Questions! We’ve got questions! AllMomDoes host Julie Lyles Carr tackles what to do when you’re in the midst of a season you don’t like, and how to handle a season that becomes your life.
I’m Julie Lyles Carr. This is the AllMomDoes Podcast, and these are the episodes that I love to get to do. This is when we answer listener questions, things that you’ve sent in and comments that you’ve had on social media posts, and things that we’re noticing when it comes to your responses to various episodes. And we take in some of those questions, and we just do the best we can to encourage and inform you and give you something to think about when it comes to the topics that we’ve been chatting about and the things that you’re interested in. So thank you so much for the comments and questions that you send in, and I just, again, I think it’s so fun getting to do this and getting to have some time to think about the things that are on your heart and to respond.
So let’s kick right off. We’ve just finished up a series called Seasons, and if you haven’t had a chance to go listen to that full series, I wanna encourage you to go back and take a listen. There are so many topics that we covered, everything from Seasons of Life where you’re going through a lot of career change with my friend Melinda Hardin, who’s had so many different jobs and she has some fantastic wisdom on how to navigate seasons within your career. To my friend Leslie Bley, who talked about when you’re not loving your season of motherhood. You love being a mom, you love your kids, but being a mom in the way that it sometimes takes it out of you, that’s tough. So we talked about a lot of different things when it comes to seasons, and I wanna encourage you to go back and, and check out those various episodes on a variety of topics when it comes to the seasons in our life.
So this question comes as a result of that. This question from a listener says, what if you are just in a really crummy season and you see no end in sight. How do you cope? And then there was a second question that came in that was similar, what if you were sick of people telling you “it’s just a season” when you know it isn’t. Sometimes a season for some is a whole life for others. You know, that is one of the things that I do have a little bit of pause when I use the word season and I wanna use it with some caution. Because you know, listener, you’re right. There are times that something that has been a season for someone else, a short period of time, a series of months, maybe a year. For someone else, it ends up being how they are experiencing life. It just goes on and on and on for them. And when we say seasons, even though we might not mean it in this way, we can unintentionally diminish what someone is going through right in front of us. I know a lot of times I’m trying to be encouraging and I’ll say to someone, well, it’s just a season, you know, this season of life can be difficult. But definitely there are things that people grapple with, and it remains, it lasts for a very long time. So I think first of all, if you’re someone who, like me, uses the word seasons a lot to describe certain chunks of time in life and uses seasons as a way to try to encourage someone to say, Hey, you know, this season will have an end. There is that little yellow caution light that we need to be monitoring. Because some circumstances do not turn out to be a short term or even bit of a longer-term season. For some people it does go on and on and on. It makes me think about people in my life who have had a child who has dealt with drug addiction, and that does not end up being a season. That ends up being something that they wrestle and grapple with long term, there is just not a break. I have friends who have children who have had chronic illnesses. Their kids are in and outta the hospital. There have been kidney transplants, there have been all kinds of health issues, and it has not been a season. It has been life. That is how it is.
So let’s talk about the first question, let’s break that down a little bit. A crummy season where you see no end in sight. Now in that situation, to me, it sounds like a listener’s talking about a season that is going on a whole lot longer than what you expected. A season that is really challenging and you thought by this point it would be wrapped up and it isn’t. I think about people who, through the course of the pandemic, they or their spouse lost a job, and here we are coming out the other side and the expectation would be, well, when things kind of get righted again, then the new job will happen, and things will move on. Yet, they’re still grappling with a season where job loss is still happening and all of the challenges with that are still going on. Sometimes with our kids, we can undergo something that we know isn’t gonna last forever. But it is long, and it keeps taking longer than we would have expected. Maybe it’s the really hands-on work you’re having to do with a child who is grappling with a learning difference and they’re making progress, but it’s really long and it’s not fun. Maybe you’re in a job situation where it’s not a great job situation, but you have not yet seen God give you the green light to move on to the next thing. So how do you cope in those seasons that are long, that keep going, that are really tough?
One of the things that is a challenge but is central to me when I’ve been in a season that is far longer than I would’ve anticipated is, I have to be thoughtful about not practicing the negative of that season over and over. And here’s what I mean by that. Mike and I went through a season in our marriage, one of the toughest seasons that we’ve endured when he was, he accepted a job that was about a 12-hour drive from where we were, from where we were living at the time. And money was very tight. He accepted this job. The house we were currently living in that we owned, had not sold, and I stayed behind to live there while he was down 12 hours away. We had six kids at the time. We hadn’t had the twins yet. That season that I thought was gonna be a couple, three months ended up being over a year. And I know for military spouses and people who invested in a long, you know, a long-distance marriage. I know that maybe not, doesn’t sound all of that, you know, difficult, but for me it was really hard and particularly because I had set this expectation, well, surely this house we’re in will sell the next couple three months and we’ll get moved down together as a family. And the conditions around this move were already extremely difficult. It was not something I wanted to do. Mike and I were not on page, so there were all these other conditions around it that were already making it really tough. But then you add on top of it that that season just kept going and going and going. And it got really tough. And we had people we thought were gonna buy the house and then the contract would fall through, and then we would have a little bit of hope that maybe we could get into a situation in the town where Mike was now living and maybe I could get down there with him and then there would be another snafu. And I mean, it was just, over and over and over. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. And the house that we owned, that we had on the market, we had the washing machine overflow, and all the flooring got destroyed. And I mean, you know, just, you know, I mean, it’s just one of those that it just kept going.
What I began to realize is that those circumstances were directly influencing the attitude I was bringing to every day. And I’m not talking about me jumping up in the mornings and trying to be little Mary Sunshine regardless of what the day was going to bring. What I am saying is I bought into the marketing around this season. What do I mean by that? It was for real, a hard, difficult season, but then I started feeling like everything was hard and difficult. It was almost like I started looking for the hard and the difficult instead of the things that were good and the things that were happy. So I would make your usual run to the grocery store, and if one of the kids dropped a carton of something or if I forgot something that I needed to get at the grocery store, it felt 10 times heavier and darker and harder than your typical dropped carton of eggs. I, I mean, it just became even bigger. Now, some of that has to do with threshold, right? I was definitely operating with a tank that was close to empty, but part of it was I was allowing the very real and challenging circumstances in this season to begin to color everything that was happening in this season. I wasn’t celebrating some of the smaller wins. I wasn’t looking for some small moments that were good. And part of my issue was anything that was happening that was good, I wanted it to be the same in perspective, the same in volume as the tough stuff that was going on. So instead of simply enjoying an afternoon play date with a dearly loved friend who once we were gonna move, I wasn’t gonna have the same kind of access to, instead of just enjoying that little bright spot, it was colored with all of this longing to not have to move and already missing this person who was right in front of me. And you know, those feelings were real. It wasn’t that I shouldn’t feel those feelings, it was that I just was conditioning myself to not find blessing anywhere. And when you do that long enough, it continues to leach what reserves you do have in the tank. I unintentionally was making things even harder and harder and harder on myself because I was buying into the overall theme of the season, which was hard, difficult, challenging, unexpected, expensive, all the stuff.
So in a crummy season, You gotta acknowledge it’s a crummy season. You’ve gotta acknowledge those feelings are going on. Because I’ve seen people do the opposite, like they just, I call it running through the water stops, you know, where you don’t stop and rehydrate. You’re just so determined that, no, this season’s great, Everything’s great, everything’s fine, fine, fine, fine. And everything’s fine, fine, fine. Until you trip over the last fine and you are just skinned knees, bloody lip, the whole thing. I’m not talking about running and pretending like there are no obstacles, that you’re not tired. I’m not talking about that. I am talking about being intentional about your pace, about what you’re paying attention to, celebrating small wins, looking for blessings where you can. Those things can help keep you afloat. They’re not everything you need. You need outside help. You need people who can come alongside you. You need encouragement. You need a good friend. You need a place you can vent. You need prayer. You need your spiritual disciplines. Yes, activate all of that. And don’t think that you have to completely sing along in a hard season, in a crummy season, and make even the good stuff, somehow come into some weird kind of tune with the hard stuff. Celebrate the little wins and look for them, because when you look for them, they will show up.
Now an expansion of that is when there is a season that others want to think is a season for you, but it’s not. And I loved the interview that I did with Heather Dixon. That’s back on episode 148. I really want you to bounce back over there and listen to that because she is someone, she and I both had bible studies published by the same publisher. We’ve been, um, on stage together. I love Heather, and she has a significant health issue, a very scary and significant health issue, and that health issue has not changed. And of course, there are well meaning people who talk to her about praying for her healing, and she of course, appreciates those sentiments and believes that God can heal her. But her message is so powerful because she talks to women specifically about what to do when you don’t love your story, when the story that you’re living is not one that you like at all. So be sure and go back and listen to that episode because there is incredible power there. But I want to make sure that for myself, I’m being really thoughtful around those for whom it’s not a season. And I can remember people, just wanting to punch people in the throat, frankly, when, you know, a young mom would be talking about a really challenging season with her toddler and somebody, well meaning, but you know, and I’m sure that I’ve done it in certain ways to people and, and I know that this is true, where you say, Well, you know, the days are hard, but it’s such a short season. They’re only little for such a short amount of time. And, and I, I mean, that’s true, but when someone feels like they’re drowning, that is not helpful. It is not helpful. And I have friends for whom, there were those who were being well, meaning, you know, they’ve, they’re single and for some of them they’re going to always be single. I mean, that just seems to be the position God has them in. And well-meaning people have said, well, enjoy this season of your singleness because you won’t be single forever. We don’t know that. We can’t know that at all. Sometimes someone will be in a really difficult marriage, and they feel like God has called them to stay in that marriage, and their marriage partner is not changing. It’s not necessarily an abusive situation or a situation where there’s infidelity. It’s just the mixing and meeting of two people who really don’t seem to be really well suited to each other. There can be this partnership that is very challenging and of course, All marriages have two sides to the story, but maybe you’ve known a marriage where there is someone who really seems to be a really lovely person and they feel very called to stay in the marriage and they’re married to someone who’s very difficult. And that is a season that is not changing. It’s, it’s not going anywhere.
So I think a lot about Heather’s story, her journey with this illness that she has. And one of the things that she correlates it to is the story of Naomi and Ruth and how Naomi had a story that Naomi did not like at all. Naomi even renamed herself Bitter. I mean, think about that a minute. That is, that is when you are really making a statement about the life that you’re living and the way you feel about it. One of the things that I love that Heather about though, is before jumping somebody into, well, here’s all the ways to cheer up, and here’s all the ways to look on the bright side and da, da, da, da, da. She says, you know, grieve it. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to talk about what’s really hard and that this is a story you weren’t expecting and how it feels. Because there’s something in acknowledging that something is tough and that you’re aware it’s not changing, that you’re really willing to stare something down in all honesty and say, this is not what I thought life was gonna look like, and I’m gonna take a beat to mourn what I wish could have been. That then sort of allows you to get up and dust off your knees and continue forward to see how you’re gonna walk this out with God, to see how he’s going to be there for you.
It makes me think too about the servant Hagar. She was the handmaid servant to Sarah. Sarah was married to Abraham, and Sarah decided it would be a great idea to have Hagar go be with Abraham so that Hagar could get pregnant because Sarah had not been able to have children. Hagar does this for her, for her mistress, for Sarah. And then Sarah’s angry and jealous and upset when Hagar actually ends up pregnant. So just, you know, make sure that you take note of that in terms of sometimes not the greatest idea to bring somebody else into the marriage. Well, with Hagar, she ends up out in the desert. She and Sarah have hit such an impasse in their relationship and for her as a servant, for someone in that strata of society, there wasn’t just a whole world of possibility. There were no hashtag boss girl memes going around for someone like Hagar. Here is someone who knows that this is her lot in life and what is she gonna do? Because the people for whom she is the servant, one of them now is extremely unhappy with her and it’s not a jealousy that’s going to go away. God meets her there in that desert and lets her know that he has seen her, he has seen what she’s going through and that he is with her. He has not forgotten her, and she ends up using a name for God where basically, she gives him a nickname. And she says, you are the God who sees me. When you are in a season that ends up not being a season, this remembrance that God does see. It’s so hard when we don’t feel like we see him acting out on our behalf, but there is so much peace in knowing that he does see, that he does know, and that he does care. So when you’re in a season that seems to be a whole lot more than a season, grieve it. Be honest about it. And remember that there is a God who sees, that there is perseverance, there is rest, there is Sabbath, there is love for you in a season that seems to be ongoing.
And you know, it’s also critical, I think, to find someone you can process with. And I wanna ask you to do something a little bit, might sound a little counterintuitive, but I don’t think that’s necessarily finding a friend as that person to process with. And here’s what I mean by that. We can wear our friends out. We don’t mean to, but when we’re going through a long season and things aren’t changing, when we are only utilizing friendships to process those things, your friends may find a place of fatigue. It’s not that you’re Debbie Downer, it’s just they love you. They wanna fix it, and if there’s not anything that really can be fixed, then it leaves those people who care about you, who love you, who are your friends, in a perpetual state of feeling like they’re failing you. So, of course, be honest with your friends about what’s going on, but I wanna really encourage you strongly to find a mentor. Pastoral care, a counselor, a therapist, and that becomes the person that you can take all the things that are going on, the frustrations about a season of life that’s turning into more than a season and process with that person. So that then when you are with your friends, you still have these avenues for fun and laughter and joy and goodness that are not necessarily completely enshrined within the thing that is difficult that you’re dealing with. So find that someone you can process with. And really be intentional to make it someone who is not part of your friend group. Again, we need good friends to walk alongside us in difficult, challenging days. Absolutely. But we also need them to be our friends, to be our buddies, to be someone we can have fun with because that’s so good for us too. So call in the professionals for the processing. It’s really going to do a lot in terms of preserving your friendships and also giving you the vent that you need to be able to process what you’re dealing with.
Well, we’ve got some more listener questions coming up in the next episode, so be sure and check that out. I would love it if there is something on this episode that has helped you, that has encouraged you with some information that you think would be great for someone that you love to hear. Would you mind just taking a quick screenshot or grab the link and send it to your friend? That is one of the best thank yous you can give us. It means so much when you share the podcast. I would love to hear more from you. You can find me on all the socials at Julie Lyles Carr and of course, be sure and check out AllMomDoes, there’s the blog at allmomdoes.com and on the socials, because we love to interact with you, hear your questions, hear what you’re going through, and what your life is looking like. The things that inspire you, the things that are tough. We wanna know it all. So go find us over at AllMomDoes. Rebecca has the show notes for you. Check those out and I’ll see you next time on the AllMomDoes podcast.