Thursday, August 16, 2007

Embracing the Real Things

Kim wrote about the joy in everyday things. She linked to this article. It resonated with me because I have been thinking about a very difficult time in my life just about exactly five years ago. At the time, I was pregnant with #7, who was a very high risk pregnancy. I was on an experimental protocol that involved day-long stays in the hospital, an hour away, once a week. Our medically fragile Aidan was having some medical problems that no one could figure out. ... his liver function numbers were way off, he was falling off his growth curve and he eventually turned deep yellow, just around the time Paddy was born. We were worried about him, as well as about his unborn sibling. My oldest was homeschooling high school and I had two middle schoolers and two grade schoolers in addition.

I would not say this period of my life was enjoyable or that I always handled the stress well. But somehow, I remember praying for JOY in living out my vocation. And I found myself actually finding that joy. The daily details of house-maintenance, of spending time with my kids, of maintaining that pregnancy, became sources of deep joy for me. Perhaps it was because I didn't take it for granted; I was very aware that it might not last. And perhaps it was grace; God giving me a gift I needed at the time.

So I have been wondering how to regain and preserve that joy during these "easier" times in my life. .... I've been having trouble shaking off a case of the blues. I know that this is an ordinary after-the-fact reaction to stress, and we did have some stress this summer with our medical issues and the displacements that resulted, but I would like to try to work past it.

So I like what Kim writes:

"My days can be demanding and occasionally boring and sometimes downright bizarre. Life with small children and teenagers is like that. : ) For all its challenges it is real, however. It is sustaining. It is what life is made of, if you are fortunate enough to have a home and lots of people to share it with, and learning to embrace that has made a huge difference."

Embracing is a nice word. Embracing indicates a sort of active receptiveness, an opening to possible vulnerability, but at the same time an act of strength. Sustaining is a nice word too. It seems to go with "embrace" as a sort of sign of life and love and a choice to nourish and come closer, rather than back off and detach.

(Sorry to write a sort of "blue", nothing post -- I've been trying to just shake it off, but find that when I don't post about what's really going on, I don't post at all -- which is what has been happening).


Melanie B said...

Don't feel sorry for writing a "blue" post. For one thing, writing about it is one way of facing the problem and working through it. For another, sharing your experiences may well help another mother who's going through a similar period. And thirdly, now I know to add you to my list of people who need prayers.

I find myself drawn to bloggers who write about the downs as well as the ups. No one's life is perfect and we shouldn't pretend everything is rosy when it's really blue.

momof3feistykids said...

Your post is lovely ... beautifully written and philosophically rich (as usual). It's no wonder you're one of my very favorite bloggers. These words really spoke to me - as I am going through a very difficult time on several levels.

I am glad you're able to write/blog when you're feeling blue. It's wonderful therapy. You're in my thoughts and prayers. HUGS

Faith said...

Oh Willa! I thank God for you! I just came in off the beach, taking a long walk and feeling a little blue. Our last day of vacation and I'm feeling anxiety about so many things, big and little. As I was walking along I just had these prayers coming out stream of consciousness style. Lord, let accept all your blessings, let me hand all my anxiety over to You, remind me of the joy that is here in my life, that my fallen nature is blind to. etc. etc.

Your post spoke so directly to me, it made my heart ache. I hope you get over your blues soon. I do think transitions and post -stress times are difficult. It is sometimes hard to regain one's equilibrium.

MamaJen said...

Oh - don't apologize for a "blue" post - it resonated with me so much!! I have been pondering many of these same issues, and dealing with "the blues", myself. I sympathize so much - 6 years ago, when my dh had a major stroke, and things were so difficult and uncertain in my life - it was so much easier then, in a way, to find joy. When you're in the midst of a crisis, you live *totally* in the moment, I think. And then, when you just have normal, daily, garden variety crisis that everyone has, life seems kind of flat. I've just recently encountered a mini-crisis - our air conditioning went out, in the midst of the Georgia heat wave - after getting it fixed, the cool air seems SOOOO sweet - so much better than it did before. And I find myself asking - how can I savor that sweetness every day? Cuz it's always there - I just don't appreciate it the way that I should. I don't have any answers, but know that I'm pondering the same sort of thing. Normal life is such a treasure, to be at once despised, taken for granted, and yet - so very, very sweet!

Julia S. said...

I was reading different posts in your blog earlier today and thinking about what you said how you feel down now that everything around you seems ok again. I was thinking how this is how I feel too.
I came across this quote later from Flannery O'Connor
(I'm going to hook you up to the blog link)

I thought it interesting how she compared her misery to that of Job's comforters and how they were worse off "...but there are times when the worst suffering is not to suffer, and the worst affliction, not to be afflicted." Maybe it is just the knowledge of suffering that weighs us. Or maybe it is the sudden lifting from suffering that leaves us purposeless or not in need enough. Like asking God to help us through a perfectly lovely day is somehow asking too much.
I think it is because you take nothing for granted -- it makes it hard to live without burden. Sometimes it is also the abscence of the astounding wonderful in our life that is missing too. It is not always enough not to suffer, we need God's perfect love in real concrete ways also.

This is what I've come up with in my head today. I hope in some strange way it makes sense to you.
Julia S.

Willa said...

Wow, Julia, that is really thought-provoking. I've noticed many times in the hospital that hard times can bring out something in people that they hardly knew they were capable of. Aidan's transplant coordinator said that sometimes the hardest time was when the danger was over and you went back home again and tried to merge into "normal life". That's when it all catches up with you and you sometimes find yourself floundering. That seems to me just a bit related to what you said... anyway, I will remember that Flannery O'Connor quote.

MamaJen, that seems to relate a bit to what you said, too. There is a poignancy to life when things can't be taken for granted.

I used to say Thomas Aquinas prayer to Jesus "within your wounds hide me" and I could understand what he meant by that. That was a gift brought by sorrow.

Thanks so much to all of you for the thoughts and prayers and sympathy.