That one small word can hold so many feelings and emotions. For some it evokes sympathy or compassion, even pity. For others it evokes shame and weakness. For me it’s always held feelings of all of the above, so I just didn’t let it out.
I never saw this as a real problem. Occasionally I would feel overwhelmed or stressed from holding in all of my “ouch” moments. I would be a beast at home for a week or two and then move on. I didn’t recognize my beast as unreleased pain until I heard Sarah Jakes Roberts, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes, speak at Women of Faith. Her intro alone caught my attention. It was a simple story of her daughter crashing her bike. Instead of crying or showing pain, she jumped up and said, “I’m okay, I’m okay,” for fear of either ending her fun or showing her weakness.
Listening to Sarah talk about the dangers of not being able to say “Ouch” and the freedom in asking for help opened my eyes to a few very important things:
- I am holding on to a world of pain and I am the only one who knows this.
- I am setting an example for my children to fear saying “ouch.” This is unacceptable.
- My God is bigger than all of my pain and wants me to give it to him. He wants to unburden my spirit with all the un-glorifying thing clogging my heart and mind. He wants to fill me with his love and light.
There was a point in my life when talking about my thoughts and feelings was not accepted. I’m not sure when it happened. Maybe I was conditioned from birth that pain, both mental and physical, was unacceptable.
As infants we have pacifiers and bottles shoved in our mouths so we quit crying. As young children we are given toys, candy, and technology to “pacify” us. By the time we enter adulthood we have exhausted most of our pacifiers and have learned to just be “OK.”
So, I learned to put on my best smile, laugh at everyone’s jokes, converse with those around me and look completely functional while inside I am screaming for someone to notice that something is wrong.
I am banging against the walls of my mind for someone to hear me and know that I am not okay, that I am drowning in loneliness, laundry, housework, transportation schedules, sporting events, Bible study, church, giving and serving.
I am really drowning and by insisting that “I am OK,” I have seriously neglected who God has created me to be to an extremely dangerous point. I am denying friends the ability to use their love languages to love on me. I am denying God His true glory by allowing Him to use me effectively and to use those around me to glorify Him.
If making it harder for God to effectively use me wasn’t enough of a wakeup call, realizing that I am setting my children up for the same path I was.
I am a mother; it is super easy for me to set my own needs aside for my family…especially my children. So to find out that I am setting them up for more struggles than is necessary hurts me even more. I want my children to be able to safely express their feelings and thoughts.
I want them to know that it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay. I want them to see me cry. They don’t always have to know what is causing my pain but I think it is important that they see it.
I also think it is important for them to see how I react to my pain. They need to see me laugh, cry, maybe even yell sometimes but in all situations, they need to see me on my knees, laughing, crying and yelling out to the One who cares and can help me through those times.
My children need to see me turning to God in all situations, with ALL my feelings. They need to see God as my refuge; as my safe place. A place they can turn to as well. My children need to be able to say “ouch” and know that it is better for them to feel and acknowledge pain and suffering than to walk through life as a zombie not wanting to offend or bother anyone.
I want my children to know that it is ok to not be ok, but know that by falling on their knees and crying out to God that they WILL be ok. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).
My God is bigger than my struggles, bigger than my pain. He is my overcomer, my protector, the lover of my soul. He is my savior, faithful friend and redeemer. But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge (Psalm 94:22). My God has chosen me to be the mother of my three beautiful children. He has gifted me with my children, my husband, my house, my friends and my extended family. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward (Psalm 127:3).
He has given all this to me and continues to shower me with love even when I am failing miserably. He reached down into my internal pit of despair, pulled me out, shook me a little, wiped the scales from my eyes, kissed my forehead and said….”Let’s try this again, what’s on your heart?”
And now I fall to my knees in front of my children, without shame and cry “OUCH.” Because sometimes life and parenthood just plain hurt.
About the Author: My name is Amber Rowland. I am a 38 year old mostly stay at home mom to 3 beautiful treasures from God (2 boys ages 6 and 2 and 1 girl age 3). I married my 5th grade crush Justin, almost 9 years ago. I have a degree in Elementary and Special Education but I really feel like I am full of various knowledge but not an expert in anything. My love language is serving others and my passions are children and the elderly. Since having children though, parents have become a passion of mine as well. My heart is and has always been for children, special needs individuals and mothers. As a mother I have experienced some extreme highs and extreme lows. Those experiences have given me a desire to reach out, help and be a godly servant to other parents who feel like they are stumbling through parenthood, trying not to screw up the next generation. So often we feel alone or ashamed of our own parenting trials. When not with my family, I am usually reading, at bible study or serving our special needs community at church. Here is to being perfectly imperfect!
A note from Jenn: As I read Amber’s post, tears came to my eyes that my friend went through this. I am not this strong. I’m the first to admit my failures and weaknesses. This song came to mind as well. It’s a bit harder rock, so listen with caution. 😉