Monthly Archives: July 2014

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Dear Fellow Travelers,

As I am puttering around my house this morning, engaging in the mundane and rather boring daily routine, I am also preparing to go for the weekend to spend some time with family. This trip was planned as an “all hands on deck” meeting of our whole family, because one of the most treasured among us has fallen ill unexpectedly. The prognosis looked grave in the beginning, but after further review by the doctors, the future is looking better. And we are so very grateful that we will likely have the opportunity to enjoy one another’s company through many more years of being a family.

What’s troubling me more this morning is my own heart. This “feeling” has overtaken me before, perhaps from a distance. The thought is introduced that I might lose someone and my immediate heart reaction is to withdraw. Pull my heart away and hold it in “safety.” A knee-jerk reaction with the childish thought and intention that it will somehow hurt less to watch someone I love suffer from a distance. That if I disengage my feelings from a person I love when there is a risk of loss, I won’t grieve if the loss eventually comes.

When there is a diagnosis of cancer, the fear rises even higher in me. I have feared cancer for as long as I can remember. In the worst days of my OCD, every ache and pain for me was an alarm that I was being stalked by cancer. I viewed it as an immediate death sentence. . .even though I watched a beloved aunt fight the odds and win, I still have this image in my mind of cancer as a snaggle-toothed ugly yellow/green monster that eats small children and is unstoppable. . .And even writing this blog post causes me some anxiety, because I still hold that little girl inside me who thinks her words are magical. . and that somehow me talking about this “out loud” will bring that which I fear most upon me. But I press on.

As I examined my heart this morning, I looked at the fears, the pain and the love all tangled up there together, and I resolved myself to action. If I lose this person who is so very dear to me soon or in the distant future, it’s going to hurt. Not just a little, but with that gut-wrenching agony that crying isn’t enough to touch. That grief that wracks my entire body, that requires groaning from the depths of my soul if I’m going to truly touch the bottom of the hole that’s left. And all because I love with that depth of emotion in this life. And I could lose any one of the people I love with that intensity tomorrow. Because we are not promised tomorrow. We are not even promised the rest of today. And withdrawing into myself in self-protection now will not change any of that. . .for any single person that I love with that kind of a love.

So my resolution is this.

I will continue to love with my whole heart.

I will hold her eyes with mine for as long as she will allow me to.

I will drink in any words of wisdom she shares with me and store them in that secret place of my heart where only a few can go.

I will laugh when joy comes in her presence, and it often does. . .because God has gifted her with a joyous spirit you can’t help but be touched by.

I will watch her love my children with an open, joyous spirit, blessed that they have the gift of this person who loves Jesus with her whole heart as a heritage that will follow them all the days of their lives.

I will embrace my role in the legacy that is this beautiful family that I am so honored and privileged to be loved by.

I will choose to live today. To laugh today. To love completely and fully today. Because the pain of any tomorrow will not be diminished by a choice to withdraw. Only my joy in this moment will be.

And I will take this lesson forward and apply it to all the ones I love so deeply. Because they’re worth it. And I’m worth it. And love, joy and pain are indistinguishably intertwined in life on this broken earth. But someday, we will see Him face to face. And we will know and understand perfect love and joy without the weight of pain. Until then, I will allow my heart to be as He made it. A heart that loves completely and openly and without fear. And I hope that each of you can find it in yourself to do the same. . .Because you’re worth it, too. <3

Love,

Handprints

Strong People

Dear Jubilee,

The crash. The crying from Romeo. The loud apology when you realized what you had done. All this in a matter of minutes this morning as you tried to be the mommy and instead caused your brother to fall and bloody his lip. He cried, you cried. It was ugly. I had you sit in time out for a few minutes so I could comfort him. After you apologized to him in our new way. . .”I’m sorry I knocked you over with the chair, Romeo. I shouldn’t have done that because it hurt you and made your lip bleed. Next time I’ll use my words to ask Mommy for help when I want you to stop chasing me. . .” I pulled you onto my lap to talk about your feelings.

Turns out, it wasn’t as simple as it seemed. I had told the two of you to stop running in the house because someone was going to get hurt. You had stopped running, but he still was. So your original statement that you just “wanted him to stop chasing” you was oversimplified. You were trying to help me by getting him to stop running. Your methods were just. . .well, 4 years old.

As you looked at me with verysadeyes and explained your feelings, I hugged you close and told you that next time, when you see Romeo doing something I’ve asked him not to, you need to come find me and ask for help. And if you forget, you can listen to your inside helper who will help you remember the right thing to do. Because you have a strong inside helper, and because YOU are strong. “Strong people ask for help when they need it,” I said aloud. And I meant it. And you went on about your business and I started to think just how true that simple statement is on so. many. levels. And I thought about how much I want you to internalize that message. Because. . .

Strong people ask for help. When they know someone in their life is doing things that can hurt them, and they don’t know a good way to help them stop.

Strong people ask for help. When the feelings they’re having are so very big that they don’t make sense in proportion to what is going on in their lives.

Strong people ask for help. When the sadness and sorrow are like waves that knock them over again and again until they are so disoriented they don’t know which way is up, or which path leads back into the light.

Strong people ask for help. When they’ve fallen into a pattern of behavior that is destructive and unhealthy in their lives and they know freedom from the cycle is not something they can find by themselves.

Strong people ask for help. They don’t try to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and put on a brave face. They don’t just keep trudging forward in the misery and the fog. They reach out to the ones they love. To the ones they trust. And hopefully to the One who spoke them into motion. And they ask for the help that will drag them out of the mire.

I hope that perspective will help you as you grow. When you’re a tween who crosses an important boundary and you’re afraid of the consequences, but know that I love you too much not to listen and be fair.

When you’re a teenager who makes a bad choice that causes you pain. . .or even causes ME pain. I hope you remember that you are strong and that you can ask me for the help you need to own your consequences and make a better choice next time.

When you’re a newlywed and you and your husband have your first fight. I hope you remember that when you love someone, you’re in it for the long haul. And instead of shutting him out, you let him in and the two of you learn to ask one another for help to keep moving forward and to keep adjusting your dance moves so that you can dance the dance of marriage more beautifully from year to year.

When you’re a new mom, learning to breastfeed your newborn, and some “issue” pops up that you don’t know how to deal with. I hope you remember that I have some wisdom to offer in that area. . .or that you seek out the help of someone else in your realm of influence who will help you succeed.

Strong people ask for help. Because asking for help can be one of the hardest things you will ever do in life. It requires laying down your pride. It requires admitting that you don’t have all the answers. It requires a humble heart, a teachable spirit and an open mind. But I know you can do it.

Because you’re strong. And every day from now until the day Jesus calls me home (hopefully far, far into the future!), I will remind you of that. Because you’re worth it.

Love, Mama