If I could make the current version of myself to stand side by side with the person that I was, say, two years ago, I wonder if I would recognize myself? How about four years ago? Or five?
Five years ago, I had just turned twenty. I remember the month of May well. I got a pocket knife for my birthday. It’s on my shelf. And sheet music. I’m still learning it. I made myself a white blouse and a light, pink jumper in the style of the 50’s. The same dress that I wore to the rehearsal dinner for my sister’s wedding just a week ago.
Still, when I remember that girl – woman scarcely seem to describe her of so long ago – she appears so different than the ‘me’ of today. Her burden of life was different. Her struggles, though they felt so large, were really not that big. And in the intervening five years? I’ve changed and, inwardly, at least, I’ve changed a lot. There are times that I look at myself in the mirror no wand I can almost see the weight of life clinging to my shoulders. So many things have happened in five years.
After my twentieth birthday…
-My dad had to change jobs. The new job paid much better and, in many respects, was an answer to prayer. His commute, however, quadrupled. His hours were long and his drive time extended. While his stress level was so much less, it also felt like we saw far less of him.
-My family had to move from our house of thirteen years with little time, and during Christmas. For someone who likes to keep everything the same around her as much as possible, this felt like ripping me from one world and placing me in a new one.
-Many of our friends started moving. Away from where we were. Some farther than others.
-My mother’s health went into decline again. Or on a rollercoaster.
-We stopped attending our church of several years when it moved.
-We moved again. This time to a different city.
-Then, we moved again seven months later.
-My dear great-aunt died.
-My dear step-grandmother* died.
-Our cat of eighteen years had to be put down.
-We had to give away our dog of nine years.
-My grandfather died.
-And, most recently, I have friends moving even father way, and my sister is gone, having just got married.
These are what constitutes the weight resting on my shoulders, along with our house being re-decorated, (have I mentioned that I don’t like change??) my library being remodeled (silly thing to find a problem – but I don’t like my stores remodeled either…) my schedule changing, another move coming in the foreseeable future – all among other things that I can’t or won’t mention. There are times that I want to ask the LORD if He has forgotten me. And just how much one person can handle; how much loss before they just can’t bear it anymore.
I’m weary. I’m tired of pushing through, surviving, and fearing my future. Because, yes, I fear it far too often. I wonder who I’ll lose next and why. I wonder how I’ll survive it, because I don’t want to try anymore.
But, I wonder… Am I doing this wrong?
After my twentieth birthday…
-I learned the ins and outs of packing up a house and setting up a new one. (Especially the last!) In a speedy and efficient manner, no less.
-I discovered how dear my friends were to me and learned how to reach out to keep in contact, even when I couldn’t see them in person very often.
-I found out that the LORD can, indeed, impart strength, when your own is completely gone.
-I rewrote and published A Year with the Potters.
-I got to watch the LORD provide help when we needed it most while moving.
-I got to watch Him provide when we were low financially.
-I wrote and published Grandmother’s Letters.
-I published A Tale of the Say’s Phoebe.
-I composed my longest and most complicated piece of music on the piano ever, War and Memories.
-I got to work my own booth at the Homeschool Convention – twice! – and discovered that I can converse with strangers while keeping a genuine smile on my face.
-I rewrote and published Journeys of Four.
-I made new friends, both near and far, both in person and online, much as a result of changes occurring in my life.
-I learned to pray like never before in my life.
-I have friends who will always pray for me when I ask.
-I saw how fleeting this life is, but what a legacy can be left.
-I gained a brother by my sister’s marriage, as well as a closer bond with a family who has long been dear to me, and my sister is very happy. (Hence the heading photograph, which I really love!)
These five years, nay, this entire life of mine, can be viewed through two lenses; The Trials and Struggles of Life or The Blessings and Works of the LORD. I just described the exact same five years, but very differently. All too often, I view with the former lens, letting the other grow rusty, and adding to that burden that I can see in the mirror.
Does an alternate view take away the ache of losses? No. Do I miss that my grandfather isn’t hear to ask me to sing to him? That our kitty can’t snuggle with me? That I can’t ramble to my sister about my newest book predicament while we clean the house? Yes. However, even the trials and struggles, are still the works of the LORD. He hasn’t lost His throne just because I’m having a difficult time. The question is, amidst the difficulties of life, am I thankful and can I rejoice? Can I acknowledge the blessings that the LORD has poured down? When I do those things, the weight of my burden becomes lighter – when I give the burden of fear over to Him, recalling that He is on the throne, has promised me strength, and will not give me more than His might and power can’t handle – life looks different. So, different. I can’t see that burden in the mirror. The loss is still there. I will still grieve. But it’s not without hope. I need to acknowledge His blessings and remember the wonders He has done, as the Psalmist says.
In His strength, as His child, with much prayer, I can rejoice, be thankful, and keep my eyes on the LORD, even through the darkest of valleys and the deepest of floods.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-lade, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the test of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
To the KING be all the glory!
*It has come to my attention that I originally listed my “step-mother” dying. That was a typo. My step-grandmother died. For anyone who doesn’t know me in person, I don’t have a step-mother and never have. The typo has since been fixed. I apologize for any confusion. One should be careful about putting up a blog post when tired. :)