My heart is heavy as I sit here tonight and reflect upon my day, week, month, year, five years, ten… I have been in a state of reflection lately. The reason, I cannot explain. I am not trying to fix the past, I don’t think I am even trying to learn anything from it. For now I am simply reflecting.
Suicide, or maybe just death, is a theme so prevalent, so strong. How many have I lost to that dangerous beast? Deaths that I saw coming, suicides that wiped me off my feet, deaths that I could not have imagined for the life of me – still, cannot. And yet I wonder, why not me? What kept me at my lowest? Why did my friend, battle, coworker, loved one have to die? Dangerous questions, I know. Questions that I will never have the answer, I know. It doesn’t stop the pain. Have I ever felt like giving up? Sure. Have I ever attempted? No. Why? I have seen the effects of suicide on those left behind. I have felt the pain for myself… I still feel the pain of some lost to suicide. The questions, the emotions, the what if’s, the guilt, the pain… Oh man, the pain… The unanswered questions, the blaming of oneself. Only to have to be reminded – You’re not God. This was their path. This was their choice. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it helps, maybe, a little. Still, you tell yourself, next time I am going to be more direct. Next time, I’ll ask the difficult questions. Only, next time came, and you tried to be more direct – but allowed a wall to be put up. Should you have pushed? Too late now. Self-blame, guilt. Did you really think she was going to kill herself? No. I thought there was more time.
Time. Time. We always think there is more time. Before he left me for good, I thought we had all the time in the world. I never thought we would end. I pushed him away in the end. And, when he wanted to reconcile, I was afraid. Afraid that we would end up right back where we were years before. It is so odd to me now that we are nothing to one another. Once best friends, even after the divorce, now perfect strangers. As I reflect on what was, I have to wonder, was this always the path that we were destined to follow? So much can happen in the space of such a short amount of time. I once depended on him to breathe, it seemed. I loved him more than life. He was the center of my universe. He was my everything. He was my past, present, future – in his eyes, my life manifested. When we ended, I spiraled out of control, leaping into the arms of the first man that would have me. Leaping into the arms of a man that reminded of me of him – but he never measured up. I tried to replace him in another man, what a mistake! How unfair it was to myself and that other man. That other man had his own agenda, and I had mine. When I grew to truly love the other man, it did not matter. Seeking, seeking validation from man. Needing their love. Depending on them to give me, what I should never have looked to them to give. Happiness, they could not supply. Love, I had to love me first. But, my first love – my first – I like to believe our love was so innocent and pure. We were so co-dependent. I look at his marriage now, he is co-dependent still. For a second, not long ago, I was struck with jealousy, “That was us. That should be me.” Then I remembered, what else came along with the co-dependency tendencies. It’s okay, I’ll pass, I’ve grown. Now, I depend on God to supply my every need. He was my best friend. Although, I don’t know that I have had a friend so true since him. We parent well together. I’m grateful for that, as are the kids.
The kids, my loves. They have been through so much. Resilient. If I had to describe them in one word that is the word for them – and loving, kind, generous, beautiful… Definitely RESILIENT. To make it through my deployment, the divorces, and all of life’s trials, I must stand and applaud them. I draw my strength from them – they don’t even know. They love without question. They give without thought. They care, my goodness, they care! I learn so much from them! It isn’t easy to care for others. It isn’t even a natural tendency. I often wonder, who taught y’all that? When I see them respond with compassion. They are better people than I. I am guilty of holding grudges. They aren’t like that. I am guilty of being angry and unlike the Word, where it says: sin not, I have sinned in my anger. They often do not. Their beauty is not only on the outside, but also on the inside, and it resonates! They hold their pain inside, for fear of hurting others. This makes me sad. I hate to see my children in pain. For me, they put on a smile – but a mother knows. Mothers know when her children are in pain. Mothers know when her children are hurting. Let me tell you how much it hurts to hear your child say that they feel worthless, depressed, unloved. “We know that you love us, but…” My heart aches for them – I try to shield them from any heartache – and they try to shield me. Just who is the adult here? We have all been through so much. Mom’s not that fragile, it’s my duty to protect you, help you. We will figure things out together. None of us are immune from heartache. Sometimes, the world is a cruel place and people are mean. Still, one foundational truth the children and I cling to is the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. One way that we accomplish this is to show care and concern.
To show care and concern, we ask: What happened to you? rather than: What’s wrong with you? This separates the behavior from the individual. It also allows us to have compassion for others. We know the phrase: Hurt people hurt people. To break it down for my children, in a manner that they would understand, I gave an example of when I have a headache or migraine, and I tend to get a little cranky because of the pain. Rather than ask: What’s wrong with you? Ask, What happened to you? It has more compassion, less accusatory. I related it back to them individually – so they could fully grasp the concept. What happened to you? Not: What’s wrong with you? For instance, there are times when one comes home, and does not want anything to do with me. Completely avoidant. Oh yes, it hurts my feeling. I can be reactive and demand, “What’s wrong with you?” I can get upset. Or, I can be curious, and get to the root of, “What happened to you?” That’s when we discover, “X,Y,Z occurred at school today, and I am feeling _____________.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect. There have been times I was reactive. I hate myself for those times. It feels as though it ruins the trust – ruins the relationship… I’m not too big to apologize. I apologize a lot. I really need to remove the phrase – it’s so accusatory, “What’s wrong with you?”
What’s wrong with you? I am guilty of asking this question more often than not. With kids, sometimes, it is difficult not to ask that question. I have a difficult time knowing whether I am coming or going. I have a teenage daughter, and preteenish son and daughter… The attitudes in our home! Not that I should use this as an excuse for my behavior… This is what I get for having stair step children. Don’t get me wrong, they are really well-behaved kiddos. I raised them to have their own opinions, and express them – was that where I went wrong? Just kidding – I think I did just swell with that! They are pretty respectful in their expressions. It’s just, sometimes I feel as though I’m two moms: Good Mom and Bad Mom. I try to be a Good Mom most of the time. I mean, I don’t try to be a Bad Mom, ever. I just feel like a Bad Mom sometimes. I wonder what my kids see, or think of me? Good Mom or Bad Mom. I have asked. They are like, “You’re a good mom. Even when you get upset at us sometimes, but we deserved it.” Then, I’m like, “No, no, no! I should not have raised my voice!” Yes, you need to clean. or Yes, you need to turn your work in on time. or No, you should not yell at me, I don’t yell at you. You know stuff like that. I don’t raise my voice often, but when I do, I just feel so terrible! Then, there are migraine or sick days… I am cranky those days. It’s like SHHHHHH… Nobody speak. BAD MOM. Guilt.
Guilt. I have done things that I regret. I have said things I wish I hadn’t. Sad thing is, you cannot undo the past. You can’t undo what’s been done, and you cannot unsay what’s been said. You can apologize, you can learn from your mistakes, not do them again, move on. Moving on can be a painful lesson, especially when you have wronged someone, and the relationship – whatever it was, is changed. My thoughts are on my relationship with God, and my vows to myself. How guilty I feel when I break those vows. How guilty I feel when I do something that violates the covenant I made with myself and my Creator. I suppose I can take it one step further. I am guilty of not waiting for His timing, for His promises. You see, I know that He has something in store for me… I don’t know when, where, how… Who… But, I know… And I am guilty of not waiting. I have dated this man, and that. Heck, I married a man that I knew I was not supposed to marry. Well, I did that twice. I do not regret the first, because he gave me three children. So, God’s will or not, there was a reason… Today, at church, while I was praying, my Just One came over and was praying with me. She began to minister to me… I called you. I chose you. I knew the path you would walk, every valley, every stone. You cannot stop, you have to continue on the path I have set before you. I am with you. You are not alone. I chose her. She doesn’t even know how much I needed those words. Who am I that He is mindful of me?
Who am I that He is mindful of me? As I reflect over my life, up until now, I am humbled. In all of my unworthiness, through all of my faults, through all of my trials, through all of my successes, through my doubts, through my good times, and my bad times – He has held me through it all. There have been so many times in my life where I felt like: this is it, I can’t make it, I can’t go on. This trial is the trial that does me in. And you know what? I’m still here! I’m still standing! How is this possible? When I shouldn’t be alive? But MERCY said NO. I am so grateful. As I look back over my life – as I reflect over my mistakes, yes, I am sorry for the times I fall short. I am so sorry for the times my actions nail Him back to the cross. I’m sorry for the times I take what You’ve done for me in vain – yet, I am so thankful for mercy. Because, none of what You’ve done for me was done in vain. I am grateful. As I reflect, I see that You were with me through it all. The times I thought You weren’t there, the times I thought You had left, I see that You never left me. When I turned my back on You – You remained by my side. You never left me, nor forsook me, not once. I see Your hands on my life, I see Your protection. Reflection, reflection, reflection… How many times was it that I thought for sure my life was at the end? If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side, where would I be?
Where would I be? I am where I am supposed to be. My life is on the path the right path – I have to believe that. This path is scary. This path is unknown. I don’t know the ending. I don’t know what’s up ahead. Blindly trusting God’s direction and promises. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understandings; and in all thy way acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6. I am putting this in action, and it is a new feeling – rewarding, yet there’s that factor of the fear of the unknown. As in: Blindly trusting, what’s up ahead, knowing God’s in control, don’t try to take the reigns, trust the process, not my will but Thy will be done. So, with that in mind: