Turn Your Gratitude into the Courage to Tear and Mend

No matter what is on your plate as this Thanksgiving approaches, as Moms we need to find strength for inevitable tearing and mending during the holidays.  Sometimes tearing or disrupting false peace means speaking up at a family gathering and asking everyone to stop bickering, leave politics off the table, or to not comment on anyone’s weight.  Other times, mending looks like being sure all the family members are included during the day, or setting aside your own hurts and hangups in favor of bringing your whole authentic self to the day.  This takes incredible courage.  So, how can we do it, mamas?

When we encounter the need to tear or mend in our lives, we must first harness gratitude to build our courage.  When we give thanks for all the good before entering into a potential conflict, it helps us realize how much we stand to gain and how we are already overflowing.  When we act from a posture of gratitude, we can stand to lose a little ground if it means the opportunity to fight for authenticity in our lives.

Psalm 85:10 (ESV) says, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  Is it possible that love and faithfulness meet at the intersection of gratitude and conflict?  Maybe the bridge to peace is righteousness, which requires the courage to speak up for what is true and right, no matter the cost.

Recently, I have had to find strength to stand up for myself and others, and do a bit of tearing or disrupting false peace.   On the surface, life seemed fine and normal, but in my soul, I knew I had to take a stand.  Have you been there?  To get through that season, I had to take time to list out my gratitude; talking through it helped me find courage to do what needed to be done.  I called my best friends or texted them often, reminding myself through those conversations to choose to be grateful for my loved ones, my security, my health, and even my educational training.  And then, just like the dad in the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” all I needed was twenty seconds of courage to tear down the walls.

Even so, when I disrupt the false peace, I am immediately terrified every time.  My mind reels, “What have I done? I opened a can of worms that could not be returned to said can. Was it worth it?” Truth: Absolutely it was worth it. Because you know what came next? The mending.  No matter how hard the conflict or confrontation is, when I rely on gratitude to find courage, I am never left at a loss. I felt a rush of peace and renewed energy to let God mend relationships in my life.

The Bible says in Matthew 5 (NIV), The Beatitudes,  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth.”  To get to peacemaking, we have to first tear down the barriers to peace, which often include a sense of false peace or literal facades.  I visualize the niceties or placating in a family as layered Stucco over beautiful original brick.  To me, sharing the beauty of exposed brick is worth the discomfort of tearing the wall.

The Bible believes tearing is beautiful too.  In fact, did you know the Bible refers to “tearing” upwards of sixty times?  At times, tearing refers to God’s judgment, mercy, grief, or big heart change (repentance).  In each case, tearing represents a stark contrast.  The best part of this image of tearing to me is how God has always honored our courage to be honest and different from business as usual.  Even back when the Bible was written people were still putting up walls, facades, and trying to cover up the truth. Some things never change.

So, take courage, mamas.  Peacemakers do not have to be peacekeeping doormats this Thanksgiving. Isn’t that great news? We should feel empowered and take courage in our tearing and mending.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:34 (NIV), “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but to be a sword.”

When we make peace instead of trying to keep the peace or be the peace, we also are like a sword (or a sewing needle) in God’s hands.  Mending requires sharpness, doesn’t it?  In my life, mending requires authenticity, vulnerability, and true love, care, and concern.  And even if you do not have massive drama you’re facing, let yourself be free and fully present during the holiday without the pressure to perform. No walls, just exposed brick for all to see.

Let us pray Philippians 1:20 (NIV) as a mantra as we approach our upcoming holiday, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

And finally:
Let gratitude sink deep into your soul this Thanksgiving.
Harness your gratitude into courage for bringing authenticity into your moments.
It is okay to disrupt false peace.
God is pleased when we tear and mend.

?Written by Jo Perkins

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • Ecclesiasties 3:1, 6a (NIV), “There is a time to tear and a time to mend.”
  • Matthew 5 (NIV), The Beatitudes  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth.”
  • Matthew 10:34 (NIV), “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but to be a sword.”
  • Philippians 1:20 (NIV), “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
  • Psalm 85:10 (ESV), “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

Music to inspire you:

  • River of Grace by Christy Nockels: “You weren’t meant to carry such a load. Lay it down, and we can watch it go down the river of grace.”
  • Just for Now by Kelly Clarkson: “It’s that time of year  | Leave all our hopelessnesses aside | If just for a little while | Tears stop right here | I know we’ve all had a bumpy ride | I’m secretly on your side.”

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazerro
  • Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen
  • Podcast to try – In This Together (Dr. Josh and Christi Straub)  They are so real together, and I love learning anything deeper about emotional safety and the four walls of a safe house.  Their mission is to grow kids who “live, love, and lead well.” How can we resist that goal? I am all the way here for their teaching. They can help you keep it real and faith-filled this holiday season.

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Living Out the Truth

Ideas to try:

  • On your placecards if you are hosting Thanksgiving, why not use this verse as a reminder to your guests? You could also write it in your hostess’s card when you bring her a gift. Acts 2:46 (NIV), “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”
  • When you need to have hard conversations, it is okay to create a Note in your phone or text yourself reminders of what you need to say. I often use my old fashioned journal too.
  • Take time for creative reflection, whether that is writing, drawing, coloring, painting, yoga, dance, or just watching a movie for adults, not kids! As moms, we need to carve space for ourselves to be our first names, not just Mom, Mama, or Mommy!
  • Audible free trial – Whiskey in a Teacup (Reese Witherspoon)  I just finished listening to her book, and she brightened my mood on my morning and evening commute. I love that it was Reese of “Legally Blonde” and “Sweet Home Alabama” talking to me through my car speakers. She is worth your first credit in the free trial! Lots of tips and tricks for entertaining too.

Treasured Product we love:

  • Essential Oil Diffusing can be a great way to create calm in your home.  The diffusers and oils can be purchased at Walmart, Target, Amazon, or most pharmacies. If you need a little practical mending mood-setting, turn on your diffuser. Eucalyptus and Lavender are my favorites.
  • Have you ever used Shutterfly to make a family photo album or a special gift? I upload my Instagram photos and use those to make my Christmas cards and yearly scrapbook.  There are great deals right now.
  • Try to memorize one Bible verse a month, so you can recite it to yourself during hard moments. I use a paper calendar from Dayspring that has a memory verse for each month (I found mine a Hobby Lobby on sale, but this is the same one with a different design).  Carrying God’s word with me at work and in everyday life bolsters my strength for tearing and mending.

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more.In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}