For all seventeen years of her life, this girl, my middle girl, has known a secret. When it all falls apart, there is a safe place. Her mom’s arms. More than a hug, this place beats with the gentle rhythm of a heart that feels what she feels. So my girl brings what she can’t bear to experience alone into this place. And we reconnect.
The cord that was cut all those years ago in the delivery room forced her to live and breathe on her own. But while it separated our bodies, nothing can sever our hearts. What she feels, I still very much feel.
Joy by joy. Pain by pain. Thrill by thrill. Tear by tear. Celebration by celebration. Disappointment by disappointment. She feels it. I feel it.
And it’s not just because I gave birth to her. No, I have adopted kids too. And this unseen cord of connection is the same. even if you don’t have children, I suspect you still know these feelings of deep love and care that can tether one soul to another.
This instinct of knowing, feeling, stirring, wrestling, and pulsing is an unusual sense of understanding.
What touches someone I love touches me.
So, when my daughter crawled into my arms at the 3:00 a.m. hour a few nights ago, I knew. Trouble had found its way into her heart. A boy, whom she thought would handle her heart gently, didn’t. Her crush, crushed her.
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
This time right now is hard. This hard time is strewn with pieces of a broken heart not able to be held together and soothed with the princess Band-Aids of a few years ago. This isn’t the time for this sweet girl to make decisions on her own.
Her tears cloud her Best Yes vision. Her loneliness causes her heart to feel a bit weak right now. Sleep sometimes escapes her. Dreams sometimes betray her. And waking up some days with that same throbbing hurt is like a rug being ripped out from under her all over again.
I realize it’s a simple teenage heartbreak. I know that in a few years it will be but a silly memory she rolls her eyes at, thanking the good Lord above for allowing this breakup to happen. I can see all that. But for now, in the middle of it all, she can’t.
Plus, social media magnifies it all: his disinterest in her; his new interest in other girls; his quandary of who to take to the prom; his candlelit ask of another girl. All within one week, all this and more was posted for all the world to see. It’s hard.
She feels it all so deeply. And while I can see it’s all for the best, I hurt for this girl with a split-open heart because she’s mine — my girl who couldn’t sleep so she slipped into my bed to be near the rhythmic heartbeat she’s known since she was conceived.
And in the quiet middle of the night, I hold her. I brush her long brown hair off her tear-streaked face. I kiss the wet salt on her cheeks. And I whisper, “I love you.”
And she knows I’m safe. Her safe place to run and find when the world gets wild and cruel and heartbreakingly mean.
The next morning she shows me the source of her middle-of-the-night anguish, a text message from him. His words were from a heart entangled with immaturity and his own sources of hurt. He’s not a bad person. He’s young. And sometimes young means incapable of handling situations the right way.
I understand that. Age has given me that gift. But my young girl did not understand. She took the words like daggers to the heart. And cried.
She handed me the phone.
“Help me reply.”
There we sat in the midst of poached eggs and toast crumbs talking together, thinking together, replying together.
Together is a really good word. Together is what we need when we hit tough patches in life. Making decisions when life is making you cry shouldn’t be done alone.
No matter what hard place we find ourselves in, feeling alone can make us vulnerable to bad decisions.
In several recovery programs, they teach people trying to break addictions to HALT before making a decision in a hard place. When you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you can get quite vulnerable. Part of recovery is learning to pay attention to these inner signals and use appropriate ways of getting needs met that stay in line with sobriety. I like that.
And I think it can be useful for even those not in recovery programs. Hard places can so easily make us want to default to using our feelings rather than wisdom as our guide. That’s not the best time to make a decision. At least not alone.
In those moments when we feel swept away in a current of fast-moving feelings, we need to pause. Wait. Let someone else be there as a voice of clarity.
I suspect if you’re in a tough place, it probably feels more significant than a teenaged heartbreak. I understand. I’ve been there. And I’ll probably be there again. And when we’re there, we have to be honest that we’re not in the place to make big decisions right then. Maybe we’re not even in the place to make decisions on simple requests by others.
This doesn’t make you bad or incapable. It makes you smart. Smart enough to know to pause and take extra time when life takes on extenuating circumstances that are hard.
In this pause from decisions, go to your safe place. When the world beats you down, open up your Bible. Let His sentences finish yours. Let truth walk before you like a guide on a dark path.
And go also to someone in your sphere of influence whom you know is wise. Let them help you. Stand on top of their wisdom when you feel shaky with your own. Gaining a new altitude can recalibrate our attitudes. When we can rise up on the wisdom of others and get a new view of our situations, our next steps seem a little clearer.
How do we know whom to go to? The Bible makes it clear:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. — James 3:13-17
There’s a whole lot of good text here. But I want to focus on one phrase that really helps me know who has the kind of wisdom I want to turn to when I feel too uncertain to make decisions on my own – “the humility that comes from wisdom.”
Humility and wisdom are a package deal. And often the people who have the most wisdom have experienced the most humility. Or sometimes even the most humiliation. A wisdom like none other can arise from those hard places that bring us low.
When I’m going through stuff that makes it hard to make good decisions, I want to turn to people who have been through some stuff. And not just people who went through hard times, but those who came out on the other side carrying some wisdom from which I can learn. Real wisdom – wisdom that’s been unearthed in the messy, untidy, mud-puddle places of life. When this kind of wisdom sits in the heart of a person who is vulnerable enough to drop their pride and share what they know – that’s a gift, a gift I desperately need when going through some stuff.
Excerpted with permission from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, copyright Lysa Terkeurst.
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Who are your 3am friends? Who can you turn to in your struggle? I am so thankful for my middle-of-the-night/ emergency people! We are better together! When we’re struggling with something painful, when we’re hurting in a relationship, when we’re in a trial, we need wisdom from God and from other believers who have been through some stuff. And, if we’ve been through hard places, we need to offer our wisdom to others we see going through similar crises. Join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about being better together! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full