Summary: Part 3 in series Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, this message looks at false messages we learn in childhood and their effects on us in adulthood, and explains why the pain of moving out of the false self is preferable to the pain of staying in it.
Going Back in Order to God Forward
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, prt. 3
Wildwind Community Church
October 24, 2010
In order to not cause confusion, I am naming each of the sermons in this series after whatever we’re covering in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book that week. So last week’s sermon was called Know Yourself, That You May Know God, but I really wanted to call it False Self/True Self. Today’s message is called Going Back in Order to God Forward, but what I’d really like to call it is, “People Who Never Leave.” People Who Never Leave. Do you know anybody like that? I’m talking about people who come over to your house, and they’re usually people you really love and care about, but the problem is that they never leave. It’s super hard getting them to call it a night and head home. I think we all know people like that. Some people are just that way.
But there’s a certain sense in which we’re all that way – or at least most of us. Unfortunately, most of us are people who never leave.
Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
The scripture says a man needs to leave his father and his mother in order to be united to his wife. And it’s not written in the text, but we can safely assume it’s not just the man who has leaving to do. After all, the man is to be united to his wife, not his wife and her mamma and her daddy. A man’s failure to really leave his family of origin results in inability to be joined to his wife, and a woman’s failure to really leave her family of origin will just as surely result in her inability to be joined to her husband. Count on it.
Man, do I see a lot of this in my work with couples. There are a lot of men out there who seem to be full-grown men, who have wives and kids and work hard and do man-things, but who really have never left home – have never really grown up, have never moved into a grown-up identity. I’m beating around the bush. A lot of men are mamma’s boys. I work with couples where the wife is dying a little bit everyday as she slowly wilts from the insults or rejection of her husband’s mother, while he refuses to confront his mother and defend his wife. Guys, I don’t pretend to fully understand the way into a woman’s heart, but I can tell you the way out of it. Just make a habit of letting your mamma come between you and your wife. If you are one of those men in the unfortunate position of having a mom who does not respect your wife, does not allow her to be all that she deserves to be in your life, the surest way to damage your marriage is to run to your mom’s defense before your run to your wife’s. If when the chips are down, you are more afraid of hurting mommy’s feelings than hurting your wife’s, you have made your choice, and this fact is never lost on a woman. She knows how she rates in your life.
Ladies, your turn. I see this in women too. Only with women, it is not normally a failure to separate from mamma, it is a failure to separate from – okay – honestly, it’s mamma again. A lot of the time (not always) when someone is feeling like they lacked a connection to a parent, it was the father they lacked a connection to, that’s where dads come into play here. But most of the time when an adult of either sex was smothered by a parent, it is the mother they were smothered by. The way women usually fail to separate from mommy is in prioritizing time with her mother above time with her husband. Women defend this by saying “You don’t understand, my mom is my best friend.” And of course it’s important and beautiful for a mom and her daughter to remain close all of the daughter’s life, but not when mommy comes between husband and wife. At some point (clearly marriage is one such point!), we have to change our priorities. Guys, if mom is disrespecting your wife, then the task falls to you to make your wife the priority she deserves to be. Ladies, if your mom is demanding a lot of your time and you’re fortunate enough to have a husband who loves being around you and would like to be with you more often, the task falls to you to make your husband the priority he deserves to be.