A Mother of Young Men

Now, we’re in a different place and a different time, and I need to become a different kind of mother. A mother who knows how to back off. A mother whose gaze is not quite so intently focused on her own two endlessly absorbing children, but who is engaged instead in a rich, full life of her own. A mother who cares a good deal less than she used to about what time people in her household go to bed, what they eat for breakfast, whether they wear coats or not, and what they choose to do, or not do, with their own time. A mother who, though her protective, maternal instincts run as fierce and deep as ever, manages, in all but extreme moments, to keep those instincts in check. A mother who trusts in who her children are, even if they aren’t exactly who she thinks they ought to be. Who keeps faith in their futures, even when the things they do, and the words they say, give her pause in the present. A mother who remembers, above all else, that the greatest gift she can give to her own two wildly different, nearly grown sons is the knowledge that, no matter what, she loves them both absolutely, just exactly as they are.

— Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, p. 265

Truths to Remember

When things get hard in a marriage, it can feel like the foundations of your life are giving way. It is good to remember that our foundation is firm, based on the finished work of Jesus Christ for us. There are some things that remain true, at all times and for all of God’s children no matter what. It’s good to let your mind and your heart rest in these truths. Read these aloud. Remember:

I am loved.
I am secure.
I am forgiven.
God is with me.

… For the storms will come, beloved. The wind will howl and the waters will rise. And Jesus, who calmed the storm, who is indeed able to calm all storms, is now and ever will be your help in times of trouble.

— John and Stasi Eldredge, Love and War, p. 174

Waiting in Pain

Most of us Christians don’t know how to wait in pain — at least not in the contemplative, creative way that opens us to newness and growth. We’re told to “turn it over to Jesus” and — presto! — things should be okay.

But inside things usually aren’t okay. So on top of everything else, we feel guilty because obviously we didn’t really turn our pain over or else it wouldn’t still be with us. Or we decide that God wasn’t listening and can’t be trusted to deliver on divine promises.

How did we ever get the idea that God would supply us on demand with quick fixes, that God is merely a rescuer and not a midwife?

— Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits, p. 28

Meaning in Trials

These ten things — and I don’t care what you call them: ways, steps, practices, teachings — are things to do, to stop doing, to think of, to remember, and to become so that you can find your way through this very hard time. Their purpose is to show you that rather than being random assaults from an uncaring universe, the difficulties you are going through have meaning and purpose. Not only is your crisis here to get you to exercise your coping muscles, and therein to discover your strength; your problems also have a larger purpose. And that is to remind you of the quality of being that you truly are — powerful, loving, eternal.

— Daphne Rose Kingma, Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart, p. xvi-xvii

Forgive and Pray

And therein lies another law of forgiveness:

If you believe that someone you know
is behaving in a way that may be harmful to himself or others,
you have an obligation to pray for him.

This law is not about passing judgment or infringing upon someone else’s free will. You are simply praying that this person will gently find his connection to God and fulfill his own promise. The rest is out of your hands. How he does that is really none of your business. But this type of prayer, toward someone else’s highest good and happiness, is extremely effective. It has the power to save another human being from experiencing something truly terrible, and the whole world benefits each time someone awakens to his higher purpose.

This is part of your service commitment. It is part of everyone’s promise to bring about a more peaceful and harmonious earth through forgiveness and loving thought, even toward those who hurt us. Especially toward those who hurt us.

— Kathleen McGowan, The Source of Miracles, p. 159

One Sure Love

If all the pain of the world were gathered together, and sorted by cause into great basins, the vast majority of tears would fill an ocean entitled “Unloved.” Because love is the deepest longing of the human heart — however hard we might try to pretend otherwise. When things get painful in our marriage, the arrows that pierce our hearts carry some message of You are not loved. The arrows might be Rejection, or Anger, or Betrayal, or Blaming, or even Silence. But the message is the same: You are no longer loved; you never really have been. We have got to anchor our heart in the one sure Love. You are now, you always have been, and you will forever be loved. It might help to say that to yourself, every day. Maybe every hour. This is the boat that carries your heart right across that ocean of pain to the safe haven of God.

— John and Stasi Eldredge, Love and War, p. 172

The Process of Growth

When it comes to religion today, we tend to be long on butterflies and short on cocoons. Somehow we’re going to have to relearn that the deep things of God don’t come suddenly. It’s as if we imagine that all of our spiritual growth potential is dehydrated contents to which we need only add some holy water to make it instantly and easily appear.

I received a letter recently from someone who was feeling impatient about taking the long way round. She wrote, “Pole vaulting is so much more alluring than crawling.”

— Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits, p. 26

The Promise of Change

The presence of pain is the promise of change. That’s because it hurts to suffer, and when we’re suffering we’re far more inclined to take risks, to take action, to fall on our knees, to break out of bad habits, to break out of the box in order to get beyond the pain that we’re in. Suffering, therefore, is always an invitation to change, to get into alignment with what is most true and beautiful in life, with our deepest and most expansive feelings, with Love itself.

It may not feel this way right now, but just as the oak tree, folded and invisible, lies whole within the acorn, so everything you need to live through this current anguish is within you. You are blessed. Your life is designed. If this crisis weren’t meant to be part of your life, it would not be happening. This is the moment and these are precisely the experiences through which your emotional body is being healed, your soul is being refined and enlarged, and your life itself is taking on a new meaning.

— Daphne Rose Kingma, The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart, p. xviii-xix

Forgiving and Letting Go

Just to be clear, forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to keep that individual in your life. Some people are simply going to have a toxic effect on you if you allow them to stay, and you will have to move away from them. It is how you end those relationships that will affect your spiritual progress. If you can love them, forgive them, and release them in a way that wishes them only healing, you will make excellent progress.

— Kathleen McGowan, The Source of Miracles, p. 137