Speak the Hard Things

Speak the hard things. 
On a cold peeling blue wooden park bench, I shuddered and
wrapped my navy sweatshirt around me tighter today. The spring wind was brisk,
chilling me as I read. 
She shocks me, this author. In between poetic raw faith
musings on family and cancer which grab my mind and echo in me, she breaks into
political monologues that are jarring and unfamiliar to me, or irreverent
rants. Flipping pages past to family and faith, I read and pick up the story
line again.
Speak the hard things. I agree, yet hesitate. Where’s the
fine line between sharing the hard and yet not speaking ill of others? But I do
remember the liberating hope and encouragement that came in my early years of
parenting from hearing other moms share stories of coming undone and unglued. 
On the park bench, I stopped reading to watch my three year
old scale a webbed triangular jungle gym. My two teens hung upside down on red
metal bars, laughing; their dark hair glinting and swooshing in the sunshine.
“Do you know I love you guys so much?” I yelled out to them.
They laughed, exchanged glances and looked back patronizingly at me. “Yes, Mom,”
they called back in a patient “Our Mom is such an idiot”-kind of way. 
This weekend was different, though. How can great teens be
so rude? How can a happy marriage have such a horrible day? 
Speak the hard things. 
There will be days when your gracious, kind teens will mouth
off, have bad attitudes and moan about homework. They will roll their eyes and
disagree with your decisions. Conversations will ensue about proper eye and
mouth behavior, but the inner hearts will still be angry and sad for a few
hours. Dumb things may be said. 
There will be times when happy couples will be stressed and
impatient. We will choose our own needs first, sadly, and fall into ruts of
communicating for an hour or so, reverting to an unhappy, silent standoff. The
night will fall dark and still, the bed will feel wide apart, and the red
digital numbers will quietly click off time. “In the silence, a marriage dies…?”
I wonder in my melodramatic way. 
“No, Jen,” he says softly in the hot steaming shower the
next morning. “We just work harder. We hug, we gently talk; we criticize less.
We firmly stop the kids in their own bad habits.” Water runs down, and we
breathe deeply. “We’re not dying.” 
Hugs, quiet cuddling on the couch, concentrated efforts to
put the other person first, and to affirm. Criticism is curbed, checked; cut
off while still on the lips. I retrain my mind, my impulses, and think of Roses and Sit Ups
Gentle kisses, lingering hugs, and hope unfurls. 
The rainy cold day passes. My sister arrives for a coffee
date. Over thick fudgy chocolate cake, and then again over cardboard coffee
cups, we talk. I venture out raw but vague. Later under a dripping raindrop windshield
she prays for me, squeezing my knee. Yellow daffodils bob in the gentle rain
A weekend of gentle kindness and grace unfurls beauty and strength
and joy in a marriage– and in the family. A teen apologizes. A couple cuddles
and talks. 
All’s well with the world again.
Thank you, Abba.

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  1. AmyAlves on April 24, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Evenin' Jennifer!
    I loved your honest heart in this! May God continue to pour blessings on you and yours, as you continue to give up your own desires and give all to Him… daily. It's so daily isn't it? God is working in our lives sister. I'm so blessed by your sharing! ~ Blessings, Amy

  2. Michelle @ Changed By The Maker on April 24, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Ah Jen, so honestly reflective of the human experience. Nothing is perfect but with Him it can be very, very good. Sounds like an authentic life your living, and I wouldn't expect anything less!

    Thanks for your beautiful writing, and for linking up with me for Make Life Meaningful Monday!

  3. Houseofmills on April 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks for your honesty. Love when someone can pour their heart out and be open and honest about life. Makes me realize I am not alone. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jennifer Dougan on April 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm


    Hello, friend. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it is daily, isn't it? Often it is easy and joyful. Thanks.


  5. Jennifer Dougan on April 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm


    "With him it is very very good…" yes! Authenticity… striving hard for it. Thank you.


  6. Jennifer Dougan on April 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Hi Liz,

    You are not alone. I'm thankful for community, and for God's patient, tender sense of humor.


  7. Denise on April 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Bless your precious heart.

  8. Cheryl Barker on April 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Speaking the hard things — I've grappled with it, too, Jennifer. It takes courage to share — blessings to you for doing so!

  9. Jennifer Dougan on April 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm


    Thank you to your precious heart too. 🙂

    Have a great week. May your health be better this week too.


  10. Jennifer Dougan on April 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm


    "Grappling with" is a good term to describe that fine balance isn't it? I agree.

    Keep wrestling with me too,

  11. Brian Miller on April 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    i am glad that you walked through this…there are tough days for sure…and we walk them, life is not perfect…we expect them…and prepare…

  12. Mommy Emily on April 27, 2012 at 4:11 am

    oh girl. first of all, love that you're reading anne lamott. she's so shockingly real, hey? she's made me dare to be real too. and i love how Jesus shines through you. blessings, friend.

  13. cabinart on April 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    You have the perfect balance between letting the world know life is hard sometimes without getting totally naked in public. Thank you for your honesty, Jennifer. (And that linked author also puzzles me while resonating!)

  14. Jennifer Dougan on May 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm


    Thanks for stopping by. "We expect them [the hard days] and prepare for them"… is good advice.


  15. Jennifer Dougan on May 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you, Emily and Jana.


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