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Not a Casserole Widow: Responding to the Storm

I saw something come across her face and she turned away from me. Her frail body, which usually moved with slow caution, kicked up speed and she marched across the busy church lobby, adjusting her cane with her pace. She demonstrated surprising agility dodging the crush of families taking last minute graduation pictures. I wondered what she was doing.

And then I saw it.

Oh man.

She approached my children who were standing with my x, his wife, and his dad. In the past, she has shown the utmost courtesy to my x. She's quite good at chit chat. Me, I'm not. I didn't see a smile on her face that day, and I saw my tallest, the graduate, turn away from her.

My sweet mom, who for 8 years has been the icon of grace under pressure, spoke a truth that day to my x. Honestly, it was a truth I wished I had the courage to say. My faithful, 82-year-old mom who taught me to love Christ, had a moment. One moment in 8 years since he left. One moment she did not restrain herself from speaking a truth to the man who has been hurting her daughter for 24 years.

One moment, and in that moment, all eyes turned on her. No one had compassion for her grief. No one looked at her with gentle understanding. My children were dismayed she spoke at such an important event. The x's wife wrote a blog chastising her behavior. My mom experienced intense shame for days.

But dang! Let's think about this. What would cause a woman who has been painfully well spoken, poised, and cordial to my x for years suddenly shift? Our society is quick to judge the person who behaves with indignation, instead of looking at the person to whom the indignation is channeled.

  • Could it be possible that the person being fussed at deserves it?

  • Could it be possible that the manipulation has been so extreme, self-control isn't achievable?

  • Could it be possible that it is ok to speak truth, no matter what the situation?

My dog has great intuition. If he responds to a stranger with barking and the hairs on his back raised, that is out of character for him. I don't immediately think my dog has issues. I instantly look at the person who activated this response in my pet because I assume his protective barking may indicate I'm in danger. What would happen if we took this example and applied to humans?

I heard a story about a mom who had a rage fest towards her x husband at a soccer game in front of her kids and a slew of onlookers (no- it wasn't me!). She was haunted with regret after the explosion. In my past life, I might have been critical of her, but in my current life, I wonder what awful thing he did to her to make her so raw.

The outside world may not understand your situation, so it is important that YOU choose to give yourself grace if do not behave perfectly 100% of the time. I'm not always unflappable around my children's father. Recognize that it takes superhuman strength (or God strength) to ignore your own instinct to protect yourself in the presence of perceived danger.

Visuals often help my clients navigate tricky situations. I'm hoping this quote will help you too.

What comes up visually for you when you read this quote? Can you help yourself see it when you are within your storm?

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Vivian Greene


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