MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD ANEW: HEALTHY GRIEF

Hello again! This devotional series began as a life group for women at the wonderful church that my husband Joshua and I are so enormously blessed to serve at in full-time ministry. If you’re here online for the first time with me, I’m SO happy and grateful to get to connect with you!

I’d like to be as up front here as I was to our in-person group: The first few devotionals in this series are hard. They’re hard for me to write, and I know they’re hard for some to read. Soul work is the hardest work of all, I believe that 100%.

An ultimate joy of mine would be for women to be fully encouraged and equipped to thrive in their lives! I know this to be the desire of many women, so why isn’t it their reality? One reason is that while the past is over, it doesn’t always feel over. Many women continue to be assailed by memories, compensatory habits, and worries that are triggered by the everyday stresses of life, especially those in marriage and motherhood. It is very natural for many women to suffer for years during marriage or motherhood with a restless background feeling of unresolved pain that keeps cycling back, or erupting in moments of overwhelm.

There’s no pause period between 17 years and 364 days old, and 18 years old. The night before you became a lawful adult no one asked if you were ready for the next stage of life on your own and if you understood and settled everything from the last 18 years. Even if there had been a pause break available, very few 18 year olds are in the headspace to be able to sort out the foundation of their life experience in a maturely measured way, especially if healthy methods of coping were not modeled for them. Usually what happens is that there is a latent season after a girl heads out on her own and the newness of freedom and the excitement of all that lies ahead makes the past feel remedied. New life awaits on your own terms! Marriage and motherhood, however, have ways of bringing the deeply buried issues to the surface, even ones you never realized were there until it boiled over.

Even still, you may be one of the many women who are not only affected by their past, but are also dealing with tense family ties in your present day. It’s difficult to be confident in moving onward in God’s best for your life if you feel tethered to an influence of criticism and continual strain from your childhood relationships.

While no one would desire to live in such a cycle, the time constraints of work and home life responsibilities can make a woman feel like she has no other choice but to just keep dealing with the day to day immediacies of bills, chores, deadlines, and the never ending list of everyone else’s needs. That may be where you are, moving through each day trying to get all the things checked off before the clock runs out. There just doesn’t seem to be the time to set aside to deal with what’s going on inside and you hope that it will just eventually stop coming up over time.

There is a well-intentioned myth that time heals all wounds, but the truth is that only God heals all wounds. This is actually great news because that means that healing doesn’t have to be a waiting game! Time doesn’t actively care about people, so we can’t depend on it to do us much justice. God, however, absolutely cares about you and can completely heal any pain that you lift up to Him! It may still take some time, but it will never take more time that if you left it to time alone!

Healthy grief is not simply rehashing the past. Rehashing only re-injures. Healthy grief is not simply griping about the present. Complaining is the most productive-looking unproductive action.

Healthy grief is a way to identify the roots of struggle that may have been planted in the past during your childhood – or continue damaging effects in your life today – and acknowledge them before the Lord and ask Him for help and healing. I believe that our Lord is more than willing to bring healing because anything that hurts or harms you as His child, grieves Him as well.

In any grief there can be a temptation to want vengeance, to stir up strife, bitterness, wrath, or malice. This is not healthy grief. Healthy grief is holy unto the Lord, blameless and without sin. It is a grief that resists resentment and acting out, in favor of fully trusting God’s sovereignty and wisdom in the happenings – and handlings – of the pains and strains.

Grief is not a sin. Crying is not weakness. Jesus grieved and cried, and was sinless and strong. Grief is healthy if handled biblically. Grieve the disappointment, pain, and sin that happened, or continue to happen to you. Honestly and humbly tell God what you believe you’re up against.

There is a difference between pain and suffering. Past and present life can be painful, but you don’t have to suffer from it. If you let God deal with it, you can experience freedom from suffering. But don’t delay:

  • Deal with it or it will deal with you, possibly for the rest of your life, and even ripple into your children’s lives. Cycles continue until they are broken, like hurricanes that gain strength until landfall.
  • Procrastinating on this will always cost you and your family more later, than what it will cost you to start now.
    • Often procrastination is less about avoiding the task itself than it is about avoiding the feelings associated with the task. Regardless of how beneficial the task is, people tend to delay doing anything that will lead us to have feelings of discomfort, pain, frustration, or inadequacy. Thus, anything from physical exercise to dealing with our past has a higher likelihood of being avoided.
    • Will you procrastinate today, or will you get alone with God and ask Him for healing and freedom from suffering?
  • Regardless of who was or is at fault for your grief, healing is your responsibility, and only you can choose healing for yourself.

Give yourself time and space free of distraction because this is important:

What things from your past burden you in your present? Write out each (for as long as it takes).

Just as you would bear your soul to a dearest trusted friend, talk to God about each burden, and let yourself grieve before Him, knowing that, “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19 ESV

I am praying for you this week; next we will move on together towards the absolute game-changing relief of living in total freedom! Hope to connect again soon!

Someday is Here Podcast

My formal master’s degree is in Epidemiology, which just amounts to me nerding out on the science behind SARS CoV-2 and COVID-19 as much as I’m washing every hand in my house 🦠

It was a privilege to join this special episode of @somedayisherepodcast with host @vivmabuni, for a timely conversation with @eugenecho @helenleebooks @judy.dominick around the social impact of the outbreaks reported origin of China. As a proud USAmerican of East Asian descent, I love my country 🇺🇸, appreciate the compassionate support of many family & friends, and pray we ALL stay well TOGETHER!

Huge gratitude to the kindest of podcast hosts @vivmabuni

http://www.vivianmabuni.com/someday-is-here/2020/3/23/special-episode

MARRIAGE & MOTHERHOOD ANEW: BREAKING PAST CYCLES AND BUILDING A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME FROM SCRATCH

Proverbs 22:6 reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”

Yet, what if you weren’t trained up that way yourself? How can you do for your child(ren) what was not done for you? How can you be what you didn’t, or don’t, have?

Proverbs 14:1 reads, “Every wise woman builds her house…”

Yet, what if the house you came from is broken or shattered in a thousand complicated pieces?

You’re married now and have seen that marriage brings your childhood marriage example to the surface.

You’re a parent now and have seen that parenting brings your childhood parenting example to the surface.

Your deep unconditional love for your child(ren) causes a bitterness to surface in you as you wonder how in the world your parent(s) couldn’t or wouldn’t love you in the same way when you yourself were once upon a time so young and small.

Or despite your deep unconditional love for your child(ren) you can hardly believe that you’re catching yourself doing some of the same things as a parent, that were imposed upon you.

You might be a mother who has no idea what it’s like to call your mother for colic tips, or advice for literally anything. You feel like you have no one to look up to, no one to cheer you on, no one to tell you that they see you doing your best.

It’s like you’ve been awarded the greatest job in world but find yourself in a CEO position without ever having a single internship with an inspirational mentor. This role seems so foreign to you, and you’re tasked with blazing a new path where there are no previous trail markings for the direction you’re wanting to head towards.

Perhaps you find yourself annoyed or discouraged by all the parenting books that don’t seem to account for the fact that motherhood has an additional level of difficulty for you because of what you’ve already walked through, that everything seems harder for you than for the average Pinterest blogger in your feed.

This is a devotional series for mothers who are navigating the unique challenges and opportunities of parenting according to God’s Word, when they were not parented according to God’s Word. This can be anyone from the woman who was raised in an egregiously painful home, to the woman who grew up attending church but rarely saw the sermons playing out at home.

My prayer is that you will know that you are not alone in your experiences, and that God can give you everything you need to be the mother He gifted you to be!

A parent’s impact is undeniable; think of how much – for better or worse – your parents have impacted you. Regardless of present or absent, the impact is there nonetheless. Whether positive or negative, the impact is felt. What happens in years 0-18 has permanent lifelong effects because every experience contributes to brain development.

The easiest time of life should technically be one’s childhood. Ideally, responsibility should incrementally increase, as one grows stronger and more able. Adults can handle heavier weights during exercise. It actually makes one stronger to increase the workload as one increases in stature. A heavy weightlifting workout is out of the question for a young child. They physically cannot bear the weight without injury. It will not make them stronger at all, but it will actually harm them in potentially permanent ways. Children in dysfunctional homes are given adult-level weights before they are mentally, physically, and spiritually able to carry them. They are often chronically injured by a burden that they are unable to healthily bear.

Childhood is the one brief period in life when someone should be given the gentle time to grow before the weight of adult life comes on. For the wife or mother who was raised in a dysfunctional home, this critical early piece of life is missing either partially or entirely. Instead of going from childhood into adulthood she often moves directly from adulthood as a child into adulthood as an adult.

Renowned psychiatrist Robin Berman writes that those raised in healthy homes have a healthy template in their brains that only requires edits and updates. Those without a healthy home do not have such a template, thus they have to re-parent themselves first to create a real time template in their brains as they go. All things home sweet home feel new and uncharted because they truly are.

This may explain why some wives and moms struggle with a constant inner conflict in their heads, second-guessing their every decision of what is truly healthy versus what was normal for them growing up.

Thankfully, God designed our brains to be neuroplastic. It was previously thought that the brain has a fixed number of cells and pathways for a lifetime. We now know for certain that our brains can grow new cells, form new pathways, and transform!

God has brought you this far, and will never forsake you.

Philippians 1:6 reads, “[God] who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

Isaiah 42:16: “And I will lead the blind in paths that they have not known in a way that they do not know, I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”

Think of how neat it is if you don’t have a template, to be able to build something custom from the ground up with God’s help!

You choose whether your past sinks you or shapes you. You can either stay behind your past or your past can stay behind you. You cannot always control what befalls you. You can control whether you climb over it, making your history the building blocks for you to stand taller and higher each time you rise above. So in some ways adversity can make you all the stronger and not weaker, IF we approach it that way. 

God gives us the choice, so that means it IS possible and we CAN. 

In Judges 6:25-27 Gideon pulled down the idol altar that his father had built. You can break the cycle and a new path can begin with you! Whether or not you had godly parents and a great family experience, you can BE a godly parent and have a great family experience!

Know that nothing is wasted with God. It doesn’t mean that you’re happy that your childhood was unhappy, or that we’d choose to repeat the past all over again. It means that we can relieve ourselves of any shame, frustration, or feelings of wasted years and tears. We can even find value in the cautionary lessons we have learned.

The following devotionals in the coming weeks will be spilt between two categories:

BREAKING DOWN and BUILDING UP

Much of re-parenting oneself is about unlearning, relearning, and rewiring by practice. We can’t build a home without clearing the land first. If you rush to rebuild upon the cracked foundation of your past in an effort to quickly cover the wounds and expedite the healing process, all that you build up is still balancing only upon the temporary stability of that cracking foundation. In order to break past cycles, you must clearly identify them and address them first, and then you can move onward in marriage and motherhood anew!

BREAKING DOWN involves addressing your past by:

  • Processing grief and living out forgiveness
  • Deconstructing unhealthy patterns
  • Reframing the past in light of God’s love for you

BUILDING UP your future involves:

  • Claiming your calling and legacy as a mother
  • Building and maintain healthy relationships and boundaries {immediate, extended, and estranged family and friends}
  • Prioritizing your wellness {spiritual, emotional, mental, physical health and stress management}

Before the devotional posts start, here are a few questions, and Scripture verses that I hope will encourage you until next time:

Where was God during your childhood?

Proverbs 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

Does God care about your childhood?

Psalms 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.”

Ps 27:10 “For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.”

How was your childhood in relation to God’s Word?

How has your childhood affected you?