I have some things to confess to you. I only got out of bed this morning because I had to pee. That was the only reason. And I only got dressed this morning because my son had a psychiatric appointment and was out of one of his meds. That was the only reason. And I’m only writing this post for my sanity. That is the only reason. OK, that’s not entirely true. I hope maybe it will help with your sanity too, Mama. Because we all have those really, really tough days, don’t we? The days that are so rough, they make it hard for us to put our feet to the floor the next morning.
Yesterday was definitely that day. It was the crappiest day I’d had in a long time. Kiddo Josh was having a bad day in school. He goes to Connections Academy online and is having a hard time adjusting after summer break and after a year and half of homeschooling. His new school is asking a lot more of him than I ever asked of him in homeschool. The hours are longer and the assignments are tougher. Yesterday, he kept giving up and storming off to his room. Then he’d come back, apologize to me, I’d cheer him on yet again, and we’d resume. This went on alllllll day until finally we took a long break while I went to a doctor appointment.
I had a good chat with my doctor, a kind and stalwart fellow who has always been there for me. He’s been my doctor for 17 years—through a not-so-fun pregnancy, a difficult-to-treat bipolar diagnosis that no psychiatric nurse practitioner has been able to handle, many an illness, and a horrific two-year battle with complications from bariatric surgery. In short, he has seen me through thick and thin. I see him regularly at least once every month (often more) because I have many medical conditions not the least of which is that pesky bipolar that no one else can handle. Well, after going over all my latest medical fun yesterday, he took a deep breath, looked me in the eye, and said these words to me, “I’m moving away.”
My heart plummeted to the pits of my bowels as I struggled to process the information and not cry. He said to me, “Of all my patients, you’ve been the hardest to tell.” I just replied, “I bet,” not because I’m anything special, but because we’ve been through so dang much together. Seventeen years of struggles and triumphs and infertility and adoption and ADHD and autism and parenting pitfalls and 2 A.M. ER visits and all kinds of other stuff. This man is indescribably important to me and I am undoubtedly his most cared-for patient.
I left his office and sat in my car for fifteen minutes shaking and texting the bad news with my husband. Finally I left to find my way home through a haze of tears. I live a good 20 miles from his office—it’s always been a really long drive to get there but it’s been worth it. He’s a damn good doctor.
I got home and, with an iron will, forced my emotions back and told Josh it was time to resume school. But Josh had had it with social studies and let me know within five minutes by storming off to his room, saying he was too stupid for quizzes and he was just going to live with me and Dad for the rest of his life and who needed middle school anyway?
I sat here in my comfy recliner and I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I cried for I don’t even know how long. Long enough for Josh to cool off, come back down, and give me some love and apologize for storming off. He explained that he had just been feeling overwhelmed and was ready to get back to work now. I said, “That’s ok kiddo. I’m overwhelmed too. Let’s just be done for the day with social studies. You can do math with Dad when he gets home. Mom is sad because Dr. Hansen is moving away. That’s one reason I’m crying.”
“What’s the other reason you’re crying?” he asked innocently.
“Well, when you’re upset or overwhelmed, so am I,” I answered honestly.
I don’t know why, but in all this upheaval it never once even occurred to me to turn to prayer for solace. My mind was a whirling dervish of chaos yesterday and if I had just taken a few seconds to turn to God, perhaps I would have calmed down long enough to see the big picture—that this wasn’t forever. That I would find a new doctor. That Josh was going to adjust to the new schedule. That life was going to settle the heck down and go back to normal once more and that eventually I was going to be ok.
My dear husband came home and gave me many kisses and lovies. He is so sympathetic and kind to me. He doesn’t always know what to say, but then who does? What he did do was insist that I come upstairs with him and snuggle with him while he took his evening nap. I didn’t think it was a great plan because I was awfully emotional and I was worried I would keep him up with my incessant sobbing. Sure enough, I couldn’t stop crying long enough to let him sleep. But it felt so dang good to cry on his chest for a few minutes.
Eventually I tore myself away from his warmth and got on the horn with my mom so I could cry to her. She immediately set to work calming me down. “Have you put yourself into the power and the presence of God yet?” she asked me. “No,” I admitted. I didn’t have the mental capacity for religion just then. I didn’t have the mental capacity to set the timer for the dinner currently sitting in the oven. Heck, I was shocked I’d managed to get a couple of chicken breasts and some stuffing in the oven at all.
But of course Mom wasn’t talking about religion. She was talking about the exact opposite, wasn’t she? “Mankind puts God in a box. But He’s so much bigger than that. ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’” In times of trouble, Mom and I like to quote The Bard you see. And I think wise old Shakespeare had something there. No religion, no matter how wise or sage, has all the answers. Only Christ had all the answers and he was no simple mortal. Our little human minds just can’t grasp all the answers here in this plane of existence. So why try? Oh sure, we have to keep yearning for the truth. We have to keep seeking it out. It’s a lifelong venture that we must never give up on.
But when we’re hurting, when we’re desperate for solace and comfort, the very last thing we should be seeking is religion. I’m not talking about relativism. It’s way too wimpy for me. There is only one truth and that truth is God. I’m just saying that maybe there is beauty in the mystery and that maybe when our little human brains are just too tired to go on, we should lean on that mystery for a little bit and revel in its beauty for a while, just enjoying the view for a minute.
Some really magical things started to happen when I was on the phone with Mom. Jon got up from his nap and, unbeknownst to me, he got to work with Josh and they completed TWO math quizzes, both of which Josh aced! They came downstairs triumphantly chanting “100 PERCENT! 100 PERCENT!!!” I said, “100 percent on what? Math???” Sure enough, Josh had had two major victories that evening. High fives all around.
A few minutes later, with half my brain on dinner and half of it on email, I noticed a message had come in from my new favorite (super, uber famous) blogger. She was thanking me for a comment I had left on her latest post. And not only that, she had checked out my blog. And not only that, she never does this, but she had read some of my posts. And not only that, but she thought my blog was awesome!!! My hero had bothered to check out my little blog and thought it was awesome?? What???
Mom had been saying that we put God in a box when we question the problem of suffering. Why does a loving God permit good people to suffer? Well, her short answer would be that he doesn’t. It’s the evil in this world that causes suffering, not God. God is good and wants only good for us. God heals us and lifts us up. God shines through the cracks of our crappy days and gives us those rays of hope and light that shower us with love when we’re at our lowest point. Plenty of people in the world had a worse day than I did yesterday. Many, many people got a cancer diagnosis or lost a job or their home to Hurricane Harvey or, God help them, had a child die in their arms yesterday. Knowing those terrible truths does not help me at all. Thinking about those poor souls would only make me feel ten times worse. But you know what would lift me out of sadness? Putting myself into the power and presence of God, as Mom likes to say.
Later that night, as my children were getting ready for bed, I sat in my comfy chair, closed my eyes, and began to pray; “Father God, I am going to need you tomorrow. Please be with Josh and me as we travel through our day. Give me so much courage that I can give him courage, Father. I need you to support me. No, I need you to hold me up. No, tomorrow I need you to be my spine because right now I feel like I have no spine. And Friend Jesus, I need your companionship tomorrow. Stay with me all day because I really need your friendship and love. I am going to need someone to talk to all day. Don’t leave me alone. Not even for a second. I know you won’t. I know you will be right there beside me all day. Thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for the gift of Dr. Hansen and for the gift of my children and for the gift of Jon and for the gift of Mom and for all the many blessings I’ve had today. Thank you for the gift of you. And thank you for the gift of tomorrow.”
And by the way, today was a terrific day.