It’s Time to Let Go of the Pretense – I’m Not as Strong as I Think
I’m not given to the blues, but here I am, the second December in a row, teetering at the edge.
It was easy to understand last year. Major surgeries in October and December followed by challenging recoveries left me discouraged, weary, fatigued, and lonely. I had a right to be depressed I was told. Even if that were true, I knew that what pushed me into darkness wasn’t what seemed obvious to others.
I’m stronger this year – with new knees and healthy enough to prepare for and host Thanksgiving in our home, as we’ve done for my extended family for years. Last year it wouldn’t have happened without everyone’s help. Cheerfully – gratefully – I did most of the work this year myself.
The truth, though, is that my strength is relative – a pretense. I have new knees, but I also live with chronic auto-immune crohns, lung, and rheumatoid diseases. My body has compensated in many ways, but pain and fatigue are constant companions, in spite of my attempts to ignore them. I’ve just finished leading a mid-week women’s study at church and hosting another weekly study in my home the past 3 months, while assimilating a long list of stresses that included 2 6-hour infusions of new-to-me chemotherapy for RA. I think I’m physically and emotionally stronger than I really am. I need more help than I care to admit.
So on the Monday after the week of Thanksgiving – a week that brought me great delight, but included travel, a birthday party, a grandlittle sleepover, hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas Tree decorating with 6 grandlittles (ages 2, 2, 4, 5, 8, 8) and 3 of those grands staying with me 3 days and nights after Thanksgiving – is it any wonder I wake weary and fatigued and at the edge of being depressed?
Like last year, I know that the reason isn’t as obvious as it seems.
It’s embarrassing to admit the truth, but the breeding ground for these blues is not the challenges of chronic illness or the demands of growing older in a busy season – though they certainly contribute – but the grieving over anticipated future losses. It’s a sadness for what is yet to happen, and it threatens to prevent me from experiencing joy in today.
I knew last year that a son and his family would soon be moving far away. I grieved the projected losses that move would mean for me. On the Monday after Thanksgiving this year, I experienced that loss in realizing that no little ones live close enough to be in our home over Christmas. Added to that reality, I began to grieve the anticipated future losses for me when our daughter, who has lived at home for 24 years, graduates from college in the spring and spreads her wings – moving out of our home and community.
The studies I led this fall – at my church and in my home – were based on Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional and DVD study. Ironic, isn’t it? Every day, for months before and during the study, I nourish my soul with scripture and gratitude and count God’s never ending gifts, and just two weeks after the last study, in a moment of exhaustion and weariness, I wake up counting future losses instead.
“That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
And on that Monday morning after Thanksgiving, I cry through a box of tissues, rescue me, Jesus…from myself, and God meets me in that “thin, open space,” where my soul is torn, and He fills it with more of Himself.
I’m not as young as I used to be. I need to swallow my pride and admit my weaknesses. When I claim that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” I must remember that God will give me the strength to do what He wants me to do, not necessarily what I want or others expect of me. Fear of the future and its inevitable losses reveals a lack of faith and is a serious waste of time. And who has time to waste? If I’m going to back away from the edge of depression and choose joy in the day in this season of life, I’ve got to be more intentional to take care of myself – body and soul – and leave the future in the hands of never-ending Grace, Who will always meet me there.
Patricia Hunter is a freelance writer and photographer. A contributing and ghost writer for subscription magazines, she recently collaborated with Robbi Cary to produce the award winning book, No Matter What, It’s a God Day When – Finding Blessings in Difficult Days – offering stunning photographs of God’s creation alongside a heartwarming message of truth. Patricia and her husband Louis have been married for 38 years and have 4 grown children and 8 grandchildren. You can follow Patricia at her blog Pollywog Creek, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.
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