In response to my recent BodyLife article about “How Do I…” I got an email this week. It was very encouraging. This came from an old friend back east, and I am not reprinting it for the kind words he says about me, though they are greatly appreciated since I am in a very difficult season of being true to what God has invited me to do. I print it for the situation they find themselves in with elderly parents.
People who have been embedded in religion for most of their lives, don’t realize how captive they become to expectations and control. They almost make it impossible to love them because no matter what you do it is never enough.
I have been thinking about you quite a bit for the past several weeks especially since reading your March newsletter. I understand where you are coming from with the demands and all, and you have generated a lot of prayer on your behalf not only from us, but from those who know and love you as well.
I can’t begin to tell you how much your wisdom and writing is not only needed, but cherished as well, helping those you will probably never meet on this side. My wife and I were talking recently about the negative side of religion. Her folks (in their 90s) are living alone in their home, and now they need constant care, but having been taught from their childhood the necessity of control and expectations on all around them, we are up against it.
Sadly, they were never able to have an adult relationship with their kids and now it is impossible for my wife and her siblings to help in any way. No matter what they try to do it is wrong in their eyes, even though the decisions themselves are right. They will not give up control and it is tragic, especially when the kids are not respected for who they are. This is the old cause and effect religion.
I only tell you this (you’ve been through it) to encourage you to continue writing, and not to get bogged down with any of the other stuff. I had lunch Sunday with two couples who wanted to start “church”, and I encouraged them to read the book (So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore) again and go to your website and read everything. The message needs to be told and retold. Families literally hang in the balance with all that religion does to destroy them.
I cried when I read the newsletter, for the pain I know you feel from time to time. For what it’s worth, I felt I was reading what the apostle would be saying in the language of today. Hope you can just relax each day knowing how important you are to Father and us.
OK, that last part is a bit over-the-top, but I love what he says about religion and legalism making us controlling people. Instead of healing our fears, it passes them on to others by our need to control them by whatever means are at our disposal. That’s why religious people carry so many expectations and think nothing of expressing their disapproval when people don’t meet them. It’s all an attempt to control others around them. Wouldn’t it be better just to let Jesus transform us in the face of our fears, rather than trying to satisfy them by destroying our relationship with others?
I heard one time that the last thing a parent can do for their children is to die well—not to demand from them the care they think they need and to be grateful when they do their best to help out. I like that.
I first saw this email on my phone sitting on a plane in Jackson, MS. It made me tear up as the doors were closing. I love the relationships that develop over time with people who carry the same passion for God, grace and freedom that I do.