Remember when you were a kid and your biggest worries involved who you were going to play with at recess or what presents you might get for your birthday? It’s likely we had no idea what concerns our parents were dealing with, as it should be. Most of us probably didn’t know about utility bills, mortgages and relationship struggles. And then we grew up and were amazed (and probably disappointed) to learn how crazy hard “adulting” really is!
That’s sort of what my life “after” my husband’s death feels like too. It’s like I’ve graduated (been demoted, really) into a new, more terrible level of adulthood. Before Mark’s illness and later, his death, I was not really aware of the anxiety involved with caregiving and “widowing.” I didn’t really know about insurance policies, beneficiary regulations, grief counseling, funeral homes and death certificates. I also used to live almost every day without even thinking about the possibility of losing the people I love. There wasn’t really fear or anxiety because it didn’t even occur to me! Sure, grandparents and those I knew who were older, but no one else ever crossed my mind.
I don’t want to be a fear-filled, anxious faith-lacker, yet I’ve been changed and must admit I often struggle. I’ve always been a cautious Mom, but now I have to fight with everything I have to allow my kids to do normal things, like ride their bike to school or ride with a friend’s parent to a movie. These things now cause me to pause and I have to literally pray my way through it. I can’t tell you how many times any given day I say, “God, protect them – and have mercy on us!”
The other day I received a phone call from the school nurse. She informed me that Gman fell from the top of the playground equipment. She said he landed flat on his back and had the wind thoroughly knocked out of him. He had feeling in his lower extremities but they used a wheelchair to bring him into the nurse’s office. She said the color had returned to his lips and face. Good, because it just left mine! My heart sank as a flood of hospital, EMT, ambulance and wheelchair-related memories came rushing back into my mind.
I held myself together on the exterior, but inside? Inside I was a WRECK! Thank God she had positive news to report before she called me. That helped. I am all too familiar with how things can change drastically in an instant. I’m rudely mindful of the lack of tragedy quotas in this life. Just because one or two or three terrible things have happened to you doesn’t mean Satan’s done with you.
So for a while, I was overcome with fear. For a while I let anxiety rule me. My mind was flooded with worst-case scenarios that I was sure would happen. Before I could even reach for my remedy, (a whole lot of Bible mixed with a dash of some mild (Dr. authorized) meds), I received this text message from Lolo:
Are you kidding me?! What in the world is wrong with this family?? I had to call B. at college just to make sure she was still breathing. Because the way this day was going, who knew? I’m happy to report Gman is doing just fine and Lolo has nothing but a little skinned knee and hand. B. is alive and kicking too. We all are. Bruised and sore, but we will be just fine.
I’m thankful for Lolo’s minor mishap though. It provided a dark, but comical perspective to the day. It allowed me to laugh because, what else was I going to do?
Life is scary. Bad things happen to good people every day. I can choose to let the fear of that prevent me from experiencing joy, and I can curl up into a paranoid ball of fearful angst, or I can choose joy. I choose joy. I even have this printed on my shoes, just in case I forget.
I can choose to doubt God, or I can choose to lean into Him more. I choose more God. That doesn’t mean I won’t have my moments. Of course I will! Just because I love Him and want to trust Him doesn’t mean it’s easy to do it every minute of every day. But when I’m weary, anxious or afraid, I will dig deeper into His words for me. And there I will always find comfort and strength to face the next hour. No matter how dark and terrifying this world can be, God is always good. He knows I need extra grace, especially in all of these days “after.” Thank you, God for giving it so freely. And thank you, God for the meds. Amen.
We will be just fine.
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