Learning Limits

An exchange with a Facebook friend got me thinking.

How much of my struggle in life is a result of ignoring my own limits?

How much pain do I inflict on myself because I won’t admit I need help?  Why do I insist on living to the edge of endurance and emotional capacity?

Why, why, why do I try so hard to keep up a front of invincibility?

Pride.

Pride goads me like a whip.

Pride makes me say, “yes” when I should say, “no”.  Pride whispers the lie to my heart that I can be everything to everyone because I am “all that”.   Pride makes me believe I am the focus of others’ attention and conversation when they probably haven’t even noticed.

Foolish woman!

When I try to do too much, I am unable to do anything well.  When I spread myself too thin, I guarantee that I’ll crack under the pressure of keeping up appearances.

Truth is, I’m not fooling anyone.  And I’m not serving myself or others well.

you are never strong enough that you dont need help

I’m learning some lessons in this Valley and one of them is to try to accept my limits.  I need to be honest about how much I can and cannot do, what I can and cannot carry alone.

Admitting I am human is hardly a unique confession-it’s the plight of all who walk the earth.  When I do, I invite others to walk alongside and assist me in carrying the load.

Asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s strength.

cannot judge yourself for needing help

 

 

 

Will It ALWAYS Feel Like This?

I belong to several bereaved parents online communities and this question comes up again and again-it was the first thing I asked a bereaved mom just after Dominic ran ahead to heaven:

“Will this suffocating pain remain sitting on my chest, smothering the breath and life right out of me?  Will I ever be able to stop crying? Will it ALWAYS feel like this?”

The short answer is, “No, it won’t.”

For those of us who follow Jesus, we know that eternity with Him will be filled with inexpressible joy and peace.  Whatever pain and sorrow we have carried down below will be swallowed up by redemption and restoration.  He has promised both to collect our tears in His bottle and to wipe them away.

tears-in-a-bottle-blue-bottle

The longer answer is, “It depends.”

If I cling tightly to my sorrow, focus my eyes and heart only on what I have lost, then I will continue to feel overwhelmed.

How can it be otherwise?

I have lost more than I can comprehend-both what WAS and WHAT WILL BE.  My son is gone, gone, gone.  And that is not going to change on this earth.

I can’t play mind games and trick myself into thinking it will.  My heart knows the truth and it won’t be fooled no matter how hard I try.

BUT-if I turn and face the pain, embrace it, feel it and work on healthy ways to carry it-then I can begin to breathe again.

There is no way through but through.  I have to let my heart feel all the feels.  Stuffing or ignoring them is not an option.  They will not be ignored forever.

There’s no way around grief and loss: you can dodge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and, hopefully, come out the other side. The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left.

Johnny Cash

I can choose to equip myself with tools for working through them.  Counseling, journaling, learning to lament, sharing with a trusted friend are all healthy ways to process pain.

And because I believe in Jesus, the most helpful thing I can do in this Valley is look to my Shepherd.  When I focus my gaze on Him, on His character and provision, my heart is strengthened.

Make no mistake-the missing and sorrow are still there-faith is not anesthesia! But there are other feelings that take up residence alongside my pain-hope and courage and grace.

faith is not an epidural

I have to choose.

Am I going to work through this pain or simply be crushed by it?  Will I allow my Savior to heal my heart or will I refuse His aid?

My heart is still beating either way.

 

 

Repost: Loving the Wounded

God bless the inventor of Band Aids!

That little tacky plaster has soothed more fears and tears than almost any other invention in the world.

Skinned knee?  Put a BandAid on it.

Bee sting?  BandAid.

Tiny bump that no one can even see?  Oh, sweetie, let me give you a BandAid.

Simply acknowledging pain and woundedness is so often all that is needed to encourage a heart and point it toward healing.

Read the rest here:  Loving the Wounded

Unafraid

I’ve never been really big on fear.

I jumped from the high dive at three years old-that belly flop hurt but I survived and it fueled my adventurous spirit.

I rode horses other people didn’t like-was bucked off a time or two but no broken bones so that didn’t slow me down.

IMG_0210

My dad had an open cockpit biplane and we flew aerobatics over Colorado Springs-fanny pack parachute strapped to my butt “just in case”-upside down and round and round. We never needed to jump and landed safely every time.

great lakes biplane

Never been afraid of speaking in public.

Never been afraid of strangers.

Never been afraid of heights.

UNTIL.

Until I had children and then I was afraid of nearly EVERYTHING for them.

I didn’t want any harm to befall these tiny humans carrying my heart outside my body.  I wanted to protect them, to cushion them, to wrap them in a bubble so that nothing bad ever happened to them.

As they grew, I learned to let go- a little at a time.  I learned you can’t prevent the scrapes and bruises and heartaches and disappointments of life.  And I learned that a little “harm” made them stronger.

IMG_1977

I forgot most of my fears and was again unafraid.

UNTIL Dominic was killed.

And all the old fears came rushing back.  I wanted to lock my surviving children in a room and slip food under the door.  I HAD to keep them safe.

Only I can’t.  It is not possible for me to keep. them. safe.

All I could possibly do is make them afraid.  I could make them afraid of choosing their hearts’ desires in an attempt to prevent more pain for mine.

I won’t do that.

I will not allow part of Dominic’s legacy to be that our family lives afraid.

NO.

I choose to release my children to make the best choices they can and to live boldly and unafraid.

 

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

It took me nearly two years to hang a wall calendar again.  It took that long, plus some, to add anything to it besides close family birthdays and doctor’s appointments.

I would record what I did AFTER the fact, but I just couldn’t let my heart make plans.

Because I had made planslots and lots of plans-before Dominic ran ahead to heaven unexpectedly and wrecked them all.

There’s another reason looking forward is hard on my heart:

No matter how wonderful the event, no matter how anticipated the birth, or wedding, or graduation, or party-there will always, always, always be one person missing.

I still find making plans difficult.  

I don’t make many and the ones I do make I hold lightly.  I warn friends that I may get up the “morning of” and decide that I just cannot do it.  The closest ones (the only ones I really have left) totally understand and never pressure me otherwise.

But as I have rounded the corner of three years, I am beginning to be able to look a little bit further in the distance.  

I am able to pencil in some fun things more than a week in advance.  I’ve even started looking up ideas on Pinterest again-ideas for birthday gifts months in advance, for dinner table decorations and for craft projects to occupy the hottest parts of summer days.

And I’m learning to take Dominic WITH me as I walk into tomorrow after tomorrow without his physical presence.  I’m finding ways to keep him close, to have him near, to share him with others so that the vibrant man he was (and still IS-in heaven) is remembered and honored.

The fact is that tomorrow comes whether I am dragged kicking and screaming into the new day or whether I go willingly, with purpose and with grace.

I am trying to choose purpose and grace.

Sometimes it’s really, really hard.

But when I do-it’s worth it.

sometimes helps me wake up brene brown

 

Repost: What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

This was one of the first posts I wrote.  It hadn’t been long since I was introduced to an online community of bereaved parents and began to see that I wasn’t the only one who had friends and family that misunderstood child loss.

I was spending a lot of time in my life trying to help others comprehend, just a little, what it felt like to bury a child.

Trying to give them a tiny taste of how this pain is so, so different than any other I had experienced.  Begging them to toss the popular ideas bandied around that grief followed “stages” and was “predictable”.

I re-share every so often because it seems to help, a little.  ❤

People say, “I can’t imagine.

But then they do.

They think that missing a dead child is like missing your kid at college or on the mission field but harder and longer.

That’s not it at all.

It isn’t nostalgia for a time when things were different or better or you talked more: it’s a gut-wrenching, breath-robbing, knee-buckling, aching groan that lives inside you begging to be released.

Read the rest here:  What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

No Magic

I was looking for it too, at first.

There had to be a secret path, a magic word, a hidden key that would make this awful child loss journey more manageable.

But there is none.

It seems unbearable to think ahead to the possible years of doing this hard thing.  And it is- UNBEARABLE.  If I look at the missing writ large across the rest of my life, I will crumble beneath the weight of it.

Yet, I only have to live this moment, this breath, this day.

just-breathe

It’s no platitude-it’s how I have made it through these last three years.  I have no grand scheme or insight on navigating the path of burying a child.

Only leaning every day on the Truth.

Speaking it to my heart when my feelings tell me there is no hope.

Praying each day that the Father will wrap His loving arms around me and lift me up and that He will overwhelm my hurting heart with His mercy and grace.

Waiting, when necessary, for a grief wave to pass and then getting up

again

and again

and again.

Refusing to quit because Dominic was no quitter.

Carrying on because I carry him in my heart.

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. 13 My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. 14 I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.

Philippians 2:12-14 CEV