It's been over two years since I've written on this blog, but it has never been far from my mind. I wanted to chronicle everything. The struggle and final completion of my thesis proposal and my current struggle to know what to do with it. My internal thought battle over my husband's choice to become a nurse and my eventual acceptance and celebration of that choice. The moment in the spring of 2012 when my husband and I realized that we wouldn't know his now 16-year-old daughter if we passed her on the street, which led to her beautiful act of forgiveness and her reentry into our lives. The moment we found out that DJ had ADHD and the difficult moments and hurtful times of having a child who says he wants to kill himself. His eventual redemption through Christ, and the miraculous changes I've seen in him since. The period of time that HT spent in day care and my mental trial of accepting that I was a day care mom. E's graduation from nursing school and his commissioning into the Navy nurse corps. The five weeks E spent away from us at Officers Training Command. Our move, for the first time, to a new city, a new home, and a new life. The decline and eventual death of my father. Every birthday, every holiday, every moment of testing or trial or joy. I really wanted to chronicle them all.
|My beautiful step-daughter, AJ.|
But this blog was never intended to be a diary of my life. Admittedly my best writing comes from the moments of my life and is inspired by my personal struggles, but there is a place for diaries, and in my case, the internet is not it. There are secrets, deep and dark, that you will never read in this blog. You wouldn't want to.
So what is it then? I'm not sure. A few weeks ago I went back and re-read most of my entries, and realized that this blog represented me in my most real, authentic, true self. I stopped writing not because I'd lost sight of that self, but it is possible that I lost sight of that self in part because I stopped writing. The main culprit in my loss of self was busyness. I stopped writing when I started graduate school again, and I lost all my creative impulse to exhaustion from pouring myself into paper after paper and eventually a thesis proposal for a thesis that may or may not ever be written.
And then more life happened. Eric graduated from nursing school and received his commissioning, left us for five weeks of officers' training, and then upon his return we immediately moved to a very nice rental home of my choosing in Virginia Beach, VA. I took a semester off from school to allow the family time to adjust. Then in October my father began a rapid decline in his already failing health due to Early Onset Alzheimers disease. He spent a month in the hospital on hospice care, after which my mother brought him home. Four days later he died. I hadn't seen him since early August. I didn't make it in time to say good-bye. The funeral was beautiful. I made a picture collage.
I talked about my father's disease, and my fears of it in an earlier post. I can't say that all those fears have gone now that he is dead, but I can say that his death changed a lot. My very real fear that I too will one day develop Alzheimers is still there, but I've grown comfortable with it, like an old friend. But when Dad died something broke in me. I didn't want to spend any more time making myself perfect, ie. a better version of everyone else, so that I could then live out my days in happiness and joy. I wanted the happiness and joy now. My dad was only 59. If I do get Alzheimers through the genetic mutation that caused my father's and grandfather's illness, I am now more than halfway through my life.
I think Weight Watchers was my breaking point. I joined back in July, but I wasn't getting anywhere fast. It was November when my mom started calling me almost everyday. It would only be another year or so. It would only be a few months. A few weeks. A few days. About a week before dad's passing I went to a Weight Watchers meeting, and before I walked in, I actually prayed and asked God to make sure the number on the scale went down. I simply couldn't take another reason to be unhappy, and I needed something positive, right at that moment. The scale was up. I sat down and tried to be calm about it, to tell myself I just needed to try harder, but I was sick of being strong, sick of striving. I couldn't stop crying enough, and when I noticed people noticing my tears, I left. I never went back.
I saw my weight not just as an imperfection or a simple flaw, but as a deep wound. I hated my body, and I continue to hate my body. Healthy diet and exercise feel like a punishment for being fat. And I am done punishing myself.
So after the funeral and the Thanksgiving holiday I set out to get help, not with weight loss, but with acceptance and love. Don't get me wrong, I have people around me who love me. The unconditional love of my husband is more than I could ever repay, and when I think of God's love for me to send His Son to die for me, I am ashamed to feel unloved. But that is how I feel. Why. Because I don't accept this love that I receive from God and from those people He puts in my life on a deep enough level. My mother says she loves me? Pah, she is goofy and sentimental and still sees me as a sweet little child. My husband says he loves me? Well, he only says it when I ask so that must mean he's just trying to keep me around until he finds someone better. God says He loves me? That's wonderful, but how can a fat, judgmental, unfaithful sinner like me really accept that love unless she spends every waking moment striving to be better to show Him her gratitude?
"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10, NIV)
On my very first day with my new therapist, she quoted this. And then she told me that "be still" here is best translated as "let go" or cease striving.
I still haven't wrapped my mind around this. Cease striving? Stop trying to do things to show God, and for that matter others, that I love them? Stop trying to be the best wife, the best mother, the best Christian, the best everything that it's in my power to be? It goes against everything my sense of work ethic has taught me. It goes against things my father taught me.
But it's perfectly in line with God's teaching.
I am not a Bible teacher, I have not been to seminary, and I do not feel qualified to sit here and tell you why I believe that. I'm just going to tell you I do. Maybe this is just His word for me, I don't know. But right now this is what I'm going to do: I'm going to cease striving. I'm going to be still and know. I'm going to know that God, my husband, and my family and friends love me. I'm going to accept that by faith, and not question it. I'm going to learn to love me the same way. I'm going to learn to accept myself as is, not because I am perfect, but because I am weak, and His power is made more perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I am going to learn to live without comparison, without judgment, without perfectionism. I'm going to live, laugh, observe, listen, relax, create, play, and rest. I'm going to take naps. I'm going to love me, and everyone else, the way God does. And I'm not going to do it perfectly. I'm going to do it authentically.
Call it my new year's resolution.