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The last few weeks have been hard. While my husband Chris was away for an event, my sons and I moved out of our temporary rental house in Michigan. We relocated to our house in Illinois in order to pack and prepare for our permanent move to Michigan. Chris returned from his trip feeling sick and exhausted. He was soon diagnosed with bronchitis, but the doctor said it may be turning into pneumonia, and suggested we keep a close eye on his condition and go to the ER if breathing becomes difficult.

Well, wouldn’t you know it! My hubby did not improve and his wheezing grew worse. While attempting a date night, Chris became light-headed and his wheezing was so bad that we drove straight to the ER. The medical team determined his bronchitis turned into walking pneumonia, so they gave him a breathing treatment and sent him on his way with a more potent antibiotic along with instructions for regular breathing treatments at home. Things continued to deteriorate. After talking to an on-call nurse, we were told to return to the ER to see if something more serious was going on. After a few tests, we were relieved to discover Chris did not have the more serious scenarios. We were sent home with the command to rest.

I was relieved Chris was good in terms of not having any serious problems, however, the poor guy was still very sick and feeling miserable. At this point, my concern was about an upcoming 10-day trip to South Korea where Chris and his colleague Amy Brown will be busy speaking and training. Plus, I was feeling immense pressure to pack up our entire household by myself because our moving deadline is the week Chris returns from South Korea. Because Chris has been in bed and unable to participate in the packing preparations, we are way behind schedule. If this wasn’t enough, add to the equation ongoing negotiations over purchasing a new house, coordinating repairs on our current house, finding estimates along with scheduling work projects on the home we are purchasing. You may have guessed it. I was feeling pushed beyond my normal functioning capacity.

It was after the second ER visit when I reached my breaking point. I went to bed in tears. I woke up the next morning in tears. I was feeling stuck in a state of overload, and I could not pull myself out. Additionally, my hormones at the time were making all of this worse. It was clear I lost all my patience with my sons, and I could not contain the steady stream of tears.

None of the usual solutions worked to bring me relief. I was getting sharp and snappy with my family, so at one point I pulled the boys aside and said, “Mommy is having a really rough day. I do not like snapping at you and I do not like to raise my voice, but today I have no patience. I am not feeling well. So, if you do not listen to Mommy the first time I ask you to do something today, I am probably going to be irritated and snappy because Mommy just doesn’t have the ability right now to calmly ask you a second time.” Last, I told them, “I do not want to be snappy with you, but I just can’t pull myself out of this place right now.” They listened as I helped them interpret my current (and future) actions, then they nodded their heads in agreement.

My predictions were accurate that day, and I ended up doing a lot of repairing with my sons. Their “listening ears” were malfunctioning and while I did become snappy at times, I quickly returned to apologize for my responses. We made it through the day, together, and as time went on I began to feel more like myself.

All of us have moments, interactions and days that are just too much. These are times when, no matter how hard we try, we just cannot pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We may become grumpy, short and snappy with the people we care about. Even after the years of practice learning relational skills, I still do not do life perfectly. In all honesty, my goal is not to be perfect, but to stay tender with my weaknesses, as well as the weaknesses around me. Whether we like it or not, you and I are going to have these undesirable moments of weakness. Sometimes these moments will be brief. Sometimes our weaknesses will last for an extended period of time. The goal is to stay tender with our shortcomings and humbly repair with those around us when we cause pain. I encourage you to read the book, Joy Starts Here: The Transformation Zone, to learn more about this process.

Invite Immanuel to show you how He is tender with your weaknesses, and see what happens.

Posted in Parenting

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  1. Tania M

    Jen. Thank you for being so open with your struggles and sharing them with all. A few year ago I was going through some difficulties and I was asked to lead a group of young moms through a study. I looked at all I was going through and thought, “who am I to lead these ladies when my life is such a mess right now?” The answer I got from Emmanuel was “being open and sharing your struggles will be an encouragement to others” . I realized that we tend to want to hide when we know we are failing at doing what we know we should but I have come to realize that others need to see us being real and see that it is about not giving up: even when it seems impossible or we cannot see the light at the end YET. Thank you. ps Hope that you will be joining Chris for the conference in Minneapolis in September.

  2. Michelle Craig

    So helpful: not having the goal of being perfect, but staying tender to my weaknesses and the weaknesses of others. Feel like this line ministered straight to my heart from the Spirit! Thank you for being his instrument!

  3. M

    Thank you for such a genuine everyday example of walking out life. This is a sweet gift to receive. Will be praying for your love and your capacity!

    M-in Kansas city

  4. Misa Garavaglia

    You guys are in a really tough season right now! I am praying daily for your sweet family. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. God IS so tender with us in our weakness. In fact, He EXPECTS us to fail sometimes! What a good Daddy He is when we bring what we have, (even if it is very little), to receive our humble offering and hold us in our weakness.

  5. Shirley Dose

    Jen, I love the picture your story gives of a loving Abba that is willing to let us learn and grow through our struggles, even trusting us to grow through the challenge, and He gives the capacity to be humble and transparent. This not only encourages me that you are a good leader but also that Abba will be faithful to me as I grow too.

    He is Good,
    Shirley 2

    PS. May He bring you just the help you need, right on time.

  6. Charles Spoelstra

    Thank you so much Jen for being transparent and vulnerable with your struggles. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who struggles with capacity and days when I just can’t quite seem to quiet myself or act like myself. It’s so good to know each other’s stories so we can all learn how to be tender toward our weaknesses.

  7. Lorri

    Thank you so much for your transparency with us, Jen! Very refreshing. Blessings to you and your family. I’ll be praying for you all!

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