I’ve been on a bit of a journey today.
Yesterday was a tough day. There was literally no good news. The pandemic is getting worse. There aren’t enough hospital beds. Stay-at-home orders are being extended. Some days the news is just too much to bear. It weighs on you and brings you down.
So, this morning I woke up with a heavy heart. Realistically, I know our world will recover, but when? It’s interesting what time to think can do to a person. Usually life is so busy it becomes easy to push feelings and emotions aside in order to just keep up with life itself. But for now all we have is time and as my thoughts swirled around and around, this thought came to me.
I’ve been through an awful lot of shit.
I’m not here to complain or give you a sob story about my life. Many, many, many people out there have had it way worse than me. I totally understand and sympathize with that. But, everyone’s obstacles are unique and no matter how big or small they may seem to others, they are obstacles unique to only you, and need to be overcome just the same.
When I was 19, I got pregnant out of wedlock. I was a freshman in college with my whole life ahead of me and found myself at the lowest point I could be. What would happen to me and the baby? How would I support him or her? Could I even finish college? It was hard. A lot of tears were shed. But I had a good guy in my then-boyfriend and we got married, trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation.
All was not wine and roses when we became a little family. Brett and I were young and had a lot of maturing to do. To say we really didn’t like each other was an understatement. I know deep down inside we resented each other. Him, angry with me for taking away his youthful freedom and me, just not liking anything about him. For six years we lived like this. Just going through the motions. Staying together for the kids. But we grew up, kept the faith, worked hard, and learned to love one another.
We were in Boston during the events of 9/11. I remember sobbing trying to call my mom who worked right up the hill from the Pentagon. Fear ripping through me until I heard her voice on the phone. Then fearful of what could happen next. Should I run out and get my kids from school? Should my husband leave work and come home? It was terrifying.
When our daughter was 13, we discovered she was battling with anorexia. It was devastating to watch her suffer while feebly trying to help her, all the while knowing she would only find true healing from within. I found myself on my knees many times weeping over her pain. It was a long, painful journey for her, and so gut wrenchingly difficult to deal with as a mother.
Later, she went on to run the Boston Marathon. The year she ran was 2013, the year of the bombing. We were at the meeting area near the finish line when the bombs went off. Her childhood friend, Shapleigh, had watched Autumn finish in the exact spot where the first bomb detonated and only left the area to come congratulate Autumn right after she watched her cross the finish line. We found ourselves in a place where we didn’t know what to do or what would happen. All we knew was that we were scared and needed to get out of Boston as quickly as possible. It was terrifying.
A few years later, we found ourselves on a plane bound for China. We were uprooting half of our children and leaving behind all we knew to start a new journey as expats halfway around the world. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do. I won’t even go into all the emotions that surrounded that time in our lives. I’ll just say that it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.
Last year alone, Brett had to undergo two major hernia surgeries, we had an unexpected move back home, and decided to build a house. All major life events (stressors) that just seemed to keep coming at us.
And that brings us to today. I don’t need to tell you what a challenging time we are living in. Worry for health, worry for job security, uncertainty about the future, mourning over the loss our senior has to face with missing all of his “lasts”. The list is endless and if you’re like me, emotions are running high. I might be laughing one minute and bawling the next. What makes it even worse is that many times I find myself overcome by emotions and don’t even know why.
But that’s where my journey today began.
Looking back on everything I’ve been through I realize that through it all, God has never forsaken me. In the beginning I wasn’t a Christian. My faith was in myself and my own strength. Going through the pregnancy at 19, I felt very alone. I had made such a mess of my life. Then facing a terrible marriage became more and more difficult as I continued to heap more and more weight upon my weary shoulders. Later, I discovered that God was the only one who could strengthen me. And He did. As you’ve read, there has been a lot that has come my way. Some heavy stuff. Things came along that were honestly just too much for me to bear. But as my faith strengthened, I began to see that I had strength not through me, but through God. He has never left me and has always carried me through life’s difficulties.
Lately, I’ve been allowing myself to get caught up in the heaviness of life. It’s been overwhelming at times. Although I’ve been praying in earnest, I’ll admit, I’ve allowed myself to take my eyes off of Him through worry. But today I thought, after all He’s seen me through why would He forsake me now? Running through the memories of life’s milestones and the blessings that have come out of most of them, I feel a bit foolish doubting this time will end any differently. We now have four wonderful children. My husband is my best friend. Our daughter is married, happy, and expecting as baby of her own. Our life overseas ended up being one of the greatest things that we have ever done, not just for the four of us that made the move, but for all of us as a whole. And the fact that, although we did not expect to be, we are home, close to our family during this difficult time is such an incredible blessing.
Before we moved to China, I got a tattoo of a cross on my wrist. It was meant to remind me that no matter where I am in this world, God is always with me. I need to remember this and make sure to remind myself of it constantly. Because, just like all the other stuff I’ve been through, He will bring me through this as well. I truly believe this is the only way I will be able maintain my strength.
It may not be easy from one day to the next, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we grow the most through adversity. This is my chance to strengthen my faith and I need to do my best to remember the strength that He has instilled within me.
Sorrow looks back.
Worry looks around.
Faith looks up.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson