Tuesday, February 26, 2019

some thoughts on struggles

Last week was a rough one for lots of reasons.  I was on the verge of tears for a lot of it.  You know how some weeks are just like that?  I was so worried about so many things…from Lucy’s upcoming transition to junior high to my cousin who is really, really struggling right now.  Being worried about my daughter made it hit me so hard how much my aunt and uncle must be struggling. I have a couple friends who are deep in the trenches of parenting sorrows right now as well.  Deep, dark things that can overwhelm your whole heart.  Things a bystander at the grocery store or a fellow soccer team mom would never guess that are ripping them apart inside.

Parenting is tough.

It made me wonder: how many parents are out there just maneuvering through the every-day, putting a smile on their face, not really letting on that their hearts are hollow and have been pummeled? They're still driving the carpools, making dinner, kissing scraped knees, but sorrowing on the inside. There are some things you just can’t talk about even when someone asks sincerely about how your life is going.  There are some things you don’t want to drag the unassuming suspect in the middle of. (Except maybe that friend who happens to offer to go with you to drive your daughter to her piano lesson because she knows something is wrong and asks all the right questions and is just there to listen and cry with you for a little bit.  You do tell her.)

All these thoughts prompted me to be on my knees a lot.  To ask for strength for these fellow parents.  To ask for strength for me.  And also to ask God why.  Kind of rhetorically, because I know why…there is good and bad in this world, dark and light.  But I knew I needed that connection.  I knew those fellow friends and parents of mine needed it too.

I picked up Lucy from school one day in the midst of all this sadness.  It had been POURING with rain for two days straight.  But suddenly when I went in to grab her there was sunlight.  Pouring rain right along with the sun, and then the rain turned to a drizzle.  We drove out of the school parking lot to  find the most vibrant, glistening rainbow I’ve ever seen stretched all the way across the sky, a perfect arc.  I had to stop the car to look at that thing.

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And then I had to get out and breathe it in, trying to capture it with my phone and my heart.  It was so bright it was glistening a perfect reflection in the puddles on the street.
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Somehow that rainbow reminded me that there is beauty even in the rainy sorrows.  And we don’t always get it…perhaps we’ll never really “get” it.  But it’s there.

On Saturday the sun finally came out and the world was glistening so the girls and I worked together to finish jobs and then rode bikes to a place for brunch.  It felt so good to be out with everyone, including me, smiling, the wind whipping through our hair and the world so fresh and new from all that rain.

Dave was out of town and missed all this, poor guy (ha!) along with a little house flood from the rain... puddled up in the carpet near a back door, and a broken iPhone (mine just suddenly
went dark and wouldn’t restart), and a whole slew of other things including a lot of pillow talk that I wished I could have had with him.  But he's home now and all is well in the world.

But the truth remains that parenting is tough.  And I'm reminded that everyone needs a little gentleness to help them through.  Praying so hard for all fellow strugglers out there.  May there be rainbows along the journey.

27 comments:

  1. Shawni, I am right there in the trenches right now. Not the really, really dark stuff of a few years ago, but enough that I feel like I can never take a full, lung-filling deep breath. I haven't written on my blog for a few years, because when I suddenly had so much to let out, I realized they weren't really my stories to tell. I've been stuck ever since. Thinking of you and hoping things continue to look brighter.

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    1. Thank you Denise and I hope your trenches become lighter and brighter as well.
      xoxo

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  2. I had an epiphany a few years ago when I was dealing with the sudden death of my sister. I was flying home after everything happened and the brilliance of the blue sky was beautiful. Then we went through the cloud layer to land and it was gray and rainy. From this I developed a personal mantra, the sky is always blue above the clouds. No matter how dark and gloomy life gets, there is always light just beyond the darkness, even if takes a while to come.

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    1. Love this, thank you for sharing. Such a good way to think about it all.

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  3. Shawni:
    You're a light to so many. Your blog has lit my day when things were dark. So sorry for your cousin/Aunt/Uncle. I hope and pray that all will be well with them! You're going to be guided to know what to do with Lucy! She is strong! You are strong! You're going to see blessings everywhere! :D Melanie

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    1. Thank you so much for the love, vdg family.
      xoxo

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  4. Here's one scripture that helps me in the middle of the struggle:
    Lamentations 3:22
    Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
    NIV

    I just love that so much. Because of HIS LOVE we are not consumed, even if we might feel like our troubles just might consume us. His love is what keeps us afloat.

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    1. I love this as well. Thank you. Reminds me of the "beauty for ashes" references in the Bible as well. There is so much beauty to be found in the ashes of the sorrow. Especially when we remember that love that is buoying us up always whether we recognize it or not.

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  5. Jeffey R. Holland:
    “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (2 Kings 6:16-17).
    In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike--and they will--you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed

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    1. Oh that is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Thank you for sharing this, and for all the wonderful comments. Parenting is indeed hard work! The things you share in this blog offer a lot of encouragement, support and hope, Shawni. I appreciate it immensely!

    I always felt so guilty about not being able to help family members when I saw their challenges were beyond my power to help. But I have finally come to realize that Heavenly Father is as active in their lives as I am (if not more), and he can often send someone else to be an aid to the one with challenges, someone better suited for that challenge at that moment than I. Recently I’ve faced a particular challenge with some of my kids that has been so hard to get through. But right now a friend of ours with special qualities is helping us through it better than ever. She is the answer to my prayers!

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    1. I agree. There are certainly angles all around. So glad that there is one lifting you and your family during this tough time...sending love!

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  7. Just this morning I was with someone whose nephew overdosed and died on Monday. Sometimes the most important thing is just bearing witness to someone else's pain and then praying for them.

    I love this saying, but it is too contrite to offer my friend in her raw state: "When it rains look for rainbows and when it is dark look for stars."

    Sending you prayers Shawni and I agree with you that parenting is HARD and joyous and never finished.

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    1. You're right. No rest for the weary but man alive, we're sure learning a lot along the way, right? I'm so sorry for your friend who lost her nephew. I'm sure you are helping to "strengthen the feeble knees" and I'm sure they appreciate it so much. Thank you for the prayers. xoxo

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  8. Oh man, I have felt those struggles myself as a mother, and they are very real. It was not that long ago that our oldest son was causing us great concern, making choices that led him away from the closeness of our family and away from God. The heartache and worry and sorrow you feel as a parent during such times feel like they will swallow you whole.

    I think the Lord is especially tender and loving to mothers during difficult times. One day while I was kneeling in prayer, pouring our my soul to God in behalf of our son, I felt the Lord literally put His arms around me and I knew things were going to be OK. As I continued to pray He allowed me to feel for a few moments the love He has for my son. That love was so great I was completely overwhelmed by it! I saw my son as the Lord sees him, and I gained new understanding and perspective. The Lord helped me see that, although I would not have chosen this path for my son, in the end it was going to make him stronger; it was going to make him a more powerful witness of Christ and His atonement; and it was going to help him have love and empathy for others struggling with less-than-perfect lives. I realized that my son's path of questioning and struggling and choosing unwisely for a time, although it would require great repentance, could mould him into the kind of man the Lord needed him to be. Now, don't get me wrong. This is not the path the Lord wants His children to normally take; He appreciates the faithful and obedient. But He can take those like Alma the Younger and Paul, and help them become great, not in spite of what they experienced, but because of it.

    My heart goes out to all parents deep in the trenches of raising children. It is an amazing time! But it is a difficult time too. I've learned that as a mother sometimes I have to be fierce and truly fight against evil for my children; and sometimes I have to be the calm that restores peace to them after being in a chaotic world all day. But at all times, I have to trust that the Lord is watching over them and me. He sends angels when needed. We are never alone. And at the end of very difficult times, there are always rainbows.

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    1. Love these beautiful thoughts. I'm so sorry for the heavy motherhood things you are going through right now. Life is just so heavy sometimes. I'm so glad you have received comfort along the way. I so agree that God is there for us. Always. And for our children too.

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  9. I have followed your blog for several years and I am sorry for your hurting with Lucy's struggles. I have wanted to make a suggestion for sometime, but it is one that I'm hoping you will see the helpful side of, and hope to not offend you.
    Have you ever considered reaching out to Lucy's teachers or someone in the Special education department regarding finding a playmate/friend for Lucy that is blind, especially one that has been blind since birth. I think you would be surprised to find that both would learn a lot from each other and would hopefully become friends.
    Best wishes!

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    1. That is a great idea...it's an interesting phase Lucy is in right now ...so fiercely independent...difficult to explain in a blog comment but she's not quite ready for something like that at this point. BUT, I think she will be in a PE class next year with other kids with special needs and I'm praying that she will find someone to really relate with and it will open the door for more playmates/friends like this. You're right, it would be so helpful!

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  10. My daughter is a pediatrician, and while she has many uplifting stories, there are plenty that will haunt forever. So many children born to parents who are drug addicts and the babies languish for months in the NICU until they sometimes are placed in foster care. Many are never placed because people don't want babies born addicted.
    She's taken care of babies born with cancer and every minute of their short lives is filled with pain. She is taking care of a baby born a few days ago with a rare condition that is incompatible with life; he will die soon, but is in complete agony with blisters covering his entire body.
    I so badly want to believe in God, to have faith, but it's hard to think about the suffering of the most innocent creatures on earth, knowing that every second of their short lives is without love, peace, or happiness. Help me see the light. xo

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    1. No child or baby should be made to suffer in order to tested, or provide a life lesson to another. The reality is life is absolutely brutal for some, and if we are to find any "purpose" in mind boggling suffering, I suppose it would be greater compassion and love toward our fellow human beings, and a will to eradicate suffering where we can. I don't find it bleak to not believe in a God. It compels me to act as the angel someone prays to heaven to seek. I am powerless to relieve all suffering, but collectively, we are doing a better job of this than we ever have in the history of the world. (sidenote, read the bill and melinda gates foundation annual letter - very hope-filled.) Humans compelled to care about other humans out of love without thought of earning points in an after life is a beauty that can counteract some of the horrible suffering we see. Hug your daughter and tell her she is a great human and we always need more of those. I believe in wonderful humans like her.

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    2. I agree with Natalee. And I agree with you that it's so difficult to see how the Plan of God works in situations like these! I don't know why we/those around us/babies have to go through what they do, but I do believe there is a loving God and that He understands it all. In the meantime we can be angels to those around us and build and grow our compassion as we lean on others to help us through our sorrows. I believe that is such a beautiful part of the Plan.

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  11. Linda, humans can not cure everything but there should be a way to keep a person comfortable. Death is not the end. It’s just a moment whether you are here for seconds or for 100 years.

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    1. So true. Makes me think of William Wordsworth "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting"

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  12. Linda-
    I appreciate your sincere question. I am so thankful for people like your daughter who reach out in love to those who are neglected and ignored by society. It is heart-wrenching to witness the suffering of others, and I truly can’t imagine being in a position like your daughter where she bears witness of that pain on a consistent basis.

    I would like to share a bit of my experience with you in hopes that it helps you in your quest for truth and faith. A year and a half ago, my baby died unexpectedly when I was 35 weeks pregnant. There was no reason for why it happened, it was just a completely random and unpreventable accident. I have struggled so much to understand why God allowed this to happen to me. My brother passed away 2 years before my baby died. I had just moved to a new city where I didn’t have any friends or family. I don’t believe that God was punishing me or testing me when he allowed my baby to die. Over the past year, I’ve slowly changed my prayers/pleadings (and sometimes accusations) with God from “why me?” to “help me accept what I cannot understand.” I’ve come to understand that my baby’s death wasn’t about just me or my family; my previous baby boy’s life has meaning and value and a plan as well. I have faith that despite the agony of losing him and knowing that my family will always be incomplete on earth, my baby is part of my eternal family and we will be together again. That faith has come as I’ve prayed to God desperately and come to Him broken, confused, and angry. I hope that the light I have been able to glimpse through my trials will come to you as well.

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  13. Thanks to everyone who responded and sorry for own delay in reacting-I watch my grandkids while my daughter continues her pediatric residency, which leaves me like a noodle!
    I love Natalee’s comment; humans should act compassionately, serve others, help relieve suffering, and I am proud that my daughter will spend her life doing such.
    Laura, I am so sorry for your losses; the pain must be unimaginable.
    Love and peace to all you kind souls.

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