Three Tips for Sitting Securely in the Suck

It was colder than the arctic when I stepped out for an evening walk. I needed space to breathe. Life was anything but balanced; I felt disrupted and tired. Layered in clothes, I resembled an irritated woolly mammoth roaming the frozen tundra trying to figure out which way is north.

Walking Woman
(Image from Pixabay)

I don’t do well with ambiguity and was hoping a walk would provide clarity.

Order and Clarity? . . . Ha!

Just to be clear, balance has never been simple for me. I’m captivated by those who . . .

  • Keep orderly calendars
  • Have nine children
  • Wash the sheets weekly
  • Change the oil on time
  • Never lose socks in the dryer

Finding my keys without turning the house upside down is a huge win. So when I’m unsettled internally, I try desperately to figure it out and fix it.

Attention deficit disorder and I have a close relationship, and my family is aware of this challenge. I struggle with being orderly and having clarity. They also know when I’ve crested and fallen way past the tipping point because they talk quieter, vacuum, and clean the kitchen.

My daughter called a few minutes into the walk. I didn’t want to talk about being irritable, so I tried to keep the conversation about her. The problem is she’s so intuitive, and I’m terrible at hiding my feelings. She’s onto it every time.

After about 40 seconds of chitchat, she asked what was bugging me. I glossed over it by saying I was fine but tired. She didn’t buy it: “Mom, this is not your ‘fine’ voice. You need to talk.

You know what Bubba always says . . . ‘thoughts disentangle themselves through the lips and the fingertips’ . . . so get it out.”

The “Suck”

When the kids pull the “Bubba [my dad] says” card, I can’t argue. Tears of frustration warmed my cheeks as scattered thoughts spilled out like disconnected puzzle pieces. She listened quietly and thoughtfully for a long time.

She then mentioned something my dad would be oh so proud of because it’s related to the Marine Corps. She said, “Mom, welcome to the suck; it’s part of life.”

“The suck? What the heck is that?” She explained that the saying surfaced in the Marine Corps sometime during the Vietnam War. Marines in horribly difficult or dreadfully complicated situations would say, “Welcome to the suck.”

Naming it helped them endure, and acknowledging circumstances they hated reminded them this bad situation wouldn’t last forever but just for a time.

“Mom, for whatever reason, you’re in the suck, and the Lord has you there. You’re going to have to wait it out with Him. It won’t last forever.”

I hated that answer because I’m terrible at sitting still and waiting for His perfect timing to unfold. But the truth is, we can’t know all He is doing—the people and pieces He’s bringing together at just the right time for His will to be accomplished.

While we wait, He also works in us. It’s a win-win if we’re willing to sit in the suck for a while and worship instead of getting knotted up with worry.

Sitting in the Suck

(Image from Pixabay)

Our tendency is to focus on our discomfort, try and control life’s timing, and offer the Lord a little help by trying to fix what we think is broken.

Some of us are called to sit in the suck for a long, long time; it’s part of a bigger story that only God can unfold at the appointed time. Putting our hands and hearts into God’s work makes a massive mess, so it’s best to sit in the suck trusting it won’t be forever.

Dealing with the Suck

I’m learning what it means to sit in the suck. Maybe you are sitting in it too; maybe someone you know is. Maybe you’re waiting:

  • For the doctor to call with your test results
  • For your adult child who has given up all faith in God to come back around
  • For the pain to subside
  • For your child with disabilities to fit in SOMEWHERE and be loved
  • For your boss to lighten up and listen
  • For money to come in so you can feed your family
  • For grief to lighten its harsh grip
  • For some word of hope that things will be okay

What is your suck? How are you dealing with it? I’m learning to deal with it, though some days are better than others. Here are three things I’ve come to learn. I hope they encourage you.

  1. Be silent. Silence is an active practice. Spending time in silence can reveal areas God may be calling us to change. It shuts out the noise of life so we can focus on reading His Word and hearing His voice.
  2. Be still. If that is uncomfortable, ask God why. Stillness forces us to examine our schedules, alter our priorities, heal areas of hurt, and be fully present.
  3. Be sincere. It’s okay to wrestle with God as a Christian. He loves for us to run to Him and be thoroughly truthful. An authentic soul has nothing to hide, nothing to gain, nothing to do but trust that He is at work. Because we can’t hurry God, learn to commune with Him honestly and sincerely.

Let Me Hear from You

We wait through hard stuff better when we have companionship.

I would love to hear what you’re going through . . . what do you hate, what do you feel, what do you need?

Let’s talk about that this week.

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16 thoughts on “Three Tips for Sitting Securely in the Suck

  1. Thanks for your honesty. I have never been to this site before and I honestly believe it was God’s grace that led me here today. I am most definitely in the suck. I don’t think I am doing very well there right now. Like you, some days are better than others. I have often said “I wish I knew what the outcome of this (“suck”) is going to be! What is next?!” But, I really don’t want to know before God is ready to share, because often it has gotten worse before it has gotten better. Had I “known” that, I would have pulled a Jonah and fled! So, I know there is a reason, but, today I don’t like the process….at all! But, what an encouragement to know someone else has been there, is there. Thank you.

    • Lisa,
      I’m so thrilled you found the blog! Yes, I understand the longing to know what is ahead but really not wanting to know. Like so many through history that placed their full trust in Christ, they walked by faith. The faith that carried them through torture, pain, rejection, loss, and judgment was honored by our Father. We have to remember that. For a while as I Peter reminds us, we will endure all kinds of challenges (the “suck”); but we can endure together. I’m like you, I think of Jonah and what he was called to do and would have run just as he did; my human condition would have been terrified. But God had a better plan, a bigger picture was in place; one that only He knows as we are transformed into His image one sucky day at a time. You are not alone, stay in the moment because remaining present is the only way to find deeper joy and hope. Yes, it’s hard, yes, life if hard; and God is good. I’m so thankful for the challenges as I reflect on who I was; so much pride, self-determination, a strong will; doing life in my strength. I see how God has used the sorrows to change this sinful, human soul; His grace abounds. Hang in there, girl…we’re in this together. I hope you will stay connected as we encourage one another. So great to hear from you! Colleen

  2. Colleen, I truly think we are long-lost twins! I deal with life so similarly to you! I am sitting in the suck with you! My son, Daniel has 10 specialists this year. He had kidney stones removed a few months ago, we have been treating a long infection for six months having to give him two shots twice daily, we just found out he also has gallstones and sinusitis he had kidney stones removed a few months ago, we have been treating a long infection for six months having to give him two shots twice daily, we just found out he also has gallstones and sinusitis! January 30 he is having his gallbladder removed and sinuses cleared out! We also have been dealing with a night nurse who three times now has left bruising on him! Unfortunately we don’t have total proof it was her! And there is such a shortage in nursing care that we have no one to take her place! Praying that God will provide someone soon! At least now we have some clarity as to who is angry behavior! I’d be pretty mad too if I was nonverbal and nobody knew what was wrong with me! Thanks for sitting in the suck with us! I couldn’t have phrased it better myself! I constantly have to remind myself of God‘s goodness when I don’t see it! Thanks for listening! Your family is in my prayers! 🙏🏻♥️

    • Renee,
      I think we may be related to…somewhere along the way! Oh my gosh, my heart breaks for Daniel. His precious life has faced so many hardships yet he continues to press on. Doesn’t it amaze you to see him continue (regardless of him choosing)…to press on, to keep breathing when so much pain fills his daily life. And, so it does for you as well. When we cannot change or fix something hurting our kids, there are few pains more deep or gut punching. I’ve been there so many times! Yes, anger and emotions I never knew I would feel burn to the surface and we sit in the suck asking for the Lord’s strength to press on. YOU are an amazing mother…I know you don’t feel that way or believe it many times but I have to say after knowing you for several years, your smile and refreshing honesty is incredibly amazing. I just love you! One thought as you mentioned his bruising…there are very many ways to keep an eye on him. I would look at security cameras, even the baby cameras can be put in places unseen but will record every event. For his security, I would suggest looking into something like that. Without concrete evidence, there is nothing we can do; I’ve been there!!! My heart hurts as we live in this dark, mean world…it hurts for our kids, for those who cannot defend themselves. That being said, I know God gets us because He endured the death of His own son. Can you imagine watching all our Lord went through? When I think of that, it brings me comfort that our Heavenly Father knows the deep pain we feel and has such compassion, deep empathy, and understanding. Keep calling out to Him; keep writing me…let’s help each other through these seasons. I’m with you, girlfriend! Love connecting! Colleen

      • Thanks Colleen! We have thought of installing cameras. Sorry to hear that has happened to your son to! Daniel just went in for surgery about 20 minutes ago! Would appreciate your prayers if you get this. Thank you!

        • Hey Renee,
          Perfect timing! Jon’s in trauma therapy so I can pray! In fact, let’s go right on here. Lord, as your precious son is in surgery, I ask boldly for a miraculous outcome. Please guide the doctors hands, give them wisdom and discernment as surgery continues. Father, I also pray for my friend Renee. Lord, you know what has been allowed; a mama’s heart breaks when her children hurt. Please fill her with your peace that surpasses all understanding, guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus, comfort her with the comfort you give because you understand our pain. We don’t have the full picture but we know, we trust, we believe in your sovereign plan for Daniel and Renee and their family. Lord, only you can provide heavenly protection and so I ask that you would protect this family with the power that comes from heaven. In all things, Lord, we kneel at your feet, we trust your righteous hand, and we rest in you providential care. In the powerful name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!
          Let me know how he’s doing and how you are doing! Hang in there girl! You are on solid ground! Colleen

          • Surgeries went well! Lots of bleeding out of his nose from the sinus surgery. Praying that that stops tomorrow and that he won’t pick his incision sites! Thank you for standing in the gap for me today! Your words encouraged my husband also… made him teary-eyed! You are a wonderful encouragement to so many! Thank you for calling me your friend!

          • Hey friend,
            SO, so thankful for the surgery report. Don’t you hate bloody noses….Jon has them a lot. Our boys are such heros! I’ll pray for no picking….that’s a tough one. Maybe he can hold something special-Jon has a stuffed animal named “Happy”…”Happy” arrived after Jon was assaulted; he helps the sad stuff get out of Jon’s heart so there’s room for the good. It’s been a great help. I know Daniel has different issues but I’m wondering if a squishy ball or something he could hold woud distract him. You have probably covered every idea; I don’t mean to toss out suggestions which can be such a bother when you’ve tried everything.
            So thrilled to know our connection is encouraging-we all need that as we accept what God has allowed. You are an incredible mom; hang in there sweet friend and know you are close to my heart and consistently in my prayers.
            Keep me up to date on Daniel’s healing. Love you girl! Colleen

  3. Again, this knocks it outside the park for me. I have been living “the suck “ for what seems like a long time. I feel so “raw “ emotionally and physically. “Everything” hurts. Life hurts. I had a few days of respite, then MS flared and dragged me back down where I normally live. It feels like I get up from a knock-down, get my bearings and get smacked again. Small or large events- all feel the same because my MS mind distorts and over blows every event. Not getting a return phone call or email feels like rejection of me as a person. I know it can’t be an accurate
    Assessment, but then emotions quickly follow: depression, anxiety,..
    I’m getting more help, but not until the end of February. That seems like too long, but despite the hopelessness I feel, I know God is faithful, loving and He is not surprised about what he’s allowed for my life. Sovereignly, lovingly He allows certain things He
    Somehow He turns into a demonstration of grace in my weakness. I want this to all count for His glory somehow.
    In the meantime I wait and sit in the “suck”. Sin, selfishness, anger and bitterness are peeled away as God works on the healing. I want to be angry at someone, yet knowing anger does not work the righteousness of God. Being still, soaked in God’s word with podcasts and reading the Bible… waiting… Lord help me, I need you desperately.

    • Oh Becky,
      I apologize for the delay in my response…we’ve been hit with illness again.
      I read your note several times…my heart aches for how human we are. It shows up in emotions, in physical realities, in what we cannot do, in so many ways we can’t describe but we do feel, none the less. I’m so sorry for the lows you are enduring! With MS, it’s got to be so very hard; I’m so sorry for your pain and frustration. I do hear hope in your voice as well…a hope that says in all things, God will be glorified, in my weakness His strength is magnified. It takes knocking us down, sometimes so far down the only way we can get back up is through Him. In many ways, I’m learning this is so good…but it’s certainly not celebrated in our society. Almost all God calls us to…to be weak, to mourn, to be in need, to long for strength…is so counter cultural that it’s easy so get discouraged. However, I know without a doubt, you are in the palm of His sovereign hand. He is with you, open arms ready for you to fall into them and find rest. You don’t have to show up as anything but your beautiful self which He longs to love just as you are. Also, it is so true that when we are weak, many parts of our humanness is revealed. Like you said…selfishness, anger, bitterness…so many places He whittles away because they are poison to our soul. In the midst of it, it’s hard to have the bigger picture; you have an incredible grasp on it from what you wrote. I hope you know you are free to write anytime you need encouragement or someone to say “I believe in you”….come as you are. In the last three years, my human weaknesses have been revealed in so many ways; the only way through is with support and trusting God is at work, always faithful to complete in us the work He has started. You are a beautiful soul; while weak, you are given strength. Sitting in the suck is NEVER fun or easy; but as we do it together, there is community and communion with the Lord that otherwise couldn’t be found. So I’m sitting with you, my friend. Hang I there and let me know how you are or what you need anytime. Blessings, Colleen

      • Colleen, you are such a blessing and inspiration. I have to admit I am so honored to hear from you personally. The Swindoll name in my world, is a type of celebrity. The teaching ministry, and the unwavering commitment to biblical truth is unmatched In a world shifting, God’s word never changes. But it is rare to find those who proclaim the truth with such tremendous integrity and grace. Your ministry dovetails and fills a much needed place in the body of Christ. So many in church have excluded themselves due to feeling unworthy or not measuring up. Ironically, that’s all of us; sinners saved by grace. Your blog and acknowledgements to me are such a manifestion of God’s Love for me. I grew up in a very hierarchical church movement that “ranked” Christians by those who were almost the beautiful ones, and those like me hanging my head with the “backslidden” label. In those circles, you never get back to restored but keep the 2nd class Christian status. I have now learned that is
        Incorrect teaching. It doesn’t match scripture, “for all have sinned and fall short..”. Oops! That ALL doesn’t exclude a single church royalty!
        Bless you, and your ministry of honesty and grace. God has done a wonderful thing here!

        • Becky,
          OKAY, so tears began to flow. You are so dear. Yes, there are countless churches that focus on statistics, number of members, looking good….not all but so many these days it makes me sick. I’m so sorry for your experiences-please know the Swindoll family is not one bit removed from pain, heartache, and incredible life challenges. That “celebrity” word is one I hear often; but if people really knew how hard our personal lives were, they may choose to think differently. I believe the reason my folks and the ministry they continue to pursue is so real is because we have NEVER been removed from great pain in this life. In fact, after my dad spoke at the Seminary one time, a student walked up to him and asked how to have a ‘ministry like my dad’s’. My dad had to smile because he has been so sick on the way to speak in chapel he had thrown up all over the car… He was sick as ever. I wanted to say…to have a strong ministry, you better be prepared to suffer greatly. That’s the reality of life; it’s not on our terms, we are to remain obedient and surrendered; knowing the enemy prowls (John 10: 1-21) and we are protected by our Father which doesn’t dismiss ongoing trials. I believe what God has allowed our family to suffer-chronic pain, my son’s disabilities, past domestic violence-to reveal how dependent we are. I have no ‘ranking’ system; I can’t stand those who do. Our Lord came from Heaven to this earth, landed in a manger and lived a life of pain and rejection. Anytime I begin to feel sorry for myself I think of what it must have been like to leave HEAVEN…glorious heaven….and come to this fallen earth. What obedience! What trust in a Father’s love! Becky, you and I are here for a purpose-to exalt the name of Christ in a world that’s growing dark. I’m with you in it and through it all. There are some of us out here that cling to Biblical truth and have hope that other’s will eventually learn leaning on our Father is the ONLY way to live. You are such an encouragement to me….thank you for your kind words and tender heart. You connect here anytime….however you show up you will be heard, loved, and cared for with grace and comfort. So many blessings to you tonight. Colleen

          • The enemy puts a bullseye on those in effective, truthful ministry! I can only imagine the heartaches! Reminds me of Paul’s thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. And the Apostle Paul rejoiced in his weakness, because it showed God’s strength. What a servants heart! Which, like you said, IS the example Christ gave us. Imagine, he washed the disciples feet! And then He set His face towards the cross to be poured out for salvation! Amazing grace…! You are such a gift to God’s family!💜❤️

          • Becky,
            Your words today mean so much. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to reply sooner-I think the Lord wanted me to read them today. Yes, the challenges are sometimes crushing, the enemy tries but I sometimes even talk out loud and tell him he has no ground here…God is PRESENT, FULLY WITH US, and to get away because God always wins. Isn’t it fabulous to remember we are on the winning team. It’s doggedly rough very often…however, He gets us through. Would love to hear how you are doing! Thanks for your presence and for reaching out. You’ve encouraged me today. Colleen

  4. Darkness is not a frequent companion of mine but has come for an unexpected visit without a stated departure date. Reminded that worry and worship cannot occupy the same space simultaneously, my desire is to focus on God’s character and goodness, to keep returning my focus to Him rather than to the darkness, even as I walk in it. Time will tell how I actually do with this.

    • Deana,
      I’m sorry for the delay…sickness hit our house again. Your words are haunting…my sense is that you are under attack and are facing things that appear too big. Perhaps they are which is exactly where God places us when we are to lean so fully on Him. He promises to fight for us; not to remove us from the battle but to be with us through it and to fight what is beyond us. Since the enemy hates all that is good and God-filled, I have learned some helpful things when I feel the enemy prowling. First, to speak the truth-God’s word-out loud. I’ll walk around my home speaking verses of hope, promise, help, and victory. There is something empowering about doing that. I will also ask the Lord to show me where I may be allowing the enemy to have a foothold so that door will be shut. Sometimes we don’t realize a habit or pattern of behavior is allowing the enemy to invade; so ask the Lord for divine providence and daily help. More than anything, just opening up about it brings healing. When we put into the light what is dark, nothing but light can flood in. I so appreciate and am honored that you connected here and want you to continue to. Please write any time you need support, encouragement, a ray of light, to ask for help…whatever is needed…I’m with you in it. Let me know how you are doing; I care deeply having been there may times. Great to connect with you! Colleen