Broken… but not destroyed

Things have been piling on lately. Ever feel like that? Like one small thing may actually break you in half because what you’re already carrying is so vast and huge and wide and deep that you’re past your capacity to cope in every single way you know how?

I’m sure you have! Or, maybe, it’s just me… Because I know that a lot of you are carrying so much more and coping so much better. What’s your secret?

To be honest (which I hope we can be, without judgment)—I’m way past breaking point. This last month I walked out of a doctor’s rooms after being told that my eldest son, my baby boy, only seven years old, must undergo surgery, the outcome of which will determine a major part of his adult life. I don’t want to go into the details, for fear that he reads this post one day and wants to kill his mom for oversharing (which as a blogger, let’s face it, I’m already in danger of!) but I will say that I’m sad. I dropped my boys off at school after the appointment and then cried my eyes out on the side of the road.

Surely enough is enough?

Our little guy had a rough start in life—he was malnourished and emotionally neglected by his tummy mommy. He doesn’t know how to trust that we’ll stay. He doesn’t know how to rest in the love we will always have for him. So as soon as something changes or mommy or daddy lose their tempers, or he can’t have his favourite cereal because it’s finished, he checks out, emotionally and verbally. To be honest, most times, we don’t even know what the trigger is, but this vacancy can last hours, days or even months at a time. It’s devastating.

So what do we do?

Everything we can! We’ve worked/are working with occupational therapists, a play therapist, a neurologist, and he’ll shortly be starting speech therapy. But deciding what’s best for him from day to day is tough. Are we pushing too hard? Are we not doing enough? What makes him smile? How can we support that? There’s so much more I want to give, so much more we need to give. He deserves the moon!

But it all adds up.

The emotional and the financial. And we all know what this type of pressure, especially the financial kind, can do to a relationship. As a result, my husband and I go through difficult patches too where we need to focus on the fact that our relationship, as much as our relationship with our kids, is permanent in every way—so we better make it work! And, praise the Lord, most times, we’re each other’s biggest support.

But the difficulties don’t end there. Our big boy has a lot to deal with, mommy and daddy have a lot to deal with, but there’s another, very small but amazing survivor in this story—our littlest guy. After all, everything’s a system, right? Most especially a family. So he feels it all too.

Our boys’ relationship is strained at best because our big boy doesn’t know how to engage, how to let people into his world. And our littlest guy is only four—he can’t understand why his big brother rejects him over and over again, day in and day out. Mommy struggles with the same issue most days, and I’m just a little older than four. But our little guy tries so hard to control his frustration, to be good, to understand, to reason. Until he can’t. Then he acts out. But the world doesn’t give him the same allowances they give his big brother because he’s not the one with the painful past. But he is someone with a difficult present, and he too needs that bit of extra love and understanding—every day.

It’s hard all around. And frankly, enough is enough. Surely!

But, apparently, as this recent doctor’s visit seems to indicate, there’s more forging ahead for us all. And despite my perceived inability to cope, I will have to get up off the floor of the pity party I like to throw and put myself on the front lines again and again.

Why?

Because this calling—this mommyhood that’s too big a mantle for me to wear—is not one that I fell into by accident. Yes, I was naive when I said I wanted to be a mom. Yes, I was ignorant to what it would entail. But my God was not. And He chose me to be the mommy to my two boys and the precious life growing in my belly. (Yes – another child into this chaos – and boy, have we heard about it from every stranger and those closest to us too! But this little person is so desperately wanted—as are the other two who make our lives as difficult and as beautiful as they possibly could be!).

So, now what?

So I’ll make the appointments with every specialist under the sun and, Lord willing, we’ll find the finances to pay the bills. And where we fall short, He will provide. And He has. Every time things seem too much—when there’s too much debt on our credit cards and the medical aid will only pay a fraction of the cost of the treatments—something happens. It’s usually something small: a doctor or therapist forgoing a charge that they really didn’t need to but chose to, the right job, a promotion at work, a family member sending a meal, a loved one or sometimes even a perfect stranger gifting us with exactly what we need at the moment.

The reality is that we’re being looked after.

Are we still drowning? Yes! But I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

Ok with not being ok?!?

Yes… Well—I’m trying to be.

Because I’m finding that in this place where I’m so far past my own means, where no amount of striving, plotting or trying to be the best I can be, will ever help, is a strange kind of peace that comes from having—not choosing—but having to rely on God.

Because only here do I see the enormity of Him and of what He’s already done. Only here do I see what He’s currently doing. Only here do I see the immensity of what I could become if I surrendered more.

Here, life is simple. I only have two jobs…

Pray – give it all over to Him: the good, the bad, and the ugliest parts of me, and…

Love – because that’s the only thing that will make this life count (after all, there’s a reason it’s the greatest commandment!) and, in the end, it will be what my little ones and those around me remember me for – or wished they could remember me for.

“Trust in the Lord and do good”

Psalm 37:3

This journey has been harder than I ever believed it could be. And I’ve been broken by it… but not destroyed. I’m just being remade. And if you’re clinging to Him today the same way I am, then you are too!

I can’t wait to see the beauty revealed in you, and me, once the forging is through.

With love,

Bronwyn

Untethered

 

I’ve been feeling pretty untethered lately. Adrift. Afloat in a sea of uncertainty.

Trying to find words to describe how I ended up where I am right now – which, to put it bluntly, is jobless and quarantined to my home – is no small feat. The quarantine part, I’m sure, is easy to relate to. We’re all in this together, right? But the jobless part is a little more surprising.

Because it was a choice.

For good or bad, I decided this. I resigned.

Truthfully, I couldn’t have guessed that I would be starting out on my own in a world where we’re all confined to our homes. Or, more to the point, in a world entering a global recession.

But here I am.

The path that led to this decision was… complicated. There were so many aha moments. But it took me a long while to understand. So, if only to preserve my own sanity (or what’s left of it), I’m going to try capture that path on paper. One experience at a time. Because I know that the decision these experiences led me to was right. Even if what lies ahead is entirely unknown.

This is not a blog about someone who has arrived and is detailing the journey that got them there. This is the writing of a person who is still in the thick of it – who believes with all that she is that there is brilliant light at the end of this tunnel but can’t see it yet.

This is all about being in process.

But first, let’s begin with a little context. 

I’m one of those people who are continually seeking out new challenges. In the spirit of this innate desire, I moved from teaching to corporate communications about six years ago.

It was not a smooth transition, to say the least. I knew nothing about business! So, I had to learn fast and, if I’m honest, I loved the challenge.

As time passed and my experience grew, so did my responsibilities. I had the opportunity to interview local and international business leaders, getting their insights on what made their businesses unique and how they were positioning their organisations’ for growth in what we then believed to be a challenging context (I’d say the bar has since moved on that one though).

I loved it!

Slowly but surely, my confidence, experience and skill grew. In the process, however, I’d had to sacrifice many weekends, late nights, early mornings, and all sorts of away-from-home, away-from-my-small-kids time to gain that ground. Worse, though, is that somewhere in the middle of all this learning and growing, I’d come to believe that this was the norm. That it should be the norm. Honestly, I didn’t realise that I was choosing it – actively choosing to take on more and more because it felt good to be needed and right to win at something so much more concrete and achievable than the daily battles of life that happened at home.

And then, splat.

My life collided with another in a way that was completely normal but absolutely course altering. It was just another day in the job I loved. I had an interview with an incredibly successful entrepreneur who had recently retired. The purpose of the discussion was to write up a case study on success built up over a lifetime.

We began, and it was going according to plan. Great content. Because, honestly, he had so much to be proud of. But towards the end, in passing, this accomplished, world-changer said a few words in conclusion that hit me hard.

After listing all that he’d achieved, all that he had built, he added that since the day he’d packed up his office, he hadn’t looked back. Yes, he missed the people he’d worked with. But he hadn’t missed the work.

But there were things he had missed, or rather, had missed out on—his family. And, in the end, that was the measure of success he had neglected. Despite all his wealth and prosperity, he could not buy that back.

It was gone.

Like I said, splat!

The words he spoke reminded me of the opening of the book of Ecclesiastes.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

 What do people gain from all their labours
at which they toil under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

King Solomon and this entrepreneur had a lot in common. They had both gained what some might consider the world, but, in the end, the conclusion they reached was that it was meaningless. Solomon ends the book with these hard-hitting words:

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

What now?

This incredibly accomplished man’s words were like a bright, blinking neon sign warning me of the danger ahead if I continued down the road I was headed on. But, to be honest, things were so busy at work that I didn’t take the time to process how splatted I was by that interview. But again, and again, at the most random times, those words – and the expression on his face as he said them – came back to me. Nagging. Pulling at the threads of my attention.

Have you ever had that?

Maybe there’s something that’s been nagging for your attention for a while. Truthfully, it was still a while before I allowed my focus to be captured. I was too busy. Purposefully so. But I’ll share more about that as we go along.

For now, I’m wondering if there’s maybe something you’ve been running from? If something’s been calling for your attention, but you’ve kept yourself too busy to take note?

Quarantine has a funny way of making that same run-from-it pace impossible – or at least – more difficult. Perhaps it’s time to let those hounds catch up? Maybe they won’t bite. Perhaps they will. But if my story is anything to go by – sometimes that’s just what you need.

Would love to hear from you!

Til next time.

Bron

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