Nothing like a good dose of reality to completely crash a spiritual high.
I mentioned in my last post that I had just returned from a women's retreat at my church. Truly, it was a great weekend with other women seeking spiritual rest and refreshment. However, it didn’t take long for my surfboard to crash into the rocks and drag me to the ground. Less than 24 hours after I returned from the retreat, I was a weeping, hot mess.
I rushed back from the retreat to make it to a soccer game that my daughter was playing as part of her end of season tournament. I arrived at the field and waved to my daughter who was already on the field. She gave me a sweet smile back. That was it for positive affection. I walked around to the other side of the field where my husband and other three children were "sitting." The two boys were actually wrestling on the ground like animals, and I could tell my husband was completely exasperated with their behavior. Lovely. I opted to walk over and join other parents who seemed to be truly enjoying the game. I hugged several other moms and chatted about my awesome weekend and spiritual rejuvenation.
At the end of the game, Tattie came off the field in tears due to a "bad call," AND she had to go home and work on homework, AND she really wanted ice cream because others were going to get ice cream, AND (fill in the blank). To appease her, we grabbed ice cream on the way and rushed home to start homework. Immediately, the whining started about not going to youth group because both girls had too much homework. I responded, as I always do, that spiritual formation is nonnegotiable, and they had to go. A battle of wills ensued, and I informed them that I was driving carpool to youth group and that I would not be driving other kids to church without my own. I forced them into the car. (I can honestly say their hearts were probably not prepared for whatever spiritual lesson God had in store!)
After I dropped five young ladies at youth group, I came back home to find my house an utter disaster. The same Amazon shipment boxes that were sitting at the front door on Friday when I left for the retreat were still sitting there Sunday night when I got home. No one seemed to notice. (You literally had to step across them to get in the house!) My dining room table was covered in crumbs, sticky Nutella remains, and dirty plastic utensils. No one noticed. Every trashcan in the house was completely full and overflowing. No one noticed. The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was the fiasco at the back door. Apparently, at some point during the weekend, our dog, Ginger, had been left outside. With the construction (we still do not have a functioning kitchen) she's a little confused and discombobulated. Evidently, she had tried desperately to get in the house, clawing the door down to the wood grain and chewing off the weather stripping. No one apparently noticed that either.
At this point, I lost it. Any spiritual refreshment I had received was gone, and I was a pile of dry bones, frustrated with my inability to manage my household and my children. I felt like Ezekiel walking through the valley of dry bones. But, I tried to claim the promise there:
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breathe enter you, and you will come to life. (Ezekiel 37:4-6).
I turned to the Word, read my daily lessons, then cried myself to sleep. I got up Monday morning thinking things would be better. They weren't. I went to a local coffee shop to work on emails and participate in some conference calls. Within the first few minutes I was there, I ran into other families who have been affected by a recent CMS School Board proposal. In a nutshell, the elementary school our community has worked seven years to create will be dismantled. Furthermore, our middle school feeder pattern will be changed to an F-rated school. Remember, I'm in the middle of that kitchen remodel? Well, I may be remodeling a kitchen that I will never use! The more I talked to other families, the more irritated I became. We bought our home 13 years ago as our "forever house." Now I'm facing the reality that it may not be. The thought of moving our family and changing our children to a new educational situation is overwhelming.
As I opened my emails and participated in my conference calls, I became even more frustrated with the drama at work. It would be an understatement to say that healthcare has fallen on uncertain times. As a healthcare administrator, it's hard to know which way to lead. On the national front, as a bill passes the House to repeal or replace "Obamacare" and the Senate debates their own version of American healthcare, it's unnerving. I don't know what my job may look like or for whom I will be working. I never imagined myself as a government employee, but I may find myself in that position in the next 10 years. Yet, I’m trying to lead and empower others through this change.
Unlike last Friday and my inspiring day of patient care, this week has been really hard. I've had to initiate conversations around end-of-life issues with the family of a patient who has terminal cancer. They're not ready to hear the reality that our medical interventions are failing. I had to sit with the family of another patient who has worsening dementia. There's no acceptance that the sister they once knew is no longer mentally there. And, I wept with a husband who just lost his 48-year-old wife due to a debilitating genetic disease. She left behind a 13-year-old son that this husband has to raise alone.
Then, Thursday night, as I once again found myself at a ballfield, I received the shocking news that the father of a child on my daughter’s soccer team had taken his own life. I realized that I had hugged the wife of this gentleman last Sunday when returning from the retreat. I had chatted with her throughout that soccer game when I was trying to avoid my boys’ wrestling match.
Devastation. And perspective. All of my petty complaints, around Amazon boxes left in the doorway, weather stripping eaten by the dog, uncertainty concerning where we will live, attend school, or work, suddenly felt insignificant. That funeral was this past Tuesday.
Just before bed, I was pondering and processing the events of the day and the week. I pulled the funeral program from my purse and read the back. I then opened my "read through the Bible in a year" app and the passage just happened to be from 2 Kings. The king of Aram is pursuing Elisha to kill him and surrounds the city by night:
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don’t be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
Father God, remind me of the chariots of fire surrounding me. Help me to focus on what You see, not what I see. Remind me that nothing can separate me from your unfailing grace and love. And, continue to breathe life into these dry bones with your Word.
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!