It’s been quiet on the homefront of this blog lately. All has not been quiet on my heart though. Before I dive in to where I find myself on this crazy, twisty-turny journey, I want to say something. I see you. I know you’re out there. The one who had an unexpected loss, a heartbreaking diagnosis, the one whose life just got put into a blender and mixed around so drastically by cancer invading without an RSVP- much less, an invitation. I see you, a mom who went through an injury and has to now parent through the pain and healing process. I see you, the one who didn’t expect life to be this way and now you are at the end of yourself not knowing where everything went wrong as you journey through the unexpected of unemployment. I see you as you fight for your marriage and at the same time wonder with every step if it’s worth it… if it was really supposed to be this hard. This is for you. For you who experience anxiety, the dark depths of depression, to those stuck in in the game of “waiting”.
What this isn’t is a comparison post; a documentation of all the ways my life might be harder than yours or vice versa. All the reasons why you can no longer complain because your problems are nothing compared to mine… NO! Please do not read my story from the guilt trip perspective. The truth is… we are all broken. We all face uncertainty, twists, joys and heartbreak. This is a tribute to all that is hard, to all our unexpected plot twists. And this hard life is so very real. May the storytelling of my life open up the opportunity to face and tell the story of your own brokenness and through that, find a God of deep love.
I’m grappling with something, God. Or maybe many somethings. I feel…. unaligned? Or, maybe discontent? I can’t explain it and I’m hoping by taking up the pen, you can work it out in me. This life… it’s not ok. I feel lazy, drained. I’m not okay with lazy living, yet there are days I can’t see past it. Like all motivation and energy have been sucked out of the house by a giant vacuum. My heart does not match my brain. I dream big. I want more. I want meaning. I want connection. I want creativity. I want difference-making. I want redemption. And I also want to be a mom to my boys in a normal setting. I want to hike and swim and zipline with them. I want to take them to sports practice and stand in the heat to watch a game. I want to document the crazy things they do and entertaining things they say. I want a marriage that is always at peace, where I always show love and kindness.
And yet, its impossible for me to find a place where all these wants and my reality meet up. They don’t cross paths. In fact, it’s as if my wants are traveling in Europe while the reality is here in America. Completely different time zones, continents, languages. And so rests discontent in my heart. And grief. Deep, deep grief.
We just got back from vacation. It was a good disruption to our daily routine, but it was hard! Would I have done it all over again knowing how difficult it was? Yes, but why can’t, for once in our lives, something be all easy and all enjoyable? Once again, it’s just not possible. Different continents. To experience something that comes relatively easy to most families, we have to work incredibly hard and sometimes, we have to even just fabricate it. Make it be. Just say it is and believe it to be so. We are having fun gosh darn it… even though we are exhausted to the brim, can’t handle one anothers presence, and just want to cry. But, this will be fun, so believe it! How badly I want to, but there are days I’m too exhausted.
The reality of what we face slapped me again a week and a half ago when I dropped my baby and hubby off at the airport to go see the Batten Dr in Columbus. Titus and I stayed home. He is so progressed the oxygen concentrator hums at all times now. My spunky, hyper, analytical, social, joyful little Titus has been taken away piece by piece by Batten Disease. I look at pictures of what was and it feels like that boy is a different person entirely than the one sitting in front of me.
And whats a mother to do? Well, I cry. That’s what I do. I can’t do anything else. I’m immobolized by pain and grief and all the “wants” vs “reality” are misaligned once again.
How did our story get written so wrong?
When did the unexpected plot twist happen and how can we get back there to re-write this?
I grasp for this every night. Asking God to heal. To make it better. To make it right. And yet I feel the constant tug to let go. To continue to let go. I didn’t realize how selfless I was going to be asked to be. Every parent would tell you that parenthood requires selflessness. It happens out of necessity as you try to survive the years of child-rearing. But this… to completely let go… this is a whole ‘nother level and its not one I signed up for. Yet, here I am – finding it a necessity to survive. Perhaps not so selfless after all.
In every story I come across, I want to read through the pain, struggles, the hard. And I want to become so involved that when the hero wins, when the hero overcomes, it’s beautiful! It brings happy tears and neatly folded corners where all the heartache our hero had to experience makes sense. And now, all is at peace.
I’ve been waiting for my neatly folded corners. Where are they? Why can’t one day be met without struggle? Without my heartbreak pulling on the inside of me threatening to spill out each night I put Titus to bed or each time I see a little boy his age run, or talk, or do normal 6 year old boy things? One day where my stress isn’t wound tight in my muscles, my jaw. One day where tension isn’t felt, my defensive coping strategy doesn’t have to make an appearance.
It feels like too much to stay in this place where my heart is, but every pathway out is a slick uphill surface that I can’t seem to climb up. There is so much pushing against me trying to create a reaction, or explosion rather, to the events around me. Too much undefined. Too many what ifs. Too much heartbreak. Rising in me like a volcano is this anxiety-a need to get everything in place exactly how it needs to be. To do everything perfectly so I don’t mess up this opportunity I’ve been given to be a mom and a wife. And I hit the pillow exhausted. And then it all haunts me in my dreams.
Where do I run? Because I want to run! Not physically away – I love my family far too much to desire that – but emotionally, mentally. I want to escape the premises to a secret garden where all is whole, healthy, away from loud chaos. Where there is a quiet that fills my soul and gives me new breath. Strength reaffirmed. Is there such a place without packing up my gear and backpacking away to the nearest mountain peak? How do I control the crazy happening in my mind?
There is a life-giving, truth building, love rising, peace perfecting, forgiveness abounding place! It is in me! In the Spirit of God who takes up residence in me! I want to run!
Run, daughter, run… full on to me. Don’t run to facebook. Don’t run to speculation. Don’t run to pointless conversation. Don’t run to coffee. Don’t run to approval of others. Don’t run to shopping. Don’t run to your higher standards of what a mom should be. Don’t run to your negative self-talk. Don’t run to anxious what-ifs.
But, by all means daughter, do run…
And I run. Because if I don’t, I will get stuck. And once I’m stuck, it’s hard to move. I run to Him in all my anger, anxiety, fears. I run to him with all my gratitude, joy, promises that I will be enough for this job of momhood because He is enough. I just run. Because what pulls me to Him is not just my brokeness, but His faithful promise to redeem!
I have no idea what the journey will look like as I run. I know full well that I’m running with a limp and my flesh screams at me to stop- it’s too hard. But suddenly my lungs are filled back up, my mind is set forward and I keep going. One moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.
And as I run, I begin to notice things. The welcomed breeze blowing through my hair. The breath that comes each time I draw it in. I hear birds chirping, leaves rustling. I’m here. He’s here.
This heavy, heavy life. A life full of hurt, sickness, pain. I know exactly what I, in my flesh, ought to do… panic, worry, hate, protect, shut out. But I can’t. That way is death and I’ve had enough of that. I need life.
And as I stop to catch my breath, to take in a moment where He is breathing in and through me, I know that I can let God transform me. Into running to Him first. Into trusting Him first. Into a new person by helping me see a perspective full of truth, hope, love, and full life.
Because the truth is that maybe, just maybe, right here in the midst of unexpected plot twists is right where I, where you, need to be. Maybe this is exactly where God is going to meet us in the most real of ways. In our dirty, in our hard. In the very place where you feel your soul is being sucked out, He is going to fill it new again. Perhaps the “not-yet” or the “hard”- perhaps these soul-sucking places are where we will get the most soul-filling.
Thanks for listening…