a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace
Those verses from the bible have always been my favorite and help me to make sense of the experiences life has given me thus far. Sometimes I resist, when I am grappling with a circumstance that I am unable to change, and yet with time and acceptance, I am able to see and appreciate the beauty of the ebb and flow of these cycles of life.
The past two years have been full of challenges, and as I look back upon all that has happened, I realize how far I’ve come and truly appreciate the power of those lessons.
The first major event was the unraveling of my relationship with my husband. Eventually I became certain that our marriage would end in a divorce. I would have never imagined the unexpected shift in attitude that came from stepping back enough to see things more clearly. A separation gave me time to let go of my expectations, examine my own part in our problems, and to forgive. All of these came about in their own time/season. Regardless of the outcome, I know that I have done everything I can and am able to accept that it may not be enough. Ultimately I realize I have no control over someone else’s choices.
During the time we were separated, I was saddened to learn that my oldest daughter would be moving across the country to California. This was certainly not what I expected or wanted. I struggled greatly with the thought of her being so far away, even though I knew it was happening because of a great career opportunity for her husband and would be a wonderful adventure for them. I was blessed to have her move back in with us for a few months while she stayed back to finish school and sell the house. The time passed quickly and I’ll always be grateful for the extra time we got to spend together, and especially appreciate our daily phone calls and the times we’ve gotten to visit over the past year.
This past winter, I came to grips with some of my own issues, and at 52 years of age decided to go on medication for the anxiety and depression that had been slowly creeping up on me. I’d had issues with anxiety throughout my life, which I was able to manage well most of the time with basic cognitive behavior techniques. This time it was different and I later learned that my thyroid issues were contributing to the problem as well. I had always been afraid to try medication, and it was a sign of my complete desperation and the kind words of a new therapist that led me to give it a try. I am so glad that I did, because it made it easier to face what was ahead with a clear mind. Now I realize how irrational it was to resist for so long, simply because I thought it was a sign of weakness and was afraid of possible side effects. It showed me that I had a long way to go in tearing down my own fallacious beliefs about mental health issues. More importantly, it taught me not to allow fear to make my decisions. I saved myself a lot of unnecessary suffering and impaired judgment by overcoming my fears enough to give medication a try.
In March, I received a phone call that shook me to the core – my youngest daughter had fallen into a deep depression in response to extremely stressful circumstances and ended up in the hospital for a suicide attempt. Suddenly all of the little things that I had been worrying about didn’t seem to matter, and I dropped everything and went to be with her for the next two months while she was getting back on her feet. I had to let go of all of the things I was in control of before, work, managing our household, trying to sell our house, and let others take over. Eventually I learned that I never really had control in the first place. Right after it happened, I couldn’t comprehend leaving her without feeling panicked, but as time went along and healing took place, we both learned how to move on to the next step. Stepping back from work turned out to be eye-opening as well, and I realized upon my return that I had allowed my perfectionism to make it more stressful than it needed to be. Part of her recovery process was examining her perfectionist tendencies as well, and it seems we both were able to grow and learn from this experience. This was our season to break down and build up, and to heal.
As I write this, I am sitting in the living room of my dad’s condo, and I can hear the steady sound of his light snoring as he lie sleeping in the next room. It is a good sound to hear; it means that he is getting a break from the horrendous side effects from the radiation and chemotherapy he has been undergoing to treat his cancer. Now that the denial is wearing off and I see what he has to endure, I feel uncertain about the right course of action. Yet all I can do is take it one day at a time, get as much information as possible to help him make decisions, and provide the care and support he needs right now. The rest is out of our hands, and this is the scary part about life. One never knows where its seasons may lead us.
Embedded within all of the hard times are the constants that make it all worthwhile, and I know that I am embraced by the love that surrounds me, and that is where I choose to place my focus.
For today, I am thankful for my dad’s gentle, kind spirit, and his strength. He held our family together when mental illness could have torn us apart. He demonstrated through his actions the true nature of character.
I am thankful that my youngest daughter is doing well and has decided to come home for a while to help out with our move and to be with her grandfather. This was an unexpected and pleasant surprise that came at just the right time. I know it is tough for her to come back right now at a time when she is ready to embark on her own adventures, and this speaks to her incredible compassion and kindness. Her zest for life has brought her a long way in a few short months.
I am thankful for my oldest daughter’s courage and strength. She has always been such a family centered person, and I know how torn she feels being so far away right now. As she prepares to embark on a 6-month trip to China to be with her husband in February, I am thankful that she is coming home for a couple of weeks to spend time with us. I admire her ability to adapt and accept life’s changes, and her love and devotion for her husband, as she supports him in his endeavors.
I am thankful for my sisters and the bond we’ve always shared, for great friends who are always there for me, and for being able to finally see and appreciate all that I have shared with my husband for over half my life.
I am thankful for the years I got to spend with my brother before he left this earth and can still hear his tender words of wisdom, supporting me through life’s hardest times.
I don’t know what the next season has in store, but the words in those verses ease my concerns, comfort me, and let me know that this is how life is meant to be.