Life Lesson #8: This Too Shall Pass


THIS TOO, SHALL PASS

When things are bad, remember:

It won’t always be this way.

Take one day at a time.

When things are good, remember:

It won’t always be this way.

Enjoy every great moment.

— Doe Zantamata

When I began my first real job as an adult, my boss would frequently say, “This, too, shall pass.”  It became one of my favorite reminders when things got stressful.  Over the years, it has served me well.

After twenty-plus years of chronic stressful situations, I have learned it is very true that everything really does eventually pass.  While our lives may not ever be the same afterwards (sometimes they are better!), there is always a nugget of gold to be mined from each event.

What can I learn from this experience?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we need a catastrophic event of sorts to sort of “knock us in the head”. We are brought up short, caught off guard, and sent reeling with the impact. At the time, it is painful. It feels as if life as we know it is over. We wonder, “How am I ever going to survive this?” Other times, the “event” was immensely pleasurable, making our hearts soar with love and joy. We can’t believe this has happened. We can’t believe we’ve been so lucky. (Remember the butterflies associated with spending your first “date” with the man of your dreams or hearing that you received the promotion you’ve been hoping for forever?) Whatever the experience, there is always something to learn.

What can I be grateful for in this moment?

With catastrophic events, it isn’t always easy to be grateful initially. The grief and disbelief keep us pretty focused on the hardships ahead. Once the initial shock wears off, however, we may be able to broaden our thinking.

A few years ago, one of my daughter’s was having health issues. I received a call at work from her doctor saying they wanted to do further testing … that she might not ever have children … that she might have a “syndrome”. My initial feeling was that the room was spinning. My heart sank, my mind starting thinking worse-case scenarios (She’ll never have kids? Is it my fault?), and I was heartbroken (for both her and me). Shortly thereafter, however, the following thoughts broke through my devastation: Wait a minute. This doctor doesn’t know anything at this point. She is just speculating. God is in control here. He has held my daughter in the palm of His hand since the day she was born. I am trusting HIM. Just because she may never experience pregnancy herself doesn’t mean she will never be a mother.

As the days passed, and my daughter had the recommended testing, it turned out the syndrome the doctor suspected was a false alarm, and there is nothing to suggest she will have difficulty with pregnancy. The doctor made a poor judgment call in alarming us before the fact.

In the interim, during the unbearable waiting, I prayed; and I contacted some of my best prayer warriors to ask them to pray. Prayer is a powerful thing. Until you’ve tried it and experienced it for yourself, you may not realize that. (On a side note, if you have not yet seen the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers, please go see it. It is such a wonderful movie!)

What is really important to me and do I need to make some adjustments?

My father always taught our family that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes catastrophic events are allowed in our lives to make us reassess our lives and figure out what is really important. After some serious soul searching, I discovered that in the big huge scheme of things, whether or not my daughter could have children one day really isn’t a “big” thing. It’s more important to me that she is happy, that her overall health is good, and she finds meaning and purpose in her life.

When my son was six years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We were told the news the same day that the doctor suspected my youngest daughter might have TB. It was not a good day. My son was crying that he didn’t want to go to the hospital; my daughter was crying because she felt crummy from pneumonia (turns out she did not have the TB the x-ray alluded to). For a while that day, life as we knew it, stopped. For the next week, my husband and I lived at the hospital with our son while I learned how to care for his needs in a whole different way. (My husband has Type 1 diabetes as well, so he and my son were fine to come home sooner; but it was important that I know how to care for him, so they had us stay longer.) While my son adjusted to four insulin injections a day and at least as many finger pokes, I adjusted to giving the injections and learning how to monitor food portions and carb/protein/fat ratios. Life was never the same … not bad, just different and with more responsibility.

There were days that followed where I felt sorry for myself and our family; but the beauty of spending time at Children’s Hospital-Boston was that all around us were parents and children who, while tiptoeing through landmines of cancer and debilitating diseases, were making their way through it with smiles and grace. It put a whole new perspective on things. I didn’t have to contend with wheelchairs and IVs and ports, lengthy hospital stays, or the prospect of death; I simply had to make some minor adjustments. I’ve found that everything in life is all a matter of perspective.

In every experience we encounter in life, there is always something to learn. We learn how to think differently, how to put things into proper perspective, how to be grateful, and how to become resilient. We learn what is really important, and we discover what we are made of. We learn what is worth fighting for and what we need to let go of. We learn that life is worth living and people are worth loving. We learn that we can’t do it alone.

We still have bad days at our house, when life gets overwhelming and the responsibilities weigh us down, but amidst it all, we remember … THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS.

Walking in gratefulness …

Lori Lynn

7×70


Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  –Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB)

 

I woke up to Chris August’s song 7×70 playing on my radio this morning.  Somehow I don’t think it was by accident…

My husband and I are struggling to keep our family intact.  We have been married for 19+ years, and I would have to say we could probably count on two hands how many good months there have been.  It has been a rough road.  We have been to multiple marriage counselors, we have resorted to mud slinging, and there has been so much anger and bitterness and resentment building up for years that I don’t know if it’s better to try to salvage what we can or pack it up and move on.  As a Christian couple, neither one of us wants to go the divorce route; but the continuation of living like we are is taking its toll on all of us.

My husband has been living and working 1300 miles away for almost three years now after losing his job with a major US company.  Many people have  remarked how difficult that must be for me, but the sad truth is I hardly notice.  When my husband lived in the same house with us, he was so busy with work and was continuously buried behind either a computer or TV screen that we never got to interact with him (in a meaningful way) all that much anyway.  In retrospect, the best months of my married life were the four months he was laid off.  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually felt like I had a husband.  I had a helpmate.  I had someone to talk to.  I had someone to share things with.  When I rode out to Massachusetts with him to help him move, I could tell the minute we hit the Massachusetts border.  His driving changed, he was distracted, and he was “gone.”  It went downhill from there.  By the time I flew back home, I had this feeling of dread in my soul.

For those of you who have read my earlier posts, you know that our house did not sell that summer, and we pulled it off the market once the school year started.  The children and I stayed put intending to move the following year.  One thing led to another, and the girls and I are still here.  (My son moved out to Massachusetts this past summer to start high school and be around the father he so desperately needed.)

I’d like to stay in my marriage for my kids’ sake.  I see the impact broken homes has on kids nowadays and I think, “I SO don’t want to contribute to that!”  But the truth is, the lack of love in our home, the chaos, and the added impact of mental health issues (ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and borderline Asperger’s) have taken their toll on my children anyway.  Their insecurities abound and they constantly tear at each other in order to make themselves feel better.  Of course, it backfires; and everyone feels miserable in the long run.  What they need is a home filled with security and love.

The answer seems so simple in theory.  Get more counseling.  Work things out.  Unfortunately, theoretical answers are so much easier than reality.  I just don’t know if I have what it takes.  Correction… I KNOW I don’t have what it takes (on my own); but with God, all things are possible.  I do realize that.  I just don’t know if I can go back to a life where my needs don’t matter, where I have to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to make someone else happy.  It’s exhausting, and I’m so tired of the codependency.  I think if my husband would be able to realize that I didn’t get to be the way I am now overnight and that many things contributed to the process, I would be able to give it a bit more effort; but so much of what I’m hearing from him makes me think that nothing has changed from the time we met with our first marriage counselor and he said to the counselor, “I really hope you can help HER.”  (To be fair, I have blamed my husband for many many things as well, so don’t feel too sorry for me.)  The truth is we both need help.

That all being said, Chris August’s song this morning reminded me of how important it is to forgive.  I think the most difficult thing about forgiving someone is that we think it will mean what the other person did is okay.  It doesn’t mean that at all.  What it means is that you are going to let it go so that YOU are okay.  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves back into a bad situation; it just means we release the effect of the behavior over to God.  I can forgive my husband for the things he did in our marriage that were extremely hurtful to me, but that doesn’t mean I forget them or that I am going to allow myself to be hurt in the same way again.  My husband could choose to do the same.  If we both are willing and able to do that much, then if we do decide to go our separate ways, at least we can be civil to and respectful of each other and wish each other well in our future relationships.

Part of the process of forgiving involves becoming emotionally healthy.  I am learning how to establish boundaries.  I am learning that I have choices.  I am learning nourishing support practices (e.g., to follow the “truths” that God has placed in my heart, making a list of things that make me happy, opening myself up to joy).  Did you know that recent research shows that we actually have the ability to retrain our brain?  We can formulate new pathways (neuroplasticity) and grow new neurons (neurogenesis), which means we don’t have to continue to live negative, victim-thinking lives if that is the hole into which we’ve fallen.  I like what Joyce Meyer says, “I may not have had a great start, but I can still have a great finish.”  I’m learning mindfulness, the art of being present in the moment.  It’s a nonjudgmental acknowledgment of what we feel, think, or experience.  I am learning to practice gratitude.  I have lived enough different places in my life and experienced enough job changes to know that no matter where I go or what I do, there is always going to be something I like and something I don’t; so I am focusing on being thankful for the things I like in a given moment.  When I get discouraged, I think of something my first boss was fond of saying, “This, too, shall pass.”

We human beings are such imperfect people.  We can’t begin to meet everyone’s needs, and we shouldn’t look to others to do that for us.  We need to discover what our needs are, find healthy ways to meet them, and look to God to fill the empty places.  By looking to others to fill them, we are inadvertently trying to make them little gods; and that just doesn’t work.  We will always wind up disappointed and frustrated, and those other people will feel inadequate and inept.  A dear friend of mine once told me, “It all boils down to love.”

As much as I hate the thought of divorce, I believe God is teaching me that no matter which path I choose, He will still love me; and He will use it for good.  If I can emerge from this difficult period with my ability to love restored, I will be extremely grateful; and if I can be transformed into a person who can bring hope and healing to others, I will be truly blessed.

Leaning on God—

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD…  We are such imperfect people, and we hurt one another more often than we care to admit.  We ask for Your help in forgiving those who have hurt us.  Unforgiveness is such a heavy weight to bear.  Help us lighten the load by handing it over to You.  In so doing, please teach us how to love again.  When we have difficult decisions to make, please grant us Your grace and wisdom in making a wise decision; and give us discernment and understanding to see how our decision will impact others.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

 

 

Handicapped


“Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”  –Sharon Creech

I have a daughter who has borderline Asperger’s. It has been so difficult watching her grow up because, like most Aspies, she is socially handicapped. She longs for relationships, but she lacks the skills necessary to maintain them. Unfortunately, she also struggles with learning disabilities; math and English are her most difficult subjects. She cannot grasp abstract thinking, and she has a difficult time putting thoughts down on paper. She is incredibly bright and has an above-average intellect; there just happens to be a huge disconnect between what’s in her brain and what shows up on paper. It’s not surprising, then, that academic test scores are less than stellar even though she can give you a verbal answer that would blow you away. She is very insightful. You wouldn’t always know, just by looking at her, that she struggles the way she does. Unlike physical handicaps, her difficulties aren’t always so apparent.

It makes me think of my own handicaps. Mine don’t show either. They are emotional handicaps hidden behind a smile and a helpful demeanor. I know when they started. I was in the sixth grade, and everyone in my grade signed a petition called the “I Hate Lori Lynn” club. I went home that day with a crushed spirit. When I mentioned it at supper that night, my oldest brother laughed. I didn’t see the humor and was even more devastated. It is a horrible feeling to know everyone hates you.

The good news is that by the beginning of seventh grade, everyone had forgotten they hated me, and we no longer had such well-defined cliques among our classmates.  The bad news is that the effect of the devastation from not being liked stuck with me into adulthood. It became a handicap. I continued to have a nagging sensation that there was something wrong with me. Everything I did or thought was filtered through the lens of “what will people think? Will they approve or disapprove? Will they think I’m weird? Will they like me?” I became a covert people pleaser.

Being a people-pleaser is exhausting. In the midst of trying to keep everyone around us happy, we lose ourselves. We no longer have boundaries; and not only are we frequently frustrated and disappointed, but the people we associate with can’t quite seem to feel comfortable being around us. We fail to have opinions about anything, at least genuine opinions that we are willing to share. We lose sight of the fact that God put us on this earth to be a unique individual with a unique purpose, and it’s not to be a people pleaser!

I am learning (and I am teaching my children) that it really doesn’t matter what other people think; what matters is what God thinks and what we think of ourselves. So, I am learning to filter things through a new lens. “What will God think? Will He approve or disapprove? Will He bless it? Am I being obedient to what He is calling me to do?” Ultimately, if the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then I need to adjust accordingly.

What about you?  Do you struggle with a hidden handicap?  What are your coping mechanisms?  Are they working for you, or is the burden becoming too much to bear?  Maybe it’s time to get rid of that load.  Ask God for a new pair of glasses so you might see your situation in a new light.

Growing in Christ–

Lori Lynn

Physical handicaps are one thing, LORD; they are visible.  Emotional handicaps, however, can be invisible, and we might miss many opportunities to show Your love to others because we fail to see their struggles.  Give us eyes to see these “walking wounded,” that we might better understand them and help ease their burden.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.