I Can’t Control My Ambivalence

I Can’t Control My Ambivalence

It’s a fluid situation. The reporter covering the Jan. 28th HPD shootout kept repeating that phrase. In between phone calls with our friends who work for HPD we were glued to the coverage. It went on for hours. Finally, when we knew our friends were safe and no new information had come in for a while I had to turn it off. We went outside and played until it was our son’s bedtime. Then my husband and I stayed up and continued to watch the coverage. The next day when my husband went to work, our son cried while we waved bye and his dad drove away to work the night shift. Later that night, we prayed for his dad’s safety like we always do. Afterward, my son looked at me and asked, “are we safe?” My heart broke into a million pieces. For the first time, my son understood the brokenness of the world we live in. Confidently, I looked at him and said, “Yes, of course, we are.” Although at that moment it was true, it felt like a lie. Every night his dad has worked since, my son, my sweet sweet son, has asked me the same question. Every time it feels like a lie to say yes because I just don’t know. I don’t know what his dad is doing, if he is safe, and if he will come home in the morning. Every time it breaks my heart because I think my son knows this too. He is three. I thought we had more time.

Law enforcement isn’t easy. It isn’t easy on the officer and it isn’t easy on the family. We knew this. Yet, it was the life we chose together. After he got out of the military, my husband got a desk job at a bank. He was miserable. Although it was a good job, good hours, good benefits, with yearly pay raises and bonuses, he knew his life’s calling was not to be a banker. I did too. When he decided to become a police officer, I backed him 100%. I still do. After all, we did meet in college, where we both majored in criminal justice. Public service is important and entrained in both of us. Doing it from the front lines is where he feels most alive and where he thrives. Being a police officer is so much more to him than a profession. It is a calling. His calling. Me, on the other hand, my experience in juvenile probation opened the door to my calling. Social work. As a social worker, I will work with clients to help them overcome the ambivalence in their lives and help them to move towards change. I can’t wait to get started. Except, I can’t seem to resolve my own. Ambivalence is feeling two ways about something. There are many things in life a person could feel two ways about. For me, I am ambivalent about being a Law Enforcement Wife (LEOW) and family. My thoughts and feelings about this life we chose are ever changing. As the reporter put it, it is a fluid situation.

It is being immensely proud to be the wife of a police officer while also being immensely scared to be the wife of a police officer. It is telling your son that his father is safe while also knowing that his father may not be safe. It is wanting to know all the details of the things he does and sees on shift while also not wanting to know any details because the details make it real. It is missing him at night while also getting used to sleeping alone. It is hating him working extra jobs and overtime while also knowing those extra jobs and overtime are what has allowed you to stay home with your son and go back to school the past two years. It’s knowing he is doing such important work while also wishing he wasn’t missing all the important things happening at home. It’s knowing he is so tired while also hoping he won’t sleep all day. It’s wanting to share our life on social media while also having to make sure we don’t post anything too personal. It’s seeing friends and some family members post negative messages and knowing not everyone has had positive encounters with police while also trying to convince myself the post wasn’t a personal attack on my family. It’s wanting to text him about our evening while choosing not to do it because I know it’s a distraction. It’s wanting to be the fun parent while also understanding he wants to just enjoy his limited amount of time with his son. It’s knowing he loves our family more than anything in the world while also knowing he will go every time the phone rings.

During Hurricane Harvey, it was him asking me to take our son and evacuate so he wouldn’t have to worry about our safety on top of everything else. It’s knowing leaving was the best thing to do, what he needed, while also not wanting to drive away. It was being thankful to be in Austin, safe and with my family, while also feeling so helpless and wishing I was back home. It’s being so proud he spent the hurricane helping others and saving lives while also wishing that hurricane rescue wasn’t in his job description. It was waiting up with a friend and fellow LEOW to hear if it was her husband who was missing and presumed dead. It was being so relieved and grateful when we finally heard it wasn’t him while also feeling so much guilt and grief because it was someone else’s husband.

A couple of months later, it was getting the phone call in the middle of the night saying there has been a shooting. It is again being so relieved to hear, “I’m okay” while in the next breath being racked with guilt when he said, “but someone is dead.” It is wanting to support my husband and the other officers involved while constantly updating the news about the shooting scared the media fallout will land on our family. It’s being happy when the news stopped covering it while also being outraged the news dropped the story the minute eye witness interviews revealed the person shot had a gun. It’s feeling vindicated when all the investigations deemed this shooting to be justified while also knowing not all police shootings are.

It’s being scared my husband might be killed on the job while being even more scared he might have to kill someone else in order to come home. It’s wanting to help him process the horrors he deals with on a daily basis while also knowing I can’t relate to him. It’s trying to figure out how to help him while also trying to figure out how to process everything myself. It’s hoping he will always make the right decision while knowing he only has split seconds to decide. It’s reminding him to see the good in people while knowing he sees most people when they are at their worst. It’s hoping and praying he keeps a positive outlook on the world but knowing and seeing it has already started to fade. It’s knowing my husband is a good honest man and honorable police officer who takes the responsibility he has been given very seriously while also knowing not all police officers do. It’s wanting to believe he is Superman while knowing he is just a human man in a uniform and vest.

I can’t control my ambivalence. It will always be there. It will always be fluid. Maybe because there is no change I can work towards. This is the gig. This is what we actively chose to do as a profession and a family. Knowing it won’t get better but it might get worse. Choosing it because we know this is the life God called us to have. Although I feel ambivalent about a lot of things surrounding this life I am not ambivalent about that. I know this is the profession my husband was called to do and as his wife, this is the life our family was called to lead. So, I have no other choice but to embrace my ambivalence and know God will give me what I need when I need it. Most days all I need is the inner strength to smile while I tell my son we are safe and that he will see his dad in the morning. Other days, I need the energy and the courage to attend yet another birthday party, social function, or tee ball game alone (shoutout to single parents you guys are the true heroes). Everyday I need God’s grace.

Although I can’t control my ambivalence and I know our life could always be this uncertain and fluid, I can rest in the fact there is so much beauty in our chaos and there is solid ground in God.

*There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. John 15:13*

Happy Monday Y’all! Today starts my last week before I start my final internship this summer. After graduation, I head back to work. So, this is one of my last Monday’s of being on my own schedule. So, I’m spending the day catching up and planning for the months ahead. As a control freak, I am a planner. It is one of my best qualities but also one of my worst. It is one of my best because I rarely go into things unprepared. It is one of my worst qualities because I overthink things and it makes it hard for me to be spontaneous. I continue to work on being more balanced. In the meantime, I am enjoying today and giving myself some good vibes while I plan for success in all the exciting times ahead. What are your good Monday vibes?

I Can’t Control What Other People Say

I Can’t Control What Other People Say

When I was 8 months pregnant, I attended a close friends wedding. It was cold and I was huge so I wasn’t my usual life of the party self.  Thankfully, there were two other pregnant women there and we clung together the entire wedding. Not only because we were all in the same proverbial boat but because let’s be honest, we were the only three sober people. For two of us, it was our first pregnancy and for the other mom, it was her third. We spent the evening talking “shop” and asking her all the questions pregnant women ask mother’s who have come before them. About halfway through the reception, we were talking while our husband’s ordered some drinks. This is when it happened. Regrettably, I opened my mouth and said, “So, was this baby planned?” Without a beat and straight-faced she responded, “Yup, we aborted all the other babies who weren’t planned.”  My jaw about dropped to the floor and I stood there speechless. Although I couldn’t pull it together to speak, I heard exactly what she meant, “It doesn’t matter if this baby was planned or not, it’s none of your business, and you shouldn’t ask such stupid questions.” While I was still standing there dumbfounded, she laughed and said, “we are just so tired of people asking us that question so we came up with this response to shock people.” We laughed and after I apologized I told her the statement had its intended effect. It was equal parts shocking and telling. We laughed some more. When the guys got their drinks we went our separate ways. Later, when we were alone, I recounted the story to my husband and said, “Can you believe she said that?”

A few months later, I gave birth and joined countless women in this journey we call motherhood. The past three years have been such a wonderful experience as I have learned how to navigate the world as a new mom. But, throughout these years the same scenario and phrase seem to play on repeat. I’ll come home or look up from my phone and recount a story to my husband and say, “Can you believe she said that?” Now, I’ll be fair. Sometimes, I’ll say “Can you believe he said that?” But, more often than not, it is another woman who has said something outrageous or has asked me something that was none of their business. Either way, my husband always has the same response. He says, “Well, what did you say in return?” My response to him is also always the same, “Nothing.”

For the past three years, I never said anything in response to the countless inconsiderate statements said and questions asked of me. For example, I didn’t say anything in response to the mom who said my c-section wasn’t a real birth because it wasn’t natural. I didn’t say anything to the many moms who bragged about how easy and joyful breastfeeding was for them after I had just shared my breastfeeding struggles. I didn’t say anything to the mom who said my son was chunky because he was formula fed. I didn’t say anything when someone said I had changed for the better. I didn’t say anything when someone else said I had changed for the worse. I didn’t say anything to my supervisor who said my son was sickly and my daycare was horrible after I had called in sick to work, again. Later, I didn’t say anything to the same supervisor when she talked behind my back to a co-worker and told this co-worker how she was so much better off than me because her mother watches her son which means her child doesn’t have to go to daycare and she doesn’t have to miss as much work. I just held in my hurt feelings and quit that job.  

The comments and questions didn’t stop when I became a stay at home mom. They just changed. They started being about my plans to return to work after I finished school. Everyone had an opinion on what I should or shouldn’t do. Yet, I never said anything in return. Recently, I haven’t said anything to the hundreds of people, even strangers, who ask when we are going to have a second child. Usually, I just shrug my shoulders and choke back tears. They don’t know we just had a miscarriage. They don’t know our second child was supposed to be born next month. So, I don’t say anything. Right after the miscarriage, I didn’t say anything in return when people offered half support by saying, “At least you have one perfect child.” What do you say to that? Sadly, I didn’t even say anything in return when my husband started to make subtle comments last month such as, “we should have had our second child by now” or “we bought this house to put two children in it.” He does know our second child was supposed to be born next month so in my confusion I say nothing.

I wish I was as quick-witted as my friend at the wedding. I wished I had a response statement prepared which shocks yet also conveys; that was rude and hurtful or it’s not okay to ask that. I’ve always been taught if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Why does it feel like I am the only one playing by the rules? Instead, I give a polite response and just hold the rest in. In some ways it is good. It has helped me to realize who my true friends are. To know which moms are in my #momtribe. It has helped me to set boundaries where they have been needed. It has helped me to learn to let go of expectations. But, doing these things hasn’t stopped the questions or taken away the sting of the statements. Last week my husband said something truly outrageous. Just like at the wedding, the statement left me jaw dropped and stunned. Later that evening at bible study, I opened up about how hurt I am over these unexpected subtle comments. Doesn’t he know how hurtful it is? A trusted friend and fellow miscarriage mom said, “have you ever thought these comments aren’t about you but about him?” Hmmm, I thought. She went on, “maybe HE is thinking about the miscarriage and this is how HE is trying to express himself?” At that moment, a lightbulb of clarity was lit. Honestly, up until then, I had never thought someone’s comments or questions had been about them and not me. Instead, I have let everyone’s words trigger my innermost insecurities and allowed them to cut me so deeply.

I can’t control what other people say. It is obvious that people, even me, will say rude and hurtful things or ask unwanted questions. However, I can stop letting these comments and questions trigger and feed into my deepest insecurities. I can stop allowing them to make me feel less than, different, and rejected. I can stop telling myself lies and using other people’s words as confirmation. Instead, I can #liveloved by accepting God’s love and acceptance. I can believe God’s truth that I am enough. I can look for the real meaning of the person’s comments.  I can then use it as an opportunity to open up a dialogue. It works. I’ve tried it.

Armed with my new outlook and insight, I waited for an opportunity to talk with my husband. Last Sunday, it came on the way to church. He made a comment about his upcoming birthday and how he’s starting to feel his age. He was talking about his job. The law enforcement and night shift lifestyle are meant for the young, yet I used it as an opportunity to bring up his recent comments about a second baby. I said, “Is this why you have been making all these comments about how we should have had a second child by now because you are feeling older?” He thought for a second and responded, “Yes, I guess so.” After that, we were able to have an open, honest, and meaningful conversation about everything. Probably, the most productive conversation we have had since the miscarriage. If I hadn’t been able to look past my insecurities to find the meaning of his comments, I would still be stuck with the pain of his and countless other comments or questions. I’m so glad I allowed God to heal my hurt and I chose to dig myself out from under the burden of old patterns of saying nothing.

The funny thing is, I started this blog post as a way to tell others to be kind and sensitive in their questions and comments. I was going to say something along the lines of, You never know what someone is going through so tread lightly. Or, what is best for your family isn’t best for mine. BUT, I am no longer going to do that. Don’t get me wrong, we all should be cognizant of what we say to others especially women. If I have learned anything through this blog journey, it is that so many women have gone through the silent struggles of infertility and the comments and questions do cut deep. But instead of asking everyone to keep their questions and comments to themselves or remind everyone of the Golden rule, I am going to say this. Bring on the comments. Ask me the question. The words can no longer hurt me. Yet, they will give me an opportunity to let go of control, accept God’s fullness, defeat my insecurities, and speak my truth (sidenote: if you just got my reference you are my people) More importantly, it will give me the opportunity to open up a dialogue and trust that God has a purpose for our conversation.  

Happy Mother’s Day to all mother’s with living and heavenly children. Live Loved.

“Don’t get so consumed by and focused on the mess—the feelings of rejection, hurt, and disillusionment—that you miss the miracle.”

Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely

Therapy and the Church by: Kaitlyn Thompson, LMSW

I have had such a great response to my latest blog post, I can’t control the Church, I decided to forgo my previously scheduled blog for today and share a related blog post written by my friend, Kaitlyn Thompson, LMSW. Kaitlyn is a fellow Christian, fellow police wife, and fellow social worker. As such, she and I share many of the same sentiments which is why I would like to highlight her blog today!

Kaitlyn is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and she is currently in the process of obtaining her clinical social work license, LCSW. She currently works at Cultivating Changes LLC, a local private counseling practice. Through her private practice, she writes a blog to bring awareness and knowledge regarding relevant mental health issues. This specific blog post shines a light on the controversial topic of therapy and the church. It is an honest and open post regarding the struggles Christian’s face when dealing with emotional distress or mental illness. I hope it resonates with all of you as much as it did with me. You can read Kaitlyn’s blog, Therapy and the Church by clicking on the title. If you like what you read, consider following Kaitlyn’s blog! Stay tuned for my next blog post titled, I Can’t Control What Other People Say. It won’t disappoint. Have a great weekend everyone!

I Can’t Control the Church

When I was in 9th grade, I got kicked out of church camp. My dad showed up out of the blue to take me home and I had no idea what I had done or why I was being kicked out. Before my dad was called, no adult church leader had told me I was being kicked out of camp, told me what my church camp infraction was, or asked for my side of the story. My very disappointed father just showed up and a very surprised and confused me got into the car again with no official word from anyone about what had happened. After several hours of parental grilling, my parents understood that I truly did not know what I had done wrong, and they began to seek the answers to our many questions. Before I go further, let me provide some insight. I grew up in the church. My family religiously (pun intended) attends church every Sunday. On top of attending church weekly, I also attended Sunday school, Sunday evening youth group, church camps, mission trips, summer outreach programs, and other church activities throughout the year. I had attended private school or a private homeschool program until I was in the 6th grade. Outside of school and extracurricular activities, my social life revolved around church and church related activities. This particular church camp was a co-ed high school retreat and the topic of biblical discussion was Gossip. How as Christians, we shouldn’t engage or condone gossip. It was a relevant topic given it was directed at high schoolers but I had no idea how ironic the topic would become. I was excited to be there. Friends from church whom I had grown up would be there and I had some friends from my public high school who also attended. It was supposed to be a weekend of biblical guidance and  fellowship. I had been on other co-ed church retreats before, so I was well aware of the rules regarding contact between male and female participants and I had always adhered to them. After my parents demanded answers regarding my church camp transgressions, it was revealed that an adult leader had seen me and a male friend from school walking around the campsite alone together. She saw what appeared to look like us walking into the woods alone together. Upon seeing this, she assumed that we went into the woods to engage in prohibited male/female activities (you get the picture) and began to gossip about me and this assumed behavior to the other leaders and students at the camp. This gossip ultimately made its way to the youth group leader who decided I should be removed from camp without ever talking to either me or my friend about the situation. This was my first experience with overt Christian hypocrisy. To say the least, it was a devastating personal attack and at most it was a huge blow to my identity which was directly intertwined with the church.

To be clear, no illicit type of contact or behavior had taken place at any time during this church camp retreat. In fact, we didn’t even go into the woods together. I had made us turn around because I knew it would have been inappropriate. Honestly, at this point in my life, I hadn’t kissed or even dated a boy. Now, I will admit that I have always been an outgoing person who never had a problem talking with people of the opposite sex so walking around church camp with a friend, who happened to be a boy, didn’t seem like a big deal. My parents believed me and advocated on my behalf to the church. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to clear my name. This boy had to come forward and tell the youth group leaders that nothing had happened between us. After he did only one adult leader, a parent volunteer, apologized. The apology was in private and in secret. Not one official church leader apologized and there was no formal or public apology which told the entire youth group of my peers that I wasn’t the type of girl they had been told I was. Even though I was allowed to rejoin the youth group, the damage to my personal self-esteem and church reputation was already done. I was no longer the accepted sister in Christ that I was promised to be as a part of God’s people. This was my second experience in overt Christian hypocrisy. It had an equally devastating effect.

After this, I was embarrassed to show my face at church. In a place that used to be an extension of my home and my family, now was the place where I had been judged and shunned. Even though I had done nothing wrong, I felt ashamed. Needless to say, church was no longer the place I wanted to spend my free time. My parents understood but our family values still required me to attend church every Sunday. Thankfully, as soon as I was old enough to drive, my parents agreed to a compromise. I would attend formal Sunday morning church with my family and then I got in my car and drove down the street to another church’s youth group. I attended this youth group, made some friends, joined a weekly bible study, and went on mission trip. It was a much more enjoyable experience but I didn’t do those things out of my desire to be in fellowship with God and fellow Christians. I did it out of obligation and ALWAYS kept myself guarded.

In my personal life, I unconsciously decided to let this event define me. Up to this point in my life, I had always strived to be the good Christian girl I was raised to be. Yet, I still had received all the stigma of a label without any of the fun. So I did what most teenagers do when they are given a negative label, I let it become a self fulfilling prophecy. I started rebelling, dating, drinking alcohol, and at times I put myself in unsafe situations. These experiences perpetuated my low-self esteem and shame. When I left home for college, I also left behind my obligations to the Christian faith and especially the church. College was one experiment of worldly pleasures after another. Don’t get me wrong, it was A LOT of fun, but when the party was over, I was left with the hangover of years of bad decisions, inner emptiness, and, yup you guessed it, shame. I had also racked up some external consequences. After receiving my third Minor in Possession of Alcohol ticket, I knew things had to change. I decided get control over my life, to reign in my behavior, and become the responsible and pro-social adult I was raised to be. I did those things, but I didn’t return to my faith.

Shortly after, I started dating a friend who is now my wonderful husband. I used to tell him he saved me from myself. At the time, I truly believed that. He was (and still is) a solid object in the chaos of my life. For the first time someone, outside my family, loved me unconditionally past and all. He never did and still has never made me feel unworthy of his love. To this day, he is the love of my life, my partner, and my best friend. He is the most trustworthy, respectable, and loyal person I have ever met. We have seen each other through the good, the bad, the fun, the ugly, and some really hard times. Together we have built a life, a support system, and a family. We both got great jobs. And we both have taken turns supporting the other when we decided to change careers, chase our dreams, and fulfill our purpose. Together, we take on the world. Together, we have thrived. I wouldn’t trade our marriage, our partnership, for anything in the world. But, he didn’t save me. Those feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and shame, started to creep back into my soul (See my previous blog post regarding my love language). I felt lost. I had changed my life around. I had gotten a good job helping kids, not just any kids but at youth involved in the criminal justice system. You know those kids with labels, those kids most people judge and shun (I digress, that is a blog topic for another day). I had made all the right decisions. What was missing? Feeling restless and discontented, I remembered a bible verse from my childhood. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Knowing what I needed but no idea where to start, I went to the place where I know God resides, church.

Miles away from my hometown, my childhood church, and miles apart from the girl I was once, I went to church because I wanted to. Because, I was looking for something and I remembered a time when church felt like home. I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love, I just knew I needed it. I still wasn’t sure about it all, so I went alone and sat in the back. To my surprise, this church taught about Jesus’s love, acceptance, and restoration. Its message was about being a place where sinners could come, feel safe, and hear the gospel. I kept going. It stressed joining a small group so reluctantly I did. It was just what I needed. What I had been looking for. Just as God had placed my husband in my life right when I needed him, God had now placed Godly, yet imperfect women, in my group. These women shared their struggles, their desires, their lives, all their imperfections, their insecurities, and their Godliness with me. We connected and they accepted me, my past and current imperfections, as a fellow sister in Christ. It broken down my walls and reopened my soul to the possibilities of finding fulfillment by living a life dedicated to following Christ. I rededicated my life to Christ and began searching for his meaning and purpose for my life. But, I kept it to myself. You see, long ago I had vowed to NEVER be the type of Christian who had hurt me so badly. I never wanted to be the type of Christian, the hypocrite, who claims to be a Christian, claims to understand Christ’s love, dresses in their Sunday best each week, and uses the bible to shame, hurt, and condemn people. I didn’t even want to be perceived as a hypocrite and there is absolutely no way I could be the perfect Christian, so I kept it all to myself. But over the past four years, through biblical guidance at church, through the women and studies in my small group, I have grown in my understanding of God, Jesus, and how imperfect Christians, such as myself, are an extension of Christ in the church.

I can’t control the church. I can’t control what the leaders and the people who make up the church do, say, or how they act. I can’t control how this story, my story, will be perceived especially by other Christians. I can’t control how people will view me after I share it. And for the first time, I’m okay with it. Because I now know that my identify as a Christian isn’t with the church or with other people; It is with Christ. As a Christian, I have a personal relationship with Christ. I believe that God created the world and all its inhabitants. I believe that God has a unique plan and purpose for all things. I believe God is Holy and Just. I believe that God condemns sin. I believe that Because God is holy and just he can’t be close to people who sin. I believe that God wants to be close to us so he sent his son, Jesus, to live as a human on earth. I believe that Jesus lived a perfect life. I believe that Jesus was crucified and died on the Cross. I believe that three days later he rose from the dead. I believe that Jesus started the Christian faith and the Christian church. I believe Jesus saves and restores. I believe that by accepting Jesus as my personal Christ and savior and repenting my sins it makes me a Christian and ensures that I will go to Heaven when I die. I believe in the trinity which means I believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, are one. I believe that God gave Christians guiding moral principles and commandments which to live by. I believe all of these things to be truth in my life. Because I believe these things, Jesus has saved me. He restored my broken, ashamed, and restless soul and replaced it with peace, joy, contentment, and purpose.

However, I won’t pretend my life is perfect. I know that I am not now nor will I ever be a perfect person or be a perfect Christian. I know that I am still a sinner. I know that I have to continually repent my sins. Sometimes, multiple times a day. I love Jesus but often I fall short of living out his perfect image. Sometimes, I let the pressures and the stress of my day to day life overwhelm me. Sometimes, I don’t have faith in God’s purpose and try to control everything. Sometimes, I still try to find fulfillment in worldly things. Sometimes, I still fall down a shame spiral (see my recent blog post about my son peeing the bed) Sometimes, I curse. Sometimes, I drink (responsibly). Sometimes, I get upset at my husband, my son, and other members of my family. Sometimes, I’m selfish. Sometimes, I have talked bad about people. Sometimes, I have even engaged in gossip. And it pains me to admit it but sometimes, I am a hypocrite. Still, I go to church. Sometimes, I show up in my Sunday best and blow it before I get out of the parking lot. Yet, I get up the next Sunday and go again. Now, with my family and I sit closer to the front. I don’t go because I am perfect, if I was I wouldn’t need Jesus or the church. I go to church because I need the weekly biblical guidance, weekly scripture reading, weekly corporate worship, weekly restoration, and I go because I can feel God there. I go because I now understand that the church isn’t what hurt me so badly. It wasn’t Jesus who had judged and shunned me. It was people. People can hurt, judge, and exile others but Jesus never does. People let other people down but Jesus never does. People are hypocrites but Jesus never is. People, even Christians, are imperfect but Jesus WAS perfect. People can’t act as the go between God and his people but Jesus can. People can’t save but Jesus can and he did. Which is why I choose to forgive the people who hurt me all those years ago. I choose to let go of the hurt and the shame that followed and accept that it was and it still is an important part of my faith journey. Because if I hadn’t been hurt so badly by Christians, I never would have left the church. And if I hadn’t left the church, I would have never known how much I NEED Jesus.

Today is Good Friday. The day that Christians remember and reflect on what Jesus did to save us on the Cross. Easter weekend is the pinnacle holiday of the Christian faith, my faith. On Easter Sunday, Christians across the world will go to church to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It is also the weekend that some, non-church goers, complimplate going to church. Some will go because that is what you do on Easter Sunday. But others will chose not to go. Maybe because they had a similar experience with the church or a with a Christian. If you have, I’m so sorry. But please don’t do what I did and accept the actions of an imperfect person to be God’s truth and Jesus’s love. That is not how Jesus intended his church or his people to be. Jesus spent his time on earth with sinners and with the lost. He didn’t shun or condemn them. He loved and taught them and because of this they chose to repent their sins and follow him. By doing so, they chose to adopt God’s biblical guidelines and purpose for their lives. By doing so, they lived out Jesus’ mission, spread the gospel, and started the Christian church. By doing so, they were persecuted. Leaving behind the church, and its imperfect people, to continue the mission. So it is on this mission that I share my story. My story isn’t pretty or perfect and sharing it isn’t easy. It is vulnerable and scary. But, it is real and authentic just like my faith. As is my invitation to you to join the Easter celebration by going to church. Where, yes some other imperfect people will be, but also where the message of the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace and love can be found. If you are local, I invite you to come to my church, Clear Creek Community Church. You can look up the many services and times here: https://www.clearcreek.org/events/details/2019/04/21/easter-all-campuses-3/. Happy Easter, He is RISEN!

I Can’t Control My Son Peed the Bed

I might have mentioned it before…but my did you know my husband works nights? Well, he does. Which means on most evenings my son and I do the nighttime routine just me and him. We have it down. We rarely deviate from it. Which is great for him; children thrive on routines. After three years,for me it can sometimes be mundane and lonely (take a look at last week’s blog on my love language). For weeks, two of my friends and I had been trying to plan a girls night out but could never settle on a date which worked for all three of us. Then one of my friends suggested that they come over to my house on a night my husband was working so we could have a girls night in. I wasn’t sure. I had never had friends over in the evening. The evenings are my son’s and I sacred time, our nightly routine. Reluctantly, I agreed. One night won’t hurt. The following Thursday they came over after my son had taken his bath but before his bedtime. I put on the Lion King for my son and he danced around in the kitchen with us three as we drank wine, talked, and laughed. I let my son stay up later than usual. When he was ready for bed, I let him lay down in my bed. Instead of laying with him, as is our routine, I turned on my tv for him and let him fall asleep to Paw Patrols. He LOVED it. The girls and I stayed up talking about life. We laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was a great girls night in. After they left, I was too tired to transfer my son to his bed so I just got in bed with him. I laid my head on the pillow, filled with joy and wondering why I had been reluctant to deviate from our usual bedtime routine. A few hours later, I woke up to my son crying that he was all wet. He had peed the bed. My bed. UGH.

My mind sprung into action. It started telling me all that I had done wrong. I was selfish for having friends over. I had deviated from the routine. I was a horrible mother. He peed the bed to punish me for not following the routine. Overwhelmed by the shame, I decided my redemption could wait until after I had my coffee. During which time, my husband came home from work. He asked me what happened to the bed. I confidently said, Oh, he peed in the bed. I’ll have it cleaned up in no time. I just wanted to get some coffee first. I do that a lot. I speak confidently and act cool, calm, and collected while my mind goes on the attack. This time my mind started saying, he must be mad at me. How could I have friends over while my husband worked last night. I’m so selfish. How could I let our son pee in our bed. Not only and I a horrible mother but I’m also a horrible wife. It went on like this for hours. Long after I had cleaned everything up, washed and dried the sheets, and restored the bed to it is normal condition. My mind continued to berated me on repeat. And I let it. UGH.

Negative self talk. It creeps up on me daily. I say things to myself that I would never let other people say to me. Things I would never say to other people. I believe them. It demolishes my self-worth. It makes me take things personal. Because, it makes me think everything is my fault. It makes me react negatively to everyday situations. I assume other people think them about me. How could they not? Afterall, they are true… right?

Except they aren’t true. There is a clinical term for negative thought patterns. They are called cognitive distortions. I have spent two years learning about them. Learning how to recognize them in others. Learning how to help others overcome them. Until I went to counseling, I didn’t realize I had them myself. I do. UGH.

I can’t control that my son peed the bed. He is 3 and potty training. It happens. However, I can control how I treat myself when unexpected things happen. I can apply what I have learned to help others to myself. I can give myself grace. I can give myself affirmations. I can tell myself I am a good mother. I am good wife. It is okay to have a girls night in once every three years. I can practice mindfulness. I can do Yoga. I can use essential oils which foster positivity and clarity of mind. I can tell myself I am loved by a God who created me and loves me no matter how imperfect I am. No matter how many times my son pees the bed. I can stop these thoughts when they come into my mind and ask God to help me flip my own script. I’ve been working on it. Unfortunately, I’ve been practicing negative self talk for 33 years, my negative thought patterns won’t change over night. It will take consistency. Consistently filling myself up with God’s love by praying and being in his word. Consistently affirming myself daily. Consistently practicing mindfulness and doing yoga. Consistently write this blog because writing helps me to put logic to my thoughts. Consistently go to counseling. It has to become routine. Second nature. Or else the negative self talk, these cognitive distortions, will continue to rule my mind and ruin my day. Just as my son thrives with our nighttime routine, I can thrive with the routine of speaking kindly to myself no matter the circumstances. Oh I almost forgot, I can and I did, put a tv in my son’s room. Hallelujah!

I know I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to other mothers, other women. We do this to ourselves a lot. For lots of different reasons. Let’s flip our script. Find things that fill you up with positivity and speak kindly to yourself.

I Can’t Control My Love Language

My husband and I met in college in criminal courts and procedures class. I had previously met him through a mutual friend, so on the first day of class when I saw him I decided to sit by him. A few weeks later, I invited him to study group. We became friends and started hanging out outside of class. Later that summer, we had summer school classes in the same building. One day I suggested we should go running together after class. We did and running through the hill country trail which ended at the famous San Marcos Sewell Park became our summer morning ritual. One day, in the middle of our run, we ran into a friend of his who seemed surprised to see him running. After a couple minutes of small talk his friend said, “I guess you are into two a days”. I was puzzled but at the time didn’t say anything. Later when I finally asked him about it, he told me him and his friend had been getting up every morning at 5:00am to run and train for their summer deployment. When I asked him why we would agree to run with me again only a couple hours later, he simply said, because you asked me to. Even though we weren’t yet dating, this was the first time I realized my husband loved me. We no longer run together through the sprawling hills of San Marcos. Let’s be honest, I couldn’t keep up then and I for sure couldn’t keep up now. Despite giving up our college ritual, my husband has never stopped demonstrating how much he loves me. He demonstrates his love through service. He is constantly serving me, our son, our dogs, our family. He cleans the house, he cooks meals, he tends to the yard, all while also putting his life on the line and serving his community as a police officer. I have never once heard him complain about any of it. He enjoys doing those things. He enjoys showing his love through his acts of service to others. Although he has never waived in his love and service to me, I don’t always feel loved by him. In fact, knowing someone loves you and feeling loved by them are two different things.

Although we both graduated with criminal justice degrees, after college my husband didn’t go into law enforcement. He went the opposite direction and took a job at a bank. I took a job as a probation officer and we settled into regular life of working during the day and spending evenings together. Four years later, my husband decided he wanted to change careers and become a police officer, I wasn’t surprised. I knew a desk job wasn’t fulfilling to him.  When he decided to do it, I was 100% on board with the decision. When he got hired on to a police department, we were thrilled he had finally landed his dream job. Life was good, but not for long. This decision had some unintended consequences.

Shortly after him becoming a police officer, he started working longer hours and different shifts. I still worked my day job so we saw each other less and less. We would rarely spend time together. For the first time, I was alone in the evenings and at night. Although I knew he loved me, I started to feel unloved and lonely. I didn’t know what had changed. He hadn’t changed. I hadn’t changed. But the way I felt in our marriage had changed. After several months of feeling this way, we had an argument where, in anger, I blurted out, “I feel you don’t love me anymore.” Offended by my accusation, he replied back with, “Everything I do is for you. I don’t see how you don’t get it.” It went round and round like this until we were too upset and too hurt to go on. We decided to agree to disagree. Misunderstood by him, I recounted this story to friends actually complaining about how much he cooks and cleans, Some thought I was crazy, but several of them suggested I read the book, The 5 Love Languages.

I did and I found out my love language is quality time. Which means, I receive and feel love by spending quality time with people. I crave and need quality time with my husband, my son, my friends, and my family. If I don’t get what I perceive to be quality time from them, I don’t feel loved. I have learned quality time means something different to everyone. It meant something different to both my husband and I. It has several different meanings in my family. To me, quality time means spending uninterrupted time together. It means prioritizing being together over anything else. If you hadn’t guessed, my husband’s love language is acts of service. After learning this about ourselves and each other, we were able to have a rational conversation about what we needed from the other person in order to feel loved. We have each had to work on it. I have had to learn how to serve my husband more. Which I can be honest, I am not the best at. On the other hand, he has had to learn how to stop doing things and just spend time with me. We have had to schedule nights where we sit down and do nothing else except talk to each other. Sometimes, it is hard for him but he does it because knows I need it. Learning our love languages and applying them to our relationship was a game changer and a life-saver to our marriage but life soon changed. After becoming a full time working mom, I craved to have quality time as a family. Our opposite work schedules limited this. After many discussions, we decided I would quit working and I would stay home for a couple years while I completed my graduate degree. We now enjoy family days during the week. My husband and I have reconnected and have enjoyed a lot of quality time. My son and I have quality time in abundance. Life should be all good right? For the most part it is. There are so many things I love about being home but I still feel something is missing. What is that saying, the grass is always greener on the other side?

Currently, I am a stay at home mother, police wife, and online graduate student. The days my son goes to pre-school, I spend behind a computer. My family doesn’t live down the street. We are spread out across the country. My closests friends live several hours away. I no longer work, so I don’t have a set of co-workers to go to lunch with and discuss our shared experiences everyday. I miss that. I long to go back to work. I do friends. It’s hard to find time to hang out. When we do, I talk about myself the entire time. Who wants to hang out with a person like that? I have other stay at home mom friends but we don’t have playdates every day because… well life. Kids gets sick, then we get sick, our husbands work opposite schedules, our kids are on opposite schedules. I have school work to do. We all have long lists of chores and errands to do. I am alone or alone with my son A LOT. It is nobody’s fault, it is life. And this is the life I wanted. The life I chose. The life I still want, I just never realized it would be so lonely.

I’ve tried to put myself out there. I’ve given my phone number to moms at the doctor’s office and to other mom’s in my son’s preschool class and said let’s get together. I talk to other mom’s at Chick-fil-A. I go to church. I’ve joined the gym. I’ve joined a book club. I’ve signed up to serve at church. I sell oils. I’ve volunteered at a non-profit I’m passionate about. There is always something that stops me from following through. My son gets sick. My husband works the weekend of the events. I can’t find a babysitter. I get sick. I have papers to write. Trying to do it all becomes too stressful to manage. It is always something. I’ve been so discouraged. Why would God give me the need to spend quality time with people and then make it impossible for me to do so? My family comes to visit and we don’t have my definition of quality time. I get angry and lash out. That’s counterproductive.

Last year, I did join a bible study. I went sporadically when I could find a babysitter or when my husband was off. Then I dropped out. Again, figuring out how to get there every week was too stressful. But, I crave and need quality time with other women so this year I decided to try again. I asked them if they would consider having bible study at my house so I could still attend when my husband is working. To my surprise they said yes! The first few weeks were great. Then, as usual, life happened again. My son’s tee-ball practices get scheduled for the same night. Since tee-ball started, I haven’t gone. This week, I had forgotten bible study was scheduled to be at my house until my friend texted the day of. When we got home from tee ball practice, she was already there. Thankfully, she played with my dogs and setup the video while I frantically gave my son a bath and got him ready for bed. Overwhelmed and stressed, I was half listening and half contemplating dropping out again when we started discussing what our next study should be. My friend brings up a study about feeling alone, on the outside, unloved, and how God can heal us and fill that need. Before I even think I blurt out, “I want to do that study!” It amazes me how God always brings me what I need when I need it. Most often when I least expect it. We spend the rest of the evening talking about my recent struggles with feeling lonely and unloved. They listened, they empathized, they loved on me, and then they gave me biblical guidance. I felt heard, affirmed, validated, and loved. And in that space, I was able to recognize the error of my ways.

I can’t control that my love language is quality time. However, I can control where I try to find fulfillment for it. I’ve been seeking it out in my worldly relationships. My husband, my son, my family, my friends, my job, my school, and in my commitments. By staying busy. In things I thought I could control to give me what I need, make me feel loved, and whole. When they don’t, I get disappointed, discouraged, and angry. Maybe God has put so many obstacles in my way to make me finally realize I need to turn to him for my quality time. Just as I crave quality time with the people in my life, God has been craving quality time with me. I’ve been looking for a constant companion not realizing I have one lying in wait. I spend time with God when I have time, but I’ve never made it priority. I always get too busy, overwhelmed, stressed, and forget about it. It’s time to change that. My faith, my relationships, and my sanity depend on it. So, I’ve decided to no longer let my desire to feel loved and included through quality time with others to control how I view my marriage, my family, and my friendships. Instead, I am going to look for God for fulfillment and spend some quality time with him. So over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to commit to doing this study every week and spend time in God’s word. No matter how busy I get. I’m going to have Faith that if I spend quality time with God, he will provide the time, and the energy, for me to do everything else. I might just find God speaks my love language.

If you are like me and feel misunderstood and unloved, I invite you to join along and do the Uninvited bible study with me. God just might speak your love language too.