A Needed Disappointment for the New Year

We are addicted to self-sufficiency. Without even realizing it we are all junkies for independence. The beginning of the new year is often a time when this becomes even more evident. It’s the time when we are bombarded with encouragement to reflect and resolve. The hope is that in the New Year we will reach a greater level of self-improvement or attain a lasting commitment to live better. The turning of a year seems to put us on a quest to become all that we wish we could be.

I am not at all opposed to the New Year being a time of reflection and goal setting. I do this every year and find it helpful. In fact, I have already spent time considering what I things I hope to try to start or at least do differently this year. It was in my New Year planning that I stumbled on a much-needed disappointment from a passage of Scripture. The message I read loud and clear was: I cannot do it! I am insufficient!

Before you stop reading and before you think the Bible throws a wet blanket on all the New Year’s resolutions, let me explain.

In our effort pursue a change, develop a skill, or embark on a new self-improvement routine, God holds out this necessary disappointment. He gives a needed reminder that provides warning and perspective. It is possible that all our resolve and effort could be in vain. Here is what I read.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2

Three times he says these efforts are in vain. He doesn’t say our efforts are bad, just that there is a way to do them that will prove pointless. When we seek to do anything in our own strength independent of God, no matter how good that thing is, it is in vain. We cannot do it. Why? Because we are insufficient.

We are not able to become our best selves on our own. Our best life comes in complete dependence on the God who made us. Yet we still try. Self-reflection is helpful and plans for personal improvement can be beneficial, but this can also lead to more striving, specifically when we resolve in our own strength.

So, in this dawn of a new year, embrace not being enough. Feast at the table of dependence where our heavenly Father provides all that is needed. With this mindset move toward your plans with open hands. Lay your resolves and aspirations before the Lord and remember that unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain.

Motivation, self-reflection, planning and goal setting can be fruitful. But in our own strength these all miss the mark and we end up only feeding our natural disposition to make much of ourselves rather than making much of Christ. Instead plan with a dependent disposition. Embrace the needed disappointment that your efforts are insufficient on your own and instead look to the Lord to establish the work of your hands.

Why I Wrote Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids

In February 2020 I was hired as the director of counseling for a large church just outside of Washington D.C. I was given a lovely office where I figured I’d spend plenty of time focusing on the care and counseling needs of individuals and families connected to the church.

That plan changed when I was sent home to work remotely for what was expected to be two weeks. That two weeks was known as 15 Days to Slow the Spread. No one had any idea what was in store for us as a church, a country, or a world as the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that was normal.

When 15 days came and went we were all still at home riding out the pandemic. Families were forced to make major adjustments and I began getting calls from concerned parents. Working from home that year, I spoke to many parents who were seeking help regarding the emotional challenges their kids were facing. If your child hadn’t struggled emotionally before 2020, chances are they struggled during or after 2020. Fear, anxiety, confusion, grief, and sadness began to be common experiences for children and parents needed help understanding the emotional impact the ongoing pandemic was having on their kids.

One might think this was the driving event that motivated me to write a resource for parents addressing kid’s emotional health, but it wasn’t. Before the word “coronavirus” was a household name, a significant trend was already happening. More and more parents were reaching out to me and my colleagues seeking help for the emotional struggles their kids faced. Struggles related to friends or lack thereof, identity issues, bullying, pressures from social media, questions about their faith, and so much more plagued kids and teens.

Parents wanted biblical guidance that addressed the rising emotional challenges of the younger generation. Certainly the pandemic heightened parent’s concern about their children’s emotional health, but the need for help was already there. Seeing this early trend, I wanted to provide parents with a relevant and practical resource and the idea for this book began.

My goal was to help Christian parents know when and how to find help when their child was struggling while at the same time calm fears by educating moms and dads on what to expect from the emotional development of their children. I also wanted to give parents a resource that would help them know what emotional health looks like for themselves. Wise parents assess their own emotional wellbeing and seek to honor the Lord in whatever changes may be needed.

I am thrilled to be able to share this new book, right now, when it seems needed more than ever before.

Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids is readable and useful– not too long but packed with practical help. It is a balance of biblical wisdom coupled with a clinical understanding of the emotional development of children. I have drawn on what I have learned from years of being a counselor and I also share what I have learned in my own experience as a parent. Though I am a continual learner in both of these areas, I pray what I share will be helpful to parents as they seek to raise emotionally healthy kids.

Whether the past couple years have proved challenging for your kids emotionally or if they struggled even before the pandemic, this resource will provide helpful guidance. It is also very helpful for parents whose kids are doing well. The preventative direction will keep you headed in the right direction. Pre-order is now available at www.10ofThose.com.


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