How Much Are You Withholding?

Jul 20, 2012 | Faith

Filling out tax forms is an adventure. I’ve filled out several lately because I provide behavioral services for various entities. The question becomes, “How much should I withhold?” when, in reality, I want all of it.

Affection and encouragement are like taxes in the respect of  how much is withheld. I work with lots of kids who hunger for affirmation, encouragement, and affection.   Many personality and behavior disorders have root causes in lack of nurture, affection, and affirmation.  There is a severe condition, Reactive Attachment Disorder, which can cause deep behavioral problems.  When affirmation and nurture are absent from the human psyche, people suffer.

I was reminded of this recently when an adult expressed deep pain they experienced growing up in a Christian family, then later another adult expressed hurt from their church family.  Both situations had a common denominator – lack of affirmation, encouragement and affection.

Not the smoozy-you-make-me-feel-uncomfortable-as-you-slobber-on-me affection or the “love-ya-kisses-and-hugs-superficiality” affection, but the omission of genuine, “You know, you’re alright” kind of affection.  Affirmation of gifts, effort, and overall person-hood.

The things our hearts deeply long for.

God’s word calls it Lavish love. 

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”  1 John 3:1

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”  I John 3:18

I’ll admit, encouragement is my top love language.  I grieve when encouragement and affirmation is lacking among Christians and between parent and child.  I had my own  rude awakening years ago when one of my children expressed,

 “I just want to know you’re proud of me!”

What an eye opener! Of course I was proud of them, but how often was it omitted from conversations, leaving a gap in their adolescent-starved-spirit?

Probably too often.  

Since I’ve walked away from the two adults hurt from withheld affection, I’ve been challenged to consider the fruits of the Spirit God has made us stewards of. 

I wonder how Jesus Christ will hold us accountable for generosity with non-financial resources He has given us.  
A lot is heard from the pulpit of Christianity
 about the love of God, 
but how does that play out,

If we were more generous with the love Christ has lavished on us, how much more would others be drawn to Him?

If we lavishly loved by words and truth, 
how many behavior disorders would be averted?

If we affirmed people’s strengths 
and were gracious with their weaknesses,
 how bright would the light of Christ be?

I’m challenged to give more generously with these things.

I can give more kind words, 
encouragement, a smile and “good job.”   
They cost me nothing.
But they might be everything to someone else.

I wonder if you’ll join me.

In your circles, who might need affirmation?

How could you be the encouraging leader in your congregation, bible study, or group of friends?

We have same withholding power as Uncle Sam.

Let’s generously give others all we have.

This year, let’s not withhold anything.

That’ll bring great returns.


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Do you feel trapped in a chaotic, relentless, demanding lifestyle? No matter where you live or what season of life you’re in, you can find inspiration from the simpler life. 


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