I've felt... Downhearted lately.
Life is so busy, so full of appointments and tasks. Cleaning and cooking.
Which would be enough, but as we all know there's more.
The conflict from the election and COVID this year has been taking it's toll on me.
I've found myself wanting to hide from the world.
To withdraw into myself.
Feeling deeply tired.
I sat on my laundry room floor the other day, my heart bursting from all the hate and heartbreak in the world, just wishing I could do my laundry in peace.
I silently prayed to God telling him I have no desire to climb mountains, just to be able to tackle the mountain of laundry I sat beside. (Is it too much to ask?) And that all this turmoil was weighing me down.
I wanted rid of it.
In that moment I wanted desperately to not care.
But a softness whispered that I would never be content with not caring.
Caring is who I am.
Caring is who we should all be.
So I cried there on my laundry room floor.
And instead of praying to not care, I began praying for the world, for healing and love and understanding.
That aching moment passed. The laundry mountain was climbed, another now replaces it.
I'm not trying to say that the world is now a better place because I prayed for it.
But I am better.
My heart still hurts. I still care. Perhaps too much.
But I gained a new sliver of understanding.
Well, really it isn't new. It's one of those lessons that God is trying to beat into me and I keep letting it slip through my fingers slowly like sand. And then I scoop up a handful of the sand I've let fall thinking I've made a new discovery.
So here I am, holding this handful of sand. Examining it, hoping I can hold onto all of it this time.
I feel the lack of control keenly lately. I think we all do. It's scary. And we aren't used to it. We like to be in control. It gives us a sense of meaning, as if our efforts account for something. That if we do our part, we will get specific results.
But we don't always. And we try harder. Push harder. Hustle harder.
I'm reminded as I try to climb the little "laundry mountains" in my life, that we aren't meant to be in control. That we are like children learning to be in the water. Viciously thrashing and pumping our limbs in an attempt to stay afloat when all we really need to do is to straighten our backs and be still. To let the water hold us, instead of fighting against it.
Maybe, just maybe, God wants us to stop climbing long enough to sit at the bottom of the mountain with the hurt, to be still and feel it keenly.
Maybe God wants us to sit and care. To be still and mourn with those that mourn. To notice the burn spots on the mountain, the lost trees, the scarred ground.
Maybe God wants us to slow and see our blessings. To be still enough to notice eyelashes kissing little cheeks. The new growth pushing through the ash. The little flowers easily missed when we go too fast.
Maybe God wants us to be still enough to remember him. To remember HE is in control.
There will be days for climbing mountains. But we mustn't forget to be still.
We mustn't forget that we aren't in control. And that's ok.
I hope that I can remember this. This lesson I've scooped up again. I hope I can hold it tight this time and remember to be still. To straighten my back, breathe deeply, and let God hold me up.
My children come home from school and tell me about the kids in their classes. Sometimes they are appalled at their actions. Shocked at the things they say and the experiences they share. Confused by the way they treat others or the language they use.
Sometimes they tell me things that hurt my ears and my heart.
I don't want their friends telling them about their creepy uncle that's in jail because he likes to touch little girls. I don't want them to hear about the older sister that was murdered by her boyfriend. I don't want them to hear the bad words, or summaries of horror movies watched. I don't want them to be pressured into playing possessed doll or murder games at recess.
I don't want their ears and their hearts to hurt.
I could tell them to avoid those kids. To not be friends with them. To not talk to them. To turn away.
Sometimes I want to.
I want to protect those little ears and hearts, I want to protect their peace.
But I know that's not right.
I want my kids to be better than that. I want their peace to come from a deeper source than ignorance.
So we talk. We sit and discuss what they saw or heard.
We think of what appropriate actions are necessary, if any. We morn for the kids that have experienced horrors. That intimately know awful things happen. We talk about those awful things and answer the critical questions hearing about them creates.
We practice benefit of the doubt. We question the rumors. We practice grace. We think about how they may be treated at home, we imagine being in their shoes. We wonder if they are happy, if they are hungry, if they are loved. We talk about disorders and differences and acknowledge our own.
We pray for them. And then we make a plan.
We decide to be kind. We muster up our patience, or understanding, our love, and our courage.
I teach them that they don't have to play with people that make them uncomfortable. We set good boundaries and role play scenarios so we know how to stand up and protect ourselves, and others. We learn that we can walk away from situations or stories or games. We learn we can do this with love and kindness.
We choose to be good examples not by being BETTER THAN but by trying to be BETTER.
I have friends that say and do things that appall me. I have friends that share experiences that shock me. I get confused by some of my friends beliefs.
Sometimes I want to turn away. I want to protect my peace. Sometimes the things they say hurts my heart.
I don't want to hear my friends tell me that if I vote a certain way I am a garbage human, or selfish, or a liar. I don't want to hear my friends tell me I'm not a true Christian if... or that if I vote for so and so they are sickened by me. If I vote for candidate _____ I'm voting for human sacrifice or murder or rape etc. etc. etc.
I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT. I DON'T WANT MY HEART TO HURT. I want to turn away.
But I know that's not right.
So I listen. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I practice grace. I think of all the good they are, all the good they do. I ask the hard questions. I listen to their views and beliefs.
I pray for them. I muster up my patience, my understanding, my love. I decide to be kind.
I recognize they are doing what they feel is right. I imagine their lives, their experiences, I try to place myself in their shoes.
And 90% of the time I realize our goals and hopes are the same.
Even if our choice of path to get there is different.
I want a deeper peace than the peace ignorance brings.
So, to my Facebook friends that keep asking me to leave: I'm not going anywhere.
I won't always vote the same as you, but I will value your vote.
I won't always agree with you, but I will be kind.
I won't always like what you say, but I will listen.
I won't even always like you, but I will still be your friend.
And even if you call me a garbage human, even if you think I'm selfish, even if you put me in a political stereotype, I will be at peace.
I will have deeper peace not because I'm trying to be BETTER THAN YOU, but because I'm trying to be BETTER.
Namaste my Facebook friend.
I'm tediously typing this with one hand.
I cut myself a few nights ago with an extremely sharp knife my husband made. I thought about blaming him, or just the year 2020 but it's undeniably my fault.
I was trying to pry two frozen burritos apart. Yes, frozen bean burritos. Of course it had to be something completely lame.
I knew it was stupid, dangerous even, so I was trying to be careful. I was trying to go slow.
(How often do we continue to do stupid things even though we know they're stupid???! Just me?)
But it didn't matter. The burritos popped apart and the knife sliced deep into my left middle finger.
I knew I needed to go to the hospital immediately, mostly because I saw my tendons, but I wasn't freaking out. Not even with all the blood. Just a cut. Just some stitches. I was more worried about leaving the baby for that long.
After an hour in the ER, several stitches later, and the accompanying examination I learned I severed at least one tendon and would need surgery.
Ok. I knew I needed surgery but I wasn't freaking out. Just a simple surgery. Just a little hiccup. There are smart people for this. After Monday I'd start healing and get back to life.
After my appointment with the surgeon the next day, I realized I hadn't even thought past surgery. A 10 week recovery, including physical therapy, waited for me after surgery. I was going to be one handed with a newborn baby for the next 10 weeks.
As this sunk in, my resolve quivered and I started to freak out.
You see, I feel like I've been sick for AGES. First, I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with severe high functioning depression. I put the breaks on anything extra and began focusing on my mental health.
I learned during this time that I held a deeply rooted belief that I couldn't be sick. I'll spare you the childhood trauma but I basically developed a belief that if I were sick and unable to be productive EVERYTHING WOULD FALL APART and it would all be my fault.
I simply couldn't have depression. But, I did.
Then, my mental health affected my physical health and I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder condition that was just waiting to flare up. I was in so much pain I could hardly walk some days.
I simply couldn't be sick. But, I was.
Slowly, things got better, medication, a small surgery, and a huge support system helped me heal.
Then, I got pregnant earlier than we planned. Like a year earlier.
And so commenced 5 months of severe morning sickness, some bed rest for a hemorrhage, and 4 hot summer months (is summer even that long?) of being really uncomfortably pregnant and paranoid of sending myself into pre-term labor like my last pregnancy.
During pregnancy I was so sick I didn't even have the ability to think "I can't be sick." But, I was.
Then, finally, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Ella. And began the following six weeks of healing.
I was feeling so excited about feeling healthy. Everything in life was going well. I started writing my novel again, my articles were getting picked up and READ by actual people, my little wreath making business was growing, our goats had babies, everyone was happy and healthy....
Then, the same day as my 6 week appointment with my midwife and my last almost 2 hour drive for said appointment, (halleluiah) I cut my finger and earned myself 10 weeks of weekly physical therapy appointments each with their own long drive.
And I'm learning all the things I can't do on my own anymore. I am literally mourning a loss of freedom.
I simply cannot have this injury, I thought.
On the way home from meeting my surgeon, winding through canyons, I kept telling my husband how beautiful the mountains were, how the fall colors were so stunning. His reply was that it looked dry. I mentioned it a few more times, confused as to why he wasn't as enthralled as I.
Finally he said "Maybe it's my sunglasses." which caused me to pull mine away from my eyes. Everything WAS dry. It wasn't pretty at all. I hadn't realized I was wearing rose colored glasses.
Realizing this was a bit depressing.
But, looking at the rose colored glasses in my hand, I decided to put them back on. Everything was pretty again.
And as I sat there enjoying the colors passing by my window, I realized that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. I can't change the trees but I can view them through rose colored glasses.
I can't change the fact that I injured myself. But I can be grateful it isn't too serious.
I can't change the fact that I am one handed for a while, but I can learn new ways to do things and grow in resilience.
I can't change the fact that things are harder but I can learn to ask for and accept help.
I can choose to wear rose colored glasses.
Now I see the blessings all around me. My children aren't hurt, nor my husband whose hands we rely on for our income.
This cut was an accident. Not self inflicted, as it could have been in darker times.
I'm more grateful for my body and all the functions we generally take for granted.
I have more empathy for those with disabilities and I'm grateful for their examples. I can't tell you how many times I thought "If they could do that, then I can do this..."
I have lots of opportunities to be proud of myself. For example: I learned how to dress my newborn baby (diaper, snaps, and all) one handed. Along with a million other things.
I am learning to let go. (Apparently I haven't learned this one well enough yet.) It's okay if daddy has a turn with bath time for a while, and it's okay if I get less done. My worth isn't found in my productivity.
I have given my older daughters an opportunity to serve and love extra and they have taken that opportunity. I get to watch them do more and be more. I get to witness them becoming. I get to see what they've been taught.
I'm sure that during this trial the glasses will come off occasionally and I'll feel the heaviness of all the things I can't change. I'll worry that the glasses are keeping me from reality.
But, I hope I'll remember to put them back on. Because how we view our reality is something we CAN change.
So, for the near future, I'll be rocking my rose colored glasses... and some sort of cast.
P.S. Microwave the burritos if they're stuck.
Hi! I'm Amy
I am a Christian wife and mother, a writer, and a recovering perfectionist who is tired of chasing happiness in all the wrong ways. I am now on a journey to find a deeper state of being. Join me on My Peace Project and we'll learn how to survive the chaos together!