Friday, September 7, 2012
A season to rest and restore
I have now been diagnosed with three auto-immune disorders. Two of them have flared in the last year of Micah’s life and the choices I made to continue to reach out to other people, even at a time in our lives when we needed to be closing ranks. My father taught me all my life in a good Mennonite tradition that if you truly love God, then you pick up your cross at all costs and you live the example Christ set forth for us. I have lived my life transparently and always willing to give my last shirt to someone in need. I am no different in real life than who I am online, except I am tremendously shy until you get a chance to know me. For my faithfulness, I have been richly given nine amazing children, a family that doesn’t know what to make of me and a circle of friends I know I could trust my life with, as well as those of my children. Yet, I also have a set of enemies who either choose to not believe I am who I say I am, or who scorn the help I have offered them over the years. Sometimes, it seems those who wish me harm come in waves, waves that sometimes overwhelm me. In all of my years, I have only had a friend betray me twice. The friend from middle school and I reconciled years ago and I learned her betrayal had everything to do with her own struggles and not us. We are good friends now. So, in trying to figure out how to recover from this last year, its easy to realize that I must never again open my home in an offer to help someone. Many times I have offered the gift of hospitality both to friends in need and to struggling adoptive families who needed relief. I now realize that the types of people who would accept such an offer are not the kinds I have any business violating my children’s lives to help. What I am less able to find the answer to is how to not turn bitter and refuse to be the person God made me to be BUT still protecting my own health from consequences to those who aren’t always going to be better off because of my offer to help. I want to continue to touch other lives as God brings them to intersect with mine. Yet, I must protect the sanctuary my children need in their lives….and this newest diagnosis is teaching me that I must protect ME as well. I never thought I was invincible. I just thought I had a duty to live my faith in action anytime I could make a difference in the lives of others, and the current reality is that this is precisely what threatens my health, my safety, and my future. I am not super woman and the price I am paying now is my health. We are entering a season where we need to hold my health as precious. I got the lesson to take care of my health ten years ago. I just never got the tangible, real price I would pay for stress. The two things we are certain about is that in addition to considering our home a haven from all of that, we think this is the end of the idea of me returning to nursing and he going to medical school. My spirit may be strong and stubborn, but my body is not. I have grave concerns that if I use my gift of intuition for mental healthcare, I will absorb far too much from those I try to work with. We have just as much concern that I cannot do the solo parenting required for medical school. I don’t know how I get through this too jaded to open my heart to helping people again, but I know my main focus right now is to figure out how to get through this and reclaim my health. I won’t defend my character or my motives. When S attacked me verbally again this week, that is the realization I had. I won’t defend myself to those I thought were friends. I won’t defend myself to hurting teens who hurl misplaced pain at me because I am safe. I won’t defend myself to abusers who used my offers of help to avoid facing the evil they see in the mirror because they treated a child like a piece of trash. I already accepted the stress of mothering a hurt, abandoned and betrayed teenager. However, until my health is stable, the stress he brings is all of the stress I will bring into my life. Like Micah, his pain and brokenness is not his fault. Unlike Micah, he has not given up on healing. (He has a lot of things Micah lacked to heal too though.) Beyond these children, I am going to focus this school year on putting up boundaries and not following my natural instincts to reach out and help others. I genuinely pray that this does not fundamentally change me, but I have to now learn and accept that it’s okay to take care of ME and MY FAMILY and not carry the burden of the world and what I might have been able to do to help them if I had just extended a hand of support to them. I don’t think I have been wrong to live my life that way. I am just coming to accept that God is firmly reminding me the need to rest and restore and the dire price I am paying for not getting this lesson firmly and fast enough. Mentally, I’m in a really good place right now. Physically, I am anything but, and I have to remember my first ministry is to these precious children God blessed me to mother and this family that could not function without me.