What if we let love in? (And why I’m taking time away)

{Image credit: studio-54 / 123RF Stock Photo; Quote: Laurie Wallin}

{Image credit: studio-54 / 123RF Stock Photo; Quote: Laurie Wallin}

Love. The ultimate four-letter-word.

When we’ve lived long enough (as in, long enough to interact with another human), love has this bittersweetness to it. This “I crave it. I need it. And giving it may just be the end of me” feeling.

Recently my daughter got in the car after school, aimed her mental pain at me, and fired. Just before it shredded my heart, an invisible wall went up. The one I put there so her pain doesn’t swallow me whole. The one I allow to stay so I can live mostly-whole for the rest of those I love.

Except that I’m not whole. Not right now. Since she moved home this spring, my own child (or, more specifically, her pain) has been my abuser. I love her, consequence negative behavior, parent consistently, follow the therapeutic plan, hire a trained caregiver to help me run this home, try to keep things light… and spend the rest of the time maintaining my wall.

This wall around my heart.

I tell myself it’s only with her, but how can a wall be semi-permeable?

How can a wall keep out the pain from one person and allow the free flow of love with another?

Friends, I don’t think it can. Maybe that’s why, after I tuck the kids in bed, I look down the hall at my husband, turn the corner, walk downstairs, and grab a book or turn on a movie. I want to engage him, but I can’t.

I don’t know how to get around my wall, except by breaking it down. And if I break it for him, I’m not sure it will be back in tact for the morning when she is awake and the pain comes back.

You want to know what’s even more painful? I’ve coached so many parents worldwide with their challenging relationships, challenging kids, and they are thriving. They use what we work on and relationships heal and walls come down and lives move forward.

My heart leaps from behind my wall, cheering for these dear ones as they see redemption and joy crash through the walls in their lives.

And I layer a few quiet bricks on the wall around my own heart. Peeking over it, silent eyes ask God, “Why does it work for everyone else but me… or her?”

I sink down, back against the brick, deeper in to the grief. A voice speaks. Not from the other side of the wall, but quiet, next to me. He says, “We’re in this together.” Tears fall. He holds me tighter. More tears. He whispers, “If I created the materials that form that brick, can’t I make them life-giving too?”

Eyes look up. I see His face. I know. I know. I really know: He’s right.

I have no idea how I can be safe while raising my foster/adopted child who lashes at me with her hurt and somehow let love flow freely to her, my husband, God, others. I don’t know how this wall around my heart will fall, or when. Maybe, with her, it will be more of a one-directional mirror. Love out, hurt bounces off. (Is that even possible for a human heart??)

It must be. Because someone else has done it.

“He loved people who ignored Him. He interacted with betrayers. He offered grace to those who violated His laws. He dignified outcasts. He engaged Himself in the very world that put Him to death. Jesus is our example of openhearted living.” – Mary DeMuth, The Wall Around Your Heart

I don’t know how it will work. I don’t know what “working” will look like.

All I know is that I need to spend some time away from blogging here to do a little private blogging with the One who, we’re assured, is also “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Right now, I’m doing that along with reading Mary’s new book, which, if you’re facing fresh—or even stale, bothersome, why-won’t-this-just-heal?—grief, you might want to grab here—>The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You.

So you won’t see another post here for a month or two. While I’m away, I would dearly appreciate your prayers—for me, for my family, for our struggling girl, and for the book God’s got me writing, due Dec 15th, that’s about how in heck we can live joy as a parent of a child with special needs. I know that in this broken place, God will do big things for all of us in painful situations as parents. Right now I’m unsure how… but that’s where miracles are born, no?

Thank you for being here. For reading, sharing your hearts. Looking forward to connecting here again soon.

With much love,


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  1. Mary Gemmill says

    Laurie- my love and prayers. You, who have blessed so many of us with answers- will sit at God’s feet and receive the answers YOU need, and we won’t expect you back until you HAVE those answers. Meanwhile, BE BLESSED with everything you need for life and godliness- thinking of life as what you need for your family relationships to work well- and that can take some doing. I have shared with some who are having such troubles, a prayer I wrote- totally scripture only- from Acts-Jude [ living bible]. Praying this turned things around when I was in your situation- and I know I wore our the knees in a number of pairs of trousers, before the answer came. If this is of interest to you, flick me an email: gemmill.mary@gmail.com, and I will send it straight to you.
    I fostered for 35 years, so am able to empathise with a few of the challenges involved !
    Praying a multitude of blessings over you and your house-hold, and giving thanks for the insight your dearly beloved had. Thanking God who has begun a good work- to be faithful to complete it !~
    Mary, New Zealand.

  2. Kirsten says

    Thank you for sharing your heart here in this place and trusting us with your story. Know that you are covered in prayer during this time. Beauty from ashes…Our God is bigger than all of this~but goodness walking through it can be agonizing. Hugs and prayers to you.

  3. Elizabeth Anne May says

    Oh, Laurie, I can feel your pain pulsing through these words, and I am brought to tears by your beautiful honesty. You write that book. You love on that family. The blog will wait. I wish we could have a hug and hot tub heart-to-heart, but that will have to wait until next July, eh?

  4. Chris Carter says

    God bless you Laurie… through this pain, He will bring you to a new place of living faithfully, and I will be praying for you dear sister. God will use this… He always does. You will rise with a deeper and richer perspective than ever before… I just know it.

    Go mend and heal and transform… He’s just waiting for you- arms open wide.

  5. Cheryl Pelton Lutz says

    I love you and I am praying for you, Laurie. But how much more does HE love and intercede for you, “with groanings that words cannot express.”
    “But He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
    Job 23:10

  6. says

    Laurie, I’ve stood in your shoes, and you are making a wise choice. Time with the One who understood every bit of my pain is what helped me survive . . . and now I thrive. He is faithful. I am standing with you in prayer for you and for your daughter. Blessings in Jesus.

  7. Michelle Soto says

    Dear Laurie,
    First…thank you for sharing this raw and real and sacred life moment.
    I have ‘walked that painful walk’ and I know (at least to the degree that anyone can really know our personal pains/journeys) and my deepest prayers are with you.
    He is Able and we shall pray and believe with you that HE have His perfect way.
    May His gracious strength and wisdom sustain you through to the other side.
    God bless you.

    • says

      Hanging on that truth – that He will have His perfect, holy way with our girl in the decisions we need to make for her and the family right now. So grateful for your support and prayers!

  8. Kelly Schmidt says

    Laurie, I can sooooo relate. Thank you for your honesty and courage. If you want to chat sometime please call me. Many hugs and prayers from afar.

  9. Peggy says

    Sending you lots of love and prayers. I know how hard this is. Take as much time as you need. xxxooo Peggy

  10. Alycia Johnson Morales says

    Your heart is so tender, Laurie. That’s why I love you. Praying with you as you finish your book, seek the Lord, and take your break. May God bring refreshing and healing. I look forward to reading more when you return.

  11. says

    Your words are so real, Laurie. We can’t compartmentalize our heart can we? When we choose to open it up the pain and the joy gain access. I pray your step away will bring wisdom and clarity to your situation.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Eileen. God’s given us that gift in trauma of being able to compartmentalize, but what a mess it becomes when we try to live for long periods of time like that. Kinda crazy-making! Thank you so much for praying with us in this season.