At age 11, I was terrified my mother had alzheimer’s. I worried constantly that my father would die of a heart attack. And I obsessed about my 5th grade teacher discovering that I misplaced a class library book.
Your tween daughter worries about a lot of things, too. Perhaps you only notice the moodiness and short temper, but underneath the emotions there is likely a complex web of worry.
And scarier than the thoughts themselves, is the idea of sharing them with anyone. Even with you…her mom.
I never shared my fears with anyone.
I stuffed them in the closet of my mind until I could no longer shut the door at the age of 37.
That’s not what I want for my daughters. And trust me, neither do you.
I’ve now learned the importance of giving voice to the fears in my head (regardless of how irrational) and I model this new-found freedom for my girls. Not only has our relationship grown closer, but they tell me everything! Even the things I’d rather not know:)
You can have a healthy relationship with your tween daughter, too. Here’s how.
Be honest about your own fears.The trick to this is knowing the threshold your daughter can handle. Start by nonchalantly telling her about a scary dream. Make a point of including the feelings in your body when you woke up and how it felt so very real.Your daughter needs to know that you understand fear. That you struggle with it, too. Sharing a bit of your own worries will allow her open up about hers.
Listen. Don’t try to fix her.When your daughter does talk about her anxiety, resist the urge to fix it right away. Instead, be comforting. Give her a gentle hug. Often, words aren’t even necessary. Simply tell her that you are glad she shared. Let her know that you love her and that you are always there for her. Don’t minimize or dismiss her fears. The goal is to keep her talking, not make her feel guilty that her worries don’t make sense (and often they don’t).Verbalizing a fear is difficult. Reassure your daughter by your actions and your body language (open and intent) that you won’t over-react.
Notice the best time of day to share. My daughters are most willing to talk right after school and immediately before bed. Watch for the times your girl is most chatty and be intentional about clearing your schedule to be available (in your heart and in your head) during those times.That means putting down the phone, looking into her beautiful eyes, and giving her your full attention.
The connection between mother and daughter deserves our attention.
As our daughters get older, their struggles and worries get bigger. Cultivating a habit of open communication is one of the most valuable gifts you’ll ever give.
I became the mom that my daughters needed only after experiencing a physical and emotional breakdown. Thankfully, you don’t need a traumatic event to foster love and connection with your tween.
Today’s post comes from Glenna Marshall. Glenna has been playing the piano since the age of seven and writing songs since the age of sixteen. Her music comes from hard places, but because of God’s faithfulness much good comes from the brokenness.
It was all my husband’s idea.
Or, that’s what I tell myself while I push down the memories of that weekend in college when a couple of friends took a road trip with me to Nashville where we toured a university geared toward musicians and I contemplated a transfer. Too scared to make a statement with that kind of change, I stayed where I was and pursued my creative writing degree.
So no, I guess it wasn’t always just my husband’s idea to launch me into a “carobby” (which is my made-up word for the creative conglomeration of career + hobby). The seeds were planted long ago when I was writing songs in the insulated piano closets at my university. But, for nearly fourteen years of marriage, my husband has patiently urged me to do the thing I’m most scared to do.
So, I cut an album, to use the professional vernacular. And I feel weird and a little on edge even wording it that way, although that’s exactly what I did.
It took nearly two years from start to finish because my producer was freelancing for me, we adopted our second child, my mother had brain surgery, and I was coming to terms with a chronic illness. Messy, all of it, and during the recording process I felt like I didn’t have a whole lot to offer to the world. And what I did have to offer was mine.
Like many Christian creatives, I struggle to hand over my art, and truthfully, to even call it “art.” The sacred, personal nature of what God teaches us in the quiet moments at the piano or the sequestered corner of the coffee shop with our open journals lends itself to privacy. Creating requires me to send down an empty bucket into the depths of past suffering and present trials, and to pour out the contents repeatedly.
What God desires me to share are the truths learned about Him when I sink into His Word during painful seasons.
I know why. It’s so I can comfort others with the same comfort I have received from God.(2 Cor. 1:4) But when I click the button that launches into the online world a song I wrote because I couldn’t quite believe God loved me last year, I feel inadequate—an impostor who is pretending to be something she’s really, really not.
Here’s the truth, though: God gave us creative gifts to point others to Him, the only real creator. What we do as musicians, writers, artists, speakers is a shadow of what the author of life has done. Our offerings to the world are acts of mimicry, and that’s a good thing. We obey by stewarding well the gifts God has given us, and we glorify Him when another person is encouraged to love Him more deeply.
If my goal is to make Christ known, then it is perfectly fine to surrender my frayed, tattered offerings to the world toward that end.
God is particularly good at making something from nothing.
We’ve talked about the pressure to measure up, and the freedom Jesus wants us to walk in. Those truths are not only great, but life-changing! Here are practical steps to guide you on your journey towards coming out of hiding and learning to dance.
T – TELL YOUR TEAM
I know life often feels lonely. Maybe you’re like me, and you spend a lot of time thinking in your head. I often feel like I’m “supposed” to figure things out on my own. Let me tell you right now that is not true! God made us to be in relationship with Him and with others. He tells us that’s the way life works best. So the very first thing on my Action list when I start to feel myself sliding into undercover mess mode is to tell my team. Yes, you have a team!
Always remember that the very first person on your team is Jesus. He is your biggest cheerleader. Your biggest fan. And he happens to hold the entire world in His hands. Pretty great person to own your team, right? So, Jesus is the owner. Everyone else on your team works for him. Members of my team include my husband, daughters, sisters, parents, friends, therapist, doctors, and pastor. I obviously require a really big team!
W – WORK TOGETHER
This is so helpful because it takes all the pressure of you to figure life out! A few weeks ago, when I was feeling anxious, I started Googling my symptoms to try to figure out what was going on. That made it so much worse! Then I remembered that this is why God gave me a team. I called my sister and she offered to help me with meals for the week. I met with my doctor and she made some changes to my medication. My daughters wrote me encouraging notes and gave me lots of hugs. I had many people praying for me. And I knew that Jesus, the owner of my team, was the one working through all of them to help me.
Yes, Jesus works through people. So listen close now. Sometimes you will feel like you have to do everything on your own. This is not true, but we’re messy miracles and it’s easy for us to forget. That’s why the next step is so important.
I – INDULGE IN GOD’S WORD
What if I told you that there was an instruction manual for life that had the answer to every worry, every fear, and every stress in your life? I bet you’d want it read it! So, there’s good news! The God who created this world. Who created life. Who created you. The God who knows the answer to every problem and prayer, He wrote you a love letter. He used other Messy Miracles to actually write it on paper, but make no mistake, He moved the pen in their hands. And every word and story in this love letter whispers the name of Jesus.
So, Indulge in God’s word! Don’t just read it with your head, read it with your heart. Soak it up and soak it in. Read the very words he said and imagine that He is saying them just to you.
R – REST
When’s the last time you rested? Body, mind AND soul. I think we often misunderstand the meaning of rest. We think just because we got a full night’s sleep that we’re rested. But a busy mind takes up just as much energy as busy legs. And a restless soul saps us even more. Yet so many of us have conditioned ourselves to under-prioritize the type of life giving rest that God prescribes.
I like to think about rest not as something to check off my list, but rather as an important part of the rhythm of life. Daily rhythm. Weekly rhythm and seasonal rhythm. In today’s world we need to be conscious and purposeful about scheduling our rest. Every project plan, every to-do list that you have, should also include an intentional time of rest.
L – LEAVE THE OUTCOME TO GOD
The final step in coming out of hiding from being an undercover mess is to leave the outcome to God. What outcome, you might ask? ALL outcomes. We really like to think we’re in control. We’re even taught that in many cases. Study hard and you’ll get good grades. Work hard and you’ll be respected. Practice hard and you’ll make the team. It is true that it’s good to study, work and practice but there’s no guarantee about the outcome. All we can do is our best and give God the rest.
I have the words Be Still tattooed on my wrist. Not necessarily as a reminder to be physically still, but more of a reminder that God is the one ultimately in control. So if I’ve done my best. If I have told my team and worked with them. If I have indulged in the word of God. If I have rested and given the outcome to God, then I can TWIRL my way through this life.
God created you to dance. He made you to run out the door and feel the wind in your face. He made your spirit to soar with joy on a springtime day. He made you to live life and have it to the full, so let’s come out of hiding and twirl together!
For when my life crumbled, I learned what “Be Still” really means. And I want you to know, too.
Do you ever feel bogged down? Like your hope has been stolen. Your joy is all but dead. And your dreams are all but destroyed? I know that sounds a little dramatic, but many of us have felt those emotions in a very real way.
Stolen. Dead. Destroyed.
John 10:10 says that our enemy has come to “steal, kill, and destroy.” And we feel that pain as messy humans. Whether our hopes are dashed for a job, or we’ve lost a baby, or we’re simply so exhausted by the piles of laundry and pressure to be perfect that we go to bed numb each night.
We need a Savior from this mess.
The good news? We have one. John 10:10 doesn’t stop there.
“The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have LIFE, and have it TO THE FULL.” Other translations say, “have it ABUNDANTLY.”
Jesus gives life. The life he gives right now is abundantly richer and fuller than we can image. It is eternal, yet it ALSO begins immediately. I once heard that Jesus is like a multi-faceted diamond. He gives eternal life, yes! But he also gives life here on earth and He wants us to live it to the full.
What’s the opposite of steal, kill, and destroy?
Give. Revive. And Restore.
Jesus wants to give you abundant life. He wants to revive the dead parts of your heart. He wants to restore what’s been broken. But how does he do that? We’ll tell you HOW with some practical steps in Part 3 of “UNDERCOVER MESS.”
For when my life crumbled, I learned what “Be Still” really means. And I want you to know, too.