To the Hurting Mothers

To the mother who has been labeled brave and strong but never set out to be –

   You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother whose heart tells her one thing and photos tell her another –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who never got to celebrate –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who looks down through empty arms to the scars where life once lived –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who stands at the grave to pour out her heart –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who longs for a hug with arms that ache and are heavy –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who wonders if her children will ever know the depth of her love for them –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who worries that she will never make up for the mistakes of her past –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who never planned to parent without a partner –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother whose home is tense and silent –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who repeatedly believes she is not enough–

        You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who is barely scaping by on time, energy, and resources –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who is so exhausted her hair hurts –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who sings the songs just to remind her of the past –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who juggles the schedule to fit in the doctors and the therapies –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who lies awake desperate for a diagnosis –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who cries out for mercy and answers –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who is holding the hand of another that is fading –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who is wrestling with trauma and working towards healing –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who longs for reconciliation

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who is trying to navigate the hard and unexpected –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who mothers those not bound by blood or document –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who wonders if she could have done more –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

To the mother who never imagined it would be this hard –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

There is One who promises to never leave you,

who promises to forgive,

who sees you completely and chooses to love you,

who would walk through a million fires to rescue you,

who sees you as significant,

who longs to hear your heart,

who is ready to comfort you,

who cares about every pain, every tear, every longing.

To the mother who is still wondering –

         You are loved and you are not alone.

Are You in Need of Spring?

I love the spring.

I have lived all my life in the Midwest. Summer, fall, winter, spring. Summer, fall, winter, spring. Seasons are distinct. I am grateful for the contrast between them.

Winter is cold, snowy, sometimes muddy, and often grey. Generally by the end of winter, my body, mind and spirit are longing for the first signs of spring.

There is a patch of landscaping twenty feet outside my front door that is packed full of perennials. As the temperatures rise and as the sun begins to consistently show itself, my eyes are drawn to that patch of landscape when I walk past it. I scan the dirt, looking for spikes of green to poke up through the ground. I have confidence that it will come. The new life will eventually emerge, I am certain. It always does.

But as I look for sign of new life, I do not know when it will appear…I just know that it will. It eventually does…after every winter. So I keep looking. And the first time I spot the tiniest spike of green, I am grateful. It’s like the weight of the winter begins to fade at the sight of spring as I take in the hope of what’s to come.

I have experienced many winters in my life. Literal winters. Figurative ones. Times where all I can see is the cold, the muddy, the mess, and the grey. Experiences that have felt lonely, dark, filled with sadness and crushed hope.

I have friends and family who are currently feeling the impact of winter. They have experienced death. They have experienced loss. Disease has stolen from them. Broken promises have left their hearts shattered. They’re experiencing uncertainty. They are weary of the grey. Their energy is gone. They are tired but they can’t rest.  

They are in desperate need of spring.

It’s okay to hope for spring. It’s okay to look for it’s signs. In the dead of winter, we may feel as if the grey will never end. That the bitter cold will linger and linger and linger. But of this I am certain…the winter will not last forever. It never has.

Recently, God has been reminding me that he doesn’t waste a thing.

Not one tear.

Not one hurt.

Not one winter in my life.

And with that knowledge, I am looking for the signs of spring. I am looking for new life. I am looking for the sun to shine. I am trusting that the God who makes the green things grow, does not desire to leave us abandoned in the greyness of winter. I am trusting that the God who makes beautiful things out of dust and pulls us up out of the ashes, is more than able to do it over and over again in all of our lives.  

 

‘I give you all the credit, God – you got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my foes gloat. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. you did it; you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.’ Psalm 30:1-3, 11-12 (MSG)

When Feeling Better Feels Scary

Recently, a woman sat across from me. I’ve known her off and on throughout her life. She’s traveled a difficult road. Like usual, I asked her how things were going in a particular area of difficulty in her life. In all honesty, I expected an answer like I had received many times in the past…something in the camp of “so so”, “not good”, or “the same”. But for the first time in a very long time, she answered with this word…“great”. I noticed. And she knew I had noticed. I could see it all over her face…shades of discomfort, embarrassment, and “Oh no, did I just say that?!”

Something had shifted. It wasn’t that her life had magically become easier. It wasn’t that the struggles had disappeared. The shift was one towards hope. Her answer was “great” because she had grabbed a hold of the possibility of something different. Having walked so much of the difficult road with this individual, I found myself fighting back a flood of tears watching her so bravely step into something unfamiliar to her. But at the same time as I was fighting back tears, I was also suppressing my urge to jump around the room in excitement. Knowing how vulnerable she felt, I chose to temper my reactions just a bit and landed somewhere between the two.

She was scared.

She had just stepped into a new territory of possibilities of good and hope and healing and being “great”. And while for some of us, that territory is the norm, for others it can feel as unsettling as standing in front of a crowd of people in your underwear.

Change is uncomfortable. Change means to make or become different. It is removing yourself from what you have most often known…from what has become familiar.

I see my friend moving into the “uncomfortable.” She’s stepping into change. She’s not getting a new job, moving into a new neighborhood or going back to school. But she’s doing something that takes just as much, if not more, courage.

And she’s scared.

She’s wondering what people will think of her if she smiles more, laughs more, holds her head up more, talks more or tells them she is ‘good’ instead of just ‘alright’.

She wants to walk in the light and no longer hide in the shadows. She is afraid of looking clumsy and awkward. She’s seen much of life through sadness and disappointment and controlling fear. Feeling good and the actions and words that accompany it do not feel natural to her. They cause her to feel that she is on display.

She wants to celebrate the change, but she feels timid. She wonders what people will expect from the her that is taking hold of the possibility of good and taking hold of the hope. She is afraid that she will disappoint and fall again.

She has grown familiar with assuming that her identity is her struggle. Without it, she is concerned that she will not know who she is. She is afraid that others will not accept or believe the changes in her…even when they are good. She wonders if there’s grace if some days aren’t quite “great”.

Tired. Grieving. Depressed. Lonely. Disappointed. Hurting. Sick. Broken-hearted.

Many of us have been there. We know what it’s like to feel stuck in it. We know what it’s like to walk around assuming these labels are plastered to our forehead. We can lose sight of the truth that the struggles do not equal who we are…even when we have grown oh-so-familiar with them.

Change is one of the bravest things I have witnessed. Embracing a new way of thinking and behaving and feeling takes audacity. Finding ways to express that you are walking in a new direction takes boldness. Experimenting with new language communicating hope and expectancy takes guts.

It may feel vulnerable.

It may feel awkward.

It may seem clumsy.

It may feel scary.

It’s okay. Just take one step at a time towards the change. And if you find that you feel like running towards it…go for it. 

Even though you may not believe it now…you are brave.

You are seen and you are loved and you are not alone.

Many are on a similar journey.  And we are cheering for you…