I spent the first years of my marriage trying to make sure everything was perfect for my husband.
If he didn’t love the way I cooked a meal, I would change it the next time.
If the traffic was bad on the way to get where we were going, I would look for another route the next time.
If he got frustrated or angry at a situation, I would feel like a failure and try to anticipate that need and fix it the next time around.
He DID NOT blame me for situations going wrong around him. Yet I almost ALWAYS felt guilt and took responsibility for his reactions.
I did this because I thought that was what ‘good wives’ did. I thought my role as a wife was to make my husband happy. I was to think of him first before myself, right? My goal was to make his life painless. I did not write out this goal, I did not even consciously make this goal. But as I look back, I know that’s what I was trying to do.
I was actually pretty good at it too. I am an organized person, a planner. So I meticulously planned out events. I am an overachiever, so when he said he would prefer something done differently, I jumped on it and learned how to do it differently. I tried to stay one step ahead and clean up the messy footprints behind.
The first years of our marriage I was filled with a lot of unspoken sadness, frustration, and feelings of failure. I loved my husband. We had some ridiculously fun times and a lot of laughs. Still, I had an overwhelming feeling of drowning. Like I could never be good enough.
Around year eight I somehow realized that Brian did not marry me to be his mother. He was a full-on adult and he had deliberately chosen to get married and leave his mother. He had chosen me to be his companion. He chose me to be his friend, his lover, his partner.
This realization was freeing. I no longer felt responsible for all his actions. I did not stress about making sure he was fulfilling all his responsibilities. I stopped feeling responsible when he overslept or when a family activity did not go as planned. It was a turning point on my side of the relationship, but it still felt like something was off. Something was missing.
It wasn’t until recently, year twelve of marriage, that I looked back on those early years and saw that I was not trying to be Brian’s mom after all. I was trying to be his Savior. Maybe more accurately, I was trying to erase his need for a savior all together.
His reactions to things that went wrong were often sinful. I took it as a personal mission to remove his sinful reactions by creating an atmosphere that was perfect. Again, he did not ask me to do this. I wrongly assumed it was my duty to do this. I thought I could place my husband in a perfect home environment, plan perfect family outings, give perfect advice for his problems, and respond perfectly to his requests and he would, in turn, be perfect in this atmosphere I had created.
That feels crazy when I say it so bluntly.
The truth is, I can never create a perfect atmosphere. And it has never been my “job” to try.
I have changed the goal in my mind from being perfect to pointing to the One who is perfect. If I have a “job” as a wife, it is to point my husband to a perfect God each time he sins.
The reality of this is not easy.
For Brian marriage was honestly a lot more fun when I was making sure everything went his way. He didn’t know I was doing this and didn’t ask me to, but once I stopped ‘catering to him’ things had to get tougher before they could get better.
His changes did not come as a result of me telling him he needed to change. They came as a result of prayers on both of our parts. It came from me starting to feel safer opening up and sharing my heart with him. I began to tell him how I truly felt. I told him the times I was feeling like a failure so he could be aware of how his reactions were impacting me. And he began taking on a new role of guarding my heart.
I really don’t know what would have happened to our marriage in the early days if I hadn’t been like I was. Maybe he would have spiritually matured a lot faster, maybe I stunted his growth.
We will never know. I just know I wish we had the marriage we have now back then.
I know we can’t go back and change the events and the attitudes that have brought us to the point we are at now, but I know we can surrender our current attitudes and habits and beg God to help us change.
And I know this is a continual work. It is a work that needs God’s Grace and mercy and love all over it. Because I am not a Savior, and each time I try to be one for someone—I will fail. But HE is a Savior and He will never fail.
I look around my world right now and I see a society that is grieving.
There are people grieving the loss of freedom, expectations, incomes, careers, health, and life itself.
I do not consider myself an expert on grief, but unfortunately, I am familiar with it.
One thing I know to be true is that people grieve differently. Some people process things quickly, some slowly. Some mask their hurt with humor, some lash out in anger. Some people want to talk about it, some people want to talk about anything but what they have lost.
When you are grieving, you want other people around you to grieve like you. It is upsetting when you are sad and someone else makes a joke about the situation. There are times people are being so serious and you just want to lighten the mood.
Grief sucks you into your own world and makes it tempting to think only of yourself and your own loss.
I think one of the hardest things to accept about grief is that there is no cure. Sure there are stages to grief and you can cycle through them. But there is no quick cure-all to get over your loss.
There is not a cure, but there is perspective.
Loss is loss. What is hard for one person may not be hard for you. That doesn’t discount the fact that it is hard for them.
Today, as we are isolating and canceling events, plans, work environments, schools—it’s hard. Those are memories that will never be made, incomes that may never recover, and expectations that will never be met. I think we can all admit that is hard.
Today as people all over the world are losing loved ones to a virus that is rapidly spreading—it’s hard. There is no “at least…” when it comes to death. We can choose to focus on the moments we got with a person. We can choose to be grateful for the impact they had on our life and on the world. But when you have experienced the unexpected death of someone you love, you will never be okay with a trite explanation of why they are gone or comforted by the fact that it doesn’t happen to many people.
As I watch people grieve all around me, I hurt. I know the pain of unmet expectations. I know the pain of cancelled plans. I know the finality of death.
I also know the hope of Christ.
I was just going to leave this with a plea to be kind to each other. And really, we need kindness and gentleness right now in our world. But we also need the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We need the peace that only comes from knowing this world is not all there is. We need perspective on eternity. We need to believe in something greater than all the hurt we see around us.
We need to see it in people that call themselves Christians.
We need to give each other grace to grieve our own losses while keeping in mind that others are experiencing loss right now as well. We need to keep in perspective that this quarantine will not last forever, but some of the impact from it will.
This date has perhaps wrecked me more than any other date we have faced the past three years.
This day has brought out more fear, anxiety and emotional breakdowns than I’ve had in a long time.
It comes at me from all angles:
I look at our strong, healthy little girl and I think, ‘Surely we are safe this time. It won’t happen again.’ Then I remember walking to pick the kids up from school hours before Beckett passed away. His eyes were shining so bright and he was so cute and alive. I never looked at him and thought our time with him would be short.
I don’t want to put her down and walk away. That old thought reenters my mind constantly; ‘What if I had just held him all evening that day?’ and I can’t let myself take that chance again.
I trust my husband so much, but currently I am out of the house and he is with her. My mind is constantly wondering how they are doing. I keep glancing at my phone hoping for cute photos and no frantic phone calls.
It hurts that after tomorrow, each day Rylee lives is a day that Beckett didn’t get.
The crazy part of all this is that I thought this would be regular life the past four months. I had almost accepted that motherhood would be full of fear and sadness this time around.
I think I am being honest with myself when I say, this fear has not ruled my life. I have been exhausted, riddled with guilt over everything I’m not getting done, and emotional—but I have not let the fear of the ‘what ifs’ rob my joy of the ‘what is real’.
But two weeks ago it all crashed in. And it’s been heavy. It’s been exhausting.
So I told people I wasn’t okay.
When friends asked the casual question, ‘how are you doing?’ or ‘how is your week going?’ I told them I was a mess. I told them why. I said things bluntly to my husband that I usually try to tip toe around. I let other people in on my mess.
I haven’t let everyone in. I haven’t broadcast my turmoil. But I haven’t hidden it either.
I love the guideline of: You don’t have to say everything that’s true, but everything you say should be true.
This is my truth right now. It’s heavy. I don’t want to be ‘that friend’. The one that people don’t want to invite along because they always bring the mood down. The one that people have to filter their conversation around. But sometimes life is just heavy and there is no way around that.
And then finally, I let God in on my mess.
Sometimes I want to scream when people say I am so strong or compliment me for always pointing to Christ. I am not and I do not.
I am so, so weak.
I don’t know what I’m doing or if I’m responding the right way.
I choose to zone out and quiet my mind with music, fiction, sitcoms, scrolling. . . anything to keep myself from facing my thoughts.
Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and I want to close my eyes and just pretend like life is fine instead of facing my situation head on.
I don’t want to think about the underlying fears and emotions because it takes effort. It takes emotional and mental energy to stop numbing my mind and let those raw thoughts rise to the surface.
As hard as it is to get real, I can’t pretend like this is just how life is and muddle through.
In those moments that it all becomes real, I know there is an answer to my suffering.
I know that Christ is the answer.
I know this because it’s the only thing that ever makes a true difference in my life.
When I turn to Him, my troubles don’t disappear. My circumstances rarely change at all. But my heart changes. My heaviness becomes lighter. Sometimes I physically feel it lifting off my chest.
Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I close my Bible and feel exactly the same as I did when I opened it just 10 minutes later. Sometimes this goes on for weeks.
God is not a mystical wish granter. There is no perfect prayer + bible reading formula to get what you want out of life.
When I let myself get honest, I admit that life isn’t about what I want to get out of it anyway.
Christians love to talk about this ‘free’ gift of salvation—that we accept Jesus sacrifice on the cross and that’s all there is to it. We talk about a ‘relationship’ like we have equal footing with God, a 50/50 partnership.
But when I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin, I gave Him my life in response. I said, God this life isn’t about what I want anymore, it’s about what YOU want.
Sure, I get to enter into discussion with Him. I get to argue and yell and tell Him how I want things to go. But I also have to trust that He is a God that knows the whole picture while I only see part. I have to trust that He is a God that loves me. I even trust that He is a God whose heart breaks with mine.
And when I give Him my troubles, fears, doubts and heavy emotions, He can handle them. Sometimes it’s immediate sometimes it’s not. But His peace is present. It’s present because I invited the Holy Spirit into my life almost thirty years ago, and He hasn’t left me yet.
Whatever phase I go through, whatever emotions I throw at Him, God is steady. He is true. He is there.
This isn’t just my truth. I don’t believe He’s just good for me.
I think He’s available for you too. I think He’s willing to listen to your troubles and your heartaches. I think He’s willing to take your life and give you His in return.
A life lived for God—it’s not free of trouble. Worldwide health epidemics still exist. Innocent people still die. It’s hard and it’s real and it’s full of trouble. But more than that, a life lived with God is a life that has the potential for joy and peace even in the darkest of times. It’s a life that knows this isn’t all there is. It is a life of hope.
When the days get hard, when the fear, anxiety and emotional breakdowns come:
I continue to remember that God gave me the gift of my son for 114 days.
I continue to choose joy in this motherhood journey I am on.
And I did not regret the decision to tell people we were pregnant early on. The loss of our baby was painful and I experienced it at home. I am glad my kids had a vague idea of what was going on and I did not have to keep our loss a secret from them.
I am glad our family and friends knew our exciting news early so they could pray for us throughout the early loss.
I did not, and still do not, regret going through our miscarriage publicly.
Then we got pregnant again. Rather quickly. It was exciting. It was a miracle (all life is). But the message pressed into both our hearts was much different.
This time we felt a strong sense of ‘Keep this news for yourselves’.
But the message was clear. This time, this news, it was just for us.
The story of Mary and her miraculous pregnancy kept coming to mind. Specifically Luke 2:19 which says, ‘Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often’.
So I kept the news in my heart. Brian and I talked about it together, but we did not share the news with anyone.
It was weird. This was our fifth time to get pregnant and our first time to keep it a complete secret for so long.
I began to analyze all the whys. Why did I feel like I should keep this secret? Was it fear? Was it guilt? What was I supposed to be learning? What was the lesson in all this? Because there is always a lesson, right?! There is always something to be learned.
For ten weeks I didn’t have any answers. Just a joyous little secret growing inside me. It was fun to share this intimate news with only my husband. But I didn’t think that was the point. But maybe there wasn’t a point. Maybe it was a simple act of obedience. I felt like God told me to wait to share the news, so I would wait.
Then as we got through week 8, the point of my previous miscarriage, and I continued to have nausea and symptoms of pregnancy I began to realize that God was listening to my prayers for a healthy pregnancy. And then it was week 11 and I was starting to feel better and feel more signs of the life inside me.
God was listening to my prayers and Brian’s prayers. That was it. Other people may have been praying for us throughout that time, but we were the only two that were praying knowing specifically for this little life.
And then it became so clear what I was learning through this experience. The message came flooding into my heart.
The whisper of one small broken heart is just as important as the cry of an army of warriors.
God hears me.
He doesn’t hear me because other people are asking him to. He doesn’t hear me because I am a good person and deserve it. He doesn’t hear me because of anything about me.
He hears me because He loves me. And He hears you because He loves you.
God hears you. You are enough. All by yourself. Your voice is loud.
I have been pregnant three times. Each time my husband and I have been pretty private about the fact that we would like to have a baby. Most the time we have not told anyone we were “trying”.
It’s like it is a fun little intimate secret we share alone. And we both love to surprise people! So we wait for the positive result and then share with close family and friends. Then we wait again for the sweet little ultrasound assuring us all is well, and then we take a cute photo and share our news with the world.
We love sharing the news, but we like to make sure we are in the “safe zone” first.
For the past 2 years we have shared our journey of loss openly. We have followed doors that God has opened and we have known it was the right thing to do. It has felt natural.
Now we have decided to try for another baby, and we feel the exact same urging to share our story. But this time it is scary. It feels like maybe we are going to be over-sharing. Maybe it’s not really necessary to fill in the whole world on every little detail of our lives.
It’s scary because I don’t know how long it will take us to get pregnant this time. I don’t know IF I will ever be pregnant again.
However scared I am to share this journey, I can’t hold back. I feel compelled to share this part of our story as much anything I’ve ever written. I feel like I NEED to write this because I know I am not alone.
I know there are women reading this who have experienced loss and are scared to go through that again.
I know there are couples struggling because one partner wants another baby and the other one doesn’t.
I know there is a mom with empty arms who just doesn’t feel ready to go through the pain again and needs to hear, ‘It’s okay. Take your time.’
I know there are people that have had their heart completely shattered and they don’t know if they can put themselves out there again.
I know there are others who need to know that peace is possible.
I’m not just talking about pregnancy here. Maybe you have given your whole heart to go for a dream and it didn’t end the way you thought it would. And you just don’t know if you can do it again. You just don’t know if your heart can take being broken again.
I’m scared, but I’m more scared of not taking a chance. I don’t want to live my life in fear. And I don’t want that for you either.
So I’m going to share this journey. I’m going to write about the trials of trying to conceive after loss. And if you can relate directly, I’m sorry but I’m glad we have found each other. If you cannot relate directly, I pray you still find hope in what I write.
I don’t want to wait until after we have the happy result to share what this process has been like. I do not want to post a happy pregnancy announcement sometime in the future and not give acknowledgement to the tears, prayers, and waiting that are behind that announcement. This has been hard. Let me rephrase that, this IS hard.
This is hard on our marriage.
The loss of a child is hard on any marriage. I have read statistics that place divorce as high as 80% after the loss of a child. I have hesitated to say how our marriage has survived this loss because I know we have never truly made it to the “other side”. We consistently are reminded of the extra challenges we are still working through.
Brian has wanted another baby for a long time. Actually, while following the ambulance to the hospital, Brian cried out to God asking for the opportunity to raise another baby. As he held me in that same hospital that same night, I told him I didn’t know if I could ever have a baby again.
We have been patient with each other and as understanding as we could be, but for the first time in our relationship, we had different dreams and thoughts about what our “end-game” family would look like.
Brian quickly realized that no baby will ever replace Beckett, and he needed to spend some time adjusting to that loss instead of just plowing ahead into the future.
I have SLOWLY given my fears over to God. I have a lot of questions and concerns still. But I know I cannot live in those fears. Brian has patiently waited on me to be ready and left this decision in my hands.
This is hard because I don’t love being pregnant.
This reason has nothing to do with losing a child, but has a lot to do with my hesitancy to try again.
I am a horrible pregnant lady. Can I confess that I just don’t enjoy being pregnant? I know it is an honor and a privilege to be able to grow and carry a life inside of me. But I worry a lot. I think everything that can go wrong has gone wrong in between each check up.
My body doesn’t handle it real well either. I swell ALL OVER. I’ve had pre-eclampsia once and high blood pressure twice. It takes me about 2 years to get back to close to pre-pregnancy weight. The choice to get pregnant is a choice to give up my body. As much as I love my babies, I just don’t love being pregnant.
But the real reason I have been so scared to try again to have another baby:
I am fearful that it will break me.
I am fearful I will never be able to lay that precious baby down, that I will not sleep for the first four months.
I am fearful I will neglect my husband.
I am fearful I will neglect my other two kids.
I am fearful I will lose another child.
I write this knowing full well that all of those fears are well founded. That as you read those last few sentences you can put yourself in my shoes and you would be fearful of the same things. Or maybe you are in my shoes and those are your fears as well.
But over the past two years I could never stop with those fears. I knew deep down in my soul, I wanted another baby. I love being a mom. I don’t feel like it all comes naturally to me. I often question whether I got the ‘mother’s intuition’ that supposedly comes along with a baby. As much as I make myself question my abilities, there is no denying my desire.
Up until this past summer I pretty much just accepted that that would be my future reality. I might lose myself for a time, our family dynamics might be tense for a time, I might live in fear, but it would all be worth it to add a precious new addition to our family.
Then I looked back on the past two years and I realized that fear and doubt do not have to rule my life through this process.
Almost two years ago we lost our precious baby boy. And in many ways it did break me. But in many more ways, I have witnessed a miracle. God has held me so tight through this time.
Not only has my marriage held together, it has been strengthened by fire.
My kids have grieved the loss of a sibling, and through the process they have loved each other fiercely and are turning into pretty great little people.
I have neglected my body, fueled it with all the wrong things and been so angry at times about it. Then I have slowly come to a place of control knowing how to actually care for this physical body.
I have not lost my faith in God through this difficult time, I have clung to Him as my source of strength.
And if God could produce this kind of miracle in the past two years, why couldn’t He do it again?
Why do I trust Him to comfort and heal the pain of the past but not the unknown of the future?
So a few months ago, the same time Brian and I started feeling the urge from God to share this journey, we also felt the peace that He could bring about a miracle in our lives.
He could create a little life to carry inside of me. That in itself is a miracle each time it happens.
He could give me peace throughout that pregnancy.
He could give me strength if I have a healthy child in my arms.
He can calm my fears.
And if it all goes wrong—if I never get pregnant again, if I am unable to carry a child to full-term, even if I have to bury another child—even then, He can give me a strength and a peace that only comes from Him.
I’ve seen Him give me strength and peace before, and I believe I’ll see Him do it again.
I also share all this to ask for prayers. I speak of the peace and strength I have experienced since losing Beckett, and I know it comes from thousands of people all over the world lifting our family up in prayer. So I’m coming to you humbly again. I am thankful for your prayers and I still need them.
And while you are praying for this miracle for us, let me just throw this in—we aren’t just praying for one healthy addition to our family. We are praying for twins. Because if we are going to pray for a miracle, we figure we should go ahead and pray for the real desire of our hearts. And a set of boy/girl twins is what our heart desires. But what our heart desires even more than that is to be content with whatever God’s plan is for our life and our family. We desire to trust Him through this process and to be overwhelmed with a peace we know is from Him.
O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
I would love to pray for you as well. Let me know below or privately what you are struggling to trust God with for the future. I’m not saying this lightly; we need to know we aren’t alone. We need to know someone is cheering us on.
I often call myself an introvert. And this is what I mean by that:
After being around people, I need time to just be still and quiet.
I am constantly analyzing myself and other’s response to me. An ongoing conversation in my head goes something like this: How am I coming across right now? How will this statement make that person feel? If I respond to this text right now, will they expect this to turn into a long conversation I just don’t have the energy for at the moment?
This is exhausting!
I need time alone to recharge and also to sort through all the thoughts in my mind. I love people. I love good conversations. But I crave alone time.
When I lost my son, the world changed. I changed in many ways. But at my core I was still the same introverted person.
And I think it was confusing for quite a few people who really loved me and wanted to be supportive for me, but had no clue what it was I needed from them.
I know all grief is different, and I know all people are different. But my hope is to give a few basic thoughts to help those of you that love an introvert who is grieving.
Don’t Expect Them to Fall Apart in Front of You
After the death of my son, people often asked me how I was doing. That’s a natural question. I wasn’t offended by the question.
But my answer to that question was almost always vague. “We’re doing okay.” Or “God is my strength”.
And then I was often left with this feeling that I was letting them down with my answer. I got this feeling that people wanted me to fall apart and share my deepest fears and feelings with them at the drop of a hat. Or at the drop of a simple question.
That is simply not me.
A week after Beckett passed away, I poured all my emotions into a public blog post that anyone in the world was welcome to read. I cried while writing it, I cried many times reading it later. It was my heart, my true emotions laid out bare.
Writing that post was my way of processing my emotions and also my way of answering the question, “How are you doing?” It was exhausting.
So in the following weeks, when someone asked how I was doing, I really wanted to tell them to go read about it themselves, I did not have the emotional energy to go through all that again!
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to let them in on how I was feeling, it was that I really could not physically bring myself to go through the emotions verbally over and over again.
Please don’t take it personal when your introverted friend doesn’t open up to you about their grief. I mean it when I say: It’s not you, it’s me. Go ahead and keep asking the question, just be prepared to quickly move on if they make it clear they don’t want to dwell.
Don’t Apologize for Falling Apart in Front of Them.
I am not very emotional in front of people. I don’t know if this is an “introvert” thing or just a “Rebekah” thing. I have often felt envious of my softhearted friends. These women see a photograph of an orphan and are suddenly a sobbing mess. They hear a sad story on the radio and they can’t even repeat the story to you because they are so choked up.
As a woman in ministry, I have often sat across from a woman crying over the state of her marriage, her rebellious children, her mess in life and prayed that God would just make my eyes squeeze out at least one tear so I wouldn’t appear so heartless.
Try as I might to change it, I am just a weird crier. But this doesn’t mean that it upsets me when other people cry in front of me.
Many times in the first months after losing Beckett, my friends would begin crying when they hugged me or talked about him. And then they would inevitably apologize.
Please don’t apologize for grieving over someone else’s loss! It shows you love them, it shows you care.
When They Start to Talk—Don’t Stop Them!
Grief is a weird thing. It often shows up when we least expect it. Your friend might have some feelings and thoughts they need to process and they don’t even realize it until the conversation is started and the words come spilling out.
I often bring Beckett up in the middle of a non-related conversation. I am sitting and talking with a friend over coffee and my thoughts just start spilling out. I feel comfortable, I feel safe and I let my guard down.
If you want to be a safe place for your introvert friend to talk about their grief, be a safe place for them to talk about life in general.
Last year, on what would have been Beckett’s first birthday, I told my friend I was going to come by her house in the morning. Neither of us knew what that day would be like for me, but she was willing to put up with whatever I felt like on the day. I needed to go to a place where there would be no expectations placed on me.
I knew this friend’s house was the place to go because it had been the place to go for the past year. I had sat on her couch with a cup of coffee balanced on my pregnant belly and talked about motherhood many times. I had sat with that baby in my arms and talked about tired newborn life.
Then when my world changed in an instant, she was the one that held me in her arms as the paramedic took my baby from mine. The one that opened her home when I couldn’t face going back to mine. The one that saw me fall apart and didn’t expect a thing in return. The one that never had to ask me how I was doing, but always listened when I told her anyway.
Fortunately, I can say this about many friends not just one. I know I can text my parents and tell them to pray and they do without needing a lot of background. I tell my husband I’m having a hard day and he pulls me into his arms without a question. I cancel dinner plans with only a few hours notice and our friends understand without a complaint.
Then at other times I start talking and they just let me go. They don’t try to tell me how I should feel or drag more out of me than I am comfortable giving. They just listen and tell me they love me.
I have pretty great friends.
Let Them Know You Have No Expectations
In the first days and weeks, many people asked what we needed and said to let them know what they could do to help.
I had no idea what I needed. I had no idea what people could do to help. But suddenly this felt like a job to me. I needed to give people something to do so they would feel like they were helping. I took it as my responsibility to make sure they felt useful.
I know this sounds messed up. I am aware it is not at all what those people intended to happen. They genuinely wanted to help and would hate to think that put stress on me.
We had several friends that just stepped in and did things for us without asking and without making it a big deal. That is what I needed.
I needed to know there were no expectations on me as a friend to include other people in my grief.
Offer Non-Contact Support
I have listed several things not to do so I thought I would end with some practical things you could do to show you care.
The thought of making plans for a person, even a close friend, to come over to my house just to sit with me terrified me in the first phases of grief. Planning ahead of time meant I had to mentally prepare for what the conversation might be. I had to use energy to sit and talk and come up with conversation or process through my emotions out loud. I did not want to make plans to get together with people.
But if someone dropped by with a gift, that would be totally okay. That feels selfish to say, but it’s the truth.
I love hugs. I love feeling connected without a lot of words. A small gift and a hug at the door can be a huge encouragement without forcing your friend to use a lot of energy socially.
If you have trouble thinking of something to give, try one of these:
— A hand written letter or card. If letter writing is not your thing, don’t stress yourself out trying to come up with the perfect words. Just buy a card and sign your name. It really is the thought that counts.
— A journal. Many introverts process their thoughts by writing. I obviously fit into this category. Plus I love stationary and office supplies—Win/Win!
— Coffee. Give a mug with a scripture verse on it, inspirational saying or cute design. You could also buy some nice tea or specialty coffee they can make at home. Or skip the at-home stuff and get them a gift card to go out for coffee with a note that you hope they enjoy some time out and an offer to tag along if they wish. You have offered a listening ear in a non-committal way.
— Small Personal Gift. You know your friend. What will make them remember their loved one? A piece of jewelry? A figure or box to set out? A picture frame? What is something small and personal that shows you actually took time to think about them and the loved one they lost?
— Massage or Spa Treatment. This is a bigger gift financially, but would a gift card for a massage be relaxing and welcome for your friend? I love to lie in a dark room and not make conversation for an hour. My mind actually goes quiet during a massage.
— A Cleaning Service. The entire first year I was grieving my son, I constantly felt behind on household responsibilities. I just wanted someone to come over and clean my house and do my laundry. But I didn’t want to ask anyone to come over and clean my house and do my laundry because I did not want to have to make small talk with them while they worked, and I was too prideful to admit I needed help in this area.
Thankfully I have an amazing husband who starts cleaning when he has no idea how to help me. There were many months he kept our household functioning and took a lot of pressure off of me. If your friend lives alone or their partner isn’t super clean, chances are they are in dire need of some practical cleaning help.
If you can’t afford to pay for a cleaning service, give them that gift card for a coffee shop, send them out of the house, and clean while they are away. For $5 they are getting some alone time and you can give them some practical help.
— Prayer. Seriously. This is the greatest gift I have received in the past eighteen months. I have had friends pray over me in-person, but our family has had an army of people praying for us throughout the world. And we feel it. It’s not last on this list because it’s the least you can do, it’s last because I want it to be the one that sticks in your head the longest. If you are a praying person, pray for your friend.
These thoughts have actually sat in my computer for months and I have struggled to finish writing them and post it. It’s not because I’m an introvert and I’m analyzing how they will be taken. I have an internal battle with this post because, regardless of everything I have just said, I really don’t love labels. I love discussing personality type. (I’m an enneagram 5 and an INFJ if you want to comment on that below!) But I get frustrated when people excuse their behavior behind a personality type. Ironic? Probably.
The bottom line: give your friends grace to be themselves when they are grieving.
Don’t expect someone to react the way you would, and don’t expect them to react the way an article on the internet says their personality type should react.
God has created us unique and complex. And I believe we are the most helpful when we give people the space and the encouragement to be that person that God created them to be.
Have you experienced grief? What is something someone has done for you or given you that has helped you? I would love to read your comment below and hear your thoughts.
I have been prioritizing my health and getting healthy for over a year now.
I have lost more than 50 pounds in the past year. Yes, that’s awesome, but I have yet to reach my goal.
And I am getting tired.
I’m getting tired of always making the healthy choice. I’m getting tired of planning the meals, making time for exercise, making sure I am taking time to refresh my soul in the midst of busy.
Is anyone following me?!
If you are in the middle of a long health journey, stick with me. It can be hard when you have been making healthy choices for a long time, but you feel you still have so far to go.
Friend, don’t give up in the middle! Change takes time. It’s pushing through the hard times that builds our resolve and really creates those habits that will last long past the “diet” phase.
I find that in the middle of a long journey, it’s good to take a break. This is true on a road trip or long flight.
If you’ve ever taken a long drive, you probably stopped somewhere in the middle to get out and stretch your legs. We have done many long road trips. We usually find a place to let the kids run around. We change the music in the car or think of new discussion topics. On a long flight we often get up and do a little walk around the plane.
It is in our human nature to get bored.
But when I get bored on a road trip, I don’t turn around and go back home. That would be ridiculous! No, I change it up but I keep moving forward.
So how can we translate this to our weight loss journey? How can we change things up but continue going the right direction? How do we stop from getting bored?
Below are 5 “breaks” you can take in your healthy journey to recharge and keep going the right direction.
Take a break from Menu Planning
I’m starting with my own situation.
I am experiencing ‘menu planning fatigue’. Is that a real thing? I have no idea. But I have it.
We started a long round of Whole30 in the middle of February. It’s now June, and while we haven’t done strict Whole30 the entire past 4 months, I have menu planned 7 dinners a week for the past 16 weeks!
In the past year I have fallen in love with cooking. I love menu planning and finding new recipes. But it takes work. It takes energy. And I just don’t have it right now.
I just don’t want to think about what our family is going to eat every. single. night.
While I need a break from all the hardcore menu planning, I don’t want to resort to eating out or caving to pasta, pizza, and other frozen meals.
I still want to nourish my body. I still want to make healthy choices. I just don’t want to have to think about them right now.
So we are re-activating our subscription to Hello Fresh. We did Hello Fresh last summer and it was amazing. This will not be an in depth review of Hello Fresh, there are many of those online if you want more information. Feel free to send me an e-mail or comment below with your questions, I could say more good things than I have time!
Here’s the bottom line: With Hello Fresh I am given six options for dinner for the week and I pick three. Then it gets delivered to our door completely measured out and ready to cook.
My brain loves this right now!
It cuts down the choices from millions of recipes available online to six options.
If a recipe needs a tablespoon of thyme, there is a tablespoon of thyme in the bag for me to use. I don’t have to think at all. Maybe I sound incredibly lazy to you. That’s fair.
But that’s what I love about Hello Fresh. I can be lazy with my menu planning and food prepping and still feed my family fresh, homemade meals.
Hello Fresh is not the only company who provides these types of meals, but it’s the only one I’ve used. If this description is making your heart sing, pick one and do it for a few weeks. Give your brain a menu-planning break.
Take a break from your morning routine
Whether it’s intentional or not, you most likely have a morning routine.
You may get up early and enjoy a quiet house with a cup of coffee and your bible. You may go for an early morning run. You may have a workout you turn on your TV and follow.
Or you might jump out of bed and run around the house like a crazy person trying to get everyone ready to go their separate directions for the day.
Whether it’s organized or chaotic, your morning most likely has a rhythm.
Can you do something to intentionally change this rhythm? Can you add or take away something to give you some new excitement in your journey?
Can you get up 30 minutes earlier and follow a workout video?
Do you need to sleep in an extra 30 minutes to get more rest and get the workout in later in the day?
Can you spend 10 minutes listing what you are grateful for from the day before instead of spending 10 minutes scrolling through social media?
Can you pack lunches, lay out clothes, and sign papers the night before so your morning has a few minutes to spare to pray before you get too busy?
Can you make a change to your morning that will energize you throughout the day?
Take a break from the way you exercise.
This is usually a really good place for me to start when I get stuck at a certain place in my weight loss.
Sometimes I am not exercising at all. Simply adding an intentional time of movement can give a big boost to your weight loss and energize you to keep going on the journey.
Don’t overcomplicate this. You don’t have to get a membership to anything. Just start walking at a brisk pace or find YouTube tutorials you can follow. Do something in the privacy of your own home if you are not comfortable going out.
If you are already exercising, can you change up what you are doing?
Maybe you love running, but you’ve been running four days a week and you are starting to get bored with it. Run a different route. Ask someone to run with you. Listen to a podcast instead of music. Ask for playlist suggestions for new music to listen to. Do something to change up the feel of your exercise without having to change what’s actually working.
Maybe you want to stop running for the summer and take up swimming instead.
Is there a change you can make to what you are doing that will breath new life into your exercise routine?
Take a break from Social Media
Can we be honest with ourselves? Sometimes watching other people succeed is incredibly motivating. And sometimes it can be disheartening.
Sometime you see people losing weight and getting healthy and reaching their goals and you are so happy for them and inspired to go after your goals as well.
And then sometimes you see it and you think of how far you have to go before you are at that point. You think of all the things you are doing and the results you are not getting. And you start to wonder if those sacrifices you are making are even worth it. Your life is getting nowhere fast, it does not look that good in photos, and it’s hard to be happy. It’s hard to keep your motivation.
Take a break from the comparison mentality. Take a break from the perfect pictures. Take a break from living up to someone else’s life.
Take some time to live your life without sharing it online.
Take some time to love your life, not someone else’s.
There are a lot of positive, encouraging voices on the Internet. I pray and strive to be one of those voices. I follow many people that encourage me to be a better Christ-follower, wife, mother, and person.
But regardless of how inspired we are by someone else, there is a pull in our hearts to compare our life to others. This is not healthy. This is draining. This will suck your motivation faster than anything else.
Friend, be a positive voice.
Share the good. Encourage others. But never become a slave to an online image.
Take a break from perfection.
My heart needs this one.
A healthy soul, a healthy family, a healthy body—those are life-long pursuits. Those are not things that I am going to follow a program and achieve. Those are things that require time and patience and failure and learning.
There are times to realize you need a change and to stick to a healthy eating plan 100%. There are times to “never skip a Monday” when it comes to your workouts.
Then there are times to drop the expectations and settle in for the long haul.
There will be times I am going to fail. There will be days that I skip a workout. There will be afternoons where I search the house for chocolate and indulge. There will be times when I throw myself a pity party.
And then I will get back up and I will keep going.
Perfection is not a reality on this earth. Perfection is sabotaging. Perfection is exhausting.
Take a break from impossible standards.
Friend, this life is a journey. Sometimes we need to break up the monotony of a long road. So take a breath, pull over, and give yourself that rest.
Are you getting tired on the journey?
Tell me below what area of your life needs a break. What change—big or small—do you think would energize you to keep going?
I would love to encourage you to take that break and then to keep going! Don’t turn back now, you’ve come too far for that!
“This is our life, and it doesn’t even seem fair.”
I was standing by Brian one night recently and confessed this thought of mine to him. He nodded and agreed. We both often wonder what we did to deserve this life we live.
If you look at our life from the outside, you might see our current location.
We are almost exactly 3,000 miles from my parents. We are a little further from Brian’s family and a little closer to my hometown. Regardless of the mileage, there is an ocean that separates us from the people we came from and grew up around.
We devote a lot of our time to other people.
Three or four evenings a week we have people in our home sharing meals and lots of cups of coffee. We give every Friday night to running a youth club and countless hours to our church.
And then there is our family dynamic.
We lost a child. Our kids lost a sibling. We all four loved that kid with a fierce love. Grief is a part of our everyday life. Beckett is mentioned in our house almost on a daily basis. And even if his name is not said in a day, his memory is there.
Some people would look at our life from the outside and say, it’s not fair. Why does a good family have to go through so much heartache?
But that’s not what I meant when I told Brian that our life didn’t seem fair. I see something else when I look at our life.
I see our location.
Earlier that same day we had driven a short twenty minutes to a lake in the middle of the mountains and gone on a beautiful three-hour hike as a family. Then later that evening we walked across the road from our house and played on the sand as we watched the sun set on the sea. We live in a ridiculously beautiful part of the world. It almost doesn’t seem fair that these adventures are right on our doorstep.
I see our home and our opportunities to serve others.
God has blessed us with resources and a schedule that allows us to have time for relationships. We can have people into our home and open His Word and see lives changed. Yes, sometimes our commitments mean we don’t always do whatever we want with our time, but when we get to be a part of what God is doing in other’s lives, and when we get to point out that opportunity for our kids—that’s special.
And then I see our family dynamics.
We are raising two kids that love each other and generally get along very well. They are both out of diapers, we don’t have to plan around their naptime, they can walk long distances on their own without strollers, they eat the same food as us, and they sleep through the night.
Brian and I have communication that is more open and honest than ever before in our marriage. We are working through some tough stuff, but we are working through it together.
I am getting healthy again. I have energy to go for hikes, to cook healthy meals, to keep our house clean, and still have time to go after some dreams in the meantime.
Our family is in a pretty sweet spot right now.
And all of that is what I meant the night that Brian and I stood on the sand with the waves gently coming toward our toes and the sun setting a bright orange in front of us. I wondered how this could even be real life. How did we get so fortunate to live this life?
As I said it out loud, the phrase felt familiar and foreign at the same time. It’s a thought I had a lot before we lost Beckett. I almost felt guilty for our beautiful life. I often asked him in complete awe, “Why are we the fortunate ones who get to live this life?”
Then we went through tragedy and suddenly life didn’t seem quite as fortunate anymore. We were the ones living the nightmare, not the dream. Why us?
Through all these stages of abundance and loss, I have known one thing to be true: It’s never about what I deserve.
I don’t deserve to live close to my family. I have not earned healthy, beautiful children. My nice home is not my prize for saying yes to God’s plans for my life.
It’s all grace.
And God has poured out that grace on my life. He didn’t pour it out through a beautiful home, or loving husband or fun family time. He poured it out through His Son, and specifically His death for my sins.
That truth doesn’t change when my life circumstances change. His grace is constant and it is for me.
It’s been almost a year and a half since we lost Beckett. In that time, I have struggled a lot with the thought of losing someone else in my life. I tell God that I have clung to Him through this whole thing, but please don’t take any more. And He has repeatedly put one question on my heart, “Am I enough for you?”
Is God enough for me? If He takes away everything I have in this beautiful life, is He enough?
I have meditated on this a lot since then and I don’t think I am done asking myself this question. But on good days, the answer is yes. Yes, He is enough.
I have not become angry with God over the loss of my son. I have not turned from God because “my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:3)
I refuse to turn my back on my source of strength.
I can look back now and say, God has been enough for me. I fully believe He has sustained me and carried me through my grief up to this point.
But that still leaves the question, what about the future?
What if we try to expand our family again and again we experience loss? What if I lose another person I love? Can my faith handle that? Can I still trust God after that?
For me, it all comes back to this: I don’t deserve anything in this life. I don’t say this in a woeful, hopeless way. I actually say it with joy. I say it from a heart that is starting to embrace that this life is all His grace anyway. If I can cling to God and believe that He was in control in the past, I have to believe the same for the future.
Friend, life is not fair. Sometimes we get abundantly more than we deserve, sometimes it seems like we get hardship on top of hardship with no warning at all. Let me encourage you to step away from those scales of justice we like to use to measure fairness. Please, leave the “deserve to” life behind and step into the grace life.
There is freedom in grace. There is joy. And there is perspective in grace.
This life is a gift. I don’t deserve this life, but I am sure thankful I get to live it.
Last year I knew I was unhealthy. I knew it because I felt it. It wasn’t just my weight, it was my energy levels, it was my skin, it was my aches and pains—they all told me I was unhealthy. And I was ready to listen to my body and do something about it.
But what was I going to do?
Over the past two years I had seen posts and done a little research into Whole30, but I had no idea what it actually was. I knew it was extreme, and I knew I needed extreme. So I started to read more about it.
As I researched, I realized this was the plan I was looking for. I wasn’t looking for a diet to lose weight quick. I wanted knowledge. I wasn’t afraid of putting in some hard work, but I wanted to know that I would come out the other side empowered and inspired to keep going.
That is what Whole30 has done for me.
I have committed to openly sharing my health journey, and Whole30 has been a big part of that. My relationship with food has changed in the past nine months and I think yours can too.
My goal is to share somewhat of a beginner’s guide to the plan. Whether you are looking to make some changes yourself, or you are simply curious what all the Whole30 hype is about—please keep reading.
1) Who is Whole30 for?
Whole30 if for people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
That’s me. Maybe it’s you too. This plan is not specifically for male or female, old or young, overweight or skinny people. It’s adaptable and it’s for anyone.
2) What is Whole30?
Whole30 is a 30-day plan to reset your relationship with food. The creator, Melissa Hartwig, is clear that it’s not a diet. Diets are temporary. Diets work fast. Diets focus on weight loss.
Whole30 focuses on learning your body. What foods fuel your body well? What foods make your body react poorly?
Whole30 aims to eliminate inflammation-causing foods for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them over the next 15 days to see how your body reacts to them. The foods it recommends to remove are done so because they are known to cause reactions in some people.
Are they all affecting you when you eat them? Probably not. But the truth is, I didn’t know what in my diet was affecting me because I had never isolated any specific foods.
By removing all these foods for 30 days, you are giving your body a chance to heal itself. When you start reintroducing these food items one group at a time, you will notice if something triggers an unpleasant reaction. These reactions could be digestive, skin related, headaches, weight gain . . . and the list goes on!
You then have the knowledge to make your future food decisions.
My husband, for example, knew for a while that pizza messed up his stomach. But what was it about pizza? Was it the cheese? Was it the gluten in the crust? Was it the meat toppings he was choosing? By isolating each of these areas in reintroduction, he now knows dairy is not kind to his stomach.
He can use this knowledge to make better food choices when he is out. If there is a choice between cake and ice cream, he knows he likes the ice cream more, but then has to decide whether it is worth the stomachache later. Poor Brian! He’ll probably end up passing on both, because if he can’t have ice cream what’s the fun in cake?!
Whole30 is about arming yourself with knowledge. It is about learning to make choices that serve you, not learning to follow a list of rules to get typical results.
If you are looking for a temporary meal plan that will make you drop some pounds fast so you can then go right back to your old habits—this is not for you.
If you are tired of yo-yoing and looking for something sustainable—this may be for you.
3) What do I have to give up?
I’ll be honest, the list is daunting! So, I’ll just list off the major things quick—like ripping off a Band-Aid!
Dairy—cow, goat, sheep products ALL grains—even gluten-free ones Sugar—natural and artificial Legumes—beans, soy, peanuts Additives—sulphites, msg, carrageenan Alcohol—not even in cooking
Those are the basic things to avoid.
But then it gets into the real heart of the matter.
There are three Key Principles thatwill make or break your overall success:
No baked goods.
This one rule might have helped me succeed in changing my habits more than anything else.
If I am craving a brownie and I make a delicious concoction with ground up almonds and dates and cacao and use all ingredients that are “approved”, my mind knows that. But all my taste buds know is that I wanted something sweet and I got it. This does nothing to change my actual cravings and habits.
To follow this path out, think of yourself one week after you have finished a strict diet. Every evening when the kids are finally in bed, you have been enjoying a “fake” treat. But suddenly those restrictions are no longer around you and you find yourself slowly reaching for the real, much more satisfying, brownie.
Maybe it takes you more than a week to slip back into your old ways. But when you swap out ingredients to create “just as good” treats, you have not changed habits, you have just temporarily substituted what you really want.
Imagine the same scenario at three o’clock in the afternoon. You are tired and just want chocolate so bad. But you are on a diet. So instead you grab a handful of berries and a banana.
You made a healthy choice. But you still made a sweet choice.
You had a sweet craving and you fed it. When your willpower weakens and your diet guidelines relax, that three o’clock craving is still there and this time you will reach for the chocolate. I know. I’m talking about myself.
But what if you could actually defeat that craving?
You can tackle it one of two ways:
Option One: You can eat a bigger, more fat-filled lunch that will carry over until your evening meal. I know, “fat filled” doesn’t usually come into play when we are talking about getting healthy.
But good fats fill you up and give you energy. It’s not a bad thing. If you know you ate a satisfying lunch, wait five minutes when that craving comes up. Are you really hungry? Or are you just stressed out or bored?
Letting the craving pass unsatisfied tells your mind you don’t really need sugar at that moment. You are retraining your habits.
Option Two: Maybe you wait five minutes and your stomach starts to rumble and the desire just gets stronger. You really are hungry! Don’t just reach for something sweet—that’s feeding your normal habits and cravings.
Instead, be prepared with a protein and fat packed snack. This could be nuts, boiled eggs, lunch meat, and maybe even a banana with the protein. Basically, have a mini-meal. If you can do it sitting at a table, even better!
Train your mind to know you eat planned, full meals and don’t just snack mindlessly throughout the day.
Changing your habits is hard. It takes time. But when I realize it took me over 30 years to create these habits, it makes it a little easier to give myself some time to change them.
No Weighing Yourself
Seeing the numbers go down on a scale is super motivating. But the same number over and over can make you lose all motivation. If you have ever been on a diet before, you know this first hand.
You have made such hard choices for an entire week. You have passed up baked goods, you have menu planned, you have gone out and exercised. You step on the scale ready to see the results of all your hard work. And the number has not changed from the week before.
All that hard work seems pointless. You might as well just eat the donut today, it didn’t do any good to pass it up last week.
Or maybe you lost weight, but it wasn’t quite as big as you wanted. So this week you will starve yourself a little more. You’ll push harder in your training. You know this kind of dedication and sacrifice is not sustainable, but you just want to reach that goal quickly.
Real life change takes time.
And real health means so much more than a number. Do not sabotage your success by playing head games with a scale.
If you really follow the rules of Whole30, you weigh yourself on Day 1 and Day 30. And chances are the numbers will go down. They have for me each time I have done it.
But that was just one of the results I have noticed—not the whole picture.
No Counting Things
This is one of the things I love most about Whole30!
I don’t count calories! I don’t count macros! I don’t count points! I just eat! It’s glorious!
I am super unorganized at tracking things. I start and then I don’t follow through. Yes, I need to be more disciplined, but I need to be more disciplined in a lot of areas of my life.
Adding up calories or counting points is not an area I want to give my energy.
I focus on putting healthy, non-processed foods into my body and I do it until I’m full and then I stop.
It’s an amazing concept really.
Okay, enough with what you can’t do…
4) What can I eat?
So much good food!
For real. Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, oils—it’s all fair game!
Here’s a big thing for me: you don’t have to cut out carbs. Woohoo! I eat potatoes when I am doing a Whole30. I don’t make homemade chips or French fries (that goes along with fake baked goods), but I do enjoy potatoes as an addition to a lot of meals.
Why do I love this? It all goes back to sustainability and motivation.
I know I could lose weight faster if I cut out the majority of my carbohydrate intake. But I’m not looking for a fast solution. I’m trying to change my habits and lifestyle.
I can be as boring or as creative as I want when I am following Whole30. I could eat chicken and broccoli every day for lunch and dinner. Yuck! That would make me go crazy! Or I could spend hours in the kitchen every evening making a variety of gourmet dishes from scratch.
I recommend falling somewhere between repetitive meals and time-consuming meals.
I have learned so much about cooking and tried so many new things in the past year. It’s amazing how much your taste buds change when you totally remove sugar from your diet.
I love flavor now. I love experimenting with new ingredients and recipes.
Will this happen for everyone who follows Whole30? No.
It’s like anything else in life, you will get out what you put in.
5) How Hard is this really?
We’ve all said it, “I could never go without chocolate for 30 days!” Or “I just can’t drink my coffee black”.
Right away some of you have read these rules and told yourself, this is too hard for me.
Melissa Hartwig is maybe most famous for her tough love on this subject. You can find her now famous response on the official whole30 website.
This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth—the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
I agree. There are harder things in life than drinking black coffee. I have gone through one of the hardest things anyone can face in life when I lost my son. I’m not even going to compare the two.
But that said—THIS IS HARD!
It is hard for the same reason grief is hard. It forces us to get real with our own thoughts. You will have to fight through every excuse you or someone else will throw at you. You will have to determine beforehand that there are no “cheat days” and that you can’t tell yourself “just this one time”.
You will have to know your health is worth more than 30 days of sacrifice.
I think there were a few things that helped me achieve that focus and complete a “cheat-free” Whole30.
I read the book. I absorbed the message into my heart. I wanted to change my habits and not just achieve a quick fix. I recommend you do the same. If you aren’t going to buy the book, at least spend some time on the website.
Next, I had a partner.
Brian was 100% committed along with me to do this thing. This was best-case scenario and I realize that. My partner was my best friend who also happens to live in the same house as me, do life with me daily, and had my best interest at heart.
If you are single or your spouse is not interested in participating, I believe you can still be successful. You can enlist accountability in other friends who are going solo, or even find an online community.
If you can’t find current accountability, find someone who has gone through it in the past and will tell you, “Yes, it’s hard, but it’s possible!” (Cough cough, me!)
I’m not saying Whole30 is for everyone. There are very few things in life that are for everyone. But it was for me. And maybe it is for you. Are you willing to find out?
*This post contains an affiliate link. That means if you clink on the link and buy the book, I get a portion of the sale and you don’t pay any extra!
I don’t say that to get sympathy. I am simply stating a fact.
I know some of you reading this know what I am talking about first hand. You have lost an unborn child, an infant, a toddler, a teenager, or an adult child. No matter the age, if you have lost a child you don’t forget that. Others reading this thankfully do not have personal knowledge, but you can imagine that you would never forget losing a child.
Sometimes I remember my sweet Beckett when one of my other kids mentions him. Sometimes I remember him when I see another child around his age and think of what he would be doing now. Yesterday I found one of his big green pacifiers under our bed.
We have photos around our home and multiple boxes full of memories. Remembering Beckett is special. It’s something I WANT to do.
A year and a half into this life, I know people are still nervous about saying the wrong thing around me. I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me. I like remembering my son. I don’t mind if you, or your child, brings him up in a conversation.
Obviously, every grieving parent is different. But as for me, I’m not easily upset or offended. People around me say things without thinking and it normally doesn’t bother me. They can talk about their kids annoying them, and I don’t secretly shame them and think, ‘They should be thankful they have kids’. Listen, my kids annoy me sometimes too. It’s life. It’s not perfect, we aren’t perfect. I’m okay with that.
But there is one popular phrase that I just can’t stay silent about any longer.
It’s something I see on memes, t-shirts and coffee mugs. I hear it in conversations around me. It’s become the funny catch phrase of mom’s everywhere. It comes in many forms, but the punch line is usually:
“I kept the kids alive today, go me!”
“Goal: Keep the tiny humans alive”
I get it. There is this whole mommy war/mom guilt culture going on where moms feel pressure to perform and live a Pinterest life. These memes are trying to put the pressure to be perfect to the side and focus on what’s really important in parenting.
But let me tell you, from my angle—these are painful.
The biggest thing I struggle with in my grief is a sense of failure. My job as a mom is to protect my child. And my child died. I know in my head that his death was not because of something I did or did not do. It was not my fault. I know that. But I still struggle with the nagging feeling of failure.
I have hesitated to write this post for so long because I do not want sympathy. (I’ll take prayer any day!), and I do not want to shame really good moms who I have seen jokingly use this phrase.
My aim is simply to make you think twice and make you think deeper.
I mentioned a sense of failure I feel. Failure is directly related to what we believe the goal is. If your goal really is just to keep your kids alive, then share the meme, buy the coffee mug—go all out. But when I look deep inside, that’s not my goal. And I’m willing to bet it’s not really your goal either.
Brian and I have a mutual goal in parenting, and it’s this:
We want our kids to experience a great love.
First, we pray they know the overwhelming love that comes from our Great God.
Then we pray they are secure in an unconditional love from their family, no matter the circumstances around them.
We also want them to display a love for other people and to love and enjoy the beauty of the world around them.
When your goal is for your child to experience love, you can accomplish this no matter how short their life is.
And if you show this love to your children, don’t be ashamed of it and don’t minimize it! In aiming to not shame other moms, I fear that we have gone too far to the other extreme. We are almost afraid to share the really good moments in life because we are afraid of sugar coating our life, or coming across like we have it all together. Let me put your mind at ease: nobody thinks you are perfect all the time. (And if they do, that’s on them—not on you!)
If you think I am perfect all the time, come live in my house for a day. It might not take that long, come visit for a few hours. In that time you will see me lose my patience, you may see me staring at my phone instead of the Lego creation my kid just made. You may find them sitting in front of the TV instead of a book. You may see me eat a piece of chocolate instead of a carrot!
But you will also see me hug and love my kids. You might see me get down on their level and listen to a story they want to share about their day. You could see me work for an hour on a really healthy meal that will nourish my family. And you would be invited to sit with us around the table as we engage in real, meaningful conversation. And I’m not embarrassed about any of this. Because the truth is, you might be inspired to do the same in your own home!
I hope no one ever feels shame or embarrassment that they don’t measure up to the Wright family. Goodness, we should not be a ruler for anyone! But I do pray that our lives point to a God who gives us strength to live an intentional life full of His love.
Sweet struggling mom, I don’t want to call you out, I want to call you up.
I want to challenge you to pray and set some goals for your family that go a little further than just staying alive. Yes this life is hard. There are seasons of survival. I have been there. We have walked through that time. But that is not the season I want to live in forever. And it’s a season you don’t have to live in forever. There is hope. There are glimpses of really good even in the middle of bad. Open your eyes, sweet friend, and give yourself some credit when you see it.
Let’s start now and let’s start here. Comment below and tell me a parenting moment you are proud of or something in life you have succeeded in recently. Don’t do this to show the world how perfect you are, do it to encourage the rest of us.