Yesterday my husband Ray and I were having a conversation about a relative who has basically gone “no contact” with our entire family, out of hurt and offenses. Although we have done our best to make amends with this person, and to ask forgiveness for any wrongs committed, relationships remain strained. My fervent prayer (daily) is for reconciliation.
I was sharing with Ray how deeply hurt I am over the situation, and Ray’s frustrated response was, “I know it hurts. This hurts me, too. But we can’t wallow in the hurt, Beth! We can’t stay there for the rest of our lives. We need a future!”
I knew Ray was speaking the truth. His word wallow bothered me a lot. The definition of “wallow” is:
to roll oneself about in a lazy, relaxed manner (like a pig wallowing in the mud);
to take unrestrained pleasure in something (like silk sheets);
to become abundantly supplied (like a family wallowing in sudden wealth);
to indulge oneself immoderately (like wallowing in self-pity);
to become or remain helpless.
No, I don’t want to be a victim, wallowing in hurt, anger, and self-pity! I want to be free in Christ. Jesus died for this freedom and for me and those I love to have an abundant life!
Pigs, hippopotamuses, elephants, rhinoceroses, warthogs, and bison instinctively wallow in dirt, mud, snow, or water. They do this for temperature regulation, parasite removal, and sun protection (their skin can get sunburned). They may also rub their scent glands around wallowing areas, possibly to mark their territory.
But as humans, our protection is in God. We can’t control what other people do or don’t do. But we can be responsible for ourselves and our own growth. We don’t have to stay stuck in the devastating hurt, or anger, or confusion. We don’t need to wallow in anything.
“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)
“For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.” (Psalm 91:3-6, NASB)
In the article, Sitting with your stuff vs. wallowing, Coach Kate Swoboda writes that “wallow” conjures up images of being stuck, hopeless, sad or defeated, and “perhaps even a little pissed,” yet being a total victim and doing very little about making any changes whatsoever.
It’s like you being seated on a plane to fly to your eagerly-anticipated vacation destination, but the plane is still sitting on the tarmac, going nowhere. Or you sitting on a train, yet the train is not moving on the rails.
It’s important not to avoid your “stuff,” since whatever you repress just gets stronger. But blowing up at whoever you’re upset with and telling him or her exactly what you think might not be wise, either.
Kate says the difference between “sitting with your stuff” versus “wallowing” is in the Story. Some stories, like people are generally full of good intentions and do their best, serve you.
But a story that people are just mean and selfish doesn’t serve you well. In these situations where you believe that people are always mean, you might think, “Why does this always happen to me? My life feels like it will never change. It never works out.” You are, yes, wallowing!
In the first story, sitting with your stuff instead of wallowing, you might think, “I don’t like how this feels. I’m so sad. Yet this where I’m at right now. This really sucks. But it won’t last forever.”
Kate encourages us to make space for the parts that make us human (where we might be inclined to wallow, i.e., the emotional pain), but not let it define us. And as my husband Ray said, to not let it be our future.
I personally believe forgiveness is a large part of not letting hurts define us. Forgiveness takes time, God’s power, and our will. It is not an easy or quick fix, but necessary for spiritual growth and maturity.
Understanding our true identity in Christ also helps set us free. No one and nothing else defines who we are: a royal daughter (or son) of the King!
Are you wallowing about anything right now? I encourage you to bring it to God and let Him help heal you so that you can move forward with your life and God-designed purpose. One day at a time.
A good resource to help you with this issue is Coffee with God: Starting Your Day Right With Prayer & The Bible. You can get this encouraging eBook at Amazon here.
Last weekend our youngest, beautiful, precious daughter Leah moved out of our house, to her own home to be close to her new job as assistant baker at a coffee shop/deli, about an hour north of us. So I am (again) in empty nest. While Ray and I love Leah so much and really miss her, we pray she’ll spread her wings and soar. I’m praying daily for her (as usual).
It is not easy for me, because my children are my heartbeat and I love them so much. I believe that being a mom is the most important, sacred job in the whole world.I’m also a homeschooling mom.
I homeschooled our daughter Heather the last two years of high school until she graduated and attended Youth With a Mission; homeschooled our daughter Eden one year in elementary school; and homeschooled Leah for all of her 12 years in school.
No worldly “success” that I could ever achieve as a speaker and author could compare to being a mother. Next to my salvation in Christ, it is the greatest gift God has ever given me.
To this day, I stillworry about our oldest daughter, Heather, who is 38 years old, a college graduate, and a mom of two of her own girls! I battle with being one of those annoying helicopter moms.
But I’m learning to let go and let God. He loves our three daughters even more than Ray and I do. He’s got their backs!
You may have heard the expression, “Once a mom, always a mom.” I’ll probably never stop worrying completely about my kids. It’s what (good) moms do!
But this is a new chapter for me. God has great new things, for me, too! I’ve realized recently that this is the fall season of my life.
Here in Missouri where I live, it’s beautiful right now. It’s my favorite season. I love the cooler weather and the colored leaves in shades of orange, red, yellow, and brown. Yes, I know the leaves are actually dying. But they are glorious.
It is like me in middle age and now empty nest. I’m not a spring chicken any more–no longer that young, hot girl that my husband Ray fell so madly in love with 27 years ago, who survived on Coca-Cola’s and Snickers chocolate bars all day and still staying a size 3, and who stayed up all night long to cram for the next morning’s college social work class or to watch a marathon of chic flics making her cry and laugh and hope.
The grey hairs are coming in faster now (I earned every one of ’em, from the intense stress of our marriage and our kids worrying me to death), and I notice more facial wrinkles, especially around the corners of my mouth. I wonder who that older woman is, staring back at me in the mirror with sad eyes and a perpetually worried brow.Cinderella, I am not.
Yet I realize that even as my youthful physical beauty is fading, I am growing closer to Jesus every day and believe my inner beauty is increasing, becoming more glorious like the fall’s colored leaves.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. ” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
I’m in the Autumn of my life, no longer a baby like the season of spring with its new birth of flowers and animals, or like summer with the warm, golden sun (those skinny, tanned, long-haired girls in bikinis come to mind; I used to be one of them!), or like cold, barren winter (the elderly with silver hair, reading glasses, and brimming with life’s wisdom, on the threshold of Heaven’s door).
I’m in the fall season of life, a transitional phase, with its crisp, cooler weather, Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, apple pie-scented candles, pretty feminine scarves, fun corn mazes, comfy loose hoodies, soft sweaters, and delicious s’mores over campfires. A time of pause and reflection and reevaluation. An in-between time of life. A letting go season.Especially of my children.
A lesson I’m learning over and over. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. Motherhood is a precious gift, but why does it hurt so much sometimes?I feel as if my heart and guts are being ripped out of my body sometimes.
When I was young, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mom and a writer. I am both.But who am I besides being a mom? They are such a huge part of my identity, yet my true identity is in Jesus Christ.
I have realized sometimes my children can be idols. I must love God more than even them. I can have no other gods before Him.
I must let go, for my sake and theirs. I realize that if I don’t let my children go, to soar on their own as adults, it will cripple them for life. I did my job raising them, loving them, and pointing them to Jesus. Yes, I screwed up a lot, but I repented fast to God. Now it is time for them to live their lives and make their own decisions, whether good or bad. I pray they always choose to follow Jesus. And they know how much I love them!
But I’ve tried to make our last few weeks of memories and this move as pleasant and smooth as possible for our daughter Leah. I don’t want her to move out yet. But I sure didn’t want her driving back and forth an hour on ice and snow to get to work each day–it is too dangerous! She needs to be in the city where she works. She reassured me that sometimes we’ll still get together for lunch or to do fun things, as is our habit.
As Leah prepared to move, she realized that she owned a lot more stuff than she realized. This is usually what you find out when you move!
Since Leah works full time, is taking graphic design online college classes, and takes weekly violin lessons, and is tired from her full schedule, I helped her by wrapping fragile items she owned in old newspapers that I got in bundles at the local Shopper paper office and packing boxes. She appreciated this. I confess that I sometimes cried as I packed!
Leah rented a U-Haul in town to move. God gave her favor. The company gave her a bigger size truck for the same price as a smaller one that she originally rented. The smaller one was still rented out the morning we needed it. Good thing, too–we filled up the truck with boxes! Moving tip: you always have more than you think when you move! You might sell, give away, or throw away things before the moving process.
I had carefully wrapped glass and other fragile items. I pray God carefully wraps her heart, mind, body, and spirit in His tender love. ButRay found rope in our garage to secure these boxes that we placed on the shelf in the back of the U-Haul. For a moment, we argued over the best way to tie the rope. Just like old times!
Ray had given Leah a sleeper-sofa for her new home’s living room. I had also bought her items for her kitchen and bathroom that she would need, as going-away gifts. The sofa was downstairs and weighs about 200 pounds. I had gotten a lot of her things packed when she was at work. On moving day, while Leah was at work, Ray and I loaded the U-Haul as much as we could with her furniture and boxes.
I didn’t think we’d ever get that sofa up the stairs! I’m not as strong as Ray and Leah. This made me realize I really need to exercise and work out! We were all sore the next few days from the move! But we got it done! God answered my prayer for clear weather–no rain, snow, or ice!
I’d written Leah a long letter with encouraging Scriptures and practical life tips that I’d given her the night before moving day.
Since Leah was working the day of the move, as a favorI had also taken her cat Jax to the vet to get her annual Rabies shot and her claws trimmed.
I noticed the words above her head in the picture above (with the U-Haul) read, “Where will you go next?” How prophetic. I pray many new, exciting adventures for Leah!
I hugged Leah and told her I loved her before she drove off into the sunset to start her own life. Ray, Leah, and I got everything loaded, then the three of us went to eat Mexican lunch together. We came back home and it was time for her to go.
I waved goodbye as Leah and Ray drove out of our driveway. He, Leah, and her room mates would unload the U-Haul at her new home. I then went inside and cried again at her now very empty room! My heart and life feel just as empty. Recently I found a wonderful blog by my friend Rose for women in mid-life, whose children are in college and/or grown. You can read it here. I need to fill the emptiness I feel now with God.
Words are inadequate to express to Leah how deeply God and Ray and I love her and how much we’ll miss her here. But I pray, precious, beautiful daughter, Leah, these things: that your biggest dreams come true, you live an exciting adventure, you find true peace and joy, you succeed greatly in your art and music, and that you soar high, fulfilling God’s great purpose for your life. I’m cheering you on to the finish line all the way. And every day, I’m here praying for you.
Do you ever struggle with your thought life or the words coming out of your mouth? I know I do! In fact, I believe that Joyce Meyer may have written her book,Me and My Big Mouth, just for me!
For my entire life, I’ve battled speaking impatiently, in anger, thoughtlessly, or too bluntly. My wise husband Ray says it’s not necessarily what I’m saying (because I speak truthfully and honestly), but that it’s the way I say it, how I often come across to others. His title of endearment for me is La belle dame sans merci. (The beautiful lady without mercy)
My precious sister Maria, who drips with the gift of mercy, calls it my “bull in the china shop approach!”
I’m working on it!
As a professional, Christian speaker and author, I’m well aware of the power of words.
The American adage that children often recite in response to bullying in school, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is simply not true. Words can hurt deeply. Words can also heal and impart life.
God created the world and everything in it with His words. (Genesis Chapter 1) In fact, Jesus Himself is called “The Word” in John 1:1.
Because God created everything with His words, and we are made in His image, the words of our mouths are powerful, too. In fact, each word is a gift. This is especially true for speakers and writers!
I’m going to be speaking on this topic at a Christian Women’s Writers’ Workshop, The Gift of Words, in Hutchinson, Kansas, with my friend, author Missy Hoffman, on September 21, 2019.
The workshop will be 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Hutchinson Public Library.
The address is 901 N. Main Street, Hutchinson, Kansas, 67501.
Missy and I would LOVE to see you there! Admission is free, but seating is limited. If you’re interested in coming, please email Missy at email@example.com or contact her here on the Facebook event page to save your spot.
Missy is a self-published author of three books, and she will also share about her own writing journey. Our hope is to encourage Christian women to share the story God has given each one of us and to help each woman experience healing through her own writing journey!
We will meet in the Library Conference Room #1.
The book signing for both of us to sign our books is that same day, September 21, at Metropolitan Coffee shop from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Join us for some delicious coffee and fellowship!
The address for Metropolitan Coffee Shop is 1329 E 17th Ave, Hutchinson, Kansas, 67501. (There is no charge for the book signing! Our books will be available to sign and/or for sale!)
We can wait to see you there! Remember, each word you speak is a gift from God and for God’s glory! Your story matters.