The fact that I'm sitting at my computer typing something resembling a blog post is a good sign.
For those of you just joining the party, my son has had a headache for almost one year. It has flipped our life upside-down and brought challenges that can't be explained. My husband says we have gone through the stages of grief, and it seems we are finally landing at "acceptance."
We didn't lose our son, but we sure lost our vision of what life would look like right now. Over the last year I experienced denial ("This is just a headache. It'll end soon."), lots of anger ("Why can't any doctors help us?! People don't understand what we are going through!"), a bit of bargaining ("I'll take his pain so he can be a kid."), and lots and lots of depression. It's apparently a shameful thing for a deeply rooted Christian to admit to experiencing depression. But it's the truth, and now that I'm camped out in Acceptance, I don't see any good reason to pretend I didn't spend entire days in pajamas, not cleaning my house, too tired to accomplish much.
Here in Acceptance, it doesn't much matter if people don't understand our circumstances or how we cope with them. Nolan's greatest love is basketball. We found a way to let him play by switching to a less competitive league and having Jared coach his team. Nolan is on homebound schooling, meaning he is home all day, goes in after school for tutoring, and does most of his work at home. Earlier this week someone made a negative comment to Nolan regarding the fact that he doesn't feel well enough to go to school but he was able to play basketball. Nolan told me about the comment and I simply told him that that person doesn't understand what we are going through, so--respectfully--their opinion doesn't really matter. I didn't get my feelings hurt on his behalf. I didn't go talk to the person. I just brushed it off. Another great accomplishment for this girl who has never been a brusher off-er.
When Nolan's headache started ripping responsibilities out of my hands, I resented it greatly. I did not like giving up my areas of ministry and volunteering. I loved being a Sunday school teacher, throwing baby and bridal showers at church, helping at my kids' schools all the time. I did not appreciate having to give these things up.
Here in Acceptance, I see the value of a more open schedule. I don't fret having to say "no" when asked to do something that doesn't fit well into my current life. I used to feel trapped at home. Now I use my days at home to make and shop for Christmas gifts--and even have many wrapped! I poured myself into a Beth Moore Bible study and now I'm reading a fiction book just for entertainment. I took and edited family pictures for several of my friends. This is a very time-consuming process, but I had the time to give. Last year I went shopping with a couple other moms to buy all the goodies to be sold at the school Santa Shop. This year I worked out deals online and placed an order from my couch.
Since I'm not teaching my Sunday school class, I was free to go to my brother's church for my nephew's dedication. When Nolan is having a bad morning, we go to one church service and then come home. We haven't experienced this freedom in the decade+ that we've been at our church. I used to think that people who went to one service and then went home were not as committed. But I have had to struggle just to make one service work for our family, so I soak up that time amongst brothers and sisters in faith. I miss some of the extra time with believers, but I find other ways to meet my spiritual needs. And let me tell you that my faith in God is more real during this season of my life than it was when I was at church many hours per week.
There's a lot of drama going on around me, and I just don't have the energy for it. Apparently exhaustion can serve a good purpose when it forces me to not let things bother me that would have sucked me in before.
And this new place of acceptance is not just a place to lie down and stop fighting what's happening. I finally cracked the door open enough to let Hope in. Hope can be a tricky thing. Every time we went to a new doctor or tried a new medicine or treatment, I got my hopes up only to have them crash and shatter. So then I just stopped getting hopeful. Hope can hurt. And at some point I had to minimize the hurting as much as possible.
I've never lost sight of God's ability to heal, and I know He has walked through this with us. Holding my trembling, bawling son while knowing that God could heal him in the blink of an eye and yet He chooses not to...boy, that is something to wrestle with.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9
"[Job] said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'" Job 1:21I used to be able to quote these verses. Now I know what it is to live them.
Baking used to be a fulfilling hobby for me. Over the last year baking became a lot of standing and a mess to clean up, so I quit doing it. Yesterday I spent the day baking homemade rolls for Thanksgiving next week. Accomplishment.
My sister's family will be staying with us next week. My house won't be spotless with little gifts to welcome them (as I used to do), but I will be DELIGHTED to see them and have them in my home. Accomplishment.
I have more weight and less hair than I did this time last year, but I will dress up next Thursday and enjoy special time with every family member possible. I won't get caught up in making the cutest dessert or the most delicious side dish. I will be thankful. Accomplishment.
There's a lot more suffering going on than what's happening in my little world. And there's a lot more good in my life than hard. I want to be a woman who praises God right now, before Nolan is healed. I want to someday look back and know that I never let go of God's hand. Even just envisioning being past this season and being able to look back is a big accomplishment for me, when not too long ago I declared that there is no light at the end of our tunnel.
I'm a work in progress, but the point is I AM making progress. It feels good to start plugging back into my life. It feels good to accept where we are and believe we won't always be here. Honestly, it felt better to wear pajamas, but I'm grateful for the desire to get dressed and accomplish something.