Jay turned 11 months old yesterday! His way of celebrating seems to be saying “uh oh” every 5 minutes. Which makes sense considering he does something that warrants an “uh oh” consistently at the aforementioned interval. Although I am shocked I have an almost one year old, and that he’s gotten so big and has changed in so many ways, I am more shocked at how happy I am.
I want to talk about Jay, and I can, all day. But, he’s really just a cute 11 month old. And I’m sure it’ll get boring really quick like. Instead, I’d like to talk about some things I’ve been learning as an (almost) 1 year mom. I’ve learned a lot and most of it is really encouraging, so I hope it would be encouraging to others.
The first revelation, as I’ll name it, is so profoundly simple I think you’ll think me idiotic for writing it as anything other than a fact of life. That being said: Life goes on. So simple. Not only does it go on, it gets better. This is something I never ever thought to think as a youth – that life could be better than where I’m at now. I looked at later 20’s, 30’s, 40’s as the downhill slope. I feared it, as I think most people do. I think our culture preaches that the 20’s are where you need to live it up, party hard, and don’t care about the future too much because it’ll just get worse. The “glory days” = your 20’s. I also see people on social media touting that they don’t want children so they can not only enjoy their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc since kids just weigh ya down and make life so much worse.
Life doesn’t end when you’re old. Life doesn’t end with kids. Life doesn’t end when you turn 25! In fact, DARE IS SAY, it gets better!! Zak & I were having a talk about something he regretted not doing. When we came to the realization that we can still do this thing. Just because we’re older & have a kid doesn’t mean life ends or the fun stops. I had the realization while I was thinking about Jay being 1 on the playground. I was able to imagine Jay as a kid, running around, playing catch, chasing him in the pool – and I got excited. Not only is there so much to look forward to with him, but with all of life.
I was praying this morning after reading Romans 5 & 6, about how much more I have to understand about my own sin & all that Jesus did on the cross for me. The temptation was to get overwhelmed with how much more I have to learn, but then it dawned on me that with so much more to learn comes the learning. That’s ALWAYS good with God because God is GOOD. And he is on our side. In Romans, Paul talks about how we’re now “friends with God” – don’t friends want what’s best for their peeps? I know I do. I’m about to help plan a wedding shower and I want it to be the best for my friend because she is the best! How much more does God want the best for us?! As he corrects and teaches, I know there will be gifts & provisions every step of the way! (Like a wedding shower, lol. You get all these cool new gifts, but they enable to you navigate your new life and all the lessons you’ll be learning along the way.) Every lesson I’ve learned with God comes with a true blessing I can hardly believe is real. I can only expect that for the future years to come.
Part of this revolutionary aspect of this revelation for me is my fear of death. With some of my health concerns, it’s hard not to feel like I’m dying. At random, for unknown amounts of time, I feel completely taken out of life. And I start to fear… will it always be like this? Will Jay have a mom who is stuck at home because her fear of an episode in public enslaves her? What about a second kid — isn’t it irresponsible to even think of another when some days I can’t get out of bed to care for one? These fears bring death to life. Literally. It’s like I’m already dead when I let these fears win. Every day for a very long time I’ve been asking God to help me with these fears, to not let them win, and to increase my trust in him. I think, at least this week, I’ve found some success here, thanks to God. I really don’t know how to control my fears on my own. I’m at a total loss. I really just need him. And he’s responded by giving me hope. Hope today, hope in what’s to come. I never thought I’d love life enough to be afraid to leave it. Which is also cool, in a weird way.
I’m really thankful for my parents & their friends who have showed me how wonderful later life can be. I’m really thankful that it can get better. I am much looking forward to it, even if it isn’t as long as I’d like or as many things done, I know life can be fuller toward the end.
Hebrews 12 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Life is a race. It would be so foolish of Katie Ledecky to stop in the middle of her 1500 meter. Even though I would’ve when I saw the screen said she still had 20-some laps to go! But she didn’t. She just went faster. And she won.
Which kind of leads me to the next/last revelation: God doesn’t promise to take suffering away, but he does give us things along the way to make it easier. I guess that’s also obvious, but to me, another lesson learned. I have read books, listened to sermons, studied passages, seen counselors on my journey through pain, depressive tendencies, hopelessness, anxiety… and I don’t have really any answers other than what I’ve read or heard from others. Nothing to add. But, I have learned to kind of accept the hard times because they shouldn’t define life.
That’s it: pain shouldn’t define your life. Or, it doesn’t have to. Because, what does define life are the things that really matter. Sorry, it’s abstract and hard to put into words, but what I’m trying to say is that God gives us meaningful moments, full of purpose & value, that make life, no matter the hurt, pain, circumstance… worth it. So, I can either choose to focus on my pain my whole life, or I can choose to focus on the things that matter, the things that give me purpose, because the good outshines the bad. And these things make the pain, the sadness, the hard – easier. I think in a roundabout way I’m trying to describe hope. But, the key is where you put your value. Will I put it in how I feel today? Or in what matters? Value in the painful, the temporary or put your value in the valuable – the significant, the eternal! It’s a mind game, or a battle of the mind. And a lesson to learn with the Lord – trusting that my symptoms today don’t have to relegate my entire being, my whole life. That my life is more than how I feel because I matter to God and what I do for him matters.
I found this extraordinarily true this summer. I’ve been able to connect with new people and had several opportunities to talk about God with people I love deeply who don’t know him. Those, despite a summer of pain, have meant the world to me. And aren’t over. I’ve gotten to see my husband thrive in his area of gifting, making me explode with joy even when I wasn’t feeling well. I’ve gotten to meet new friends through my son, which I’ve really always enjoyed hitting it off with others and learning about new people. I’ve gotten to see my friends’ faiths triple as they get ready to bring new life into their lives, or start new relationships via marriage. These moments mean so much more than my pain. And these moments give my life meaning that surely outweighs the hurt & the hard. Purpose does that. It belittles the temporary, painful and highlights the eternal, significant.
All the while I’m writing this, Jay is crawling (backward) circles around my living room, knocking over my trash can, and laughing at my cat. Ahh, peace, joy, the hope that fills my ungrateful, hopeless heart. God’s gracious enough to let me in on the wonders of life. A life of love, a life I love.