my mom and I argue. I rarely get into fights with my dad. I think my dad sees blame on both sides with my mom and me. In about half of our arguments, he jumps in to tell me to talk respectfully to my mom, every couple of months he jumps in to tell us both to stop, and about once a year he’ll defend me to my mom if she’s upset about something really unimportant, like me wearing a shirt that’s a color she doesn’t like or wearing something that she thinks is too fancy for an event she thinks is more casual. Every time he tries to put any blame on her, she gets mad at him to the extent that she basically forgets what she was upset at me for. I don’t remember her being like this when I was little.

            I don’t think he’d criticize much or tell me how to live my life a lot if he was left to his own devices. But he also usually doesn’t see a problem when my mom does it. He hates when my mom criticizes him, but he’s gotten upset at me the few times I tried to defend him. His parents’ marriage ended in a bad divorce (completely his dad’s fault), so I think maybe he’s trying not to make his dad’s mistakes.

            She and my dad don’t have access to my grades. I usually tell them what my test grades are as soon as I get them back – if they’re good, I tell them right away; if they’re bad, I generally wait until they ask what my grade was, because I’m worried about their reaction. They’re typically fine if I get an occasional low grade on a test (as long as it’s still passing), but sometimes they get upset with me.

        2. Hi Flower,
          I can completely relate to your relationship you have with your mom. I’m 36, married with a 17 month old and she STILL tries to control things in my life! I’m one of 7 children and unfortunately, the effects of my mom’s ways have had pretty negative impacts on all of us. I grew up seeing my father disrespected on a regular basis and even now that they’ve been divorced for 20+ years, I still see it in how she speaks about him. This is very sad and I didn’t even realize until problems in my own marriage came to light, that I picked up many of the controlling tendencies my mom has.

          Thankful to this site and the support here I have began this journey and my mind and eyes have been opened to a new way of thinking. It’s only by God’s grace that I now see how disrespecful my ways were toward my husband n my own marriage.
          I’m so happy to hear that you are starting on this journey even before marriage. How awesome that
          God has instilled this desire in you!

          I know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to communicate with your mom….I often slip into non-respecful ways when I try to confront my own mom about things, especially when I’m uspet. But April is right when she says that the best way to defeat and diffuse is to be an example ourselves. This is so hard when an unhealthy dynamic has solidified over the years, I know! An example….my mom NEVER apologizes for anything (you can relate, I’m sure). A few weeks ago, I was pretty stressed and I critisized my mom for not having cleaned a place- mat before letting my daughter eat from it. Yikes, this was hypocritical of me! Anyway, before this journey, I would have just been upset and felt justified in my response. However, the spirit convicted me and I knew I needed to apologize. It may not seem that big of a deal, but my mom and I do not apologize to each other (crazy cycle). But….I decided it was time. I text her and apologized. Now, the funny thing is she then turned it around and blamed it on my brother. Lol. This also goes back to what April said….you can’t control what your mom does or how she feels. I knew that I did my part and what God expects of me…the rest is up to her.

          1. novembergirl,

            Our family of origin dysfunctional relationships are often the most difficult ones to correct. The bad habits are SO engrained and have been there for decades. Everyone in the family expects us all to dance the same old sinful dance with them and they resist us changing or setting new boundaries. Thankfully – with Christ all things are possible!

            Thank you so much for sharing what God is showing you with Flower. That makes me smile and fills my heart with joy – to see the way God is already using you to bless others and to share His love and truth.

            Much love, my dear sister!

    2. Hi Flower,
      I understand the pain that you feel when you see your mom acting disrespectful to your dad. This does not happen in my family, but in my fiancé’s family (who I spend alot of time with). His mom is constantly disrespectful towards his dad. It makes me so sad because I see how nasty of a cycle they are caught in and how it has hurt their relationship over the years.
      I also see how the dynamics of our relationship began to follow a similar pattern. In the past year I really have begun to learn how to operate under the sovereignty of God, instead of under fear, anxiety and self-idolization. I’ve seen so many changes in myself and my fiancé, the Holy Spirit has really done His work in both of us. I don’t feel comfortable sharing what I have learned so far with her at this point, but I keep praying and try my best to model grace and respect with my fiancé the best that I can. I have great hope that God will soften her heart and bring about an openess to a new way of relating to both Him and her husband.

      I just wanted to share with you, because I know how tough it can be to see two people that you care about operate on such a dysfunctional level-especially when you know that there is a better way of living that God has offered to them.

      1. Thank you so much for commenting, Julia! 🙂 It is nice to know someone that is going through a similar situation.

        The same thing happened with me and my boyfriend – since coming to this site a year ago, I have seen a lot of positive changes in our relationship. 🙂

        I am so glad you have hope that God will work in her! This reminds me to have hope for my mom. I don’t remember her being like this when I was younger and there is probably even more hope for change than I had thought. 🙂

  10. Hey April,

    I used to LIVE in those extremes but as I was reading your notes I realised that I USED to live in them and now I don’t. In fact most things now just kind of flow, even the very difficult or frightening seem to gather back together so much more quickly.

    When I first repented I went from the extremes of selfishness and everything to do with self but in my repentance I went to extremes of self effort and self correction never realising that it was still self.

    It took many months and the reading of the Andrew Murray book for me to understand that it was still SELF!!. And then I understood that it is for me to die to self not as a form of extremism but simply so that I am not obstructing the Holy Spirit who just wants to abide in us equally as much as we can abide in Christ. I am amazed, amazed, amazed at how everything starts to connect, to flow, to perfect in Him, it is probably the most frightening thing because it continues to humble you simply by His majesty.

    I never understood this waiting on God – even as a believeras a believer, I honestly had no idea. I don’t think most people do…it it the most extraordinary life in Christ. I have seen both sides and I have seen the middle and the middle is by far the worst. In the middle you believe in Christ and His redemption but you don’t experience and so you know what should be but it is totally unreachable. So I would try and move the pendulum to try and get some response and what I actually needed to do was to slow down and wait on Him – He is so amazing

    1. Gary,

      I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing what God is doing in your life! Thank you so much for sharing.

      I agree, I don’t think most people know what it means to live for God. I sure didn’t for most of my Christian life. This is so important!

  11. WOW.
    Very true, and I see evidence daily that the unrenewed mind, the carnal mind that does not have the Spirit of truth cannot understand.
    God only can enable us to reach a place of understanding and balance. Praise God that because we know him and he is in us, we can receive and understand truth.
    Our own human reasoning simply cannot understand and we are naturally prone to extremes.
    April, thanks so much for directing me to this very enlightening post!

    1. Trina,

      In our sinful nature, all we can do is swing from one sinful extreme to the other. But God calls us to mount up on wings like eagles – that is where I long for us all to be! 🙂 Almost everything He calls us to is about this tension and balance that we can only achieve with His Spirit’s power. 🙂

      Much love!

    1. Irena Bonnie,

      My precious sister! It’s great to hear from you. 🙂

      I am not sure I am following exactly what you are asking. Would you mind elaborating a bit to help me out?

      Much love!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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