12.03.2015

Surviving the Summer of Our Discontent or Lessons Learned When Things Fall Apart

It's been a while. I know this. If you didn't know, babies are a lot of work. They're cute, and they're exhausting. However, I can't blame my absence from blogging on the little one. Quite simply and not so simply, life is in session.

3 a.m. in the hospital awaiting surgery. Yippee!
The last 14 months have been nothing short of incredible in both the "life is amazing! wheeeeee!" and "kill me now" sort of way. After my daughter was born, I didn't have post partum depression per say. It was more like the tyranny of the fourth trimester. Lack of sleep plus tiny screaming human equals constant threat of madness. I remember a good friend telling me that things will get better in about three months. It felt like an eternity, but indeed, by the new year, I was finding my rhythm in motherhood. Another six months, my daughter began developing her own little self and I was enjoying her. By nine months, I can say that I made a new friend. She laughs, she makes faces. It's like a tinier, feistier version of me without the dreadlocks and over-education.

This is also right around the same time as what I call "The Summer of our Discontent." If you know me, you remember. Our landlord sold the house we lived in. We had to leave the church that we had nurtured and served for more than three years. Then, I had a surprise appendectomy (is there any other kind?) which laid me out for four weeks. Did I mention I had to study and pass my doctoral qualifying exams during all of this? And maintain my sanity? Like I said, madness.

It was by far the most trying times I'd experienced in years. At one point, I was looking out for a plague of locusts. It just seemed like that should follow.

But the locusts never came. And I didn't lose my mind. We didn't have to declare bankruptcy under the weight of thousands in hospital care debt. I passed my exams. My family is still intact.

I learned a few things though.

"Don't try to turn the hands of fate / If it rains, you've got to let it" ~ Alana Davis, "Turtle"

I remember lying in the hospital in the middle of the night getting yet another CT scan. Right then under the gentle hum of machinery, I gave up. Not in an "oh woe is me" way. I just gave up trying to be in control. Most of my fury up until that point was my inability to keep things from happening to me. Surely I could stop appendicitis or convince our landlord to not make us move. I'm Superwoman, after all. But no, I'm not, and upon that realization, I let go of needing everything to be right and okay in my life. It was weird, yet comforting. I had to simply be all right with the best that I could do, which at that moment, meant holding my breath and lying very still for the scan technician.

"(Help) You know I need somebody / (Help) Not just any body / (Help) You know I need someone" ~ The Beatles, "Help"

My husband often accuses me of not asking for assistance. It's that Superwoman thing again. However, life decided to give me more than I could handle just to see if I would reach out. And I did. I have no shame in saying I talked to my doctor and started counseling again. I accepted childcare from friends so I could recover and study. I talked when someone wanted to listen. These battles cannot be fought in isolation. I got help, and I'd do it again.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss

Ah, the church thing. I won't get into it here the same way I didn't give too many details to too many inquiring minds then. It involved people and their messy lives. In the end, everyone walked away thinking they were right, so there's no point in continuing to convince anyone otherwise. It did unfortunately change our lives. We were estranged from the community that we called home for many years. Some friendships got weird; others dissolved altogether. "Church hurt," as they call it, is a unique animal. But my faith is a little more in God and a little less in people these days. That's one thing. The other is this: friendships and community ties have seasons just like everything else does. Our season there is over. I can lament how things ended, or I can rejoice in three and a half beautiful years of love and communion. I choose the latter.

That's not all. I could teach series on all the lessons I've learned this year. That's the best lesson of all. Hard times make for glorious renewal and revaluation. I wouldn't care to go through most of this again, but I'm thrilled at the person I am because of it.

So, whether you're in a season of draught or plenty, rest or renovation, happiness or heartache, here's to hoping your 2015 leaves you wiser than before.

~jennifer.

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