Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

I’m really not the best person to write about waiting well. I mean, I get antsy waiting for people to finish eating their dinner when I’m ready for dessert. And that’s a mild example. I try and work on my patience, but when I’m tired or hungry or don’t feel well or…well, you get the picture…my patience? She wears thin.

I’ve heard it facetiously said that you should not pray for patience because if you do, God will give you something to be patient about. I must have messed up, because I have been waiting on something for years: a child.

When my husband and I were first married, we were frequently asked when we were going to have kids. We would jokingly tell people “5-10 years”…as we get closer to 13 years of marriage without children, this isn’t a joke anymore. But our story isn’t really the focus of this post. Rather, the focus is on waiting well…even when it becomes painful.

In my own experience of waiting to become a mother, for many years, I felt patient. Given my history of lack of patience (see paragraph one), clearly this has not been a small feat. In Philippians 4:7, we’re told that the peace of God surpasses our understanding. In my case, the peace I’ve experienced while waiting for a child has certainly exceeded anything I could comprehend and can only be attributed to God. But after a couple of years of being in the adoption process, it has become difficult. Challenging. Painful. And like it is with grief, there are good days and bad days. Moments where I am perfectly fine and moments where I can barely catch my breath out of sadness or frustration. Thanks to God, I’m able to manage this well most of the time. But not long ago, after an already rough morning, I was meeting up with a friend when I became choked up about our current childless situation…this was an embarrassing and important break through.

I haven’t sat and cried with anyone over this. Yet, as a counselor educator and former therapist, I know how cathartic crying can be. How comforting it can be to share the burdens of your heart and hear someone say “me too” or even “I’m sorry and I’m praying for you.” Despite being a part of support groups and connecting with other parents in waiting and adoptive parents who have “been there, done that”, I have mostly kept my struggle to myself.

I hold back for many reasons: Because I want to be strong and I want others to see me as strong, because most people won’t understand and because I don’t want them to feel awkward, and because (and here’s the good news) I know this painful wait will come to an end. Oh how I look to that with great hope! This truth helps me cope with this difficult wait: God has a plan and this a part of it. Really, I think the best way to wait well is through prayerful anticipation that our wait will end and our prayers answered. By focusing on God, His promises, and His blessings, we are able to keep our attention on things other than our wait. Most of the time, anyway. And when the emotions well up and come out in the form of tears, that’s okay too. In fact, it’s a helpful release.

You see, it’s not really about being patient. And it’s not about holding back our pain. It’s about giving ourselves the freedom to be weak, because it is then Christ in us is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). And it’s mostly about holding on to hope that the wait will end. For whatever you are waiting on, the seemingly never ending day will be over. It’s worth waiting well for.

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The Importance of Fathers

The Importance of Fathers

Reposting from Father’s Day 2015. Still as relevant in 2016. Happy Father’s Day!

When I pull up to my childhood home, I am instantly reminded of my time as a little girl running around the front yard catching lightening bugs while my daddy rocks on the front porch. I walk inside the house and it’s as if I go back in time where I sat in the living room watching the Andy Griffith Show with him. Out back, I am swinging in the hammock…or giving daddy a push. And I know that not everyone has these experiences. Experiences with a loving father who cares for, provides for, and protects his family…

The National Fatherhood Initiative sites many important studies on their website at www.fatherhood.org. They tell us that having involved fathers leads to an increase in emotional functioning and decreases risk of poverty. It results in improved behavior and less chance of incarceration. In fact, children with involved fathers are less likely to experience a teen pregnancy, obesity, or drugs. While there are certainly exceptions to all of this, the impact of fathers cannot be denied. And, yet, one in three homes with children is missing the biological father.

But there are good ones out there, and Father’s Day is a day to celebrate our dads. And while many are missing a healthy relationship with their dads, we do have a Heavenly Father. We have 24-hour access to Him! God never sleeps, He always listens, He always comforts. Psalm 68:5 tells us he is a “father to the fatherless.” He’s a father to us all, but for those without earthly fathers, I pray this message brings comfort on Father’s Day and all year round.

And, dads, please remember the incredibly important role you are called to have in your children’s lives! Please watch this beautiful video to serve as a reminder:

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The Important Conversation Women Should Be Having As a Result of the Stanford Case

The Important Conversation Women Should Be Having As a Result of the Stanford Case

“If I hadn’t taken that drink from him…”

“If I hadn’t let him meet me at my house…”

“If only I’d had a weapon with me…”

These are just a few of the statements that clients who had been sexually assaulted or raped shared with me. Of course, they weren’t to blame for the crimes committed against them. The perpetrator in each case was solely responsible for the heinous act, not the victim. Yet, over and over, women expressed regrets about their own actions…wondering if they could have done something, anything, to avoid being sexually assaulted.

And they desperately wanted other women to know how to protect themselves, how to make themselves less vulnerable, and, whenever possible, how to prevent themselves from being victims like them.

If you’re not familiar with the Stanford case, news outlets report that two men witnessed a male college student sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after he intentionally targeted her (perhaps because her sister rejected him), took her to a dark and isolated place, and assaulted her. The men who happened upon him in the act intervened, and the perpetrator was arrested and tried, but he only received a six-month sentence. There is a lot more to this story that you can (and should) read all about it (like the fact that there was a long history of the perpetrator using drugs and alcohol, and being sexually aggressive with women).

As there should be, there is loud public outcry about the light sentence of only six months. He has to suffer for a few months. She has to suffer for the rest of her life. He will continue to use getting drunk as his excuse for not knowing what he was doing. She will continue to get blamed for getting drunk. And, yes, the perpetrator may experience some emotional distress and negative consequences throughout his life, but they will not be as nearly as bad as hers. I have sat with too many victims who rarely go out, who can’t sleep at night, who suffer physically and emotionally for years and decades to believe any different.

And I think some of these women would ask how this young lady wound up alone in the dark, behind a dumpster with this predator on the campus of Stanford University. I think they would say that we should do everything we can to prevent ourselves from being victims. I think they would cry out: Ladies, let’s work together to prevent sexual assault.

Of course no one ever, under any circumstances, deserves to be or is asking to be sexually assaulted. At the same time, as women, we can and should do more to protect ourselves and our fellow women from this happening. We absolutely must talk about rape prevention, even though it isn’t fair. I wish it were as simple as “men just need to stop raping women.” (Which is so true.) I wish it were as simple as “men need to be given stiff sentences for sexual assault as a deterrent to other would be perps.” (That’s absolutely true too, and perhaps the Stanford case will help promote this.) But, sadly, ending sexual assault and rape is not as simple as these two statements make it sound. Wickedness will continue until the world ends, so, women, we must do more to prevent these horrible crimes ourselves. It’s the tragic truth. We need to take control. We need to be empowered. We need to do all we can to protect ourselves and our fellow females. And we can, even though we shouldn’t have to. So, ladies, here are a few important tips to remember so that we can prevent ourselves and other women from being in the same awful situation as the Stanford victim:

~Don’t take a drink from a stranger.

~Don’t allow a stranger into your home and don’t go home with strangers.

~Don’t meet strangers in isolated areas or go somewhere alone with them.

~If you plan to drink, make a safety plan so that you do not become a target. (Examples: Don’t become intoxicated, make sure you have a ride home from someone you know and trust, don’t drink with people you don’t know, etc.) ***I know some people will disagree with the statement that women shouldn’t get drunk, but in my opinion no good comes from anyone getting drunk. So, men, take heed that this comment is to you as well.***

~Stay with people you trust and be extra cautious when going out alone and coming home alone.

~Watch out for one another…remind your girlfriends about safety when drinking or when meeting men.

~Get a security system on your home. (There are lots of options that include loud noises and lights and that automatically contact the police if someone attempts to break in.)

~Carry mace, a knife, or a gun to protect yourself. (Within the law.)

While these tips won’t prevent all assaults, I hope they empower women to do all they can to protect themselves. And if you have experienced this horrible crime perpetrated against you, know that you are not to blame and there is help available. If you are struggling emotionally, please seek a mental health professional today. And, ladies, let’s keep talking about this issue…never letting law makers and law enforcers and the men around us forget that they have to do more to prevent sexual crimes. Like fathers teaching sons to respect women instead of taking advantage of them. Like men holding other men accountable for how they treat women. And like incarcerating those who commit sexual crimes for a heck of a lot longer than 6 measly months.

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