"Choosing To SEE" (... and confessing my weakness)

I haven't been writing my usual blog posts this month because my mother-in-law's health issues have been the all-consuming business of life for me since the start of the new year. That is the primary reason.

The secondary reason is that I have struggled so much emotionally this past month. There have been times when I would have loved to spill my guts all over this blog and confess (as I do) to all the emotional stuff going on inside me. Because confession IS good for MY soul. Writing is one of the ways I process and work through my struggles. But at the same time, I have wanted to be cautious. I haven't wanted to make this about me and my struggle when Marian has been going through such a rough time.

One of the things I learned from four years of Christian counseling is that even my insecurities are a form of self-involvement. And although there has been plenty of stress recently, I recognize that some of my emotional struggles are a reflection of my selfish nature. When my thoughts gravitate toward how much I wish my life could get back to normal, I recognize that as selfish. I don't like it that I have a selfish nature to contend with. I want to be the perfect little selfless caregiver. But, really, I'm not. I struggle. Oh sure, I am doing the "right" things ... for the most part. But I remind myself that I should be doing the right things with a joyful heart and for the glory of God. The truth is, sometimes I'm going through the motions with a melancholy heart.

I know I can't be perfect. I've known that all my life. But it doesn't stop me from expecting perfection from myself. And falling short of my expectations often causes me to feel guilt, which is not at all helpful. I remind myself that I must fall on God's grace to give me strength in difficult times. But I have a propensity for being hard on myself when I am feeling inadequate. Those are the times when I am most thankful for the awareness of grace. And the older I get, the more I am in touch with how desperately I need God's grace.

There are great things that come with age. At the moment, I'm painfully aware of the not so great things.

I will be 52 in May. I can literally feel my fluctuating hormones lately. Although I have yet to experience a hot flash, there are days (sometimes in succession) when I feel like I'm coming out of my skin all day long, for no real reason. Of course, the harder you try to conceal that and not acknowledge it, the more anxiety you feel. (I am thankful every day for my kind, loving husband, who listens and cares when I'm feeling blue or anxious.)

I wake up tired every morning. I used to get up with John and kiss him good-bye at the door every single day. In recent months, I hardly ever feel ready to get up when he's leaving (between 6:00 and 6:30). I have asked myself a few times lately, "Am I depressed?" I know the questions and answers that help diagnose depression. And I don't think I'm depressed in a clinical sense. But I may be experiencing a touch of situational depression.

I am reading Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to SEE right now. And it seems like perfect timing. It is an incredible book and I highly recommend it. I have read Mary Beth's blog many times and have always deeply admired her emotional honesty and insight. She writes openly and honestly, as I do, but she is a public person with thousands of people reading her blog. Yet she does not hold back. She is transparent and real. She is a very inspirational Christian woman who chooses to reveal herself as flawed. She speaks honestly about her own struggle with depression. And her willingness to share so personally has been comforting to me in the midst of my own struggle. Whenever I read writers who are self-revealing, I feel less alone. I always want to thank them for that. And probably never any more than right now.

There have been people in my life who have had a very hard time with my tendency to "put it all out there." Someone who is not like me cannot understand that part of me. And I've had to make peace with that. In the past, I have allowed certain people to make me feel defective for being who I am. But as I read Mary Beth's writings, I feel reassured that God made me this way for a reason and I don't owe anyone an apology for sharing my heart and my struggles. I don't choose to hide behind a mask. And the older I get, the more I see that as a strength rather than a weakness. Don't get the wrong impression. I am aware of my many, many weaknesses and flaws. But I no longer view that particular trait as one of them. (This would be one of the good things that has come with age. I finally realize that God created me with the personality He gave me.)

Mary Beth's courage in sharing her private struggles has inspired and encouraged me. I only hope that I can do the same for others, even if on a much smaller scale. And that is part of the reason I confess my struggles.

I am about to read chapter eighteen: "I Just Met A Girl Named Maria". I have not lost a child, but my husband has. And we were together when Brittany went to heaven at the age of eighteen. There have already been many ways I have been able to relate to Mary Beth in the first seventeen chapters. I was emotional early on, reading the dedication and the notes to each of her children ... while sitting in the waiting room as Marian had scans on Monday. I have been thankful for this book all week, as I have been having a tough time with my own emotions, worries and fears. It's hard to put down.

My son has had the privilege of knowing the Chapman family. He has many times told me how genuine and what an amazing Christian family they are. SCC's lyrics have spoken to my heart so many times and in so many situations. I remember listening to "King of the Jungle" while still deeply enmeshed in the cult I eventually left. When I was feeling shattered and disillusioned by heartbreak after heartbreak during the nineties, I would play that song over and over in my car to remind myself "that the Lord of the gentle breeze is Lord of the rough and tumble." And after I left the cult and found the true gospel, I would cry every time I listened to "Remember Your Chains." I still do. The title of my book (Breaking the Chains) was inspired by that song.

And now I am being inspired and uplifted by his wife, Mary Beth. I have not had the privilege of knowing her or her family. And yet I now feel as though I do.

I doubt she will ever read this blog, but I would love for her to know what her testimony means to me and how much I appreciate her for opening up and sharing her heart with me. Thank you, Mary Beth.