Children, Encouragement, History, Parents

The Effects of Love

Harry Harlow, ever heard of him? He was a psychologist who studied the nature of human love and affection by using monkeys. His experiments were labeled controversial and any attempt to measure and quantify the need for love and affection during the behaviorist movement of the 1950’s and 60’s was, supposedly, not science. * 

It was a time when many psychologists thought showing affection and love to children had no real purpose and might even be considered dangerous. But Harlow set out to prove the powerful effects of love as well as the absence of love.

How did he do it? His most famous experiment involved a mother monkey made of wire and another made of soft terrycloth. Infant monkeys, raised by these two surrogate “mothers,” had the wire mother provide needed food while the soft, terrycloth mother provided no nourishment. The result? The infant monkeys went to the wire mother for food, but preferred to spend their time with the soft, comforting mother when not eating. Harlow concluded that the need for affection was instrumental to the need for closeness and security.

This important and rather cruel research provided significant changes to how orphanages, adoption agencies and child care providers cared for children and their needs. What a powerful study on the nature of love, affection and nurture for the human spirit. We can endure a lot, but apparently we cannot endure the lack of love, of meaningful touch, affection and the security that touches the human soul. 

Who do you need to love today? Who needs your warm touch? 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

*www.Verywell, Harry Harlow and the Nature of Affection, by Kendra Cherry, December 12, 20

Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, History, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Healing A Damaged Soul’s Identity

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 17

I am the head and not the tail. Deuteronomy 28:13

I am forgiven. I John 2:12

Regardless of what has happened to you in your past, those things do not define who you are today.  Your pain-filled memories, your losses, rejections, embarrassments and shame are all a moment in time.  They are moments that fill you with heartache, unforgiveness and bitterness or they have worked to create a better you.  You have either embraced them as truth and told yourself your worth and value are determined by those things or you have embraced the experience of them, sought healing through them and grown tremendously by allowing them to grow you into a deeper, more forgiving, more grace-filled and more loving, genuine person.

You have been given one life to live on this earth and it’s up to you how you will live it.  If you allow anyone else on earth to determine how you will live, then you have sold yourself to another.  It is God who has given you life and breath, not anyone else. 

Every day people are born and every day people die.  You have been given a gift of life and it’s up to you what you make of it.  You can live in history, the present or in constant hope of a better future; it’s up to you.  

If you choose to live in history, then you most likely are choosing to live in unforgiveness. Unforgiveness gives birth to brokenness, being stuck in life, the loss of freedom, physical illnesses, depression, bitterness, anger, self-pity, self-torment and the like.  Living in unforgiveness is an anguishing way to live life.  It holds us in bondage to others. I believe it was author and speaker Joyce Meyer who said that to hold onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison in hopes that the one who you cannot forgive dies.  It only hurts you.  Unforgiveness is certain death to any sense of wholeness and identity.

Counselees would often say to me, “You have no idea what I have been through” and they were right.  But you will not move forward if you stick with that excuse.  You will be stuck forever in history.  Listen, it is not about what we have been through; it’s about who He is in you for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Does that mean we are in denial of our past?  No, it does not.  But if you are waiting for an apology from that person who hurt you, you might be waiting all of your life.  That confession may never come. Those tears of sorrow for hurting you might never surface.  Then what?  If you keep waiting, placing your life on hold, you have become a captive of the person or persons who hurt you.  You have empowered them to control your life and your emotions.  You have made them more powerful than yourself and more powerful than God.  You are allowing them to determine who you are and what you are.  

Jesus is as concerned about your future as He is your past and the Holy Spirit desires to move you on.  No one created by God was designed to live life looking backwards, constantly filtering everything that happens today through what happened to them yesterday.

Jesus said that we were to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Have you ever needed forgiveness?  How many persons have you hurt, have you damaged?  Every one of us are in desperate need of forgiveness. We are commanded to live in forgiveness. 

Question for reflection:

Are you in any way stuck in the past, bound to people who have hurt you?

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Challenge, History, Identity, Insecurity

The Loss of Identity and the Prison of Self II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 9

I am in Jesus Christ’s hands. John 10:28

I am God’s house. Hebrews 3:6

The more self-consumed we become, the more our identity is inhibited.  Being self-consumed provokes a self-centered focus.  We will never find an identity within ourselves of our own making.  It will be false and have no basis to live life.  It will be like the teenager who changes from year to year, trying to find where they fit in life and where they fit among their peers.

I Peter 1:18 tells us, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.”  I am not here to blame anything on your parents or family line, but what I do desire to do is to cause you to think about what was “handed down” to you.  What were some of those identity-forming beliefs handed down to you?  What were those prisons that you readily accepted without question because they are all you know?

I had a friend who was fearful of meeting new people.  He would literally quiver, get his words mixed up and shy away from any setting where this might happen to him.  One day we were talking about his history and he revealed to me that his mother lived in a constant state of fear of strangers.

One example he shared was that while growing up on a rural Pennsylvania farm, his father worked away from the farm during the day.  So that left his mother, him, and siblings home alone.  Regularly, a traveling salesperson, grain or feed truck operator would show up.  My friend’s mother would lock the door and then hide herself with all of the children in a small, dark closet.  There they would stay quietly until the stranger would leave.

To this day, my friend is in a self-imposed prison when it comes to meeting new people.  

It is important to ask ourselves a question about life itself, including our past life, our present situation and even our future thoughts: who determines or who makes decisions for us? And what part does God have in those decisions?  If we allow life circumstances to direct those thoughts, or empower someone else to speak over us and determine who we are, then we are allowing someone or something else to determine our identity.  We are given a choice to become what life hands us or to be different. 

Jesus expressed to us that we were to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and to follow Him.  What an opposite piece of advice from what we hear on a daily basis through our modern-day culture.  How could one “deny themselves” and yet feel better about themselves?  Never did Jesus state that what we do for Him is who we are. 

As Christ lives in you, you become His hands and his feet. You represent the King of kings and you are His holy temple. While we appreciate our church buildings, they are not holy or the “house of the Lord.” You are the house of the Lord; He lives in you to do His work on the earth. And, you can do all things in Christ.

Question for reflection:

If you are living in a self-imposed prison, how can you move out of that place and be all that Christ is calling you to be?

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