Monday, 27 July 2015

That terrifying first shred of acceptance

I’ve been traumatized three times in my life. Really traumatized.

The first: my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died 3 ½ weeks later.

The second: my first marriage ended.

The third: I got laid off from a lovely, wonderful position I was not “done” with.

The first two were, of course, not immediate. Even though the time from my dad’s diagnosis to his death was less than a month, I had sensed he would die when I was in my early thirties since I was a young girl. I can’t explain it. I just knew.  It didn’t make the news that “he’s dying now” any easier. I scoured my Bible for every verse about healing. There were many, but one hit me like a ton of bricks. It was Psalm 139:16. “Your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them.”

That was it. Instead of praying my dad would be healed, I prayed he would LIVE EVERY DAY God wrote for him to live. My journey through the Kubler-Ross grief cycle came to an abrupt stop at acceptance.

A parent’s death is never easy, but I found such peace with that verse. I couldn’t argue with God over that one.

I fought with every fiber of my being against the ending of my first marriage. I was fighting for my kids. I was fighting for “the dream”. I was fighting for the institution itself. I claimed: the power of prayer, the blood of Jesus, every promise in the scriptures whether they applied or not. I had people come to my house and pray over our bed. Nothing changed. Finally one day I got an email from my counselor who just laid it out. “He has chosen to live a life which does not include you.” There it was in black and white. I could not argue. It was the end. The idea of acceptance was no longer an option. It was just the way it was.

I fought so long for my marriage, it was terrifying to think of stopping. It had consumed my energy for 15 years. I had no idea what I could replace the fighting with.

The last one was as immediate as it was shocking. I left for work one sunny September morning with a long list of “to-do’s”, and returned home less than 15 minutes later, spending the rest of the day throwing up. Acceptance around this one has been hard to come across. I’m not sure why but maybe it’s because I had no warning and couldn’t prepare myself. Maybe it’s because God has been very, very quiet since then. 

I couldn’t see life in that situation. Only rejection.

Last week I got a Facebook message. It was from someone I had not expected to hear from. They were letting me know about an opportunity and wondered if I might like to be involved. My first thought was, “Shit” because the position is messy and controversial and there are no easy answers.

It is perfect for me.

What terrifies me the most about accepting horrible things that happen is the idea (maybe self-imposed) that if I’m not grieving or fighting it must mean I don’t care about them.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

Today I’m choosing to think it means there is life for me beyond death, beyond disappointment, beyond failure.

I did learn something.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

46 trips around the sun and one trip to Vegas

I had my 46th birthday this week and just like many of you do, I used the event to celebrate with family and friends amid much hilarity. Being now firmly entrenched in middle age there have been lots of good times, almost too many to count. I think I’ve been remiss in much of my internal and external processing, thinking that I only learn stuff in hard times. But learning and loving as I do – I’ve learned an awful lot through pleasure (and my blog IS I did learn something…).

Sticking with the theme of 46 I was going to make a list of 46 things good times taught me--but that would be exhausting--so I think I’ll stick to 10 (and 4+6=10 so it’s still cute).

#10 – This is life right now. Life doesn’t start when you’re financially stable. It doesn’t start when you buy “the house” or get “the job” or marry “the one”. It’s right now. Today.

#9 – Trust your gut. God gave you the gift of instinct and I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to use it There have been many times I did not listen to my gut instinct and lived to regret it but I don’t think there has been a time I’ve regretted following this part of me.

#8 – The left lane is always faster. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Disneyland or waiting at the border. Left lane. All the time.

#7 – These are not my words, but they are truth. I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it. Sometimes life is easy, but not often. But even in the uneasiest of times, there can be much joy and passion and life. So don’t look for easy, look for life.

#6 – God really does like it when we’re happy. When I was on my honeymoon with Jarrett in Las Vegas (yes, my Mom was horrified that we went there) I was struck with just how happy I was, that all this happiness and fun and good times was for me, and that God was ok with that. Growing up in quite a conservative environment it was never directly communicated that it was unholy to be happy, but certainly insinuated. Today I tell you: (especially you who grew up in my world) relax, celebrate, enjoy what you’ve been given.

That brings my to my next point, and maybe this is the most important one of all…

#5 – Take care of what you’ve been given. I cannot say that loudly enough. TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN. You may only be given one. If you don’t take care of it, no one else will. It’s yours. Take good care.

#4 – Red and pink are not a good color combination. Few of us can pull it off. This is fashion advice I got from my Mom and it sticks with me to this day. Oh--and “always wear underwear in public”.

#3 – If you think it’s cool to hate things, it’s not. It’s boring. Talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don’t. Not all battles are for you to fight. Choose them wisely.

#2 – When you feel like you are losing your mind, ask yourself these two questions—Am I hungry? Am I tired? Hell hath no fury like a family in need of a good snack and some alone time.

#1 – I feel like this one needs to be really good because it’s the last one---it’s attributed to Albert F. Schlieder—“We tend to judge others by their behavior and ourselves by our intentions. “ Love, love, love.

This next trip around the sun I will continue to live boldly. I will continue to make mistakes. At times I may feel humiliated, other times I will rise in triumph. There are those around me who I will keep close. They love me and make me laugh and are amused by me in spite of it all.

Happy birthday to me.