It’s been a tough week. My childhood has come swirling around me in the midst of it.
I had a conversation this week about mental illness and depression and it’s made me dive. It’s made me reflect on my life. It’s made me wonder why, of the two families my family was closest with when we were little, both of them have now lost one of their four children, and both of the women of the family are now alone. Beautiful, Godly women, with beautiful children, all younger than me. I loved those children like they were my own babies, back when they were babies. One lost to a tragic accident at the age of 24 and one lost to a terrible disease at the age of 33; the same disease that claimed her dad thirteen years ago. She leaves behind a husband and two young children and a family full of people that will miss her every single day for the rest of their lives. Life hurts like hell sometimes.
My work is so stressful some days that I honestly don’t know how to go on. Sometimes I can’t go on, pure and simple, and I lay my head down on my desk and quit for two minutes. I’ve decided that my job title should be “stress eater” because that’s what I do. Everything that has the possibility of causing stress to another is immediately passed on to me. I open my mouth and I eat the stress and I handle the stress and I flounder in the stress so that others can have less stress. The problem is that while I may appear to be pretty good at handling all of that, I end up with a belly full of stress that sits there like a lump of concrete. And it’s been weighing me down lately. I need somebody to come eat my stress.
But today, while I sat at my desk, inhaling all that stress, I listened to two of my girls as they made invitations to the bachelorette party that they are planning for the other one of my girls. They thought through how many people might come and how long they might stand around talking before sitting down to eat and how much the food might cost and what people might wear and how the invitation should be worded. It ate some of my stress away to listen to their youthful joy and their love for one another and their excitement in planning this special event for their sister and her friends.
And when the clock said it was time to quit work, I shut off my screen, put on a tank top and flip flops and went to the beach with my husband. We watched our shadows spreading silently before us as we walked. When we decided we’d gone far enough, we sat in the warm sand and let the wind blow our hair and we watched the crashing waves for a bit. And then we walked back while the birds padded through the retreating water beside us, looking for wiggly things to eat.
Stress is wiggly. I think the birds ate some of mine.
My heart breaks for the family of my young friend tonight. I watched her grow up and I worked in Mexico with her and her family. Her dad was my dad’s closest friend and my husband’s mentor in the ministry and her mom was a mentor in so many ways to me as I raised my own young children. I haven’t seen her since she graduated college and I never even met her husband or children. My heart breaks for the life that has been lost. My heart breaks for my own life that is fleeting away and the lives of all those who have floated in and out through the fleetingness and the years that sometimes feel wasted. Death hurts like hell.
I lay on my couch in my house in the woods and I look up through the window at the night sky. The sound of the frogs float in through the screen, along with the scents of the wildflowers. The tall pines are silhouetted against the deep navy blue sky while the stars twinkle through their swaying branches. It’s amazing, this life, this world, this love that knows no bounds. Sometimes it fills me with joy to the point of bursting.
I know my Redeemer lives. I know there is beauty in the midst of this suffering. When I find the beauty (and it’s not hard when I open my eyes), I try to breathe it in and exhale the stress. One breath at a time.