I love cathedrals. One of my favorite things to do when in Europe is to visit these tall, majestic, regal–and rather imposing–structures that stud the landscape. To me, they are far more than just buildings; rather, these towering feats of architecture are masterpieces of art, built in the name of the Lord, that speak of His power, His strength, His protection, His love and His beauty.
On our trip to Spain in the summer of 2016, however, these towering edifices spoke to me somewhat differently…
You see, when I began this trip, I was struggling with the concept of how to “parent” my adult boys and the girls they were bringing into my life. Some weeks before, a good friend and I had been commiserating about this via text, and she mentioned that she had been advised to be “supportive”. That sounded like excellent advice to me, not only for how to continue parenting my adult children, but also for how I should deal with all the relationships in my life. Yes, it was absolutely brilliant.
Then reality set in: Just what does it mean to be supportive?
The more I contemplated this question, the more frustrated I became, for if I were to be perfectly honest with myself, all my former attempts at being “supportive” have never truly been fueled by supportiveness at all. In fact, “controlling” would likely be the descriptor best used to describe my past efforts at showing love and support. Hadn’t my own version of “supportiveness” resulted in my son being torn between doing what I was sure he should do and the direction God was leading him? Hadn’t my “supportiveness” succeeded in making this same son afraid to tell me he had bought himself a car? Hadn’t my attempts at “being supportive” created a chasm between me and one of the girls my boys brought home? Didn’t my “supportiveness” often bring my own dear mother to tears?
Sadly, my list of examples could fill this page, but I won’t continue to bore you with the details. It is safe to say that all my efforts at being supportive have failed miserably. The truth of the matter is, I have no idea what “supportive” looks like, and I have no clue how to separate it from its destructive but mimicking cousin, “control”.
I am sure that I am not the only one struggling with the concept of how to be supportive. You may be struggling to be supporting of adult children and parents, as in the above examples, but you may also be struggling in one of many other incidences where being supportive is vital. After all, doesn’t God exhort us to: “…encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)? We may desire to be supportive of good friends or neighbors; we may wish to be supportive of our coworkers, our clients and the people who share our pew at church; and we are called to be supportive of our pastors, mayors, councilmen, representatives, presidents and prime ministers. In fact, aren’t we exhorted to pray for and be supportive of…everyone? “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Tim 2:1-2 NIV)
I am not writing this today because I feel I have found the answer to the question of how to be supportive; but as God spoke to me in His gentle, all-wise way, through the many beautiful cathedrals in Spain, He began to paint a picture for me of what it means to truly be supportive. I have a burden on my heart to share these precious lessons with you, and this will be the subject of the next six devotionals. It is my hope that some of you will benefit from the struggles I have undergone and the lessons God has given me. Please join us on Tuesday for “CATHEDRALS! Part 1”.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Cathedrals! Lessons on Being Supportive” mini-series, Click here.)