If you have seen me in recent months, you’ve still seen my smile. I’ve still been, when not ill or providentially hindered, in church, with my kids, homeschooling, managing my home to the best of my ability and trying to accomplish the tasks I have. And some may know the some of my struggles to do that…to continue to walk, to move, to love, to pray and to smile. Others have no idea that in the space of 4 months I have lost a best friend to a far away state. I’ve deeply struggled in the understanding of my son’s learning difficulties and how to motivate him. In the diagnosis of a lung tumor in my otherwise healthy brother and subsequent life-upheavel as he and his wife and 2 boys move in with my parents while he undergoes painful surgical procedures. In the loss of yet another friend.
I’ve gone back and forth in wanting to write here or speak there of what is going on in my life, but I’ve been fearful of spilling more than I should. Of hurting others with what I say or drawing attention to something I shouldn’t. So I haven’t spoken. I haven’t shared. I have retreated within the relatively safe walls of silence and internalization. Not all secrets are bad. They’re just…secret. Personal. And sometimes not my own to speak of.
But, I can speak of my own. Finally. I’ve accepted the fact that I need to build new friendships locally since one has moved away (all the while keeping up with her too). I’ve, not perfectly, but steadily, learned how my son processes information. I’m learning what helps him, what hinders him and how best to teach him and love him so that he is not discouraged or despondent. I have hope, where just a few months ago I despaired of reaching him. Of showing him that God made him unique and special and it’s GOOD, even if it’s hard and different. My brother is, praise God, cancer free. He’s also missing a third of his lung, but in light of all that could have been, this is truly a mercy. I’ve gotten to spend time with my nephews, the cousins have spent time together in the weeks they’ve stayed here and those memories will last for a long time. And while I still don’t understand the loss of my second friend, and I am unsure if I’ll ever have the relationship we had back, I endeavor to work with what I have left.
Things have been very painful behind the smile. I’ve gone to bed at eight o’clock because I don’t want to face any more hours conscious. I’ve pulled away from others and tightened my sphere’s of relationships to almost nothing, terrified that I’d break under any more stress. I’ve kept the heartache inside, not to be fake or to pretend that all is well, but because some times pain is too deep for words. And when words are not sufficient, what else can be done but retreat and cry? Or when its too deep for tears, to stare numbly at what life has become? And, slowly, through God’s love, kindness and tenderness, hope returns. Smiles come more easily. Good is seen behind the pain and upheaval. Being distant loses it’s safety and sanctuary and once more I want to be in the lives of people. It’ll be clumsy at first. I’ll fumble my way around casual conversation like the introvert I am, but I’ll remember how.
As I look around at the people I know and love, who may never have known how deep this dark night has been for me, I realize that others may be in their own dark night. Smiling, going through the motions of their day, answering questions honestly but emotionlessly for fear of breaking down. I pray for you. And I hope that when the dark night is over, they can stand with me, seeing how God has mercifully protected them from soul-damning harm, from despair and hopelessness. It may look that dark for the night, but hope rises with the morning.
Arise, my soul, arise.