Authenticity in Love & Life
A Blog by Elaine Barron, LCSW
A while back as I was reading the story of David in the Bible, I found myself noticing a biblical principle in how David handled an unsafe relationship. In the realm of Christian relationships, I have seen many Christian women putting up with risky, harmful situations under the guise of being submissive wives to husbands asserting their authority as “head of the house”.
The following is the story of how one who was under the authority of another, reacted when he was put in harm’s way by that authority figure.
There’s an epidemic going around these days I like to call “not enoughness”—the feeling that “I don’t measure up”. This is often accompanied by its emotional siblings—inadequacy, insignificance, and worthlessness. Early symptoms can be traced back to childhood. Grown men express, “ I never got my father’s approval.”
Women, too, express deficits when it comes to having received parental approval in their growing up years. When I think specifically about this epidemic, I wonder if the underlying unmet need is acceptance rather than approval.
The Good Housekeeping magazine has promoted the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval since 1909. A company given this seal has been evaluated to be a company committed to a trustworthy standard of excellence. Approval thus becomes a product of an evaluation or judgment.
As a recovering co-dependent, I know what it’s like to feel the feelings of others more intensely than I feel my own. I had become an expert in pleasing others. It wasn’t until about ten years ago, I learned the value of having a strong sense of self. I also realized the disservice I had done to those I knew by not truly interacting with my authentic self. But how could I? When I didn’t know who I was.
When I first began my career as a counselor, I re-watched the 1999 movie, Runaway Bride, and saw it with new eyes. I always liked the movie, but I have come to see the movie as personifying the “Being Known” vision of my counseling practice.
Becoming more emotionally aware of one’s own feelings is one of the first steps to becoming known. Many people seem to be on a quest for happiness, not realizing the importance of identifying and experiencing the many other feelings that pass through our “self” on any given day. A few years ago the cartoon movie, “Inside Out”, came out and though it was supposedly a kids’ movie, I found myself identifying many lessons adults can learn about the unseen element of our emotions.
A few years ago, Clay Scroggins, brought a message at North Point Community Church entitled "The Empathy Lens" as part of a series called "Bad Blood". He referenced Romans 12: 18--"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” He talked about how a professional golfer not only analyzes a putt from the putter’s side of the hole but also gets the perspective from the other side of the hole. Likewise, when making peace in a relational conflict, it is imperative to view the conflict from the other person’s side. Clay referred to Brene Brown’s TED talk in which she listed the following four qualities of empathy: 1. Taking on the other’s perspective as truth 2. Suspending your judgment 3. Recognizing their emotion 4. Communicating that emotion
Having many positive experience together as a couple can help overcome the many obstacles that can sometimes leave a couple wondering if this relationship is worth the effort
Elaine Barron is a psychotherapist in Alpharetta, Georgia who is also a Christ follower. She has experienced much in her life that was necessarily the way she would have chosen, but sees those struggles as opportunities for growth and healing, desiring to share with others what she has learned "so far".