WHAT IS A TRIGGER?

WHAT IS A TRIGGER?

What is a trigger? A trigger is when you are going about your life, and someone touches that place in you that is unhealed and has left an unresolved hurt, lie, or offense. All is fine until someone does or says something that touches that place. FAMILY is notorious for touching those places. As many are with loved ones this holiday season, be mindful of those places of frustration, irritations, and stings and allow God to bring greater healing. 

Here are some great quick questions to stop and ask Him: “Jesus, what lie am I believing?”, “Jesus, why did that comment make my heart so uncomfortable?”, “Jesus, what about that situation felt so unsafe?”, “Jesus, when was the first time I felt that?”, “Jesus, what is Your truth?” 

Triggers are your friends when you partner with God for greater healing and wholeness. He sent His Son so that you are free and free indeed and can be at peace in all situations. Let greater freedom come to your heart this holiday season.

TAKE BACK GROUND IN OUR FAMILIES

Is sibling conflict breaking out in your home? It did in our house, and I AM SO GLAD! I am keeping our days moving by having a balance of rest, school, and movement. I got two of them settled on a project and took another for a brisk walk with the dog. While coming back inside the house, I could FEEL strife and knew there was conflict. My daughter came to me sobbing, telling me how she was mean to her sister and pushed her. Her tears were massive, and she was fully repentant, confessing her wrongdoings. I told her she was indeed wrong and that a consequence was appropriate, but that life was pretty hard these days, and I wanted her to spend an hour in her room alone processing and giving her heart a voice to herself. She is my easy-going, always smiling, glass-is-half-full child, and her heart needed to get real – life IS challenging right now. I moved to the other child involved, who flashed this massive smile across her face as I approached her. She did not know that I knew about the conflict. I asked how she was doing, and she said, “Great.” I said, “Really? How can you be doing great if your sister just pushed you?” and she burst into tears. I instructed her too to go into her room and spend an hour giving her heart a voice. She not only lied to me but herself. I went to her after a bit, and she began to unpack how her sister doesn’t like her and has been rude and disrespectful to her for days and that her heart was hurting. I went back to the offending child and asked what was going on, and she, too, broke down, telling of pains and hurts that have been piling up between them. 

WHAT IS UNDER THE ANGER?

My daughter came to me crying, saying that her sister came into her room demanding she takes out the bathroom garbage. When she told her she would do it later, her sister got upset and began to intimidate her. When I inquired, she said she had taken the garbage out last week, and it was her sister’s turn. I asked if she was faithful with her week, then why did she care if her sister was faithful with hers? Why did that agitate and upset her so much? I felt like something deeper was going on. I asked her to sit on her bed and ask Jesus to show her why she cared so much about her sister’s chores to the point she would use force and intimidation to attempt to control her sister, which her mind knew was not okay. I have taught my children behind every big emotion (anger, rage, intimidation) is what we call SSL – the softer emotion of being SCARED, SAD, OR LONELY. I asked her which one she was feeling under the intimation. She identified she felt scared. She was agitated in the process and kept saying, “I just don’t like it (when they don’t do their chores).” Holy Spirit had me ask this, “…. because what will happen if they don’t do their chores?” She said, “You will be mad at me.” I asked, “And if Mom is mad at you what will happen?” And she broke down in tears and said, “We won’t be connected.” This is where we have to have some tough skin and allow our children to process our parenting, even when we feel misunderstood or falsely accused. It doesn’t matter what MY truth is; she is revealing HER truth at this moment which was driving her behavior. One week she was on dish duty and failed to do it. I went to make breakfast in a hurry and didn’t have any clean dishes, and I got upset. I returned to her a few minutes later and asked for forgiveness, telling her that while she was in the wrong for not managing her chores, I didn’t manage my heart well (I was stressed about something else, and she got the brunt of it). While I thought we worked it out, we didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect before she left for school and went the whole day feeling the space between us. It left a message in her heart that if the chores weren’t done, we would lose our connection, which scared her. I asked for forgiveness again for not managing my emotions well that day and reminded her that she was not responsible for my emotions. That’s my job. I also told her that it is not her job to control her siblings so that she and I remain connected. She melted in my arms and wept. And then humbly apologized to her sister for being so mean.

This is where partnering with Holy Spirit in our parenting gets exciting. We get to give Him space to minister to our children above our capabilities. There is a time for character training and discipline, but in this case, she was feeling a threat to our connection, and that is what needed to be restored.

YOU NEED TIME TO GROW YOUR WOOL

Years ago, God showed me that I was still operating in a position of shame, like a black sheep (even though I know I am not one). I saw myself with black fur on me and was processing with the Lord how to get the black fur off of me. I figured He would show me how to come out from under it since it was a false garment. Instead, I had a vision where Jesus came to me like a rugged Australian sheep farmer and began to shave all of the wrong-colored wool off of me. When He was done, I was naked and automatically ran into the midst of all of the older sheep who had thick white wool. There was a sense of being protected and safe amongst them. I asked the Lord why He shaved me. He said, “You need time to grow your wool.” It is okay to be naked and vulnerable to shed our old position, operating systems, mindsets, and behaviors. It is already finished, but I was walking out my revelation of it. We need to be protected amongst healthy leaders and safe environments in our down-to-the-bone nakedness.

THAT’S A LIE

When I hear a child speak a lie about themselves (I am not smart enough, I am slow, I can never figure this out, etc.), I simply tell them that they are partnering with something from God’s enemy. Do they want to continue to partner with that (they do have free will), or do they want to throw that one out? Then, I told them they could kick out or throw out whatever thoughts came to their mind that wasn’t of God. Hudson, who was only four then, literally went to the front door and motioned like he was kicking something out before slamming the door. Yeah, like that! Kids need to be taught that not every thought that crosses their mind is theirs, and they can be empowered to say NO!

REJECT SELF-REJECTION

Self-rejection is lie-based thinking and often starts in childhood when life circumstances ‘prove’ the lie to be true. Children can partner with lies about themselves, such as, “I am fat.” “I am a loser.” “No one likes me.” “I am a mistake.” My face is ugly.” “I am too small to ever be good at sports.” “I am not acceptable.” “_____ disqualifies me from ever fully belonging.” “I will never measure up to my big brother.” “If I were a boy, my dad would accept me.”

These are lies that feel true because the circumstances around them serve as evidence. They then partner with the lie as if it were the truth, giving the lie a legal right to influence them. Lies are just thoughts, but what makes them so damaging is that our thoughts and beliefs dictate our behavior. Proverbs 23:7. All of the above statements are LIES. When a child believes a lie about themselves, it is like a splinter in their heart, and they begin to act it out because it is NOT supposed to be there. If all we see is their outward behavior and aren’t digging a little deeper into the WHY of the behavior, we can serve to push the heart splinter in further. We want the lie out, not for it to be masked with perfect behavior. The less-than-pleasant acting out is pointing to the splinter that needs attention. This is not a parenting formula or 1,2,3 step program; it is about PARTNERING WITH THEIR CREATOR, who knows exactly how to search their heart and reveal what is going on. Say Johnny comes home, slams down his backpack, and declares, “I hate math!”. Parents often rush to correct little Johnny that we don’t use the word ‘hate.’ Instead, perhaps we could pull on the rope a bit more and discover what is going on underneath his newfound passion for hating math. “Buddy, why do you hate math?” and he says, “Ms. Jones is mean.” Keep pulling on the rope with validation and questions, “Oh no, how is Ms. Jones mean?” “She called on me today and I got the answer wrong and the whole class laughed at me. I am so stupid.” BAM! There is the lie. Hating math wasn’t agitating his heart; the lie of “I am stupid” was. Again, this is where parents want to rush in and remind Johnny of his intelligence, but the lie is not in his mind; it is in his heart. This is where he needs an ENCOUNTER with His Father to remove the lie. While *I* know the truth that God didn’t make him stupid, that is *his* truth. So, I ask if we can ask Jesus for his truth (after, of course, we have walked through forgiving the teacher for putting him in a position that made him feel vulnerable and unsafe and his peers for laughing at him). Jesus always shows up with His PEACE and TRUTH, which is what sets us free!! This is where parenting becomes a partnership with their Creator and where God takes what the enemy meant to harm and uses it for GOOD! The world has yet to see a generation who grabs hold of the hurts, lies, and offenses in childhood and destroys them IN childhood. His heart SHOULD be agitated if the enemy is whispering lies about his identity. His behavior and less-than-ideal vocabulary about ‘hating’ math were simply signs pointing to the heart splinter that was speaking a lie about his identity. A child who has never been intentionally taught the TRUTH of who they are will have an easier time biting the bait of lies about their worth and value. As parents, we have the incredible honor of teaching our children who they are and building them up in His truth. Identity focuses on who God says they are – worthy, valuable, important, lovable, belong, etc. – and not just what they do, such as good grades, sports, or excellent outward behavior. 

So let’s review: A child who is partnering with turning on themselves is believing a LIE. A child who believes a LIE will act it out with less-than-ideal behaviors because the heart splinter is agitating their heart. You can pull on the rope with validations and questions to be on the lookout for a HURT, LIE, or OFFENSE. Once you identify the hurt, lie, or offense, you help your child walk through forgiveness and then ask Jesus for His truth. We can help children resolve childhood issues IN childhood so that childhood owies don’t become adult-sized woundedness, childhood lies don’t become adult-sized strongholds, and childhood offenses don’t become adult-sized bitterness. Look for ways to intentionally speak the truth over your children about who they are. “Do you know that God loves you even when you mess up?” “You are so important to God; He even knows the number of hairs on your head.” “God created you to look like Him.” “God wants you on His team.” “This family wouldn’t be the same without you.” “You are perfect just the way you are.” “Know what I love most about you? EVERYTHING!” I declare the lies revealed and TRUTH to reign in your homes!

Self Rejection – YouTube

DIRTY SECRET

Anger, even rage, is a common ‘dirty little secret’ of many parents. Anger is actually an appropriate response for an orphan who has the weight of the world on their shoulders, has to protect themselves, and strive to meet their needs. The answer isn’t anger management; it is experiencing the Father’s love at that moment. He isn’t mad at your anger and wants you to know His love even in those messy places.

WHAT SETS US FREE

A child grows up with parents who do not know who they are, so they aren’t able to teach the child who they are. There are heart splinters left to be resolved, and the child grows up bitter, judgemental, and blaming their parents for their failures and mistakes. Obviously, this is not a path we want to choose. But another group of people with the same experiences have concluded, “Well, they did the best they could.” It sounds mature and full of grace to say that, but the adult child is still struggling profoundly. Our minds need to have answers, and we begin to draw conclusions to help us feel empowered, even in hurt and pain. To say, “Well, they did the best they could,” is a coping mechanism to make us feel better about the hurt and lack we have endured. God says the truth sets us free, and I believe He wants us to walk in the middle of both of these responses. You can’t heal what you can’t acknowledge. Honor covers the offender, knowing that they are on their journey, but it doesn’t look like silence. You can’t change what you don’t want to see. Freedom doesn’t come from blaming your parents. Freedom comes from acknowledging that something was out of alignment and partnering with God to restore it.

IDENTITY CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Three of my four kids were having a blast, but one was left out. I felt something was going on and found her sitting in the other room feeling bad and partnering with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and unworthiness. What bothered me about this wasn’t that the others weren’t sharing (though I dealt with that, too), but that my child was not walking in the confidence of who she was. I talked to her about being assertive, bold, and confident that she had every right to be included (especially in her own family). I also asked if she was ready to come in and ‘confront the situation,’ not in anger, but in the confident boldness of her true identity. She meekly walked in, and I told her to go back and do it confidentially. Of course, it began as a game with lots of laughter, but she did it nearly ten times before she could walk into the room and confidently ask to be included. 

In a world that constantly teaches our children who they are not, we must look for ways to intentionally teach and train them in the truth of who they are! Identity changes everything!

HUMILITY

Teaching your child to confess their sin robs the enemy of his desire to wrap them in shame. Humility is taught, not to condemn but to FREE us from the sins of our flesh. It looks like this: There is conflict, and you ask, “Sweetie, what did you do wrong?” They tell you their part (confession), and then you help them ask for forgiveness. “Jesus, I hurt my brother. Would You please forgive me?” If they honestly can’t tell you what they did wrong, then YOU haven’t done your part as a parent to teach them what right living (righteousness) looks like in that situation. Teach and empower them in times of peace what right living looks like. Forgiveness isn’t a blank credit card for our sins. It is a GIFT that needs to be acknowledged, honored, and intentionally received. When children mess up, they carry the guilt, which can easily become shameful if not dealt with. Helping them confess brings peace to their heart.