“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael

Even though I was taught to say thank you doesn’t mean I understood it. It took me a long time to understand the whole gratitude thing. We want to excel in our lives—striving for excellence. But I had to know how to differentiate my positive pursuit of excellence from an addictive desire to be perfect as a result of shame.

It is near impossible to be grateful when you are in pain Thankful for what? A fatherless adolescent child is so lost that it takes a loving and compassionate caregiver to understand and build up the child. 


Many of us grew up in families where we were rewarded for achievement. And we may have been shamed when we didn’t meet others’ expectations. Whether we received painful tongue-lashings cutting you at the knee, or subtle glances of disapproval. We may have received the message that we’re accepted and loved when we’re “successful”—and rejected when we fall short. I found myself falling short… So I checked out emotionally, went through the motion but my heart was not in it. I was angry. I hated God as one mean invisible being up there in the sky who snaps his finger and sends me to hell because I was worthless.

So I ran.

The sixth sign of maturity: A mature person knows how to prioritize others before themselves.

A wise man once said: A mature person is one whose agenda revolves around others, not self. Certainly this can go to an extreme and be unhealthy, but I believe a pathway out of childishness is getting past your own desires and beginning to live to meet the needs of others less fortunate.

Religion, culture of obedience, is the flip side of pride and arrogance. Religiosity can really screw up a young mind with guilt, fear and shame and crush their freewill. They grow older with holy defiance that puts words in God’s mouth saying, “God help those who help themselves” BTW, that’s not in the scripture.. Or look down on the less fortunate and say, “Oh, Get a job!” Holy act of defiance is a true picture of low emotional intelligence – insensitive, demeaning and insulting behaviors. So far from the God I have come to know and love. 

My experience as a teenager were just based on “critical inner voices”, destructive thoughts directed toward myself and others. Most of this negative talk is just plain wrong and can be covering up something else — something deeper. Through a slow and steady toxic messaging, we may have developed a false self that we display to the world to win praise and avoid the heartache of disapproval. I mean why would those self-righteous folks bother me. If we want to grow, we have to look inside ourselves. The world may be full of obstacles, but our worst enemy is usually in our own heads.

Life is messy and I don’t need to tidy things up. God created me to be his child. How do I treat other children of God? [/restrict]