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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Family Problems? Instead of #%*&!, Here’s What You Can Do Instead

You are the best.

When I asked for good clean words to use at moments of frustration or exasperation, you came through!

Over 50 comments poured into my email inbox and the Comments feature on this page, and you not only made Mike and me laugh, you tickled each other. Many of you wrote to say that you went on to read all the comments after the post to see if any of your family favorites made the list.

(You also asked whether we ever found our septic tank. Several thousand greenbacks later, we shor ‘nuff did!)

If you are dealing with some issues these days that have you vexed, I’ve got a Hebrew word direct from the Psalms that might be exactly what you need. It’s a directive – not an expletive – and it’s changed my prayer life this past week.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned in a minute, but first I promised to share some of your comments.

Bridget from the UK was the first to weigh in last week with “Balderdash” and “Sugar.”

Sandy’s favorite is “Oh Do-Lolly,” while in Bemis’ family they simply say, “Bad word, bad word, bad word.” Quite a few of you favor “Oh, fudge”, Rats, or Nuts! Bobbie shared that while traveling recently she learned the expression “Plot twist!” when plans went awry.

Terry’s grandmother invoked the names of Mike (“For the love of”) and Pete (who apparently has a Sake of some kind).

Marti’s list is too long to repeat here (she spends lots of time on the road), and in Kimberly’s home they chortle “Oh, poop nuggets!” when something goes wrong. Josie exclaims, “Good golly, Miss Molly!”, while Dikkon fondly recalls his dignified grandmother murmuring, “Land o’ Goshen” when card games weren’t going her way.

Heather’s nine-year-old has been heard to say “Flippin’ butter biscuits on a Saturday night,”and Jay’s five-year-old son hollers, “Great balls of fire!” Peggy’s New England mama would exclaim, “Ships Ahoy!” or “Jesus saves and satisfies.” Love it!

The expression uttered in exasperation by Julie’s Aunt Kate just might be my favorite, though: “Oh, heckity toot!” How can you not just bust out laughing?

Jay also wrote that there is an actual grammatical term for the typographical device used in comic strips to represent swear words when a character stubs a toe or bashes a thumb. It’s called a grawlix. Who knew?

But now for that Old Testament word that might be exactly what you need this week…

It’s galal.

Galal means “to roll away,” and it’s the Hebrew term in Psalm 37:5 that most English Bibles translate “commit.”

My cousin Jan de Chambrier taught me about galal, Jan, whose days are largely defined by continual conversation with God, has an international ministry of intercession. While reading a book on prayer recently, this statement stunned her: “Sometimes the way to pray about a thing is to stop praying about it” (Derek Prince).

Stop praying? What could this mean?

Jan had prayed incessantly for many years over a beloved family member without seeing the fruit of her intercession. She described her prayer life as feeling rather prunish, “the dried-up fruit of hope deferred.”

Maybe you can relate.

One day she opened her Bible to Psalm 37, and the first three words, “Do no fret,” leapt out at her. The phrase comes from the Hebrew charah, which means “to burn or be kindled with anger.”

“Yep, that would be a pretty accurate description of the smoldering resentment I often felt as I interceded for [this family member], who seemed so impervious to my fervent (and fretful) prayers,” she commented.

And then she realized that in verse five of that very same Psalm, God provided the antidote for fretting:

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”

“I realized that if Jesus Himself committed His spirit to God on the cross, perhaps it was time for me to commit the outcome of my prayers, my loved one, even my faith, to Him.

“In Hebrew, ‘commit’ is galal, ‘to roll away.’ I had assumed a false responsibility for the outcome of my prayers, so they had effectively backfired into fretting. He was telling me to roll it away, to offer my burden to the One who is meant to carry it.”

When Jan shared this with me, I thought of the prayer burden I too had been carrying for over a decade for a beloved family member – fervent prayers that had devolved into fretting. Through Jan’s insight from scripture, God was telling me to roll it away, to let Him carry it.

Have you struggled with unanswered prayer as well? Are you feeling the weight of worry for family members who are far from you or far from God? Do you carry fears about your health, finances, work?

“For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.2 Timothy 1:12

It’s time to galal, friends – commit those deep concerns to God. Roll them away to the foot of the cross.

And let’s leave them there.

- Maggie Wallem Rowe

Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, speaker, and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others, and her new book Life is Sweet, Y'all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass.


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