it has been a year. . .
My last blog entry was February 10, 2016 on Valentine’s. I have since failed to string words together to make sense of this journey called life. I did not nor could not use words to encourage or give hope.
For you, my friends, who wondered at my silence, who prayed for Tom and me when you had no idea of the sinister curtain that was slowly draping around us, I thank you. Nora in Copenhagen prayed-and prayed. Ingrid in Vienna wrote a message every Sunday for the entire year. Two or three of my girl friends stayed with me on those days I was too afraid to be alone. I am indebted to you. My daughters, bless their hearts, wondered if they would ever again know the mother they had always known. But they stayed as constant in their concern and care as I was confused and bewildered.
I have survived!
A few days after the blog of February 10, I determined that I would never write again. The following days, weeks, and months is a period of life I would like to erase. To hit the delete button and forever forget. (thankfully, much of the pain and darkness of that time is a blur, now.)
Paul says in Philippians 3: 13, 14 that he desires to forget and press onward. I know the context of those verses is on a much higher note than I can sing now. He desires to know God . Yet, there is a lesson for us. I confess that there are things we must NOT forget unless we “remember”–then we press forward. It is such a paradox–this remembering and forgetting. I must remember enough to use what I forget in a positive way. I must remember enough to be thankful, while forgetting those things that impede the progress to press forward.
So what do I remember. . .while trying to forget the pain, the struggle to live, the tears of hopelessness?
It took months for a physical diagnosis that had created such unexplained anxiety in me–a somewhat normal, almost put-together woman of joy, love and laughter.How could this happen? Chronic EBV had taken a toll. Extensive labs unearthed two bacterial infections my body had been trying to fight for years-one a very rare one and the other, a malaria type co-infection from the Lyme I had years before. One day, it just couldn’t fight another battle. All this coupled with thyroid issues, stress and hormones resulting from the infections, as well. The dam could only break.
And it did.
Reading, studying for my ladies’ Sunday School class became increasingly difficult. It saddened me much to give it up; I had cried so often in class, and they never gave up on me. It was freeing to be honest with them, and may be one of the reasons I was able to begin the healing process. To this day, I struggle to read with strong purpose and study deeply. This is an area in which I am pressing on.
I remember one day in the grocery store (after all reports were in, and I had learned that yes, there is a reason for all this, and no, I am not losing my mind. Boy, what a relief that was!) A young mother and I were sharing–I was not ashamed to share what I was going through. She looked at me with tears in her eyes, “Oh, Mrs. Barb, I have suffered with anxiety and depression for years. I can’t tell anyone as I’ve been told Christians can’t have those issues. I carry this alone.”
Immediately, I knew. I would write again. I would struggle to give a voice of hope to someone of those 40 million of the population suffering panic attacks, various types of anxiety and depression.
But I have to remember–enough. I have to remember enough in order to compassionately see in sad brown and blue eyes. Eyes that negate their declarations of “I’m fine.” I have to remember enough to speak with concern and hope. One young man at the emergency room check-in at 3 in the morning looked at us and said, “oh, I suffer from anxiety.”
And I have to remember enough to live in gratitude today.
How else can I rejoice this morning in the full, peaceful nights’ sleep of last night if I completely forget those hundreds of dark nights, many spent walking in the driveway at 3 a.m. begging for sleep. At one point late spring 2016, I went over 36 hours without sleep.
Now I am giddy with delight after preparing a delicious, creative meal as I remember the multitude of meals–unprepared, unplanned, uneaten because I could not cope with cooking. I, who always loved cooking for guests, went 10 months without preparing a single meal for anyone, other than simple ones for us.
Once a plan of treatment began and there was hope, I developed a more attentive ear. I learned to listen. Indeed, to hear the whispers. And they came. Not many, not often. But they came, and really some had come in the blackest of moonless nights. In those times when there were no other answers, but His whisper of hope, I learned to trust Him again. Little by little, bit by bit. . .One verse that blessed me so as I made it personal to me as it had been for Mary in Luke 1:45: “Blessed are you, Barbara, when you believe that those words I whispered to you in the night are truly possible.”
We all have something in our lives to forget–events, disappointments, some form of pain–those happenings that keep us afraid of opening new doors. Some are worth remembering. Those lessons learned in the mistakes we long to forget enable us to move forward.
Paul wrote the words in Philippians while in prison. He had already been on three missionary journeys, established many church plants, wrote numerous letters, but he desired MORE. “I have more running to do”, he says. “I press on . . .” I am going somewhere soon . . .I think he prepared every day to run. . .
“There is more race to run whether we are 17 or 97. Don’t look back. Forget past accidents and past failures,” writes Richard DeMass. Well, I am 17–backwards! Where do I run now?
I have always said I don’t know what to be when I grow up. Tom says it is because I will never grow up. But I think it is time . . Now that retirement years are here, surely I will know. Until then, until I know, I am pressing on . . .
My experience had made me wonder about you. Are you doing well? Do you need someone to give you a word of hope, a hug. I encourage you to remember enough—to forget anything that is an obstacle to your progress–to listen—and then run the race.
Pressing on, running wildly . . .into a blessed hope.
And this was a new spark of joy this spring when I so needed a fresh hope. Our second great granddaughter, Evelyn Jane and I share middle names. She arrived May 18, 2016.