Life, blame and a search for explanations

There are times where a quarter of a century of evo teachings and exposure to some of the charismatic teaching on spiritual warfare particularly has taken its toll. Normally, I see how I have moved on and never really agreed with alot of that side of the teaching anyway….but sometimes my conservative roots show.

Yesterday was not a good day. Third Party freaked well and truly and failed to make it to an important GCSE exam. The school were great and pointed out that she has the summer “resit” opportunity, but I felt like a total failiure as a mum, and questioned my professional abilities if I couldn’t get my own daughter in for an exam.

In the mist of this I was searching for explanations and got my head drawn to two; one secular and one religious. The first was that it was because she was from a single parent home. I went down the line of thinking that said people like McLanahan and Sandefur were right, and the New Right were right. I got, for a moment, into the mindset that said if she were from a two parent home these things wouldn’t happen. But then I thought what about people like Obama. They show that children from single parent homes can have a huge drive and be successful.

Once I had moved on from this, helped by the fact the Body Shop have a retro offer on Green Apple bubble bath another, in some ways more sinister thought entered my head. Were I, and Third Party, being punished for my relationship? I got sucked into thinking about all the generational stuff I knew and about punishment for sin.

This thinking betrays a bit about the baggage and thinking I am seeking to shake off. It also shows a bit, I have been shown, about the way I think about stuff without reference to scripture sometimes. TOH quickly pointed me to the story of blind Bartemaus and the way the idea of “generational curses” was dealt with by Jesus. She also pointed me to the amount of healing our relationship has bought.

I was not necessarily convinced though, until I got a message from the otherside of the Atlantic, from somebody who had no idea about what was going on. They had responded to a facebook status update saying I needed a hug and some reassurance about teenagers. This heterosexual, married, conservative evangelical shared a story with me….which they were worried I might have taken the wrong way…..which showed me that this type of thing can happen with whatever type of family. They also pointed out the key thing which is I love Third Party. For me this showed how God actually works. God knew where I was right then and the things I was beating myself over the head with. He used one of the most unlikely of my FB friends, in a different country, who had no knowledge of what was going on, to speak to me. This was a God of reassurance and love not retribution and punishment working.

As for the thoughts that made me think it might be divine punishment for my relationship, well I guess that shows the way the dissonence is still there sometimes. I may have found the Methodist Quadrilateral and God may have used it to pour in healing, but sometimes one of the building blocks can take a pole position, obscuring the others. Within this there is also the fact of we don’t know, definitively, the answer on the whole homosexuality question when it comes to loving, faithful, monogomous partnerships. The interpretations can be conflicting and it is ambiguous. There is no one person we can say has definately got it right on this, greater people than I still debate it. This is what sometimes makes integrity and knowing what is “right behaviour” and how God might punish us or otherwise so hard.

Yesterday, though, as I say when I was searching for explanations and trying to blame myself I learnt an important lesson, or actually a couple. Firstly, God still works today to reassure us. He used my US friend to give me a message I needed to hear and used FB to do it. Secondly, sometimes we need to stop blaming ourselves and let our children take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences of them. I had done everything in my power to get Third Party there and failed. That was down to Third Party….not my parenting. Finally, sometimes there are not easy and obvious explanations that we can use to see where things can easily be fixed or beat ourselves over the head. Sometimes we have to allow the answer to be “I don’t know, God just give me wisdom to get through this and do the right thing, somehow”.

About tractorgirl

Hi my name is Sally Rush: I'm a Christian, a mother, a community engagement officer, a listener, a dreamer, a partner, an experienced teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister and so much more.

12 thoughts on “Life, blame and a search for explanations

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you and with Third Party as you both work your way through this one. Not an easy time for either of you, and you’ve both been through a lot in the past few years. I think the conclusions you have come to in your thinking are sound, and healthy, and I think you’re a fab mum too!

    I know it won’t be a huge consolation to you to know that my eldest has completely missed his GCSEs. But even while he was still at school, I was so worried about the fact that he looked unlikely to work for them or even to turn up at the exams – in his case total disinterest combined with lack of confidence. But then I realised that there is not only the chance of summer resits. The world does not come to an end with a failed GCSE at 16. In a culture where “lifelong learning” is beginning to gain the importance it needs, there are loads of opportunities to be seized at a time when the young person is ready for them. So while it would be better for her to turn up at her exams and take them, obviously, it is not an absolute total disaster if she ends up having to take a year out. Once she’s got her first job or got her higher qualifications (clever young lady that she is), nobody will look back at the dates of WHEN she got her GCSEs and question why it took so long. And maybe with that pressure off, the panic will reduce sufficiently for her to turn up and do OK for the next one.

    But meanwhile, you’re right: the problem is not yours, it’s Third Party’s – she is old enough to make her own mistakes, even big ones like that, and to take responsibility for her own decisions. Your job is to support her as she prepares herself for her exams, to give advice when asked for it, to comfort and boost her when she feels low, but when it boils down to it, to allow her to grow into the independence for which she has great potential, thanks to your love and teaching.

  2. Thank you for sharing; love and prayers for not beating yourself up: and thank you for the answer “I don’t know, God just give me wisdom to get through this and do the right thing, somehow” which seems to be made for me now.

  3. Thanks guys for the kind and sensible words. With the help of a friend she did manage it in to take her 2nd Maths paper today, having managed one last week. It’s the English that she will now have to do all of in the summer.

  4. Glad you came to the conclusion that you are not at fault. If my middle child does not motivate himself to fulfil his potential, that is his responsibility (he is 25years old now). I have done all I can. As a sociologist you surely know that behaviours and the consequences of them do carry down through the generations – see Fathers & Sons (Richard Madely). However to attribute such generational traits to demonic entities is farcical. We have more to fear from the love of God than his wrath. God is love and it is that love shining constantly upon us that convicts us of our own sin and calls us to repentance. You have not fallen as far as Judas, nor have I. He had the place of honour at the Last Supper. This was as William Barclay put it, “Love’s last appeal” With all our confessed failures we are still welcome at his table.

  5. Thanks Tom. Yes, as a Sociologist I am aware of the way primary socialisation works and the generational impact that has. On a rational level I know that and that to put these things down to demonic entities is absolutely farcical….yesterday I was thinking far from rationally though. Think sometimes one of the faults we have as Christians is to use our religion as an excuse to let go of common sense and rational thinking sometimes.

    Thanks for your comment, it actually helps loads somebody I admire from my “old world” took the time to comment and point out the obvious which I need to hear sometimes. Everybody is being so lovely….thank you.

  6. I will pray for you and your daughter, with buckets of empathy. This is the kind of situation that has come up a lot in my own family – with me and my siblings all having a slightly ‘unconventional’ approach to education.

    I missed approximately one-third of my entire secondary school years, and had to take a year out after GCSEs (which was when I worked in CLC) but still have made it to doing a PhD (something that still shocks me). My middle brother never slept at night, was ill a lot and got glandular fever, so had to take a year out. My youngest brother has had an anxiety problem since he was about ten, which made him miss the majority of his secondary education. In year 11 he was taught at home, sat five GCSEs, four of which he got, including an A* !) and managed to go back to school for his AS Levels, which he did well in, and he has a normal social life now. But for some reason the pressure of doing well has got to him, and he hasn’t gone to many of his classes for his A2 year.

    This leads my dad to say things like ‘I wonder where I got it wrong with you all…’ Which as his child is very painful to hear. I want my father to be proud of our successes, not ashamed and guilty about our failings.

    Your post reminded me of a lot of things about the more fundamentalist aspects of evangelicalism which are so damaging. I get so angry with these mindsets, and the way that their influence can linger even with rational, highly educated people (like me, or you). My father had a brain haemorrhage just before I first started uni at Durham. I went in to CLC to say goodbye, and to ask them to pray for my dad, one man there (a volunteer), who knew about my depression and had previously offered some spiritual warfare on my behalf, told me that my dad’s near death was due to ‘something with a stronghold down the family line.’ I was gobsmacked and very hurt. But the stupidity of his comment made me realise the stupidity of that entire paradigm, and funnily enough enabled me to recover from fear of demonic powers.

    Anyway, what all this autobiographical stuff is trying to say is that I know where you’re coming from, and that I sincerely hope that you and your daughter will come through it.

  7. good for you for working all that out… you might almost be getting all growed up.

    God loves you and the Third Party to bits. He’s hardly likely to swat you by making her miss an exam. She is a headstrong young madam and makes her own choices, and she will do just fine. Even if she doesn’t take all her exams now there is a great long future in which she can do it. And she will do it… when she is ready.

    As for your relationship, you have spent a good deal of time telling me that mine is a wonderful thing and that i shouldn’t feel guilt-tripped… physician heal thyself me old love 😉

    Hugs to all 3 of you x

  8. When you were searching for the explanations did you ask her? And contrary to what everyone else says, I don’t think parents, especially mothers, ever stop feeling either guilty, or at the very least that you could have done a better job. You just have to learn to live with it.

  9. Thanks for all the comments. Anna thanks for sharing your story and your prayers. Agatha, yup I did ask her….without getting any satisfactory explanation. The school and I are working on it. Catfood, thanks for giving me the kick up the backside I need. Everybody else thanks for the encouragement generally.

  10. I just put my fingers to the keyboard and lots of burble came out, but basically I wanted to say thank you for this, and prayers for you and your family.

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