“She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials. She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Never before have I known how much my disposition affects those around me, as I do today. The processing of emotions and finding ways to express myself have always been deeply connected to my levels of satisfaction, but lately I am seeing that the tone of my soul affects many.
When I am centred, when I am strong, when I am peaceful it directly changes the pace and ease of my family. When I am unsettled, disappointed, distracted it also affects the people closest to me. Whether the emotion is positive or negative, destructive or encouraging, my family walk the journey with me.
Lately I have been reflecting on a couple of situations that happened when each of my babies were really little. One of the encounters happened when Max was less than one and the second when Libby was a baby as well. Whether it was the season of sleeplessness or just a time when I was caught off guard, but in both situations I reacted in ways that I am far from proud of.
Both situations happened when I was justified to react, but I am learning that taking the higher road and responding with grace is the best way to deal with difficulties. Even when we are wronged, even when all we want to do is give someone a piece of our mind. (These were not moments of needing to speak up for injustice, these were moments of conflict when I just let my words fly.) Moments that I am unable to undo, because they were with people I don’t see very often.
You know those people that come into our days who we know from circumstance and then something happens and they are indelibly etched into our souls.
Both of these situations in the vulnerability of novice motherhood have really changed me.
I think about them often.
I grieve the words that were spoken.
Both situations keep me locked in a holding pattern, where I felt like I was treated unfairly, but at the same time I didn’t respond with wisdom either. (Oh sleep deprived motherhood you are a treat.)
They keep us contained.
Proverbs 31: 25 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.”
These situations made me feel far from strong or dignified, I got down to other people’s level and rolled around in the proverbial mud. They played dirty and I threw some mud back. The problem with these kind of encounters, that even if we are justified, we are brought down to the level of the person slinging lies and names. Maturity is thrown out the window and shame sneaks in the back door and locks us in the feelings of the disagreement.
Although the words of forgiveness have long since been muttered from my heart, I still find myself replaying the conversation in my head, trying to find a new way to reframe it.
I get stuck because questions like this roll through my mind…
How do I let go of a situation that I don’t have the opportunity to process and reframe the words that can’t be erased?
I was treated badly and they are not going to apologise, so how do I let it go?
We forgive, but the feelings and the words have marked us.
The wisdom I have gained from this verse of scripture is this; Strength and dignity become our clothing when we take the higher ground and no matter what is happening in the midst of conflict, we hold back and refrain.
Maturity is marked with the disposition of peace, when everything within you wants to rage.
I read this quote
“Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations.”
My head hurts.
Romans 12: 14-18 says this
“Emotional maturity is demonstrated by how kindly we treat those who mistreat or misunderstand us.”
The crazy part of this cycle is this; So many of the emotions I am reacting to, feeling, overwhelmed by today are connected with things that have happened in the past.
A woman of wisdom and strength however smiles at the future, knowing that better days are to come.
The more I process my disappointments, hurts and bitterness that I have experienced in days gone by, the more I am able to look up and have hope that the best is yet to come.
I am able to smile at the future, when I stand with strength and dignity in the midst of the days that really wanted to take me out.
Lots of big thoughts, roaming my heart and soul today.
Thats what happens when I start to dig deep and search for wisdom, it begins to reveal those parts of my life that need correction.
And seriously it doesn’t feel nice.
I don’t need to stay in that place though.
I can move beyond and learn, grow and say with confidence that I will laugh at the future without fear.
Day Seven Click here: She sows