Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family by Michelle Anthony
There are bookshelves full of resources claiming to help people achieve the abundant life. Our first week’s reading of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, bursts the bubble that claims that we can do anything to attain it. If you want your family to have an “abundant life” you must purse Jesus first. Pursuit of him leads to abundant life while pursuit of abundant life leads to dysfunction.
My take away from this week’s reading is that pursuing abundant life leads to dysfunction because my view of what abundant life is gets skewed in so many ways it neglects the bigger picture that only God knows. As I begin to see my life as a part of His story, and begin living according to the script that God has written, His abundant life will become attainable because it is a bi-product of following Jesus.
Below I have listed the reflection and response questions from Chapter 1 and my responses underneath. I invite you to take a stab at transparency and answer them for yourself in the comments! I look forward to reading your thoughts
Reflect & Respond Questions from Chapter 1
Take assessment of your life and the lives of your family members right now. In what areas have you coveted another’s script? In what ways have you attempted to play the role of Director in your own life?
Rate yourself today on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 – “ceased to live” or “dysfunctional living and 5 – “living the abundant life”). What factors have contributed to this number?
What is most difficult for you in the process of “staying on script”?
What do you want or need to say to a God who continues to accomplish His plans despite your childish demands?
Where does your family need an intervention from God right now?
- When I look back at my own life events, I have “coveted another’s script” any time I feel like I’ve been dealt a bad hand. I’m currently the only full-time staff member at our church and when I was hired, this was not what I envisioned. To be honest, there’s been a temptation to bail out of a difficult situation to try and pursue a “more abundant life” elsewhere – taking on the Director role of my own life. As my wife and I look at how our life’s circumstances have been orchestrated though, seasons of difficulty have always brought us into greater clarity of God’s purpose. Being faithful to him – allowing Him to be the Director – has always paid off.
- 4 – There still remains a need for me to release the areas where I want to maintain control. I really do feel that I am, for the most part, living out a life that pursues God as first in charge of my life but the tendency remains for me to try and manipulate things to go my way.
- The most difficult thing for me in the process of “staying on script” is believing that my part is important enough. I really second-guess sometimes whether what I am doing makes a difference or is just something I enjoy. Trying to follow his lead and direction for my life is difficult when seeing how it is impacting the Kingdom is not easily visible.
- “God, keep doing what you’re doing – even if it hurts. Catch me quickly when I try to take over your seat in the Director’s chair and put me back where you want me reading your own script.”
- (This is a tough question to answer publicly!) They need their dad/husband to lead. I am a leader and set the spiritual climate in my own home. Sometimes I convince myself that because my life, in general, is characterized by service in the Kingdom that the spiritual climate in my home will experience the blessings of this. In reality, my actual spiritually formative emphasis at home lacks enthusiasm. It’s there but it could take shape much more creatively and energetically than it is currently does.
Again, I invite you to respond in the comments below with your own answers! Thanks for sharing!
What is the opposite of “dysfunctional living?” Is it, being happy? Nothing ever going wrong? Perfect parenting or a marriage without arguing? We can sometimes joke about the effect of our unhealthy relationship styles. Maybe laughing about our faults is a good way of not taking things too seriously. Not taking a close look, though, at the dysfunction in our lives can result in not even tasting what the “abundant life” is like. How do we even pursue living the abundant life and what does it look like?
The abundant life is to seek and know this holy and perfect God, understand the plan He has initiated, discover how He is writing the story to accomplish this plan, and then humbly receive your script and play your part – as written.
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, p.13
Saturday we launch into our book club covering Michelle Anthony’s Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles. It’s not too late to join and the club “meetings” are all online, on your own time! I will be posting chapter responses and questions here on this blog and anyone is welcome to participate! The book is available on Amazon.com. Visit the initial post about the club for more information!
Spiritually healthy families come from spiritually healthy individuals who, on their journey together, seek to live “on script” each day. Spiritually healthy families are not made up of people who never mess up their lines, or forget whether to enter stage left or stage right – they are not perfect performers. But they are families working together as loving case members, discovering the intimate beauty of watching the character development of each person unfold-in the midst of the messiness.
Michelle Anthony, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, p.13
Next week we begin a book club to help us learn to live “on script.” When we realize that we cannot have spiritually healthy families without being spiritually healthy individuals, the pressure is really on. If we desire our families to be living the abundant life that Jesus offers, we have to take an honest look at the habits we have that keep us from joining the story God has planned for us!
I hope you’ll consider joining us for this book study. We will read a chapter a week and I will write an initial response on this blog to each chapter. If you care to share your own thoughts or responses, you can do so through the comments!
Get the book now on Amazon or at a Christian bookstore in order to begin reading on April 12th! The first chapter response will be posted on the 18th! Click here to read the post with complete reading schedule.
I look forward to learning to live “on script” with you!
Parenting Book Club!
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family:
Avoiding the 6 dysfunctional parenting styles
Do you desire for your parenting to be spiritually healthy? If you want this but do not know how to get there, join us in a book study of Michelle Anthony’s, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family. We will take time weekly to read a chapter and respond to discussion questions from the text with one another.
The goal is to encourage one another through our own self-reflection about ways our parenting functions and dysfunctions! Through the public discussion, you will find that you are not alone! We all need some help pinpointing what needs to be done different and sharing in this book club together is one way for us all to benefit!
Below is an excerpt from the back of the book:
Who’s in charge of your family: You or Jesus?
We all want to guide our children in to the abundant life that Jesus offers. But when we pursue the more and better that the world offers above our pursuit of Jesus, we fall into dangerous parenting habits.
In Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, Michelle Anthony unpacks six common dysfunctional parenting styles that we fall into out of habit, lack of attention, or just oversight due to busyness. If you long to show your children Jesus but don’t know how to do it, you’ll find hope in this practical guide to creating a relentlessly grace-filled home that is focused on God as first in charge.
HOW THE BOOK CLUB WORKS:
- Comment below if you’d like to participate!
- Get the book! Check Amazon.com or local Christian bookstores.
- Check back each week (or subscribe!) and reply to the post about the chapter you’ve just completed. You can share your responses to the questions from the book or to the chapter in general!
Here is a schedule for the readings & responses (Initial response will be posted on the last day of the week!):
Chapter 1 – The Director and the Script
Chapter 2 – The Six Dysfunctions of Parenting
April 26th-May 2nd:
Chapter 3 – Kissing the World Goodbye
May 3rd-May 9th:
Chapter 4 – Free Indeed
May 10th-May 16th:
Chapter 5 – Beyond the Pursuit of Perfection
Chapter 6 – Relinquishing Control
May 24th-May 30th:
Chapter 7 – A Time to Bless
May 31st-June 6th:
Chapter 8 – Living a Meaningful Family Mission
June 7th-June 13th:
Chapter 9 – Beyond Good Behavior and Chore Charts
June 14th-June 20th:
Chapter 10 – Remember & Celebrate the Abundant Life
Prayer is one of those practices that is undeniably central to our discipleship. It’s a way we communicate with God our hopes, fears, desires and adoration. Praying reflects a connection we have with God and when we pray with others, our connection with them is strengthened as well. In a marital relationship, prayer is an activity that will not only draw a couple close to each other through the expression of their hearts but will even decrease the likelihood of divorce. While the national average for divorce is right at 50% the divorce rate for couples who pray together 3-5 times a week is 1 in 1200.  A statistic this remarkable warrants the attention of any couple that wants to guarantee the success of their marriage.
Sometimes it can be difficult to pray with our spouse. For many reasons we can feel inhibited in sharing this part of our walk with Christ in our marriage. On the next page below is a way to beginning the journey toward praying openly from your heart with your spouse. While simple in it’s approach, it may feel unnatural at first. The goal is to provide a “scripted stepping stone” that gets you as a couple talking with God in front of each other.
- Plan a short time (4-5 minutes) where you and your spouse can pray together uninterrupted.
- Choose one person to go first. This person reads only the first line of Prayer Number 1 and fills in the blank with their own words.
- Now it is the other spouse’s turn. Read the first line and fill in the blank with your own words.
- Continue through the prayer until you have read through all four lines.
The first prayer is a good place to start if you have never prayed with your spouse. As you grow more comfortable sharing this time together, move on to the second prayer. It gets a little more into the heart without being too intimidating. As this way of praying becomes more natural, venture into wording your own prayers or take turns providing prompts for each other. Below are some additional examples of prayer prompts.
Prayer for Married Couples: Number 1
God, you are so ___________ .
(share something with God that you like about him!)
God, sometimes its hard for me to ___________ .
(tell God about a struggle you have)
God, I want to thank you for ___________ .
(show God that you appreciate something he’s done)
God, one thing I ask is that you ___________ .
(tell God something you need from him)
Prayer for Married Couples: Number 2
God, when I think about you it makes me feel ___________ .
Today, I really needed your grace when I ___________ .
When I think of all the things you’ve done it makes me want to ___________ .
God, you always take care of my needs. Something I need is ___________ .
ADDITIONAL PRAYER PROMPT EXAMPLES:
- God, it was amazing today when you ___________ .
- God, I want to work harder on ___________ .
- Please give me strength to ___________ .
- As I think back on my day, I’m real proud that I ___________ .
- God I get so sad sometimes when ___________ .
- God when I read in your word about ___________ it made me feel ___________ .
My prayer for you and your spouse is that you grow to the greatest depths of intimacy in your marriage through your conversations with God.
 Gallup Poll conducted in 1989-90 entitled “Love and Marriage.” Results reported in Faithful Attraction by Andrew Greeley, 1991 St. Martins Press