Fifty-two Weeks of Wisdom · Psalms

The Wisdom of Crying, “Uncle!”


The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23 ESV)


Five weeks ago, I cried “uncle.” (If you don’t know the story, click here to read it.) I had set out to write a blog post each week documenting my personal journey of growing in wisdom throughout the 2016 calendar year. Then my husband and I took in a newborn foster baby, Baby D, making the number of small people in our care total four. I realized that it would be impossible for me maintain my writing/blogging/Bible study schedule, so I cried “uncle.” I shared that I would not be continuing to write this blog while I was spread so thin.

Well, two weeks ago today, I cried “uncle” again. I had let our case manager know that we needed her to find another home for Baby D. His needs as a medically fragile preemie were proving to be too much for us, on top of our own three kids. I am delighted to share that he went to a wonderful single foster mother with no other children, and he is now getting more attention and care than we could possibly have provided. His new foster mom and I are in touch, and, in fact, we have a visit planned for next week. I am grateful for the time we spent with Baby D—and I am grateful for a budding friendship with his new foster mom!

Giving up feels like the most unnatural thing in the world to me. If I say I’m going to do something, I am going to DO it. But in the wake of our seven weeks with Baby D, which left my husband and I exhausted and our kids a bit out of sorts, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that sometimes crying “uncle” is the wisest thing a person can do.

# # #

I first learned about crying “uncle” from my older brothers. Remember when you were a kid and a bigger kid would pin you to the floor or twist your arm behind your back, taunting you to, “Cry ‘UNCLE!'” There was a deep sense of pride inside the younger person. You did not want to say, “uncle.” But, inevitably, if you possessed even a small modicum of wisdom, you would. Because what was the alternative? Severe injury. Pain. At the very least, embarrassment. But if you just cried, “uncle!” you’d be free. Your pride would be a bit wounded, but at least your body would be whole.

That’s kind of where we were at. We wanted so badly to foster Baby D for the duration of his time in foster care once we had agreed to becoming his foster parents. But at what cost? Our bodies were suffering from lack of sleep and the stress of caring for four very needy children. Our children were missing out, because our attention was primarily on caring for Baby D. And when we finally acknowledged that we could not sustain “this,” we surrendered this baby and his story to God’s plan. And God (cleverly disguised as a social worker) came through with a lovely new foster parent who had been waiting for a baby just like Baby D.

I’m crying just thinking of it.

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Sometimes you just need to cry, “Uncle.” The marriage you have fought so hard for… the pregnancy you have invested in, to no avail… the plans you have made for yourself that just are not materializing… it could be that the very wisest thing you can do right now is simply give up and give over. Give up control and give over to God. Or, in the more famous bumper sticker parlance, “Let go and let God.”

This week’s post does not have a verse that is specifically about wisdom. But it is wise to consider the words of the psalmist:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

If your soul is depleted because of the season of life you’ve been living through… if you find that you are wanting for sleep, peace, grace, hope, faith… if you are living life in the midst of a storm, rather than still waters… if your soul has been in turmoil longer than you can remember… it’s time to cry, “uncle.” I don’t know what that looks like for you, but from one person who hates to “give up” to another, hear me: it’s OK to give up. It’s more than OK… it’s wise. Because you are not in control. You can’t make “it” happen, whatever “it” is. You can pray, of course, and you should… but you can also surrender to God and hand the burden over to him.

It’s a very, very wise thing to do.


5 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Crying, “Uncle!”

  1. Well, I am sorry that one of the lessons I imposed was the humbling “uncle” cry. Why wasn’t I nicer?

    More importantly, I think your post is full of wisdom and of mercy. Your transparency can be a great comfort for someone else who is climbing uphill, swimming against the tide. So many Christians come with cruel legalism. You come with compassionate mercy. Beautiful.

    1. I don’t actually remember you doing it to me… I remember watching you and Matt and your friends to it too each other 🙂 Thanks for your kind words!!

  2. Uncle, Lord!! I’m relating to your words and prayers esp. this week as work deadlines have fallen hard on top of the end of school year activities. xoxo

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