Monday, July 29, 2013

U ASKED 4 IT: 5 Ways to Combat Feeling Totally Inadequate

Today's post concludes our 3 part series featuring topics for which parents have recently requested an encouraging word...

When I was with you, I was weak. I was afraid and I shook. What I had to say when I preached was not in big sounding words of man’s wisdom. But it was given in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way, you do not have faith in Christ because of the wisdom of men. You have faith in Christ because of the power of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, NLV ~ 

"God never gives you more than you can handle."  This pervasive lie from the pit of hell is well known to those who suffer.  Parents raising children with special needs certainly have this platitude thrown at them more than they care to hear.  Is it any wonder we feel so completely inadequate at times?

Like a two year old who can't reach something on a high shelf or a preschooler who can't master tying their own shoes, we can get so very frustrated trying to care for our precious, remarkable kids.  We feel poorly equipped for what we are trying to accomplish, and our goals are just beyond our reach.  Our frustration can turn inward, causing self-condemning thoughts.  Yet, would we accuse an aggravated child who can't achieve what they have in mind of being inadequate?

In writing on this topic, I can't help but have all the times I have been overcome by feelings of inadequacy come flooding back at me.  There have been the times where I followed the doctor's orders to the letter, but I still couldn't prevent crisis medical traumas from occurring.  There have been the times where I have been so cooperative with school staff, and yet, have gotten nowhere with improving my child's school challenges.  There have been the countless times I have been judged by others as a "bad mother" because of my children's behavior or health issues.  And the thing that has made me feel most inadequate has been the times where every one of my children and my spouse are simultaneously in a place of need that cannot be satisfied, regardless of my efforts.

Inadequacy is a feeling closely tied to desperation.  And desperate times call for desperate measures.  So here are some radical recommendations for you:
  1. Realize that perhaps God wants you to feel inadequate.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul tells us, "But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: 'My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.' I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me." (GNT)  The great truth to refute the lie of God not giving us more than we can handle is that God does allow more than we can handle at times, so we learn to rely on him.  The Lord reveals himself as the God of the impossible situation where no man is capable.  His power is made perfect in our inadequacy.  Believe it or not, you bring the Lord incredible glory when you are feeling less than capable and rely on Him to redeem a situation.
  2. Check you self-expectations at the door.  Along those same lines, we must come to the realization that we are not God.  We all have short-comings and limited abilities.  No parent, especially one raising a child with extra challenges, can run at break-neck speed all the time, perpetually expecting perfection of themselves.  Know that this parenthood calling of yours is difficult enough to require help.  You are not a complete failure because you are unable to do this on your own.  Exchange those unreasonable self-expectations for a new self-acceptance.
  3. Be willing to reach out to others.  During those times where the burdens are heavy and the challenges greater than you can bear, ask others for a helping hand.  Trying to play the superhero by doing everything on your own only sets you up for those depressing feelings of inadequacy.  God made us relational creatures.  He never meant for us to face life all alone.  You actual deprive others of blessings that God has intended for them by not letting them help you when life gets to a point of overload.
  4. Adopt good emotional boundaries.  When we live life enslaved by the expectations of others, we we will not only disappoint them, we will disappoint ourselves.  We are not responsible for the faulty expectations or judgments of others.  Realizing that when people judge you, "they don't know what they don't know", will set you free.  They are speaking from a place of ignorance.  Having confidence in this will strengthen you against feelings of inadequacy spawned by the demands and criticisms of others. 
  5. Know that disability or not, our kids can be little hedonists.  Trust me, my kids know how to play their special needs for all they're worth when they want something from me.  The worst thing I could do is to let them manipulate me into feelings of guilt and compliance with their every whim.  Despite their various challenges, they need to learn that the world does not revolve around them, they have to wait like everyone else, and they don't always get what their little hearts desire.  It is not my purpose in life to make them happy.  Instead, I am called to love my Maker and raise children who do the same.  Coming to full knowledge of this has transferred my mind from feelings of inadequacy to a passion for growing my kids into productive, self-motivated, considerate, Jesus-loving members of society.
Walking in constant feelings of total inadequacy only renders us less effective in dealing with the challenges of raising these precious children.  Like any other habits, these means of combating feelings of total inadequacy take practice.  And those feelings will still creep in from time to time.  However, we need to persevere in talking back to "the accuser" and challenging those emotions when they creep back in.  If we can't shake these feelings on our own, there is no shame in bringing in reinforcements, seeking the wisdom of a professional counselor or psychotherapist to help us.   

PRAY:  Thank You, God, that your power is perfect in my weakness.  Jesus, apart from you, I am completely inadequate.  I praise You that you have come to our rescue!

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