I’ve Realized Something…

I don’t do well with sadness.

I had a brilliant therapist once who told me that self-awareness is a choice, and few choose it. I thought I was pretty self-aware, but this grieving thing has shown me that I am not.

At all.

We adopted a dog on Saturday. For most of you – that’s not a big piece of news. But for people who know me well, they just went “WHAT?!?” and laughed out loud. I am not a pet person. I am a bubble-girl to a highly-unusual degree and literally I can’t sit in grass or touch animals because I swell up. And I am really sensitive to smells. So the combination of these two things makes pet ownership difficult.

And yet, suddenly, last week, all of my previous arguments against getting a dog melted away and I found myself on adoptapet.org searching out the perfect dog for our family. It was like I unlearned everything that 36 years had taught me and suddenly I NEEDED A DOG. I found one, emailed about it, and we went and adopted it.


Henry Wells

We brought him home, changed his name from Snuggles (a boy named Snuggles? No.) to Henry. Henry is adorable. He looks like my parents’ dog, which is the only dog I’ve ever really gotten close to. It seemed perfect. But soon after getting him home, Henry began to be very dog-like. In fact, he was very puppy-like. Peeing on my carpet and rugs, jumping on all of us, whining and crying all night long – he was the trifecta, a perfect embodiment of every argument I’ve ever given myself and others against a pet.

And I started crying (another thing I don’t do that often). And I didn’t just shed a tear – I sobbed. Poor Justin has a dripping, heaving, impossible-to-understand woman on his hands, and he has no idea what is happening.

I was crying because it hit me. I didn’t really want a dog. I was sad, and I was hurting, so I did something drastic that just happened to look like a cute little dog named Henry. I wanted to take things into my own hands – unstick what was stuck. And looking back I realized this pattern. In times of past sadness, I’ve done some pretty radical things. I’ve cut my hair or sold my car or taken up painting, or countless other rebellions that weren’t as visible but were my own little war against the way things were. This time I got a dog. And it didn’t take a therapist to see what I was really doing. I was sad about the baby, and since I couldn’t change that and I couldn’t give my girls the sibling I wanted to give them in the timeframe I wanted, I gave them a dog. It was obvious, except to me.

I was crying because my solution didn’t stop the sadness. My house smelled, chaos reigned, I had a DOG, and I was still hurting.

So carefully and a little fearfully, I leaned into the sadness. I trusted the Lord with my grief. I allowed myself to cry. I revisited everything that happened a month ago that I have been trying not to dwell on. I re-read the verses that sustained me during that terrible time. I grieved. It was cathartic and probably very healthy for me.

As I cried, I cleaned up my house and tried to turn myself into a dog person. Because Henry is cute and the girls love him, and the Lord already used him to allow me to grieve a little. So maybe we can make this work.

I don’t do well with sadness, but I want to. I want to accept with open hands what the Lord gives and allows, even if it isn’t my plan in my timing. I want to trust Him more, and myself less. And I know I need the Lord to help me do all of these things, because they are completely contrary to my instincts and nature.

Lord I don’t want to run after my own impatient solutions to the challenges you have allowed in our life. I want to learn to wait. I want to grow from the lessons You give, to trust You with the timeline, to trust myself with the sadness. I want to feel. I want to be honest. Help me Lord. Forgive me when I fall short. Bring Your blessings in Your time for Your glory. I trust you with how our family will grow. 

The Beast.

I knew this blog post, and with it this confession, was coming.  I have felt it rising in me.  This realization that I had a problem.  That there was a “beast” in my life, lurking under the surface.  And as I often do – I am going to be vulnerable and attempt to confess it and work through it here on my blog, in hopes that the Biblical act of confession will free me even as maybe it frees someone else from the sin that so easily entangles.

I have really struggled with anger the past few months.  Truthfully – I have struggled with anger my entire life.  But recently it has been rough.  I will erupt and feel out of control.  I will say and do things that are cruel.  I will be remorseful afterwards.  I will hate myself.  And yet I will do it again.  And often, the victim of my anger is someone I love more than my own life.

When I started receiving the promotional materials for the new series on anger at Keystone Church, TICK’D, I began to prepare my heart.  I knew I needed this message – I prayed it would change me.  I had been trying for months, with little success.  I had told Justin about my struggle.  We have been praying about it.  I told my brother.  I confessed it to a few trusted girlfriends.  I was fearful of this beast in my life.  I was tired of being out of control.  I felt helpless against it.  I am terrified that my daughters will be wounded and damaged by this sin in my life.  I am terrified they themselves will be angry and I will pass on this legacy of anger instead of the legacy I long to pass on to them.  I didn’t know where this was coming from.  I have seen anger from others around me for most of my life – but I wasn’t raised in a volatile environment.  So why do I struggle with this?  I even wondered if I was even saved?  I certainly didn’t feel I was acting like it.

All of these thoughts, questions and doubts have been swirling in my head the past few weeks as I have waited impatiently for this message (couldn’t even be patient for that).  And this week – something happened that completely illustrates what I am talking about.  I had a battle for control with Grace this week in which she was out of line, out of control, and rebellious in a dangerous way to her and me (in fact, I got hurt because of her rebellion).  In that moment, I was angry to a dangerous level.  Now don’t get me wrong, in some ways, anger in the situation was warranted.  What she did could not be tolerated.  But not to the level where I was on that day.  It took me hours to calm down.  I kept thinking to myself, “How can you teach her self-control when you yourself don’t demonstrate self-control?”  I was desperately praying for wisdom, for peace, for patience, for love, for help in that moment even as I seethed.  It was a scary place to be.

First of all – if you are like me and something is simmering just below the surface – listen to this message. There is so much in here that is true and good and directly from God.  And second, I ask for your prayers as I beg the Lord for freedom from this.  I want to be a person, I want to be a mom, I want to be a wife, who demonstrates the fruits of the Spirit.  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Self-Control – that is what I want my children to see.  I don’t want to be this volatile tyrant.

Jesus I confess this horrible sin.  Please heal me.  Please help me.  Please become center of my life.  Please release me of my need to be in control, to look put together, to be respected.  Please take your proper place in the center of my life – the center of my heart.  Please grow in me the fruits that I cannot, by force, grow in myself.  I need You – I am lost without You.  Please free me and anyone else reading this struggling with this same sin.