Friday, April 24, 2015

On the importance of friendship, and other thoughts.

If you're my friend on social media (and if not, you probably should be, especially if you stalk my blog) then you saw our pilgrimage to the beach and reunion with The Best Friends.

Casie, Whitney, Elizabeth, and I spent the week cooking ourselves tanning on Pawleys Island, roaming around Georgetown and Myrtle Beach, cooking dinner together, and taking walks down to the neighborhood dock where the SC state bird mosquitos lavished themselves on my legs.


It was worth every itch, and every bit of the sunburn.

JP (AKA Jalisa, a co-worker of my husband who's turned into a true BFF for me) and I got to go shopping and out to eat a few times together, and we had such a good time. Plus her emoji filled texts blowing up my phone make my heart smile.

I've had a blast with my friends this spring. As crazy testing season begins, and the marathon to the end of year starts, especially coming down off the hormones and emotions of the last miscarriage (which I think made me literally crazy this time. Crazzzzy...), I so, so, so needed that. The laughs, the coffee and Good Morning America and singing along together riding down Hwy 17, texts that make me snort, and last minute dinner plans for hot wings.

These things keep me human.

When I feel grief bubbling in my stomach, rising in my throat, and making me want only to close my eyes indefinitely.

When I'm just too tired from a job that keeps me constantly on the edge.

When I'm  worn from watching cancer take someone I love and heartbroken seeing my parents and family fighting in their own ocean of difficulty.

When I see news articles on heart-wrenching tragedy I can't begin to comprehend.

It's hugs, it's encouraging messages, it's shared smiles and laughs.
These are the things He gives to us to help us through. His provision. He made us to have relationships. Otherwise, this fallen world would just be too much.

Life rings.

Note: This one sat in my draft box for a while. I was a little scared my drowning metaphor might worry folks. Now, a few weeks later, I'm not necessarily drowning, just treading water in choppy seas... 

Once again, I've been overwhelmed by all the love and support I've received from family, friends, church, coworkers, and online.

Grief is an ugly monster.  It makes you question who you are, why you live, and if you even want to continue. It makes even happy moments painful. It dulls your vision, and it clouds your thoughts. I've struggled with grief for four years, and it's changed who I am.

At first, it was a trial. Temporary. Statistics helped me rationalize. So many experience one. It's tragically normal. Heartbreakingly common.
Then it was a struggle. A fluke. A weird, sad situation.
Then it was a conflict. Why? And I went into problem-solving mode. What's causing this? Let's find out and fix it.
Then, there was hope. On the fourth try, we heard the heartbeat, strong and steady, and I felt like it was finally over. I had persevered, become a stronger person, and I was going to make it through.

Then it was dark. Really dark. Like can't-breath-can't-live-can't-see dark.

This time, since I didn't know and didn't expect it, the grief monster once again got me in a stealth attack. I didn't mentally prepare myself for this, because I had put it all aside. So, after I realized what was happening, it once again broke my heart by surprise. A heartbreak when it's expected hurts like like heck. When it's unexpected, it still hurts like heck, plus it disorients you.

So I've been disoriented, with dulled sight and clouded thoughts. I ask God frequently to help. He knows our hearts and our desires (not to mention, I've said them aloud, crystal clear, not that He needs that... He knows the moans of my soul for when there are no words....).  So, if He knows this, why does He continue not to bless us and to allow this suffering? If it is not within His will, if it's truly not what He has planned for our family, then why not shut the door? We would make peace with a reason why, the mystery solved and an answer given. But why do we languish in this unknown territory? The doctors are perplexed. They see no medical reason for me not to sustain a pregnancy, and keep saying keep trying. But how many times do we have to go through this? Will it ever work?

I ask Him, but He doesn't answer.

And grief turns to doubt. And to anger. And to bitterness. And I close off my heart and my mind and let the dark thoughts swirl as I drive or as I sit on the porch or as I stare emptily at the ceiling.

It is so easy to stay right there. But then, as if it's a life-ring tossed from a boat to a drowning soul, slipping under the waves, I receive a note, a message, a hug, a letter, an email, a vase of flowers. And I hang on.

So when people ask how I am, I want to use this metaphor. I am a drowning swimmer holding on to life-rings. Every baby I see, every pregnancy announcement, every due date on the calendar, every small child about the age he or she would be, every careless comment, every single day, a wave of that grief flows over my head and I feel like coughing and choking.

As Easter approaches, I fight the doubt. Even when it creeps in, I know who He is and I know He loves me. The cross showed it. I have no fear about my eternity or my salvation, nor do I ask if He's even really there at all. I know this as well as I know my name. I know Him.

So I hope that He will, at the very least, help me to feel Phillipians 4:6. My grace is sufficient for you.
Please make my heart only yearn for Your grace.
I want to want only Him.
I need the things of this world to grow strangely dim.

Thanks for throwing life-rings out into the sea for me.