Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Didn't Think I Would Be Grateful

Pretty much my whole life, I remember reading stories about people enduring and overcoming trials. I always thought, "how could they possibly be grateful for all they had to go through?" I didn't believe it, I thought perhaps they were lying or something. How could someone lose a child, and then later say they were grateful? How could someone lose a job, their house, etc, and be grateful? How could a person suffer from a mental or physical infirmity, struggle to live through each day, and somehow find that they were grateful?  I didn't understand it then.

Two years ago, no more than that, closer to two and a half or so, my family entered a really difficult time. I have struggled to understand. I have cried and yelled and fought back. When that failed, I wanted to give up. What was the point? If it didn't matter what we did, bad stuff was going to happen, then why try to do the right things? After awhile, a LONG while, with multiple trials and curves being thrown at us, somewhere in the midst of the hysteria, in the middle of the panic, I found peace. I found my precious unborn baby. I found that I loved this baby with all my heart, just as I love my kids and husband. I found that I could keep trying, because this baby and my family needed me. And I found that I WAS grateful, for everything.

I was grateful for a horrible boss. That horrible man, who treated my husband like dirt, who insulted him, micromanaged him, maligned him, kicked him when he was down, falsely accused him, led him to believe that he knew nothing and that his degrees were worthless (although superior to the boss's education), and finally arranged to have him fired. I could be grateful in spite of all that, because it motivated my husband to find other work. And the new job came with a boss who was kind, caring, a true leader, respectful and encouraging. I am grateful for a horrible boss, because he taught me how to be a better wife. He taught me how not to treat the good, humble, sincere man I married. He taught me that words alone can destroy a person. I am grateful for these necessary lessons, lessons which I needed to learn. I am grateful.

I am grateful for the long commute my husband has each day. Although it means we needed to purchase a second car, with it's accompanying insurance and fuel costs, it allowed my husband time to unwind from work. Also, through a car pool with two good men at two different times, my husband was given some really good friends, men with whom he can connect and discuss topics of religion, politics and philosophy, etc. This has been so good for him. Even though the commute, and the time difference between his employment and our home means he is gone from 8 am to after 7 pm, I am grateful, because my husband gets that necessary time to connect with people outside of work, something he rarely had before. I am grateful.

I am grateful for the unexpected blessing of this unborn baby. I wasn't ready, we weren't ready to welcome any additions at this time. And at first I was angry and anxious. But I am now grateful, grateful for the way that this tiny angel has already touched my life, for the way this baby has touched my family. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned, already, from being this baby's mother. I have learned to accept things in God's time. I have learned to trust that it's going to be okay. I have learned a little about how to live in the moment. Our lives, life in general, is really just a blink, we never know when our last day, or a loved one's last day may be. We need to treasure each moment as it comes, to look for the good in every second, because it might just be our last chance to be with someone. I am still learning this last lesson, but I am grateful for it as it is being taught. I have learned to hold my children close every day, to make sure that they know that I love them. I am grateful.

It hasn't been an easy two and a half years. Some parts have been extremely difficult, and all of it has been long and hard, but looking bad, maybe it all wasn't so bad. I still have hard days, and there are more hard days coming in the future. Some days I still struggle. But I know that I will be grateful for these days too. If only because they are days that I and my children and husband lived, there will be reasons to be grateful. And I am grateful.

I am grateful for hard times, financially. I am grateful, because I have learned to not be so judgmental. I have learned that things aren't always what they seem on the outside, and that only God knows the whole story. I am grateful to have struggled in this economy, because it has taught me to think more charitably of others. It has taught me to reach out and try to help more people. Because I know that I am struggling, that we are struggling, I have learned that others must be struggling too. Our own financial troubles have helped me to widen my vision, and truly see other people, and not be so absorbed in my own problems. I have been able to open my eyes, and see that trials are all around, people are suffering everywhere, some of them much more than I. I am grateful for the lesson on charity. I am grateful to have learned to give selflessly, to give without judgment, and to serve without pretense nor grumbling. I am grateful.

God is in control. I cling to that hope and knowledge, that somehow all of my trials and hardships will be for my good. And even if the only good is that I learn a valuable lesson, well then I guess that's good enough. There are people out there who have it harder than I do. And I am grateful that I have not been called to endure their trials instead of my own. I am grateful to have my own trials, given in their own time, and in the time I need them. I am grateful.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Always Learning

I have not written much lately, largely because the last several months have been in turmoil, and I didn't know how to say what I felt. I also didn't want to share the emotions and feelings I had been experiencing, because I felt guilty for what I felt. I didn't want people to think I was heartless or somehow a bad person. Even with the anonymity of the internet, I was worried about what you all out in inter-space would think of me. But I realized that that didn't matter anymore. What I felt was real, and to a degree, continues to be real to me. And so, I share it, albeit with hesitation, because maybe someone out there needs to read it, and realize, hey, you know what, it's okay to feel. It's okay to experience the dark feeling. And if she could get through it, then maybe I can too. And maybe it will inspire that other person to try again, and to keep going. Now I also realize that not everybody can relate to what I have been feeling. And I realize too that there may be some people who are angry with what I have to say, and may feel hurt too. Please know, that these are just my feelings with my situation. I realize the pain and struggle your own experiences may be, and I wish you all the success in your journey. At the same time, I ask for understanding on my end too. Our experiences in life are not at all the same, what may be a trial or a difficulty for one, may be a blessing to another. Just as we are not the same, neither are our trials, blessings and experiences. The following recounts my experiences with a difficulty in my own life. One that began about 5 months ago. One that slapped me upside the face with shock.

You cannot imagine the surprise and shock I felt at this news. I was pregnant. And for the first few days I was completely numb with the knowledge. And then I got mad. This was not what I wanted right now. That is not to say that we never wanted anymore children, because we did, just not right now. I was thinking maybe late fall/winter of 2013 or so. This just did not fit in with my plans. I was in the process of losing weight and getting healthy. My husband's future employment was in question, our finances are/were completely strapped. Our house is too small, our car is too small. We were not ready to do this again. And on top of that, I had what I would consider a traumatic birth with my 4th baby, and had not fully healed from the injuries I suffered. I wasn't ready to even consider birth again so soon. But here I was. After I was angry for awhile, I started to worry. I worried about finances. I worried about my husband's job. I worried about how I was going to handle 5 kids. I worried about where I was going to put another baby. I worried about how I was going to be able to afford clothing, supplies, and other things for the baby. I had given away almost all of my baby stuff to other people who needed it, thinking that it didn't make sense to keep all this stuff that I didn't need and wouldn't need for awhile. We had our ultrasound and that just make things more real, this was actually happening to me. I hadn't just imagined it.

I thought seeing my 'jelly bean' would help me feel more secure, but I actually felt more anxious about things. And I was really worried about the future birth too. And then I got to 15 weeks, and I started trying to feel baby movement. Every other baby I have felt by 15 weeks. But this one, nothing. I waited and waited and waited. And finally, just short of 20 weeks, I felt a little wiggle. And then a thump. Relief flooded through me, and I thought, maybe I can do this again.

I still worried though, and I stressed myself out with anxiety and all of the what-ifs and how-tos. Right at 20 weeks, my husband felt the baby kick. And I smiled, as I remembered how much fun this feeling could be, and how much I have loved it every time before. Yesterday, we had our fetal anatomy scan, and I was amazed, again, at the beauty of the unborn child. I marveled at our baby's perfect little nose, their adorable, dented upper-lip. I stared in wonder at their tiny hands, perfect feet, and sweet, little ears. And in that moment, I realized how much I loved our precious child. Yes, they were coming to us in a time that we weren't planning, yes, things were not perfect here. And yes, I still don't know how we are going to make everything work, but this I know: I love my baby. I would do anything for my child, and somehow, I know it's all going to turn out okay. Somehow, we will make it work. These last couple weeks, at different times, my husband has worried or stressed over something, and I have found myself repeating to him "Just do your best, and let God deal with the rest." And I find that I actually do believe that myself. I am grateful for this new baby, and for everything I have learned so far. I am grateful for the trial of this surprise, because I have learned so much. I don't think I could have learned so much if not for the surprise, the unknown, and at times, the struggle. What will be, will be, and even though I still get scared and worry about the how-tos and the what-ifs, I know, somewhere in my soul, that it's going to be okay. All I have to do is try my best, take each day one at a time, and focus on what I can do and not what I can't.  And so, today, I focus on how much I love my children, and how blessed my baby will be to come to a family that loves them so much. Our needs will be met, and maybe we won't get as many of our wants as we'd like, but we have each other, we have what we need, we have friends and family, we have our faith, and we have a whole lot of love to give and share. And with ALL of that, do we really want for much else?