It feels silly to say that my family is within a tough season because I’m pretty sure I have said that my entire life, perhaps more so with each passing year. I don’t mean that in a pessimistic, “woe is me” way. I simply mean my family faces a seemingly abnormal amount of hardship from a whole lot of different directions. Many of our trials surround things that are somewhat “chronic” and likely won’t come to fully pass anytime soon. Overall, we are confident in our calling and purpose, even on the hardest days. But they are still just that—hard. Really hard.
How is this real life?
A few months ago, I remember turning to my husband in a bout of grief and saying: “It’s only March and I am not sure we can handle any more blows this year. How is this real life?” Well spoiler alert…more blows came. Lots of them. A couple weeks ago I decided that we, for real, could not handle any more heartache. We were looking ahead to a serious surgery for our son the next week, a surgery that caused me more worry than perhaps any of the other 22 surgeries we have faced with our children in the last five years. I truly had no idea how we would make it through this when we were already carrying so many burdens.
But you know what…? We are making it. Today marks well over a week since my son’s surgery. There have been many miracles and also some tears and very dark times tucked into the last several days. Yet somehow, we kept putting one foot in front of the other, even when we didn’t realize it. Things aren’t perfect. In reality, they are an absolute mess in many ways. But we are making our way through.
This begs the question...how?
How is it that time and time again, I look at the dark valley stretching on every side of me knowing there is no way out, and still take another step while catching glimpses of sun along the way? How do I so often end up past--or at least trudging through--that which I was sure I couldn’t face?
For me personally, my faith is always my number one strength, reason, and hope. I walk beside a good, kind God whose greater purpose and willingness to step into the muck beside me changes everything. Beyond that though—or more accurately, within that—there are so many things that aren’t obvious to me sometimes until I look back and see how they are the reasons I continue putting one foot in front of the other.
Within the hardship of my son’s most recent surgery, part of my “how” was a small message group I used to keep a handful of people informed before, during, and after my son’s surgery. I have never done this before, as past trauma of my own has created terror of being a burden to others, in addition to past experiences of deepest hurt when we shared information with people who don’t value our children as we do. But this time, I pushed myself to keep these few, kind, willing people informed and each message I sent felt as if I was literally sharing the burdens I was carrying. Their prayers, encouragement, and simple willingness to be informed meant so much to me. Through individuals in this group, my son had the opportunity to be surrounded and prayed for by a large group of faithful people a couple days before surgery. We carried their prayers and support with us to the hospital and beyond.
There are so many other things that come together to create the “how” behind my ability to be ok
My incredible therapist who has been an absolute God-send and rock for me. My precious friend and nanny to my children weathers many storms with our family, holds down the fort during hospital stays, and gives me mental health breaks whenever I need them. My remarkable husband is present and attentive to my fears, triggers, and need to vent. An organization in our city supports families of children with life-threatening conditions in the most incredible, tangible ways. A friend of mine drops by delicious freezer meals and treats.
Medications (no shame if you need a little extra help from science to be ok!).
Late night tacos and ice cream.
Sunshine, fresh air, and open windows.
I could go on.
If I am honest, when my mind is in a weary and hurting place, it can be difficult for me to realize that I truly am weathering the storm instead of drowning in it. Many times, my “ok” doesn’t look how I want it to, especially when I am longing to be so much more than just ok. It can be hard to look for and acknowledge the progress and the reasons behind it. But once I find myself looking for the “hows” behind my ability to keep going, the list is endless and I can’t help but let my overwhelm with circumstances transform to overwhelm with thanks.
If you find yourself in a season where you are just ok or maybe a little less, it’s alright.
Life is hard, my friend.
You are here.
You are making it.
You are enough.