This post is day 7. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.
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G[/ba-dropcap]rief and loss over time give way to a stronger emotion: Anger. I want to give a disclaimer here, I am no counselor or psychologist, so I am writing here more out of my experience rather than anything else. I can see very clearly with every one of my moves weeks and months where anger was easily and quickly triggered by the most random of things.

After we moved to Sweden, we tried to find a large rubbish bin, and couldn’t. We ended up with a small rectangular box under our sink. I had an eight-week-old baby and a two-year-old in diapers, we probably filled that bin once a day if not more in the first months. Having to throw out the trash regularly made me angry, not every now and then, but very, very frequently. It wasn’t about the rubbish necessarily, it was about being in a new place where I couldn’t figure out a solution to a problem that would have been easily solved in a country where I was more familiar with stores.

Moving to a new country or place is a study in being out of control, and this can and will often lead to strong feelings of anger.

For me the anger was directed toward my husband and kids, and this manifested itself in different ways, very regularly in careless, angry words and other times in worse behaviors. I don’t have a lot of advice on how to deal with this, believe me I’m still dealing with this in our current move. Here are a few things I try to practice that help.

Expect it. As crazy as this sounds, when a move is on the horizon, it helps me to expect to be angry about little things and big things. I have to expect it so that I create some margins and help structures in my life.

Time to myself. I need it every day to recharge, to journal my feelings out, to pray and ask God for strength, and to speak words of truth over myself.

Ask for help. If I can tell that I am getting angry with the kids, I try to tell Husband, so he knows and can pray for me, and can give me some time away from the kids in the evening or weekend. I try to get a babysitter.

Ask for forgiveness. There have been months when I’ve asked one of my kids for forgiveness almost daily because of mistakes I’ve made, and I’m not talking about just saying, Sorry. It’s, Mommy is sorry for _______ and the way it made you feel disrespected, sad, ______. I can see that this hurt you deeply, and I am so sorry about this. Please will you forgive me? As painful as it is to make the mistakes, to say these words, to look into the eyes of people I love whose trust I have broken, the practice of asking my husband and children for forgiveness is also deeply humbling and renewing. It keeps – I hope – our hearts connected to each other, when anger tries to separate us. I also ask God for forgiveness, and often I do this on the spot in front of my children.

See a counselor. In a season when I was more seriously concerned about the consequences of my anger, I started seeing a counselor who helped me face some of the pain in my own life that was leading to the mistakes I was making. There are no easy fixes for the anger and its consequences, but professional help with someone who is qualified can be a good place to start especially if you think that you can no longer manage your own self, and if the people around you express the same concerns.

Now it’s your turn: What tips do you have for dealing with anger?
transition
This post is day 6. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.
crying
Many years ago, I had a session with a counselor to talk about a transition I was experiencing. This was before marriage and children, it was me and yet another move. She said something I have never forgotten: Transition is all about loss.

We are quick to look at what we have to gain in a transition. The new house or culture, a job in a different state, a longed-for relationship, the country or continent move for which you have planned and hoped, a child or multiple children. But hidden behind the things or people we long for is what we will have to give up to make space for the new thing. And the giving up is loss, the giving up hurts, the giving up is hard.

I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I embraced an attitude of trying to look or the best, I thought it was positive or spiritual. I thought it was a good way to live; I thought it was God’s way. Most cultures I know and certainly Christian culture as well is deeply uncomfortable with loss and grief. Someone dies, and it’s, Well at least you will see them again in heaven. You lose your job, and the quick reply comes, There is something better.

Numbering my losses and accounting for them honors their significance in my life. In the months before we left Sweden, I cried almost every day. I sat with my best friend, and instead of talking about all the things I was looking forward to, I often said, I’m so sad that I won’t get to see you again and left it at thatIt was incredibly empowering to cry and cry and cry when I felt sad, and I surrounded myself with people who were fine with a grieving woman, who didn’t try to “fix” the grief, and who accepted my emotions.

Crying, writing and giving words to my sadness was and is crucial to my grieving process. This probably looks different for you, but whatever it is that you have to do to grieve, please do it. 

There doesn’t have to be a happy ending, we can sit in the messy middle of transition and just exist in it. There is no need to hurry the process along. The process itself is doing its work; it takes time to move forward thoughtfully and intentionally.

Every time I allowed myself to be sad and to speak about my losses, I honored those things as important and treasured in my life. Giving space for my losses to hurt also honors the source of these good things, I would like to think that every time I cried about leaving Sweden, it was a way of telling God, you gave me such a great gift in this place, Thank you.

Now it’s your turn: Is it hard for you to grieve? What can you do right now to grieve losses in the past or your current losses.

Resources: Steven Colbert’s interview in GQ is a fantastic insight into grief and loss. Give it a read.

transition

This post is day 5 of 31 Days of Thoughts & Tips on Transition. Head here to read the rest of the posts. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.

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So I can tell you this about moving time and transitions: The days are harder than the normal days at home, there will seem to be a mountain of tasks ahead of you to finish, and there appears to be little reward in the work of it all. Discouragement, worry, fear and control all start to look like reasonable options, and this is when I know I need to tie myself to an anchor that will hold.

I reach for words of truth, and they speak peace to my fear, freedom to my control and courage to my discouragement.

I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is my love for you. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep, the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night. Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered in shame. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. God is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me by quiet waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his names’ sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.

When I feel alone and no one understands, I choose the truth: I am never alone, I am deeply understood, everything about my life and my circumstances is known to God.

When I am afraid because of the unknowns ahead, I choose the truth: God’s plans for my life are only good, he has provided for my every need, I am safe, nothing and no one can harm me.

When I am exhausted because of the move or my children or my emotions, I choose the truth: He has prepared rest for me, I can choose to rest in my soul even if the life around me is stressful.

Anchoring my life in the truth has to change the way I parent my kids. Instead of letting their stress and whining drag me down into harsh, impatient words uttered back to them, I can build them up with words of truth. I can’t do it, the regular whine of my kids when they are frustrated or tired, and they hear this back from me, You can do it. You can do all things through Jesus who gives you strength. You can do it.

The week the movers came, I started the morning either at the dining table or in the car, by telling my kids, This is the day that God has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. I don’t know why those words came to my mind, there are many other words in the Bible that are more encouraging to me, but I needed something short, and words that would give me and them hope. We said it almost daily for weeks, and it anchors us in the truth.

We are moving today, we are busy today, the weather is not nice today, I didn’t get what I want today, but. This is the day that God has made. We are safe, he made this day. We are cared for, he made this day. We can trust because he made this day. We are not in charge, he made this day. We are in the hands of a loving, good, father, and this day with all the tensions and struggles and disappointments, he made it. We are going to be ok, and we can rejoice and be glad in it. He is in charge, and he frees us to rejoice, to be glad, and to move forward.

Now it’s your turn: Whatever transition you are in right now, stop and take the time to write down a few words that will anchor you in truth. What will you hold on to?

I’m linking up with Jennifer and Holley

transition

This post is day 3 of 31 Days of Thoughts & Tips on Transition. Head here to read the rest of the posts. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here

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kolmarden

We were sitting at our dining table with Big Boy, who is four, when we told him the news. We are saying goodbye to the yellow house and leaving Sweden, and we are moving to Australia. I had been dreading this moment for weeks. Once a long time ago, I asked him where he thinks he is from, and without missing a beat, he said, I’m Stockholman. The yellow house is all he can remember, and he loved Sweden, his friends, school, and church.

But there it was the news hanging in the air, and his face lit up immediately. Australia?! We had returned from Melbourne a few weeks prior, fresh in his mind were precious times with aunts and uncles, new friends and kangaroos. He was thrilled.

And immediately after that, his face crashed, and tears filled his eyes, But what about all my toys?  We reassured him that they would come as well on a big ship. He thought about other things he could not take with him, I won’t have the rocks in our driveway anymore!!! There were more tears.

He understood perfectly what was going to happen.

My children need me to tell them what is going on, and I lose sight of this need constantly. They are not bags we pick up and put down in a new location, they are human beings with a heart and spirit, deeply sensitive and aware of what is going on around them, and acutely aware of their parents’ emotions and stressors.

They need to know what is going on, and they need the news communicated to them in a time and way that they understand. And for smaller kids, they need the same information repeated over and over again.

For Big Boy we didn’t want to tell him right away, we wanted to wait until we were certain of what we were doing and also until it was a bit closer to the time of the move. I think we told him five weeks before we moved. For a child who isn’t naturally a worrier or anxious perhaps telling him or her earlier would be fine.

I do not remember a big moment when we told Little Bear, who is two, but a few weeks later, I was talking to a friend who works with kids in a preschool, and she challenged me to communicate with Little Bear in the same way as Big Boy, to tell him the things that are happening. The moving truck is coming today, there will be boxes in your room, they will put your things into a box. Every little thing that you can think of, perhaps most especially the things that do not seem important enough to warrant a real conversation, these are the things we have to tell our kids.

Because they can see and they know that something is going on.

Because it makes them feel afraid.

Because few things can give them peace and security like knowing that their parents are honest with them about what’s happening in their lives.

Now it’s your turn: What do you need to talk to your kids about? What are some creative ways you could have these conversations?

transition