Thursday, September 24, 2015

D-O-N-E done

Mom was done.  D-O-N-E done.  I was as flat as could be, in desperate need of something to uplift me and help see me through this next season of our life which has more on my plate than ever before.  I had no idea what I needed, but I knew this was just too much and I was cracking.

Since the addition of the new store to our lives, a blessing no doubt, I have ever more to contend with as I am handling much of the back end paperwork and handling marketing and "Big Picture" thinking while Dominick handles the day to day operation.  Then there is beginning the training soon for Civil Air Patrol Leadership while handling all the travel for volleyball for five kids on three different teams every single week day.  Oh yea, then there is that homeschooling gig, helping my mom with her bills, laundry and grocery shopping for 7 people, medical care coordination and travel, and throw in a little church volunteering around the edges.   

D-O-N-E done.

I was seriously crying almost every other day, exhausted and at wit's end, feeling unseen, unknown, and like I couldn't manage to walk one more step.  Giving up singing with Sweet Adelines temporarily because I just can't figure out how to fit it in felt as if I was giving up that last teeny little thing that was just for me.  Of course that was true, because I do very little in this season that is solely for me.

It is how it is, I still wouldn't change a thing, and I love what I do...but I can't do it all without a break, it's just too much with too little in the mix that fills me up.

That is one reason why the gift of this past weekend was so necessary.  The other was that I needed a fresh perspective on my faith, I needed to continue the work of exploring and informing and nurturing my heart of hearts.

Wow, did that ever happen, and more.

My best friend thoughtfully planned a special birthday treat months ago with Dominick to take me to the inaugural Why Christian? 2015 conference, with 11 amazing prominent female speakers.  This was not a "Women's Conference", not by a long shot.  These 11 strong, charismatic, thoughtful women all answered the question, "Why Christian?" and wove the stories of their lives into the answer.  Sounds boring to some folks, I am sure, but I have become a certified Church Geek through the years and found it to be the most inspirational experience ever, as did just about every attendee if one bases that judgment on the Facebook posts to the conference's page afterward, where over and over again comments were made about how folks were still feeling moved and steeped in their faith in a new way days afterward, and wondering how to translate what they felt into change in their local congregations.

Rachel Held Evans

With each story that was woven on stage, the more I listened the more my own heaviness lifted.  Hearing these bright women speak of their trials, their failures, their eventual successes, and their humble understanding of themselves as very, very human sunk in.  Back at our hotel room, conversation flowed late into the evening as we shared our thoughts about what we heard, and we wrestled with The Church in ways that only a couple of Church Geeks might do...and man, did I enjoy that. It was one thing to be present and listen, it was wholly another to have someone equally passionate about faith to share it with.

Most importantly, I think that I may have really and truly heard something for the very first time, I mean deep in my marrow understood it to be true.  I am a beloved child of this Spirit we call God.  It was repeated over and over again as each speaker shared their story, a profound discovery for each as they, too, internalized it at some point in their life journey.  Though said in many different ways, it was the main theme, though I doubt many heard it that way...I am beloved, I am God's, even when the world rejects me or doesn't see me, I am seen and known, I belong to God.  

I don't think that I have ever really known that to be true aside from an intellectual perspective, but faith doesn't happen as much in the head as it does in the heart...and mine is absolutely a Heart Faith...and I got it, I really, really got it this time.

I am beloved by God.

In the moments when no one sees the dumpy homeschooling mom, I am beloved.
In the moments when my needs and desires are put aside for others, I am beloved.
In the moments when it all feels too heavy a load, I am beloved.
In the moments when I look ahead, and all I see is years more struggle and challenge and I want to give up, I am beloved.
In the moments when others judge me for how I walk through the world, I am beloved.
In the moments when I fail to be as kind as I wish I always were, I am beloved.
In the moments when deepest despair overtakes me, I am beloved.
In the moments when I doubt, I am beloved.
In the moments when no one understands me, when I feel foolish for having spoken up, when I hurt for lack of connection, when I ache to be known and viewed as valued, I am beloved.
In the moments when I yearn to be used by God and don't always see how God wants me to live into a call to ministry that will most likely look (and may already look) non-traditional, I am beloved.
In the moments when I silently hate myself for how I look, I am beloved.
In the moments when I just need to be hugged, I am beloved.

There was one moment though that transcended all others at the conference, one that I shall remember as long as I live, for it was marrow deep and washed away so much for me.  As one presenter spoke, she paused for a moment and began the chorus of "It Is Well With My Soul", and a chorus of 2000 voices joined with her a capella, broken into four part harmony as if rehearsed.  The sound filled the high ceiling cathedral, an unexpected moment of unity so soul filling that many of us looked around as if to ask, "Hey?  Are you feeling that, too?" and the brief moment of awed silence that followed was as if God had breathed a beautiful sigh at the sheer loveliness of the moment.

My dear friend has a Challenged Child as well, and I realized something throughout the course of our time together.  I have never spent any real quality time with anyone who has a special needs child.  Other than my lifesaving online connections, I have never had a relationship "in real life" with a special needs mom, and that has left me somewhat isolated in a unique way that I am only just now beginning to understand, as stupidly, I am really just only beginning to take in that yes, I am a special needs mom...times five.  Funny how it has taken me this long to see that, I am not really sure why and it puzzles me.  Of course, I have known it about the kids forever, but I have never viewed it in terms of what it means for me, their mom, and the different roles I have to play.  It is a little disconcerting to suddenly get that when it really ought to have been so obvious. 

I needed this time with someone whose child is also suffering and struggling, and who desperately wants to help that child succeed in the world.  I needed to feel met where I have lived so long without someone to walk through it with.  I needed the intellectual conversation about Things That Matter aside from my kids, I needed the deep connection with someone whose faith carries her through...who has been injured by life herself multiple times...who sheds tears over what she can't fix for her child.  I needed someone who would turn to me at a key moment when someone said something profound on stage and mouth "Wow!".  I needed to feel less alone as a mother, and as a woman, for my role as a special needs mom has completely overtaken me at times the past couple of years, and having no peers "in person" has left me drained for it takes too much effort and energy to explain to someone who has no idea what it feels like to have children who simply can not do what others can.  Online is great, and I am so glad I have some in the Cyberworld with which to connect, but there is nothing that substitutes for a hand being held as difficult truths are being wrestled with.

I have a child who will never live unsupervised on his own,  but who at first glance appears perfectly normal.  I have another child who still can't manage to tell time on an analog clock, or easily subtract 200 from 1600 in her head.  I have another who can't write without software that fixes his every other word mistake,and yet can picture electronic connections in his head and build just about anything.  I have another who appears to have a little challenge, but whose memory or logic hiccups in ways that are absolutely not normal.  I have another child whose giftedness causes him to feel alone in ways I can completely identify with, who also daily still works internally to overcome silent risidual effects of Reactive Attachment Disorder that has him racing around in a panic when the dog can't be found, or clinging desperately to me because I might disappear someday.

And those children of mine are beloved, Oh My Lord, how they are beloved!!

And so am I.  So am I.

God, in the most loving way possible showed up for me these past few days.  God brought me loving companionship, music that moved me, and words that healed me from women who are "Someone" but who also understand that their being "Someone" really comes from being a beloved child of God, not from any accolades, education, or outside affirmation.

Me too.


Karen D said...

I can't even begin to tell you how happy this post makes me!!
Thank you.

Candice Ashenden said...

How my heart soars reading this post. You are beloved, my dear one, and always have been. But if that is now a reality accepted and woven into the fiber of your being, what joy fills my heart! God loves you, Cindy, and so do and forever.