I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

It's Not My Story

Because we as women are relational, we thrive with stories that aren’t our own. We want to know the latest news about what’s going on with everyone, and why, and when. . .
God made us that way, so we can nurture, comfort, and care.
But with that comfort, we became heirs to their confidence.
And that means, those things aren’t ours to share.
As mothers, we want to know what’s going on with our children, and rightly so.
Often our children confide in us, sharing their heartaches, fears, and shortcomings.
We want, in turn, to tell the world how they were mistreated and how they suffered, but it is not for us to tell.
I am the worst for keeping a secret. When I buy gifts, I can’t wait to give them. Sometimes I don’t. My husband laughs and enjoys them whenever I give them, instead of for Christmas.
I might burst if I don’t share that gift now.
I’m like that with stories.
I want to tell everyone.
I want others to think well of my children, to understand their actions, to help bear their load. I want to comfort. And I want them to know why.

[On a side note: Why do we as women feel we must give a reason. "I can’t do this, because. . . " when a simple “no” will suffice. We want to soften the refusal.  Just say “no.”
“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil” (Matthew 5:37). (Although this passage is really talking about saying oaths, not adding excuses.)]

We do the same with stories shared with us in confidence. We analyze. Evaluate. But not to share.
Sharing is not comfort. That is gossip.
The stories aren’t mine to tell. Even though I hurt as well as my boys, and my heart bursts to share the news.
The news is not mine to share.

My husband calls this “need to know” news. Does this person need to know?
We warn our boys of people who will harm them. We give them illustrations and reasons. That is not gossip. That is instruction. They need to know to learn discernment, to evaluate what they should do. . . 
But often we keep some details to ourselves, because they “don’t need to know” it all.

Police officers have told my husband, “Don’t tell an officer more than he asks.” Don’t offer an excuse, an explanation, a comment. Just answer the question.
The same is true when we share what must be shared for safety and instruction—only what they need to know.
That is hard to do.

Often mothers will pry into their children’s bedrooms. Know what I mean? Their children are married. They should be having children, aren’t we waiting for grandchildren?
I am not a fan of that slogan, “What happens in the garage stays in the garage.” But it fits for an illustration. [Fill in garage with other places, in this case, the bedroom.]
We are a culture that intrudes on intimacy. I’ve had more people than I want to count ask, “Are you trying for a girl?” “Going for another one?”
That is none of their business.
Neither is it our business as mothers.

By nagging, asking, querying, suggesting, inquiring, interrogating, questioning, pumping, remarking, commenting—whatever you want to call it—we stick our noses into their story.
We are not invited.
That is between the husband and his wife.
When the grandchildren come, we will be blessed, but no cajoling, harassing and begging will bring them any faster. In fact, it may close the door for any comfort you might be able to give but can’t, because they won’t share with you about anything.

What about heartache?
All of my boys have some heartache. As I mom, I feel it.
As they find their soul-mate and marry and grow their family, heartache spreads, because more people bring more “happenings.”
I wonder how much more can I take.
I see some of the heartache coming—long before my sons even feel it.  
It’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut.
Sometimes I can prevent their pain, if only they would. . .I can warn and advise, then shut up.
It’s not my life to live either.
As a mom, I’m here to help them through it, not change their choices.
But I do pray. And constantly.

Recently one son shared something for only my husband and I to know. I could hardly wait for permission to tell the world. But joy quickly turned to sorrow. I felt his brothers could help bear his pain.
I shared his story with a few.
I thought I knew better.
That it would help.
My husband told me he still didn’t want anyone to know.
I had to apologize.
My son graciously forgave. But I knew it would be harder for him to share something again.
It was not my story to tell. Why can't I keep my mouth shut?

I am inspired by my mother. Her entire married life she lived a story she could share with no one. Us girls didn't know the sin my dad was involved in until we were much older, and found out ourselves. Our mom told no one. She respected Dad until he died. Knowing now what I do, I wonder how. I also wonder how she didn't break keeping all that pain to herself. My mom has a softness to her look, not the hardness of a woman who has seen it all or been hardened by the world. I think because she was able to give that story to God and allow Him to convict and change her husband, even though he didn't until maybe the end. It would have been easy to solicit comfort. That is hard. 

As moms, our lives are spent knowing others stories, but not being able to share them with others. Instead we must seek to comfort by reminding them of Who God is. And how He makes their story complete and whole.

We sometimes think as moms that we can share what they tell us.
The Bible still calls this gossiping.
“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” Psalm 34:13.
“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter” Proverbs 11:13.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” Psalm 141:3.

But won’t you burst if you don’t tell someone?
I tell my husband. Over and over. I tell him as it happens. I tell him as I rehash the information. I tell him…
[He gives me perspective when I’m off course. He directs my thoughts back to God. He's my "someone" whom I can share and know that nothing will go any further.]

I want to lessen my son’s pain (and maybe my own) by sharing it with others. And it is true: comfort can be found by sharing. This is where a soul-mate in prayer, whom you can confide in and get perspective helps. But it is for prayer and understanding, not spreading the news. Recently I needed perspective on something not my own. I went to someone confidently to ask a different perspective. And vent. I knew it would go no further. I found comfort. insight. prayer. 

But if that kind of person is not available, I hold it.
It makes a good dieting method. I lose weight. Without effort. I don’t feel hungry when my gut’s in knots and I’m crying.
But that’s not what God wants, either. (In fact, my husband made me go to the doctor. UGH.)

Instead, I must take my son’s story and give it to God (over and over).
For He alone will write the ending—the way it should be.
And it’ll be good.
And all will be well.
It'll be a story about God and how He works all things to His glory.
And that’s a story worth telling.

Displaying all 3 comments

Boy, this really hits us all right where it hurts. When Steve and I were first married I worked for a couple years and one of the women was always bad-mouthing her husband. I determined then I would never do that and I've been pretty good about it, but must admit that when it comes to our children I haven't always been quite as careful. Even when our children are all adults, we must continue to be careful, as you say, "It's not our story." Thanks so much for a much needed reminder.

Your articles cut to the quick of things by highlighting truth, however hard that truth may be.

Praise God for a husband you can hash and rehash with! Not everyone has a husband like that. *But we all have a faithful God!* And most of the time, God gives us someone who is safe and solid and reliable.

As always, it comes down to motive. Do I share for sensational purposes, for self-gratification, for revenge . . . Or do I share for perspective, for growth, for true help . . .

Ouch! That is a very convicting article, Sonya....and yes I need a few ouches like this!!!!! Thank you for confronting a difficult topic! Keep up the great work! xoxoxo Helen

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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