You Don’t Have to be Thankful

*Disclaimer: If you are high on life and thankful for everything from the newspaper boy to the cutlery in your kitchen, then this post isn’t for you.*

I’ll never forget my first thanksgiving as a newly married wife. We had just moved to the Far North (make fun if you want, but it is nearly ten hours more north than I was before) I had just started a job that I hated, we just started a new church, I had no friends, and just failed at quitting smoking, AGAIN. Not to mention that it was my first holiday away from our family. I was absolutely heart broken. There was snow on the ground, it was cold, we lived way out in the country, and went from having numerous dinners (usually five for each holiday) to one. Yes, I was thankful to be with my handsome hubby after months apart; yes, I was thankful to have our own little home to fuss over; yes, I was thankful I had a job. But mostly? I felt completely alone. I put on my most THANKFUL face, put my hands in the air during worship at church, and felt like I was lying to everyone. Not that anyone was around.

Is that the goal? Is that what God wanted? Was I being “Christian?”

Good grief. Why did Jesus even come?

He came to abolish the sacrifices people used to have to make to absolve their sins. To make a personal relationship with us. To tear down the veil. To become one with us. And here, on a holiday the Church has adopted as it’s own, I lied to Him. I distanced myself from Him, because I wasn’t feeling how I thought I was supposed to.

Forcing our feelings, or convincing ourselves that other people have it worse than us, does not change how we feel. Looking at the bright side, trying to see the good in the bad, all of these are beautiful, good things. But they don’t necessarily heal depression, or help someone going through a loss. I think of one of my best friends, who lost her dad on last year’s Thanksgiving holiday. Of my brother and sister in law, who lost their baby last week. Are they thankful today? Does God not understand that?

What does the Bible say?

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We are not tied to one day of thankfulness, it must permeate our every hour. However, nothing spoken in the Bible was meant for us to do in our own strength. He came for US. He mourns with us, He celebrates with us, He makes all things new.

Today is the same as every day. If you are hurting and broken, remember why He came in the first place- to comfort those who mourn, to save us, to overcome the world. And by all means, be thankful for that!

But if today, you are hurting and you are sad, and the “bright sides” and the thinking of “those who have it worse” aren’t changing your heart, don’t pretend. He doesn’t want phoniness, he wants US. He wants to bear our burdens, to heal our sorrows. Don’t make light of what He came to save. He would rather have our real cries, our real pain, our ugly brokenness, than our fake happy faces.

Jesus came to take away our “have to’s”. He is only interested in our “want to’s.”

So today, I am so thankful for our marriage, our children, our country, our faith, our grace. I’m thankful for our days at home. But today, Jesus, I’m not going to thank you that my family is in pain, and for losing another little niece or nephew. I’m not going to thank you that my brothers and sister in law are moving away. And Lord? While we’re on the subject, I’m not ready to thank you for the baby we didn’t get to see, either. I’m not there yet, Lord! But I trust you to comfort me. I trust you, and I bless your Holy name. And I pray that you make me thankful, because I just can’t do it without you. Above all the stuff, all the troubles and all the joy, I am so thankful that You know me, and You still love me. I am thankful that you want my real-ness over my phoniness every day. 

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Am I wrong? Right? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Love heals.

Well, it’s been two weeks and two days since we lost our baby. I can’t believe the outpouring of love and support that I’ve felt from friends, far and wide. I also can’t believe how many people have been touched by the loss of a miscarriage. One in four pregnancies end this way. I even know a bunch of women who have suffered multiple miscarriages, and by multiple, I mean more than three or four.

So if it’s this common, we need to equip ourselves with tools we can use when a friend, co-worker or someone we know goes through it. Not only that, but in my previous post I touched on some of the stupid things people said, and I don’t want that to be what’s left in everyone’s mind. I can’t believe how loved we are, by our Father, and our friends.

So what can we do when someone loses their baby, before they see their face? I have asked a few of my close friends who have gone through this, and these are the most overwhelming parallels:

1. Acknowledge it.

It’s easy to celebrate and go through the happy times with family and friends. Equally important is being there in the hard times. Just say something. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. If you do, say sorry and get over it. It’s way better to say something, than nothing. I can’t believe how many facebook messages and texts I got. They literally sustained me. Knowing that there were people praying and thinking of me, and that knew I was sad and were sad for me made a huge difference. I even got a few phone calls, though I didn’t answer the phone. But I saw it, and it meant so much. I can’t say this enough: Acknowledge the loss. Text, phone, facebook, carrier pigeon: whatever the case may be, if there is someone in your family or circle that is going through a loss, you say something. One said, “Suffering people don’t need space, they need love. . . when we fail to acknowledge, we run the risk of pretending that the suffering did not happen, which is entirely false. Our sufferings are real, and if we are helped through our loss, we have a greater opportunity of turning the suffering into our ever needed desire for growth in holiness.” Always err on the side of love, not space.

2. Be there

To talk, hug, etc. Just let them know you are available, whether they take you up on it or not. Just knowing that you are a safe place to vent, cry or sit beside makes the difference between being alone in your darkest moments, or being loved unconditionally. One of my closest friends texted me on and off the next week, just to say hi and check in. I knew that I was being prayed for, and cared for. Our midwife was AMAZING. She sat with me at the hospital when I was going for final bloodwork. She responded to emails right away with questions I had. She even called me at 9:00 pm to let me know the results, so I wouldn’t have to wait till the next day. She let me cry without feeling stupid, and told me to call whenever I wanted to chat. Honestly, I know I go on about midwives, but you just can’t compare.

3. Shower with love

We were blessed by meals, flowers, gifts. I am still in shock. The meals gave me a huge break in the day, especially when I was in so much pain. Chopped and fresh veggies were also a huge blessing. I had the most annoying, brutal afterpains for almost a week. Having fresh stuff in the house to throw at the kids made life easier.  One of my friends made me a cheesecake with my name on it. A friend stopped by just to hug, and brought beautiful flowers. Cards, visits (if they are wanted), flowers on the table, all of this goes back to the first thing we should do: Acknowledge the loss.

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4. Let them grieve. Don’t offer platitudes.

When a friend dies, no one says, “Well, at least you have other friends!” Or, “You can always make a new one.” There is nothing wrong, and everything right, about grieving over your baby that died. Allow them that. Don’t try to make it better by pointing out blessings. Jesus grieved over the loss of his friend. Grief is a beautiful way of acknowledging life, and a life lost. If you accidentally say something along the lines of trying to help them get over it, or to see the “bright side,” realize what you’re doing and say sorry. Then be quiet and cry with them. “Grief is not lessened by minimizing the value of the life.” Aptly put.

5. Know that no grief is the same, and there’s no time limit.

It can strike at the weirdest times. Years later, seeing a child at the age your baby would be can bring it all back up to the surface. Obviously I’m not at that place, but hearing from other women tells me that most of all, our friends just want permission to be real. To feel pain and grief and hurt, and not pretend it’s not there because it’s been a few months or years since the loss. We are created to feel and love. God didn’t make a mistake there. If a joke that you heard or funny story you lived years ago still has the power to make you laugh ten years later, so too the memory of the baby you lost can still make you cry and feel the hurt just like yesterday.

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6. Genuine help for the friend who’s miscarried:

Some books that have been recommended include Empty Arms, Mommy, Please Don’t Cry and Streams in the Desert. I haven’t read them all, but I’m interested because they have helped friends. Obviously the Bible is full of hope. I’m so thankful I know where our baby is. This song has been hugely helpful to me, and this one has been suggested by a friend who’s been there. Don’t watch that one with makeup on.

Also, a ceremony can also be a good way for closure. A lady whom I treasure has been through six miscarriages. She spoke of having her own ceremony, with a balloon for each baby. Eventually, she had to cut the string of each balloon and let them fly away. She said that it was like cutting steel; but it helped her in letting go.

Another lady spoke of sending white roses down the river; watching the water carry them further and further away. Being surrounded by nature in its rawest form can be such a meaningful way to say goodbye.

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And one last strong woman spoke of asking Jesus to show her the four babies she lost. “Healing truly came when I asked Jesus to show them to me and He showed me a picture of these 4 little boys sitting in His lap – all different ages – big brown eyes – blond curls!! It was beautiful!! They looked so happy! I know they are waiting for me….”

It is so easy to love each other in the happy times; to attend weddings, celebrate with showers, host a dinner because of a new home. Let’s not shy away in the dark times, but be friends and family through it all, not being afraid of the beauty of deep love, emotion and grief. This is where love is.

Thank you for everyone who’s prayed or loved on us. We’re okay. Super sad, but okay. Today the pretty one was sitting on the floor crying. Impatiently I asked, “What’s the matter?” 

She replied, “I just miss my baby.”

I get it, girl.

I know there’s a plan. I’m not mad. 

Darn, I just miss my baby.

Life hurts.

It just does. As surely as there’s life, there’s death. They go hand in hand. 

I knew I was expecting three days before my period was even due. When you do natural family planning, you kinda know. It was so crazy: I ovulated twice in one month which completely came as a surprise. We were ready for the first, the second time (after Googling if it was even possible) we knew that God had a different plan for us.

Nonetheless, I am nothing but frugal and waited exactly 24 hours from when my period was due. I was up the whole night before, dreaming of our new baby. At 5:30 am, it was positive, and I waited for my handsome hubby to wake up. I let him take two sips of coffee before I bubbled over.

We were slightly overwhelmed, but by the end of the day, pumped. We kept it quiet for the first bit. I made plans to school through the summer so that we could be done when our baby (a boy, I’m sure of it) arrived in March. After all, isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? Making school fit around your family?

I was sick, but not as sick with the girls. They were a special brand of possibly-on-the-verge-of-death sick. This was more of a queasy, walking on a ship at sea after eating three Big Macs sick. I found that the better I ate, the better I felt. Almost all whole foods, with some grains mixed in for convenience. I drank liters of water.

All the while, we smiled at my growing belly. It goes quick, with the fifth. My pants stopped fitting at a month. Leggings and low rise jeans got me through the next one. Imagine if it were twins? How funny!

Finally, even the No Frills ladies were commenting on my new accessory. Yes, this is a baby bump. Yes, we’re excited. Yes, I know where they come from. We realized that all our acquaintances and the people who see me on a regular basis now knew, but not family.

We were so excited. Each new life that God has given us we have received as a total gift. Each pregnancy seems to go faster and faster. I LOVE being nine months pregnant. I love how close my emotions are to the surface: I feel so genuine in my feelings, and how they regularly spill down my cheeks. I love being a woman, an ambassador for life. It’s never “easy”: we have dealt with breech babies turning, a car accident at nine months, falling down the stairs at 6 months, Braxton Hicks, salsa that MUST BE HAD RIGHT NOW, nursing while pregnant, missing heartbeats (that later turned up after a few weeks) and ultrasounds, pee tests, blood work and glucose testing. Never have I needed to go for an ultrasound in the first trimester: I always know my dates (of conception and last periods). 

Pregnancy is bliss. After all, we can throw our charts out the window, because you can’t get pregnant twice! Life is good. Kids are excited. Life is crazy, but with the two of us and a whole lot of Jesus, we can swing it.

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Flash forward.

Sitting in the hospital for three hours, feeling my baby leave my body and not being able to stop it. Waiting through every person that gets called to hear MY NAME! Please, call me back. Please, do something. Please.

An acquaintance comes in. “Well, if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it didn’t happen.” 

Finally, they call me back. They tell me that the ultrasound tech is on her way home. I lose it.

They are frightened, call her back. She examines me; tells me that I don’t need any more children when I already have four! But I love THIS ONE. They are all different, and I love this one so much already. Please, tell me if it’s alive or not.

Test is inconclusive. Fetus may be dead. Fetus may be viable. Come back in a few days.

Two days of cramping, bleeding, but possibility.

Monday rolls around. “We must have school today! We want to be done before Baby comes.”

Halfway through math class I am bawling in the bathroom, feeling the hope drain out of me while the other kids fight and bang on the door.

“He hit me!”

“She was bugging me!”

“Juice! Mom. Juice!”

Please, give me five minutes to say goodbye to our baby.

After another hospital visit and more pain than I thought, our baby is gone. A life is gone.

Well if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it never happened. What a nightmare that would be. Because he was here. My baby boy was here, and now he’s not, and I’m sad. But he was. And I’m so thankful that I was excited and proud of my baby for the time he was in my body. What a privilege it is to have had him for as long as I did. I don’t know why any of this happened. But it did.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! 

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STEP RIGHT UP! It’s time for the circus!

Last year, on our first day of home educating, in first grade, our first child, it was HORRIBLE. It did not go well. I don’t remember exactly why, but I remember thinking, they are going to hate school, learning, and it will all be my fault!

Cue the circus. After our work was done, I found the box I had just purchased off a buy/sell site on Facebook. It had a circus game, table cloths, animal headbands, and special bags for popcorn (that was really cool for us. Low standards.)

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We had a great night. They won a DVD that I already had (What’s in the Bible? had a special promo through a buyer’s club. I got the whole series, but they don’t know that yet. We give them one for special occasions.) We played the game a few times, made popcorn, ate it out of special bags, and watched the movie together. The day ended well.

We kinda do all-year round school. We started grade 2 in May, but have taken off the last five or so weeks. I like the flexibility of taking time off when we need to, and taking the whole month of December off. We are really always “schooling,” it just becomes who you are. But now we’re ready to get back in the swing of structured things, and we have some new friends that are here during the day while their mom works. This made for a way better circus!

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This year, I put more thought into the games:

Knock the Balls Down with a Ball

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Shoot the Cans with a Water Gun (which turned out to be too hard for the littles- they used a hose)

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Throw the Water Balloon in the Basket (obviously the other kids had to stand behind the basket as a wall. It was smokin’ hot, so they loved this part!

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For our morning snack, we popped popcorn in the air popper and put it in those same special bags.

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For lunch, we had homemade pizza (that we had made a few weeks before and froze) and a dance party. The prizes from the circus included a cd from our church’s VBS, and it provided a great soundtrack. In the afternoon, we made caramel apples. I’ve never done it before, and would suggest making the caramel while kids are otherwise occupied. It took a few minutes of stirring, and they were reeaaaallllyyy excited. I used this recipe, but I did it in half and used honey instead of corn syrup. It was so ridiculous good. Even thinking of it now, oh man. There is nothing like homemade caramel.

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So that was our “first” day of grade two for our eldest, and kindergarten for our second. Next year I would like to involve face paints and a photo booth. I looked up whether you can use acrylic paints as face paints, and I found mixed results. I don’t mind using my kids as guinea pigs, but having other kids over makes me be a little more cautious. So, next year.

What do you do to celebrate the first day, whether you do it at home, or in school?

He Knew

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A little while ago, I had a great concern for my hair. Notably, it stopped growing completely and I would even say that it had shrunk in length. I could barely get a brush through it, and it felt like wire. My diet is fine (from what I’ve researched), I take vitamins, and I was still nursing at the time, though since, the Precious One has decided she prefers other menu options to mine.
Finally, after about five months of this, I headed to the doctor. I had my blood drawn, everything is fine. It was simply stress. I was kinda surprised: I might look like I have a busy, stressful life, but I really don’t feel like I do: I love my days, I love my work at home, I love my life. Then the doctor mentioned that it can take a couple months from the date of a stressful experience, to when it shows up in your hair.

Oh.

In November last year, I took our precious one in to get immunized. She had a reaction. We have always done what we thought was best, and immunized our children. I was late on the ball with her: for her first ones I was two months late, and her next set took place at about eight months old. The nurse who vaccinated her was very concerned because she had not grown at all in about four months. At the age when I took her in for this last set, she was still nursing many times a day, and eating food on her own. I had started her on meats, as I believe that this best for her little body’s iron stores. She loved eating. Everything. She fed herself with great enthusiasm, loved mealtimes. There was no reason for her not to have grown at all. The nurse administered the shots, and sent in a referral to a dietitian and pediatrician.
Well, we got home and the girl that I knew was gone. She screamed. And choked on her food. Smokin’ high fever. She wouldn’t eat (maybe because she kept choking on everything) but she would nurse the first day. The second day, I had to start encouraging her to nurse. I knew something was wrong: There’s something wrong with my baby.
Finally, I called the nurse. She mentioned she might have a cold, but that I should bring her to the hospital just to rule out an allergic reaction. I packed up all four kids at dinnertime, in -30 degrees.
Arriving at the ER, the beautiful, helpful nurse in triage decided to enlighten me on how babies can get fevers from their vaccinations; this is normal. She may not want to eat, but she looks pretty happy, right? Did I not get a pamphlet with this exact info on it, in writing, to peruse at my leisure? (Apparently, some mothers find it fun to outfit all four of their children under the age of five in snow pants, winter coats, boots, hats and mitts; pack snacks and activities to do in a boring hospital to prevent mutiny, and venture 40 km to spend their evening in a waiting room, only to be told they should read more pamphlets. We must stop this.)

But my baby hadn’t grown, absorbed any of the food I had given her in months, and now she had completely stopped eating, and drinking. I put my foot down.

There’s something wrong with my baby.

Eventually, my handsome hubby came and picked up the other kids, so it was just me and the Precious One. She had chest X rays, two rounds of blood work. Finally the doctor came in.

THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR BABY.

I have never seen a doctor so worried. He mentioned cystic fibrosis, failure to thrive. I was to feed her hourly, all night long, come back in the morning to weigh her. He expedited the pediatrician appointment. 

Everyone was praying for us. My pastor called, a friend stopped by with nutritious groceries, I got texts and love from many friends. Everything went well: we got into the specialist within a week. But there was so much fear here. I was scared for my little girl, and the pain of tests. I was scared for the many trips to the city, when I knew we didn’t have gas money. I was scared to listen to the opinions of everyone (“She’s fine, you’re paranoid.””It’s because you vaccinated her.””You’re not feeding her the right things.”)

And I didn’t pray once. Well, I sorta did. The only thing I could even say to my Father, the One who created me, who knows me and my family, who loves them all more than I do:

You know. 

I felt like if I actually prayed, I would lose it all. This is not to say that I went through this with grace and composure and a smile, this simply means that there was a scream in the back of my head that was very close to coming out. But I knew He knew. At the time, that was all I needed. 

Romans 8:26: In the same way, the Spirit helps in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 

Now, it’s all passed, hopefully. The wisdom of the specialists and doctors is that our baby girl is small in stature. 

Duh.

And now, eight months later, I’m losing my hair.

It’s just a reminder to me that our bodies can be a window to our hearts. If we go through periods of stress, fear, anger, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness you better believe that this will show. We can pretend to have it all together on the outside, but what’s inside will eventually surface. It is so important what we eat, and to exercise, to take care of the temple we’ve been given. But we also need to keep a constant check on our hearts. Are you afraid? Are you angry? Your Father already knows, the Spirit is intercessing on your behalf. Sometimes, time in His presence is all you need to receive strength, but most of all clarity. Spend time with the One who knows, and allow Him to show you. Your health may depend on it.

World Cup Day!

We recently decided to start providing childcare, and that has made me much more intentional of celebrations, activities, and events that I might normally not do. Also, I know how hard it is for kids to adapt to a new schedule and environment, so I wanted to have a fun party to look forward to. It wasn’t until someone got bit* that I got the idea: Hey! Let’s have a FIFA party! (*That never happened. I just thought it was funny. I imagine that if I were a soccer player, and I got bitten by another professional athlete, it might not be funny but rather insensitive. If that applies to you, I’m deeply sorry.)

So, since there are two weeks left of this glorious, worldwide event, I thought I’d share with you our celebration, so that you could easily adopt your own. If you’re bored, and looking for a fun day in summer, look no further. As a sidenote, I did not talk about how I actually feel about Brazil’s involvement with our children and the children in my care: the cost to the country, especially it’s poor and at risk people, at the profit of corporations. I decided to let them have some fun. But for the record, not one penny was spent profiting Fifa.

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Yesterday:

*We looked at some encyclopedias to study world flags. I printed out the flags of all the countries participating, and the six year old girl had a great time finding the flags in the books, and we wrote down the names of them together. Every time she found one, she was so excited!

*We talked about, as a group, what kind of country we want to live in. Some obvious highlights were “a country with lots of lions!” and “one with a super hero Statue of Liberty” and “I just like blue.” Then they cut pictures out of magazines and coloured their own flags to decorate. I also printed off some bookmarks here to post on the wall.

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Today:

*We dressed up as soccer-ish as possible. My HH used to play, so he had a couple cute jerseys for me to wear. I find, with our kids, dressing up is half the fun!

 

*As soon as our new friends got here, we read a book about Curious George and baseball. That felt like an epic fail. We have 10,409 books, and I couldn’t find one about soccer. Oh well.

*We went outside with popcorn, and the kids all wanted a picture with a soccer ball. I think they’ve seen enough of them at people’s houses, that they all knew what to do. One foot on the ball.

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*We made obstacle courses involving the soccer ball. That was fun! Today was perfect weather for this, but it could be done inside if you cater it specifically.

*We played a very funky soccer game, with the Precious One sitting in the middle of the game. She loves to be in the midst of the action. The One with the Role didn’t want to play, and no one wanted to be with me, so it ended up being four against one. If you play. I highly recommend shin pads. For yourself.

*When we came inside, we matched upper and lower case letters, and ordered numbers up to 20 on sweet soccer flash cards. I got them off this site, that I absolutely LOVE. This worked well to keep them occupied while I prepared lunch.

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*During quiet time, the boys discovered that I had donated the only soccer movie we had. Fail #2. They recovered. I had my HH stop at McDonald’s yesterday to pick up free soccer activity packs I noticed they were giving away. We went there for dinner last week after Stephen’s last soccer game we stopped there to tell people of the dangers of what they were eating. I didn’t grab any then, because I’m trying to cut down on stuff, but it sure made an excellent contribution to our day. There is a soccer ball to make, stickers, tattoos, etc. It went over well.

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*For the last part, I printed off some certificates, affirming something they had each done today. The kids loved to be cheered for, and will generally clap for each other with little effort on my part.

If you decide to do a day like this, please know that not all kids are interested in the same things. It doesn’t mean you stop doing them, it just means their idea of involvement in specific activities may not look like you want it to. The ONLY way to wreck a Event Day is with a bad attitude. And it’s usually mine. 

I’d love to hear any fun day, or theme day ideas!

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Conflict: God-Style

 

Sunday, my mind was BLOWN.

I saw a fight. There were two sides to the story, heightened emotions, children involved: the whole nine yards.

It was beautiful. It was epic. I’ve never seen anything like it.

See, I’m tired of being involved in drama. Who isn’t? We all say it, we all post it, yet we all contribute. And we can all cover it up in “good” ways.

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We vent.

You know what I mean. We just HAVE to talk to someone, because we’re upset, and we might say the wrong thing if we talk to them right now, you know? Well, it’s a cop out. It’s gossip, pure and simple. I even take the really high road, and vent to my cousin in ON. I don’t name names. . .  it’s a totally innocent way to get out what I’m feeling. But wait. The Bible doesn’t say not to gossip so that the other person doesn’t hear it, it clearly states: do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building people up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). There are three people we hurt when we talk and vent about others: the person we are talking about, the person we talk to, and ourselves. And obviously Jesus, because He is the Father of those three people. We must speak life (a favourite expression in our home right now, thank you Toby Mac.)

We ask others to pray for the situation.

This one is a gooder. We are so thankful for our personal Savior King. And then sometimes we just want more of a corporate group, right? Whether we are asking for prayer for ourselves or the other person, if we reveal too much about an issue it can be nothing more than thinly veiled gossip. Not cool. If you’re going to do something, just do it. We can’t let our “holy attitudes” make it seem like it’s a better way. He is your God. Pray to Him, alone.

We stew. We sit. We ponder.

I hate this one. As a matter of fact, I came across a little gem in my Beth Moore study this morning, “Constantly thinking little of ourselves is still constantly thinking of ourselves.” Whether you’re meditating on how you wrecked a situation, or on the fact that the other person is a lousy wet noodle, the answer is the same. The world does not revolve around us. Our thoughts are supposed to be on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Anything short of this hurts us and our Maker. Obviously, we can’t do this. Or at least I can’t. My HH will testify to the fact that this is something I greatly struggle with. If I think someone doesn’t like me, or is angry with me, it can often consume my thoughts and energies. I’m being very personal, here. I will sit and think on, “Why did I say that? Did she think I meant it in a different way?” This can, and has, consumed my energy. I MUST STOP. This is not the victorious life that God has set out for me. I could go on and on about how we must guard our hearts, and what we are dwelling on, but if you think this is something you are struggling with, ask the Holy Spirit (or your hubby!) and He will reveal it to you.

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Then when the time for battle comes:

We bring out past hurts.

‘Nuff said. We can validate our pain with their prior offenses, bring up anything and twist it till it causes the other person to hurt the same way. This does not bring God glory: making someone else hurt doesn’t make our hurt any less.

We run.

We have a chance to work things out, to bring the other person to task, to clear up a misunderstanding: but instead we bury it down, not forgiving, but just hiding it. Or we run, for real. Leave churches, leave community groups, quit the situation that brought about the injury. This doesn’t give us a chance to see God’s redemption, grace and mercy. This only shows ourselves, and often our children, that when the going gets tough, we check out. There is a place for this. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that can be done, and God calls us out. But if it is a one-on-one hurt, as opposed to a group issue, we have to pray about whether the relationship was ever worth it. It almost always is. If it wasn’t, why the heck were you wasting time with that person in the first place?

We refuse to own our mistakes.

I make them. You make them. We all do. Why are we so afraid to just say sorry? Even if the other person saw it in a completely different way, often we can own what we did in a situation. It saves time, hurt, bitterness, resentment and pain, to just SAY SORRY. Even if you have an excuse. Even if you couldn’t help it. Thank you Jesus for your mercy, new every day! Hopefully tomorrow I won’t hurt anyone by accident, or on purpose, because either way, they were hurt.

This is what happened on Sunday:

There was hurt. It was spoken of. Both women were ready for battle, God-style. They both were so busy trying to understand what the other was feeling, they weren’t as worried about themselves.

 

They walked through the whole situation, letting the hurt show.

There was apology.

There was forgiveness: Spoken, and lived.

There was grace.

Next time, maybe instead of praise and worship at church, they could reenact it.

Who doesn’t want this? Who doesn’t want real relationships with room for grace? Where if we mess up, we can trust the other to forgive, and forgive ourselves? Where our relationships get STRONGER, because of the obstacles we’ve overcome?

This is Jesus living, pure and simple.

And it starts with me, and you.

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