Posts tagged vulnerability
From Feeling Stuck to Finding Freedom

Trigger warning: this story contains depictions of abuse. If you need help, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.

Let me tell you about a girl who believed a very big lie.

A girl with the world at her fingertips.

A girl with a bright smile that lit up the room.

A girl who loved Jesus.

A girl who got pregnant with her boyfriend.

Riddled with shame and embarrassment, the girl tried to “right the wrong” with an engagement. Against all advice, she charged into this marriage before her sweet child came into the world.

Then she began to notice patterns in her husband that he hadn’t exhibited AT ALL before they were married – Like his anger. Like his unrelenting sarcasm. Like his intimidation. Like his aggression. Like his lies. Like his manipulation. Like his threats. Like his fighting dirty. Like his total disrespect.

But she stayed.

 
domestic abuse
 

She stayed through the short fuse and the huge temper. She stayed through the deceit and theft. She stayed through sexual abuse and neglect. She stayed through his exploitation of power and control. She stayed through the f-bombs and name-calling. She stayed through the verbal beatings that she “never should have been born, is stupid, alone, and worthless.” She stayed through slammed doors and screaming rants, while rocking on the floor, plugging her ears in the fetal position.

And she stayed through the birth of their child.

She stayed through her fear of her husband and fear for her son. She stayed when the only advice she received was to turn the shower on so the baby couldn’t hear him screaming at her. The girl became desperate and hopeless, even turning to thoughts of suicide. (Which he made fun of and threatened to take her to a psych ward when she reached out for help.) She could not live this way.

Until, finally, she stopped believing this very big lie.

You see, this smart, brave, beautiful mother had believed the lie that there was no way out. She believed that she was stuck because of her sin. She chose to marry him to make things right and now she had to live with that decision, regardless of the abuse. She was so far entrenched in this lie of deserved punishment that she couldn’t see the light of day. She couldn’t hear the hopeful, loving whispers from her heavenly Father as she cried out to Him, begging Him to save her.

Until she could.

Until she believed the truth that redemption was possible. A new life of love, forgiveness, peace, SAFETY, and a God-breathed future in FREEDOM. She began to consider what her life could look like outside of captivity. She believed that God did not cause this abuse or use it to punish her.

This beautiful artwork is one of 10 gorgeous TRUTH statements you can find in the What’s True About You Guided Journal -COMING SOON!  Artist:  Ami Atkocaitis

This beautiful artwork is one of 10 gorgeous TRUTH statements you can find in the What’s True About You Guided Journal -COMING SOON!

Artist: Ami Atkocaitis

And what’s amazing about this girl is that as soon as she called the lie out for what it was, she stepped into her freedom with divine determination and supernatural tenacity.

A middle of the night rescue mission ended in the comforting arms of family. As she gained her footing, her future unfolded so magnificently. God gave generously at every guided step. Trauma became the pain of the past instead of the reality of the present. Through her hard work digging deep to find healing, she clung to Jesus and the truth that He is not the Punisher. He is the Counselor who caught every tear she cried in a bottle. The God of Love and Grace and Forgiveness. The God of Hope and Peace and Freedom.

Now, I wish I could report that the girl hasn’t experienced a single struggle since that day or that her prison break was easy. I wish I could say that she never looked back. I wish I could say that there isn’t more healing to do, but I can’t.

After all, life is hard and this journey is a long one.  

But I am happy to say this girl is now happily re-married to wonderful man, which is just part of her redemption story. The most significant, inspiring part of this story is how through the pain and hopelessness, she made it to the other side as a fiercely strong and confident daughter of the King.

In her quest for peace, she also found her passion. A passion to revolt against injustice, especially when it comes to women and children being mistreated. A heart for single mothers and overwhelming empathy for those who feel stuck in abusive relationships. 

And so for you, dear friend, you may need to be reminded of who you are. You are God’s masterpiece, dearly loved and freely-called to engage the world in ways that only you can.

You are worthy of love, peace, and freedom. You are worthy of believing that “God is for you, not against you. He is near to you, not far away from you, and He has created you on purpose, and for a purpose” (the truth that our Radio Theology team shares with our listeners every week.)

If your story too closely reflects this one, please know that you are not alone. Please do not believe the lie that you are being punished for poor choices and sentenced to a miserable life because of the mistakes you made. There is hope for you. Redemption can be the next chapter of your story.  

As much as I love connecting with you, exchanging emails and Facebook posts, and swapping stories – this is too big for me. Please call the highly trained professionals at the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.

Whether abuse is part of your story or not, you are in your own fight to live freely in who you are. I’m with you. And the entire I Am Mother of the Year community is with you. With weekly blog posts, radio content, an encouraging group, and a What’s True About You Guided Journal due out in just a few short weeks that will walk you through pinpointing those deep-seated lies and replacing them with the truth, there are so many ways to engage with this movement!

We hope you do! We love you lots!

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It's OK to Do THIS When Your Kid Rips Your Heart Out (But Are You Brave Enough?)

Spoiler Alert: This starts happy, and maybe even a little mushy, but doesn’t end as flowery. Read on, and pretty please take a moment to share your wisdom at the end.

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The Scene: Indianapolis Airport Terminal B, 9:00 a.m., a mother and daughter (Josie, 3.5) are killing a half hour before boarding a plane for vacation.

Me: Josie, let’s go see if we can find some moms to give stickers to!

Josie: (Spots a mom, runs with Mother of the Year award sticker in hand to said mom) You’re a really good mommy!

Mommy: (Tears up) Awww! That’s so sweet! You made my day!

Repeat this 10 times. Heart full, pride overflowing.

 

The Scene: Kroger. Same mother, same daughter.

Josie: Mom! There’s a Mommy! Let’s give her a sticker!

Me: Ok! Here ya go!

Josie: (To mommy) You’re a really good mommy!

Mommy: (Tears up) Awww! That’s so sweet! You made my day!

Repeat this per number of mothers in Kroger at any given time. Heart full, pride overflowing.

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The Scene: The playroom at home. Same mother, same daughter.

Josie: (wearing baby doll in baby carrier) Look at my cute baby!

Me: Wow, Josie, you’re such a good mommy!

Josie: I need a Mommy Sticker!

Me: Of course! (I get her a Mother of the Year Award sticker)

Josie: You wear the baby and I’ll give you the sticker!

Repeat this several times. Photos taken. Heart full, pride overflowing.

See, my girl has always been an encourager. She’s naturally empathetic and loves to use her words for good. She’s complimentary to everyone around her, noting pretty dresses and new skills (baby brother crawling, walking, etc.) She is instantly your biggest fan.

Until she’s not. Until the threenager in her not only emerges but takes her over completely. Until she doesn’t want to be buckled in her car seat or she doesn’t think she needs to use the potty before bed.

Maybe other kids do this too (do yours?), but I feel like I’m alone in this. She throws the tantrums that turn to meltdowns like other kids her age, but she also takes those sweet words and knows how to twist them into your soul like a sharp knife. Cutting you all the way down in an instant. At 3-years-old.

See, I like to think I’m pretty good with my words too. I’m a natural empathizer and a storyteller. And I learned (and was taught, thanks Mom!) that my words carry weight. But at 3?

The Scene: Mother attempts to place daughter in her car seat so they can head to daycare.

Me: Josie, I need you in your seat now.

Josie: (Instantly passed the point of reason) Noooooo!!!!!

Me: This wasn’t a request. (Buckles child in and slides into driver’s seat)

Josie: You are NOT a really good Mommy.

Blow to the heart. Instant tears. Sure, it wasn’t all the weight of that comment, because part of me feels like she doesn’t understand what she’s saying, but more so knows that saying it will hurt. It was the stacking of stress from returning from vacation, catching up on work, comforting the boy child who got Hand Foot and Mouth disease for the second time in 3 weeks. All of that boiled over in me when I heard those words. And I just sat there in the driver’s seat, car running, and clock ticking and bawled.

I also battled internally because lots of “successful” parenting techniques and, admittedly, moments I’ve had myself in parenting have come from showing little to no emotion in response to your kid’s behavior, but firmly and calmly administering the consequences. I like that idea. But not for every moment. And frankly, because I feel everything, it’s not possible. Crying is my medium response to almost every emotion and situation. From fatigue and hunger to fear and anger.

So I went back and forth in my mind while I bawled on whether or not I was doing the right thing in the moment. And here’s where I landed.

It’s ok to be vulnerable with your kids. Josie may understand a little bit when I tell her that her words hurt people’s feelings, but she’ll understand a whole heck of a lot more when she says something horrible to me and I’m in instant tears.

Instead of lashing out in anger or fear or skipping straight to the punishment, I allowed myself to feel the weight of the situation instead of locking it up. I felt it and I grieved it in that moment.

Watch the way you talk. Say only what helps, each word a gift..png

And she knew. Of course I’d argue that she knew what she was saying was wrong before she said it, but when I glanced back at her between my blubbering, she was serious and seriously sad, and said without being prompted, “Mommy, I’m sorry I said mean things to you.”

So what about you? Do your young kids have the gift of words, with the potential to be used for both good and evil? How are you guiding them in the right direction?

Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable with your kids, or do you bottle it up and release it later as anger or frustration or self-medication?

Help a mama out.

(And because I do think I'm a great mom and am doing something right, I will take a tiny second to brag about how awesome this girl is at giving out stickers! I LOVE that it's become part of her regular day! She's learning from me that it is important to spread love and kindness to others. If you want to get in on that with your kids, buy some stickers and get out there!)