Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How Much Distressing News Can You Take?

Hello Dear Ladies,

Are you one of those home bodies that just wants to be left alone to enjoy your family, a few special friends, and your home,  but have never been able to be free of the anxiety of distressing information? Some ladies complain that even in church, they cannot not reach the level of peace that surpasses all understanding, as evidenced in this comment recently sent to this blog.

"Lydia, Thank you so very much for your beautiful and encouraging blog (and videos). How do you mentally deal with issues such as human trafficking, abortion, etc.? While these issues must be disturbing to most all, they lay a particularly heavy weight on my sensitive heart. Do you simply pray when these things come to mind and then try to forget about them? In your opinion, how much attention should Christian homemakers/mothers/home schoolers give to these horrific issues? Our church highlights a different such issue each month. I want to do my part, but even reading through the material is so burdensome to my heart, I can hardly stand it. Thank you so much, in advance, for any response you have time to give. In Christ Jesus, Elizabeth."

I would like to hear from older ladies who have lived through the bad reports of their youth, and ask them to comment about whether they think paying a lot of attention to moral and political reports has benefitted their souls or the well-being of their children and husband.  

Please read what Roxy wrote about this subject here: http://livingfromglorytoglory.blogspot.com/2017/09/anxiety-verses-faith.html

How much time do you regret dwelling on tragic things or the moral problems of the time?  If you tried to do something about it, how much success did you have in eliminating the problem?  Did your anguish over any social problems in the world cause you to be less fully focused on the tasks at hand, and do you regret the time and emotion it took away from your home and family?  

If you could live those years again, would your response to the constant reports of tragedy and evil be different?  Are you emotionally and spiritually more stable because of social problems you tried to correct? If you could live those vital years with your young family over again, what would your priorities be?

Looking back on the causes you were concerned about, was any of it worth your time and has anything changed or improved?

Would you try to alleviate all the terrible social injustices or would you try to make your children more emotionally secure?

What would you do over again, if you could, for your husband, children, relatives? How would you spend time that formerly you spent on worrying all the bad things going on?

I recall in the 1980's a news story so dramatic it captured many young minds.  Many people tuned in to the daily news to keep up with the latest progress of the continuing story. There were even some homeschool mothers who included the event in social studies. 

The media stretched this story out for several months. Decades later, after all the anxiety the story caused, it was discovered that the entire thing was politically engineered and some of it was "staged", to create a national response for a desirable political change on the part of the instigators.  

All this time, these dear, soft-hearted parents were spending time in prayer and watching the event progress. What a waste of young lives at home. Their  children needed happy, carefree, secure childhoods, free from worldly worries. 

Years later, one mother told me how, after her children were grown and gone from the house, she regretted having spent so much of her time, her mind, and her emotions on the sensational report of the day. She wished instead, that she had spent the same amount of time and intense attention on teaching her children, who were also exposed to the unsavory moral issue. She claims she would have accomplished more, by taking her children on outings and teaching them about living.

The family needed to know more about  how to be loyal, respectful and kind to one another at home, how to be forgiving and tolerant of family members and how to value one another above others in the world. The weeks of time wasted on the news report and subsequent appeals from the church to contribute money, had taken up valuable time that would have paid better dividends if it had been given to her children and husband.

Today, the particular issue that was broadcast from churches and news rooms is no longer a concern, and a new social problem has taken its place in competing for her attention. 

Maybe reading these reports does not bother you.  That is just fine if you choose to be concerned about everything, but to the ladies who have to guard their emotional well-being so that they may effectively be "all there" and mentally present for their families, my caution to you is this:

Know how much you can take. Know your limits. Know when you have had enough stress, enough bad news, enough social and moral reports. Observe how it affects your personality and your love and response to your husband and children. Be able to sense if reading about or listenning to or talking about, thinking about such unlovely things is affecting your ability to be happy. (Happiness and joy are Christian virtues as much as weeping and mourning.)  Take a mental note of how your anxiety over these matters affects your children's moods. Remember your lives together at home are very brief. Don't use the precious time being anxious for things outside of your own duties at home.

Once again, I am not talking to you ladies who like to be involved in all the political and religious issues, who thrive in it and are able to do so and it not affect their emotional health.  This is for the ladies who have trouble focusing on normal life because of social issues.

Personally I think the most important thing is to put your energy and money into your own family and close friends you can trust. Even if you have grown children or grandchildren, they will need you. Your descendents are your best ministry, because they are the people you can interact with for the rest of your life. 

It is good to help in other causes, but perhaps you can do it as a family, or contribute to the church where you attend, and let the leadership distribute the money to the needy causes they choose. 

This is the way it was done in the New Testment church: when there was a disaster that affected people in a sister congregation, help was sent by taking up a collection for them or money was used that was already saved up for a future need.  In the church of which I am a member, a needy saint, (faithful church member) is given first priority with any kind of benevolence, and then what is left over is given to others.  

We limit benevolent help from the contribution,  to church members in distress and people we know. Individuals in church are always free to personally donate to any causes they desire, outside of the church collection.  For the most part, we allow the church elders to distribute money and we simply contribute every Lords Day. That is enough for most families, and it is one of the definite commands in the New Testament--to gather money to lay by for the church to distribute. 

Letting the local church make the contribution is good, and it probably is all the average person can afford to give to charity, beside what they do for their relatives, friends and neighbors.  If you are not able to do this, consider making a reasonable contribution to something or someone you trust and do not worry about supporting every cause you hear a plea for.

Your church contribution should be adequate social benevolence. If you give regularly to the church, you have helped people. The church makes it easier for you because they decide what causes to contribute to, with the collection. That keeps you from worrying about it. Letting the church take care of worthy causes is a good thing. You can limit yourself to your church giving, and maybe one other personal contribution. I like to have a little laid by in case someone comes to visit. It pays for the meals or the afternoon tea preparations. So, with me, it is church contribution and hospitality.  Perhaps you could decided on one or two things you can reasonably do.  I know someone who puts money and food aside to help one family every Thanksgiving or other special day.  

As for things like trafficking and abortion, these causes can be nipped in the bud from your own living room when you teach your children and influence your friends how to live. These moral problems will not go away without teaching, and I realize it costs money to produce films and books and places to help people in trouble.  Those who are able, can contribute, but some ladies need to know how much of this distress they can endure and what their limit is.  

Know how much you can take.

From a very young age we are all told in churches and schools that we should try to save the world. Sometimes women take this responsibility so seriously, they become exhausted with worry.

 I heard someone advise a young lady who was anxious about all the social injustice: "Your main responsibility is to your family and a few good friends. Do your very best for the family members God has already given you and it will prevent them from putting a social burden on others. Then, teach the children to help each other and to help you, when they grow up." This  was expounded upon with  great emphasis put on directing her emotions, time and money to her husband, children and parents.

It also goes for the gloom-and-doom, end-of-the-world prediction problem, too. (Probably worth another post).  One mother told me her children said, "We want to grow up and get married, have children, build a house, have a worthwhile life, just like you did. When you talk about the end of the world all the time, we are sad because we won't be able to have that hope for the future." This is a regrettable way to bring up children. We need to make them happy about the life they have. 

Just do the best you can for your own family and a few friends. That is the best save-the-world strategy. If you have any extra talent or service or money that is not being used by your own family, consider blessing someone you know: a sewing lesson, your own art work, an afternoon tea invitation etc. 

They say adrenaline is the "drug of choice" these days, and women are running on it and running out of it, landing in a state of nervous exhaustion. Some little gesture from your own hand--a gift, a visit, an invitation, etc. can do a lot. Also, try not to pass on this same habit of worry and running ragged to your family.

I look forward to your comments.


Mrs.O said...

I am one who cannot handle the news. I have learned this the hard way,so to speak.
I think that is spot on about teaching young women to get "involved" and save the world. I know before I was saved and went to college I was just bombarded with causes. In the public high school as well.
I have heard many messages at our old church on causes,etc. From missionaries.

This past year has been especially taxing because of the election, riots,etc. I am trying to put all that behind me and focus on home!

I am very much like your commenter above. I have children grown all the way down to kindergarten age. Just yesterday my oldest son told me when I would always share news,etc with them, it would scare him! Can you imagine how awful that felt... I thought I was "educating and informing them." For what, though? One of my older daughters has told me several times it just plain drives her crazy to hear it all the time! That is enough to let the chasing useless news stories go.
Praying these concerns and fears away is key.
I appreciate you talking about this as I didn't realize other ladies were also affected by news to a great extent.
Maybe some can handle this as you say. To know if you're one or not is what matters. Such wonderful advice from you here.
God bless

Vicki said...

The saying, "Bloom where you are planted" always comes to mind when I hear of distressful situations. We can choose to become burdened and anxious and contribute to the misery, or we can choose to bring joy, encouragement, and love to those we interact with. St. Paul tells us to 'pray without ceasing' which is the tangible thing we can do for these situations, but we must not dwell on them. Rather, we are instructed to concentrate on practicing the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The opposite of these is listed beforehand, things like "...hatred,discord...fits of rage...dissensions, factions...", all of which keep us in turmoil and strife. We cannot close our eyes to the problems in the world, but we can choose whether to allow them to affect our home life or not.

When we hear of things that are upsetting, we can pray over the situation and move on in our day, handing all the details over to God. If monies are being collected to help alleviate a need, we can send whatever amount the Lord puts on our hearts. If the need is local, we can donate clothing, a meal, a listening ear, our prayers, whatever is needed yet not at the expense of the care of our family.

The enemy is out to 'steal, kill, and destroy.' With our more sensitive natures, we as women need to be on guard for his seductive wiles to unnerve us. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord and keep our priorities in check. We are in this battle to win, and Jesus asks us to keep our eyes on Him. God is in control and will take care of the problems in the world. We are called to care for our families, to keep watch at the doors of our homes and not allow whatever may harm our families to enter, and to do as much as we can to maintain peace, joy, and love in our homes.

For myself, I have stopped watching the news. I will still hear about things that are going on because others insist on talking about them, but I have noticed a much greater peace and lessening of anxiety in my daily affairs.

Thank you, Lydia, for this lovely site that you have created. It is such a blessing to us!

ladypinktulip said...

I don't know if I am "older" although I will be 50 in December, but I can tell you that for me, watching life unfold outside my home has NEVER HELPED me. I remember the OJ Simpson trial days, the Y2K scare, 9/11, etc. The news is always slanted, always negative. It leaves you feeling drained and depressed. A month ago we cut off all television service for good....we only have DVD's to watch...like Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons. It is not that I don't care about what is happening...it's that on a large scale I can do NOTHING about it. However, in my home I can create a haven of rest and I can train my daughter by Bible Standards. Our family has devotions daily. If each woman would make her home a haven...that would change our world one woman at a time. Kelly T.

Lydia said...

Use the time to perfect things in your life that may be used: hospitality to your own family is a great practice, so that when there is a need to help others, you can do it easily.

Writing letters is a great sacrifice too. The time it takes, the effort, etc. is part of the gift of a letter.

When I first began my LLS column, I had categories of things ladies could focus on, which would build them spiritually but not rob from the time they owed their homes. It included letter writing, picnicking, housekeeping, etc.

I always regretted when someone got me off on a distraction trying to help a cause, because my main cause was my home.

Unknown said...

Dear Lydia, Thank you for this post. Prayers for all in the world, prayers for family, friends and our pets is a contribution I make...Trying to be kind , generous and loving is a contribution. I cannot spend hours, days and so much precious time on world matters that I can't even begin to worry about. I don't feel guilty about not taking a part in world matters, protests and the like. If I have an opinion, I express it and that's that. My family and responsibilities are my main goal and interest. Through prayer I do what I am able.

Mary said...

We just subscribed to Bill O'Reilly's podcasts. We have been catching up by watching all the podcasts he made, from 4 months ago up to the present. We have been amazed at how the hot news of four months ago has come to nothing and nobody even remembers what it was all about. Your article was good, especially the advice to know how much YOU can take.

Lydia said...

Be cautious about the worst social injustice: neglect of family and friends, brethren in Christ, those put directly into our lives.

Lydia said...

And there is really no command in the world or the Bible to stay tuned in all your life to things you have no control over. Pay attention to your own children and parents and favor them above everyone else.

Lydia said...

Kelly, some of those media shows were also staged to get attention..and it is no different than the original "rags" as newspapers were called, printing sensational stories not entirely true, to generate business and get rid of the competing newspapers.

Amelia said...

It's nice to have a balance on these things I think. : ) I am 56 years old and am a veteran homeschooler. When my daughters were little we would listen to Elisabeth Elliott as well as Rush Limbaugh on the radio as long as I was in the room able to turn the radio off when needed, we found Rush to be humorous and educational most days. I do agree we can become saturated though with the bad and sometimes defiling unhealthy immoral news, too much of even amoral is too much if all day long in my opinion. I personally can sense it in my spirit when it's time to turn that radio off. The same goes for evening news on television, much of the subject matter even now is immediately turned off by my husband as even with adult singles it could put wrong seeds in minds and hearts. Much of the news has to do also with the ages of children and what is appropriate. Just the violent nature of news stories can be horrible and very dark, very defiling and downright cruel for a young person's ears to hear.

My two oldest daughters have married strong Christian men who are well read in the political realm, we recently had a wedding; our daughter marrying a fellow who is a Chief of Staff, so it was nice our daughters knew about the political realm and world news as well. In our daughters' singleness they were able to attend political meetings and meet interesting people, our oldest daughter volunteers as a counselor at a local prolife pregnancy center. Our son inlaws are men who also were homeschooled Christians who value stay at home wives and mothers. That is our personal story; our girls really enjoyed those things and I write this because there have been times I've sat with churched, and homeschooled youth who I could tell did not understand even where they stood on even abortion and what each political party stood for.

I understand how it is very important to give to those around us, we know where God's money is going. Once when we were flooded by a river in our home, a relative was sharing how she had sent quite a bit of money to a ministry for flood victims and it hurt my heart; for we so needed that help. And yet, another relative seemed oblivious to the need to help us clean up muddy river water in our home, but helped his church cleaning up rain water from the lobby. Both of these situations could have been avoided I think if they would have taken a step back and prayed, and saw with spiritual eyes, real spiritual eyes instead. Churches and church members really, really need to be careful not to become cliquish or selfish in their churches or seem that way to others who are not paper carrying members so to speak. : )

When the rubber meets the road, it all goes down to the heart and that quiet time in prayer, asking and seeking God on what to do in all aspects, asking God for a perfect heart. I do understand what you are writing on churches taking care of their immediate needs around them too, yes, it's often overlooked right under our very noses.

The idea for me is to prayerfully inform and learn but to also make sure, very sure the home is a place of peace and praise to the Lord. A Refuge.

I truly and strongly agree and believe if every mother would mind their own business, taking care of their families right there in their homes sure enough the Christian home would be so much better off in our country. As Ronald Reagan even said in a famous quote the importance of the family dinner table, something to the affect that a great country starts at the dinner table.

God is truly our Refuge and may we make our Homes a place of Praise to the Father.

I enjoyed your article and found it interesting. Thank you for your insight and may we all pray that we would be blameless in all of these things.

God's blessings to all. : )

anonymous said...

You are so right Lydia, most of the news is "generated and sensational" these days. The sad part is that most of it is so blatant. Sensationalism used to be somewhat hidden or mixed with the truth that it was hard to spot.
Now to report a flood in a local area, a news reporter will stand in ankle deep water wearing hip boots and scream loudly that there is a catastrophe. A cameraman will start filming inches off the curb to show rushing streams down a street drain.
The news media will show the goriest scenes and report casualties that are non-existent. I get tired of hearing all the cries of "wolf" and President bashing.

There are times like fire or storm warnings from the authorities that should be headed. However for the mainstream news broadcasts, I will listen once a day to the first 15 minutes of the evening or national news, to stay informed of world events. However even that is staged and hyped.
Better yet listen to a Christian radio station for news broadcasts. At least there you don't get all the hype and fluff associated with mainstream news media organizations and broadcasts.
I don't need an Adrenalin fix through the day to make life interesting.

Your advice on staying home, spending time with your family and close friends, training your own children how to behave, teaching them God's Word, showing them how to trust Him and loving your husband is the best advice. No good reason to get worked up over things you have little control over.
Someone once wrote that "more was accomplished in the hour of prayer than in any other time of the day". Prayer and trust is what the Lord wants and asks for in the Bible.
Thank you for this post and bringing light to it.

Polly said...

I take the news in bits and pieces. We can obtain news so easily and quickly now that I do think it can become an unhealthy obsession and distraction. I've had this conversation with several friends over the years. The omnipresence of social media adds to the fatigue and feeling of never having a respite from the news. We have to be mindful of this. It's good to know what is happening in the world and how we can pray for or help certain situations but we don't need a constant barrage of negative news.

Jaclyn Juliette said...

I think if everyone simply focused all the love and attention they could on their children and close family members, the whole world really would be a better place. It sounds simplistic but it's true. Happy homes lead to happy communities and in turn, a happy world.

I'm not sure if I know how to word this eloquently but I feel that personally, I prefer not to focus on the lesser things in life. The sorts of crimes mentioned are the world of the devil and I prefer to focus on the world of God. Whatsoeve things are true, pure and lovely, think on those things. You can choose what to focus on so choose to focus on the better part.

I'm only 38 but I already have come to the conclusion that it is silly to take the news too seriously. I live in Manhattan, NYC. If you believed the news, you'd think the streets here were crawling with liberal crazies holding protest signs all day long. Yet, I've seen nothing of the sort. I go out for long daily walks everyday with my children and all I see are smiling faces on my neighbors and the local store clerks and the latest flower plantings of my neighbors and the seniors volunteers in the community association.

Also, consider the news effect on a recession. The news starts to announce "a recession is coming!" and people panic. They get scared and stop spending. So businesses earn less and therefore end up having to lay workers off. Recessions end when the fear ends. When the news starts informing people "the recession is over." It's all mainly psychological.

Anyway, I won't go on because I'm not as eloquent as you are. I'd advise some people to consider canceling cable and try services like Netflix or Hulu which are much cheaper and you can choose what you'd like to watch. (For the woman who commented about Little House on the Prairie, they offer the full set of episodes in their library included in their $8(?) plan.) They also have a lot of old classics such as Wagon Train and those sorts of things.

Personally, I've cut down on my news consumption drastically. I enjoy focusing my attention on my children husband, family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jaclyn! I live in Queens and like you, have seen NOTHING of the sort of what the "news" reports. But...I have to cut out the 'helpful' (cough, cough) web sites that keep us informed...the pro-president supporters that rile up enough stress as the news!!! Oy. Time to change the direction of my heart and mind and give my mind, heart, and soul and rest.

Homestead Gal said...

Thank you for writing such an elegant piece, and for reminding us what is truly important. When I was a young mother, I chose to stay home and raise my 3 sons. I was focused on the home and family. I never regretted my choice, although I was college-educated and previously had the promise of a shining career outside of the home. The home was my focus, my safe haven, my refuge. And my sons were happy children and protected from much of life's negative influences.

Four years ago, we lost our youngest son suddenly. The shock was tremendous. I knew I was facing a future of deep grief so I prepared myself to minimize the emotional upheaval. I turned to God and trusted, and I continued to keep the home and the family our a safe haven. My 2 sons needed their mother to be strong so that they, too, could be strong. Although our sons were all adults residing elsewhere, the strength of 'the home place', through our values and belief, helped all of us through the grieving process. I have NEVER regretted making my home the safe haven, nor have I ever regretting choosing to be a stay-at-home full-time mother to my children.

I am well-read and follow current events, although I limit my exposure to the sensationalized TV 'news' and political ideological nonsense. I used to write to Congressional representatives and political leaders, but found that the efforts were time-wasting practices. At 63, I believe I have good common sense and values, and many life experiences to draw from. I have learned that I can't control or impede political corruption or immorality. I tried, but it only made me angry and cynical. I am better than that. Now, I simply guard against these grossly negative problems and work to keep that negative influence from reaching into my family and my home.

Mrs. Bill said...

You asked for the opinions of older women. Well, as I am 75 years old and have been married 56 years, I think I qualify. And, I can unequivocally tell you that through my life there has always been chaos and confusion and bad news in the world. WWII, the Korean War, the cold war, the Vietnam War, the riots and revolution of the 1960's, the horrible changes in our culture, etc., etc. As far as I am concerned, the home should be a place of refuge from all of this. I don't think it's normal to be caught up in constant controversy, fear mongering, and the details of evil. Being sensitive to it may be God's warning to back away: the Bible has plenty to say about guarding the heart, seeking peace, thinking on what is right, true and lovely.
I like it quiet at home, but my dear husband does his share of listening to all the controversy on TV (and usually quite loud!) So, when it gets too much for me, I have prepared a few places where I can retreat and do quiet work: an umbrella table on the deck and a writing desk in a corner of my bedroom.
I feel sad for the lady whose email started Lady Lydia's very excellent post. Somehow it doesn't seem right to have to study the details of evil at church. I don't think I would go along with it - but then it's easier if you are old and have lots of white hair. Nobody ever questions :)

Lydia said...

If all the news was true you would see constant chaos in the streets and people overseas must think it's a terrible place! I agree with you abkut Wagon Train. I am glad those old westerns are available today on YouTube. Some people thrive on stress but for others , they have to find ways of limiting it.

Circle R Corral said...

Thank you everyone!
It is a balance, isn't it? To be wise. And not foolish enough to follow all the drama of sin.

Last year I subscribed to The WorldView in Five Minutes, so I would not be so "illiterate" on important events.
But, it is sent to my secondary email, to a separate folder, where I can access it anytime without it "in my face".

For those who hear heavy things at church (we have had a season also) I have found it so helpful to "Pray Through." ...Something I have now learned older prayer warriors do as well.
Instead of praying over and over into hopeless defeated exhaustion, pray claiming God's Word, seeking His Wisdom, until you know He heard.
He has His answer prepared.
You can rest that matter with Him.
And go forward in the work He gives you today.
Encourage and build up your family, relations and church family! It is SO important.
Build up this younger generation in CHRIST. That is Who they need for the days ahead.
That is Who *we* need for this day, right now.

I have found it helpful to keep "a sound mind" by *choosing* how to invest my listening time --- to the Bible on Audio; God's Word will not pass away!
And preachers who remind me of Who God is, and His power.

Some encouraging sources I have found are...
If you go to SermonAudio website - Otto Koning, David Gibbs and Mark Smith are sound preachers on prayer and spiritual warfare.

If you are willing to try Audible for free (and cancel before the $15/mo subscription) download
Phillip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.
It is excellent. I never knew before how gentle and attentive a *good* shepherd is.
And Jesus IS our Good Shepherd.

Andy Andrews (see YouTube or website and podcast) is not a preacher, but a motivational speaker based on Biblical principles. (Sometimes, you just need to hear a positive mindset!!)

I hope this encourages other women.
When our "yoke" of cares, burden and grief is so, so heavy; remember Jesus is still calling.
Calling specifically to YOU.

"Come unto me,
all YE that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will
give you
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find REST unto your *souls*.

For My yoke is easy,
and My burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30