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

Life Lesson #7: Don’t Quit


Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. — C. S. Lewis

I know so many people who are struggling … people close to my heart and some not so close.  I’ve noticed, from my own experience, that what exacerbates the problem is looking around at others and thinking, “Why me?”

I’m not sure when I adopted the notion that life is supposed to be problem free, but it obviously crept into my psyche somewhere along the line.  Maybe it’s from all of the books I lost myself in when I was growing up, or perhaps it’s the movies I escape into when I want to remove myself from the cold, hard realities of life.  Somehow in the process my mind skipped over the hardships and only remembered the happy endings.

I know what it’s like to feel hopeless, frustrated, all alone.  I know what it’s like to feel that no one cares, that no one understands.  It’s hard to get out of the rut.  It’s hard to think differently when everything you know is screaming, “Failure!”  It’s hard to get past the voices of Doom and Gloom whispering in your ears.  Spending time with Harry Potter or Frodo relieves my momentary fear and paralysis and makes me think that I, too, can overcome my current struggle.

I recently sent the daughter of a dear friend of mine a poem called “Don’t Quit”.  You can find it here.  I decided it might be a good thing to send my own children, who are facing some tough realities of their own (aka how to afford college when they can’t take out student loans without a parent’s cosignature).

Here’s the thing, though… I’ve learned throughout all of this that there is one thing you can bank on.  Satan desires nothing more than to drag us down, to lose our focus, to make us feel intimidated/inferior/not good enough.  Drown his voice out.  He is full of smoke and hot air!

Don’t waste your energy looking at the people around you.  They are not running YOUR race.  YOU are.  They have their own obstacles to overcome.  Focus on your race.  Stay grounded.  Other people don’t matter in the big huge scheme of things.  What matters is you and God … that’s it.  His plans for your life.  The purpose He created you for.

Keep the faith…

Lori Lynn

Father … when life gets just too darn hard to bear, help us to remember that struggle is preparation for something down the road.  It is strengthening us and building our spiritual muscle.  You have a plan for each of us.  We may not see it fully; but if we continue to trust in You, it will eventually become known, sometimes in the most surprising way.  Keep us strong.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Life Lesson #6: When Life Gives You A Do-Over, Take It!


“Hard is trying to rebuild yourself, piece by piece, with no instruction book, and no clue as to where all the important bits are supposed to go.”  — Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

“It’s humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on a shelf & tell it to be quiet.”  — Jennifer Ritchie Payette

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Campbell

It has been a year of change.  No doubt about that.  Hopefully, the dust will now start to settle, and life will get a little more even-keeled.  A little over a year ago, my divorce was finalized.  In the divorce decree it was determined that my ex-husband and I would need to sell our home, and I would have to find a new place to live.  It’s interesting how we can become so attached to things … things that, over time, really don’t mean anything.

I was not looking forward to moving.  I liked my house.  I liked my neighborhood.  Mostly, I was not looking forward to going through the mounds of STUFF that my ex-husband and I had accumulated over our almost 22 years of marriage.  The thought of weeding through boxes of paperwork and unforgotten items buried in the corners of the garage exhausted me even before I began the onerous task.

When the offer came on the last day of February from a buyer who was adamant about moving in on April 1, I was not amused.  Whereas I was extremely grateful that we had an offer, I was in the middle of the busiest season of the year.  In addition to working full-time, I am a part-time organist at my church, and we were in the middle of Lent.  Not only did I have quite a few additional church services to play for, but I had also taken over as choir accompanist, since our other organist had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few days before Christmas.  Asking me to move out of a 3,500 square foot home in one month was like asking an accountant to move on April 14.  It was a highly stressful time.  To top it all off, the place I was moving to–a townhome under construction–was not going to be finished for another two months.  I was temporarily displaced and living out of a suitcase with my parents.

Two days after moving into my new townhome, I had to fly out East to attend my son’s high school graduation and move him back home to live with me.  While I was away, my two daughters had to fend for themselves attempting to find things that no one had a clue as to there whereabouts.  It took me weeks after I got back to even find my pots and pans so, needless to say, we ate out a lot.  Definitely not good for an already stretched budget.

We survived and are just now getting more fully settled in.  We’ve made room in the garage for at least one car!

As if that weren’t enough stress on my plate, I decided to apply for a different job … a lateral move within my company … but I thought, “What the heck … new year, new life, new townhome, why not a new job?  I’ll make it a complete do-over!”  So, in a few weeks, I am about to embark on a new adventure with the hope of learning some new skills that will make me more marketable.  I am hoping within the next year to go back to school for my Master’s.  I am hoping to reconnect with my creative and less-stressed self from my pre-marriage days.

God has graced me with a do-over on multiple levels.  I could have chosen to ignore the nudges He gave me.  I could have chosen to accept some and decline others, but some of the circumstances surrounding the changes were too obvious to miss.  My new job, for example … it was as if God was flashing a big neon sign in front of my face with a huge, flashing, boldly outlined arrow pointing, “Go here!”  (Pretty hard to miss nudges like that one.)

For someone who likes all of her ducks in a row before taking on new things, those of you who have read my earlier posts know that if there is one thing that God has taught me over the years, it’s that He won’t show me the next step on my path until I take the one He currently places in front of me.  Therefore, I have no idea where these new changes will take me, but I do know I am on the right path.  Until He shows me the next step, I’m going to enjoy where I am at.  I need not fret.  I need not worry.  I’m where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time, and God knows where the next stop on my journey is going to land me.

Embracing life (at the moment) …

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD … thank You for new beginnings.  Thank You for giving me glimpses into my past and future seeing how You so beautifully weave past experiences and future opportunities together into a seamless masterpiece.  Continue to point out Your plans for my life by presenting me with opportunities too obvious to miss. (Those flashing arrows sure are helpful!)  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

 

 

 

Life Lesson #1 (Updated): Deal with Your Stuff


“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

{I originally wrote this post in January 2012. It has been rewritten a bit, as events in my life have changed, but the life lesson is still the same (and more important than ever for me to share).}

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I was married for almost 22 years.  I can honestly say, it was a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) the morning of my wedding but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, how did we stay married so long?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it was because neither one of us could come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we were both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE were thinking or doing.  The truth is that God was the third strand in our cord; and whereas our two strands would have broken early on, His continued holding on.  There was a purpose to all we went through.  Just as an ugly jagged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage tossed us around enough to remove the jagged edges off of us whereby (hopefully) we can take our mistakes and use them to instruct others.  It means that all of the junk our children were forced to wade through was strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any relationship we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions (for me, it meant filing for divorce after 20+ years), but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you (my children have told me filing for divorce was the right thing to do).  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Saved by Grace …

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in the frayed and broken cord now binding me and my children.  Without you, we would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show us in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that we have gone through and give us the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give us the courage to change what we know needs to be changed, and help us to grow to be more like You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Author’s note: Please know that I am in no way advocating divorce. I am not encouraging it, nor am I condoning it; but it happens.

Although I filed for divorce, I still believe it is wrong; and I will be held accountable when I go before my Father in heaven. But I am convinced that God knows my heart, and He knows why I filed. He knows my ultimate goal is to live for His glory and to show others that our sinfulness does not have to keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives… oftentimes He uses our mess-ups to connect us to people in ways we never thought possible. We all sin and fall short.  May He grace you today as He has graced me…