I finished a journal that I have kept the last couple of years and after forcing myself to go back, I really am trying to pull out some key things that happened. It's hard because it's all so personal and every thing I write hits home pretty hard. It gives "preaching to the choir" a whole new meaning!
Some of my journal makes me laugh because I am completely un-censored in my private writing. I read back when Tim had just started his first job (post career change) doing heating and air, we were renovating our first house, and our children were 3 and 1. He was at the bottom of the bottom in his industry. Our house was 1200 square feet smaller than the old one. A complete wreck. And I was trying to raise 2 small toddlers in the middle of all of it. And all I journaled that day was.
"We are a mess. This house is a mess. Our children are a mess. And on the bright side? It's only going to get messier."
Well, that's encouraging, huh?! Welcome to my world. I know every marriage book says sarcasm is an enemy, but let me tell you that sarcasm may just be the very thing that has saved our marriage. During these times, we would wake up and at random times chant, "LIVIN THE DREAM!" As walls were falling, a toddler was having a tantrum, or God knows what else would be in store that day for us.
Moving on. I wanted to share today about something that was (and still is) really helpful. I don't know how on God's green Earth I am not on every anxiety and depression medication on the market. I am not on any prescription drugs (besides thyroid medicine b/c mine decided to quit at age 22).
Now before you think I'm all earthy and crazy and a "Jesus is my seat belt" driver... just know I am not. I am all about people keeping themselves mentally and physically healthy and that may require intervention.
Honestly, I firmly believe that your marriage, friends, community, and family can be the best counselors in the world. They know you. They get you. They see you in and out. They can speak into your life easy. There may only be one thing that Tim and I have done well at, we have played with all cards on the table. I only operate with gut wrenching honesty. And that's a pill to swallow.
Thats my first observation about our journey. We were not alone. Are you?
Find some friends. Talk to some friends you already have. Take it to the next level. You may just be shockingly surprised that YOU may be the tool God was wanting to use to break through someone elses life as well. Almost 9 times out of 10, the person sitting across from you has something to pour out as well. Everyone just needs someone authentic. Who wants to hear. Who responds with something vulnerable as well.
Take a time out. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one because you are all smart people. But, maybe, just maybe, you need a time out. A time out from what you ask? Well, that is going to be for you to figure out. If you are making a big decision. Going through a really hard time. Going through a loss. Whatever. Take a time out. Maybe from large social settings or Facebook. I know for me, the times after my miscarriages when I felt completely alone and forgotten by God.... would you know I would get online and its like my whole entire "news feed" on facebook was pregnant. Like rolling sonograms on my entire screen. Come on! Take a time out! My best friend and I joke about Facebook life. I am not the same Jennifer that is "Facebook Jennifer". I can't be. Facebook cannot give you the ins and outs of peoples authenticity and struggles. That's why real relationships are very important during every season of life. Because I promise you, if your husband loses his job... Monday morning there will be 25 posts about peoples promotions, raises, and new job titles they all got over the weekend. Take a time out, people. Give yourself a break to gain some perspective.
Identification. I have always felt if you can put a name to it, call it what it is, and share it, then you have gained power. And freedom. Identifying where you are. What you are feeling. And what you are going to do about it. I found these. The 5 stages of grief. There is nothing magical about it. It is simply words and definitions about stages of grief that I think are healing and helpful. And they were for me.
1. Denial or Shock. Examples: You may try to say: This didn't happen. It's not a big deal. Nothing is going to change. Thinking those statements as a defense mechanism to avoid any emotions that could be overwhelming to deal with.
2. Anger. We want to find a reason or someone to blame to help cope. You are angry when you are wronged, threatened, or hurt. It isn't fair. As Christians, this is where we can get "stuck" telling God that He could have prevented our loss or situation.
3. Depression. This is when your anger turns inward. You can process this as sadness or you can become hopeless. The sadness is a normal grieving process, but not when you become hopeless. Hopelessness is when the guilt of blaming yourself becomes too much. You go into shut down mode. Close yourself off. You become apathetic. Loss of motivation to do anything.
4. Bargaining. This is our way of trying to control our life and/or God. We may statements to God like, "If you do this.... then I will do this...." We try to understand, explain, or reason out why the loss occurred.
5. Acceptance. I think this is where Christ plays the ultimate role. Accepting the situation. Asking yourself how to move on, live in spite of, remain in hope. We ultimately accept that this world is fallen, broken, and that sin reigns here right now. But in Christ we know this is not our final home. We are going to a place where there is no more sadness. Or loss. We are in need of a Savior not just for eternity, but every single day.
These stages are not even in order. I think you can jump all over them and back and forth. I think that is called Life. There is no check mark and you are done, it is the ultimate healing process and helps you filter out becoming introspective and spiraling downward. If you do find yourself stuck in any stage besides acceptance, Lord have mercy give yourself a break and see a pro that can help you. Even for a short time there are some things that can really help you medicinally and through more counseling.
Don't walk alone, go deep with a few.
Take a time out.
And find out where you are with your loss.
Life is not about me. And Life is not about you. And it sure as heck isn't about all our stuff.
We are strangers. Aliens. Walking around on Earth until our day of Glory. If you are in Christ, your heart will never be at home here. If you can accept that and live in spite of that, I believe you will experience true joy.
If we can truly embrace this eternal perspective as Paul writes in 2 Cor 4:17
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Its possible. Definitely a possibility. To get hammered by life, blow after blow, and still have hope. A Spirit that does not waiver or fade. Because after all, it is HE that is in us. And HE is far more greater than what is in the world.
Call it what it is, my friends, and remember to show your cards.