Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ramblings During Insomnia

A member of my family contacted me over the holidays, bringing hurtful barbs. In fact, it pretty much ruined my Christmas Day, and I've been in a slump since then.

I was shamed for "treating my mother so badly". I had to again ask for no contact until my mother moves away from denial and into a 12-step program. Looking back, I'm sorry I even responded at all. Ignoring the contact would have been better for my family, who doesn't understand why I'm struggling.

The whole grieving process is starting again and I feel anger and other raw emotions. While I didn't suffer loss in the traditional sense, I recognize the stages of grief nevertheless. Practicing gratitude--my ingrained way of handling tough spots--isn't working as well, but it's helping some. There are no shortcuts I suppose, to any kind of grief. We can't make a list of blessings and then expect that all will be well with our emotions.

Still, gratitude helps with endurance in anyone's life. We all need endurance to run the race for the glory of God.

Daily I see the effects in my life of my mother's choices, and yet at the same time I know we must accept the past and move on, practicing hope and love and gratitude and intentional living. However, there's this heaviness I just can't brush off. Is it partly the hormones of my 49-year-old self? How can I know and what can I do?

Anxiety, I am learning through research, comes and goes in our lives and the best thing we can do is to avoid fighting the anxiety. By itself, anxiety is harmless. It's when we try to get rid of it that we run into problems. Acceptance of it is key. It will leave soon on its own anyway, like the breezes that blow in summer.

Instead, a common response is to experience anxiety about the anxiety, which only produces more anxiety. I suppose an analogy is the phenomena of bees chasing us when we react to their presence with panic. Or is that only me?

I have anxiety about how my kids will turn out. Surely it would have been better for them to be born to a mother without a dysfunctional upbringing? I'm not as light-hearted and healthy as I want to be. I don't laugh enough. Though I'm kind and gentle enough, I'm not bold and full of confidence.

And I keep causing myself more stress, as though I don't have enough already.

One of our new-in-2015 Compassion correspondent children suddenly disappeared from our Compassion account in late December. I made contact with Compassion to make sure he was okay, and they told me his sponsor of eight years cancelled the sponsorship. Brayan is 14 and still needs a great deal of encouragement, especially having lost his father to death from undisclosed causes. I knew it was likely the sponsor never wrote to him, and that is why they assigned Brayan a correspondent. He would have received only one letter from me by December, because we just got him in the fall, and it takes 2 to 3 months for a letter to arrive.

I was using the chat feature of Compassion's customer service, and as I read the clerk's responses to my questions, I was torn about what to do. I knew we would only be able to keep encouraging Brayan if we decided to sponsor him. Otherwise, he could be picked up by a totally new sponsor, or not at all, which would be devastating and confusing to him. Not all sponsors write, and the writing is just as important as the $38 sponsorship money that allows him to participate and receive the maximum benefits Compassion can offer.  How would that feel like hope at all, if he had to leave the program for good? How could he believe in hope still? Wouldn't that just confirm that he doesn't matter? That he isn't worth anyone's time or money? I felt it was best for us to step up, so there would be some consistency in the message from God's people.

So I typed back...we will sponsor him. I was elated to do it, and so were my kids, but I'm still not sure it was the right thing. The truth is, we can't really afford it and I haven't told my husband yet. My plan is to take the money from the tax refund and put it into an account that would only be used for the sponsorship, to ensure there will always be money for it.

Now, it is somewhat likely, but not guaranteed, that God will honor it, but I know my husband wouldn't approve. It was wrong to do it without talking to him first, but I know I have greater faith than him generally, about God wanting to provide for all our needs. And oftentimes, it's about redefining what is truly a need, verses a worldly want. A lower standard of living is not always a bad thing. There's evidence that it works for our good, according to His purpose.

But, it was still wrong not to consult my husband, who is the rightful spiritual leader of our family.

I know my tendency to want to help the world, sometimes to my own detriment, is one result from my upbringing. Those of us growing up in a dysfunctional home--a certain category of us--have an intense desire to "rescue" people. It's a dysfunctional drive because it doesn't always come with discernment, and we get too much of our identity from it.

Last year, my word for the year was discernment, for this very reason. I thought I was doing better but I also just recently volunteered for something else at church (just a once a month thing, on top of my teaching the Trek AWANA kids). Was it the right thing, considering that the OCD issues with my son are such a huge source of stress already?

Or does concentrating on other people make it easier to put our problems in perspective?

I hope I made the right decision with Brayan, and it did appear that time was of the essence. I guess I knew if my husband were consulted, the answer would be no. And what did I teach my children...that deception is okay for a good cause? I told them I would tell Daddy soon, and I plan to, but another thing just broke around here, so now is not the time.

Sometimes it seems like I am screaming inside, while trying to hold it together on the outside. There is no one in the flesh to confide in about such personal things. Since I don't know anyone experiencing similar issues, no one is likely to understand anyway.

That leaves just me and God. God and me. I could lose my entire family tomorrow, and then it would really be me and God. God and me.

What I need to remember now is that my peace comes from Him, not from favorable circumstances. Not from an easy, comfortable life, devoid of heartbreaking issues. My peace comes from knowing He loves me. From knowing he is waiting for me. From knowing that he chose me. From knowing that this life is like a passing breeze, compared to what He has planned for me in eternity.

Sometimes, it's only writing that brings me back to these eternal truths. Writing is like crying out to a gracious God, who hears me and leaves me with peace.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can contact Compassion and explain that you made a mistake? I know how you feel about it, I have always felt like I have to rescue people too, e.g. my first marriage, but as time has gone by I have learned that those thoughts and feelings are *not* from God. I will pray for this situation and for Brayan. What I have to sometimes tell myself is this: I don't have to save the world; Jesus already has. His blessed Holy Spirit will prompt me to do what I need to do and beyond that is HIS business, not mine, painful though that may be. I pray that Brayan will find another sponsor, and very soon, who cares enough to write regularly, and who will continue the good work God has begun through you and your faithfulness. In Jesus' sweet name we pray. Amen.
Your friend by Grace,
Sandy xxx

Lisa said...

I am in the same boat, friend : a very hurtful holiday season. I will email you and fill you in as soon as I have time. Love you and praying for you and yours.