Those who know me well—or who have been paying attention—know that I have really struggled since we brought our little Theo home. There are so many things that have gone south and every week I feel like I am at the end of my rope. It really hasn’t gotten much easier. This past week I had a doozy of a meltdown because I was at my physical and mental limit with my husband away; I was frustrated with not having much time to work; and I was struggling to cope with the relentless demands of a puppy. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
I have been in a lot of stressful situations in my life. There have been times when I have been persecuted, unfairly treated, and ostracized. I’ve been able to deal with many of these situations with grace, at least up to a point. However, for this particular situation, where I feel that I have been stripped of my freedom and time, it seems that I am always being extended past my breaking point.
Constantly complaining about the situation doesn’t help; in fact, it fuels my discontent.
So I am working hard to try and look at the positives. But before I get into that, I thought I’d put it all out there once and for all--everything that has gone wrong in the last three months--so I can move forward. Here’s a summary:
HEALTH: Periods of insomnia. General lack of sleep. General exhaustion and body aches. Joint (especially knee) and leg problems. Mouth ulcers (three times). Painful mid-foot sprain. Contact dermatitis flared up. Welts from puppy bites thanks to a condition called dermatographism. Extreme itchiness all over my body. Without proper medical support when my family doctor died two days before my annual physical; new doctor can’t see me until December.
WORK: Only able to work 2-4 hours per day (if that). No time to properly launch or promote my two new books. Venue for the launch of The Underdog Duckling did not properly advertise my event. Newsletter of our provincial guild did not properly advertise my launch (said it was in Regina not Saskatoon). Missed CTV interview to promote the launch of my book because puppy was in emergency. Poor attendance at my book launch. Turned down an author reading because not enough time to prepare. Decided not to take on any new events until puppy matures a little more.
HOME: Major exterior renovations (roof, siding, eavestroughing) due to hail damage. Natural gas leak discovered. Ongoing problems with furnace. House in disarray due to puppy proofing. House in disarray due to selling furniture and awaiting their replacement. House in disarray while we wait to move our TV to a upper floor.
CAR: Engine trouble when my husband was out of town. Battery had to be replaced. Car starter had to be replaced.
PUPPY DRAMA: Aggressive dog slipped off leash and attacked puppy. Puppy has thrown up three times in two weeks; first time he had to have an x-ray and go on antibiotics and probiotics because he ate something that disagreed with him; second time was because he reacted badly to a switch in food; third time he choked at puppy training when the trainer pulled too hard on his leash. Had to call pet poison line when we suspected that puppy had eaten a cigarette butt left by one of the workers on our house (see above); I had to stay up until 12:30 am to make sure he didn’t throw up or go into convulsions.
PERSONAL/SPIRITUAL: Stretched to my limit with taking care of the puppy. Sat down at the piano only once in the last three months. Missing quiet time with God in the morning. Son #1 left for overseas. Helping Son #1 get prepared to go overseas very time-consuming. Son #2 still somewhat estranged. Feeling isolated; fewer opportunities to socialize.
So when so many things go wrong, how can one make sense of it, or at least cope?
I am grateful to be part of two Christian communities that have helped me in this season when everything seems to have gone horribly wrong: my bible study group Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), and my church. Both have been instrumental in helping me get to a place of realization that constantly complaining is not only not helpful, it is deleterious to my health and goes against God’s perfect plan for His people.
We are currently studying the Book of Joshua at BSF. I am amazed how relevant our study of this book is to my current situation. Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I have gleaned just this past week:
1) I need to persevere (fight) for what God has promised me (even though He has already won the battle). God has promised us all the Fruits of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit as Counsellor, that we will have the peace that passes all understanding, that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and much more. I need to “fight to rest” in these promises.
2) I need to fully appreciate what God HAS given me, and let Him lead despite the boundaries on my life right now.
3) I need to look at my situation through eyes of faith, and not linger on the size of the giants in my life.
4) I need to ask Him to bring me closer to Him within the boundaries and limits He has set through this difficult situation, so that I can grow closer to Him and use my situation to bring Him glory.
At church, I was reminded of the importance of being thankful:
5) Thankfulness is a decision; we can choose to be grateful.
6) Thankfulness is a perspective; we can live for the glory of God.
7) God doesn’t owe us anything; none of us is entitled to an “easy” life.
8) Thankfulness is healthy; it keeps us in proper relationship with God.
9) Repeated complaining literally rewires our brain to negativity and ill health.
10) Complaining acts like a poison; gratitude acts like a medicine.
So right now, today, at 4:15 pm on Thanksgiving Monday, October 8, 2018, I AM CHOOSING TO BE THANKFUL!
I am thankful that, over the last few months:
1) I have the awesome privilege of looking after a delightful puppy.
2) I have the awesome blessing of having a husband who takes his role in raising the puppy seriously and encourages me to go out and do the things that bring me life.
3) My mid-foot sprain, my mouth ulcers, and my itchy skin have all been healed.
4) I have friends who have given/texted/emailed/messaged me words of encouragement, wrapped me up in big old hugs, prayed for me, supported me by showing up at my events, and/or bought my books, often multiple copies.
5) I have found a new church family who are exactly what I need at this time.
6) I get to sleep in on the weekends.
7) Our exterior renovations are done and our insurance covered over 95% of the costs.
9) The gas leak was discovered before something terrible happened.
Most of all, I am grateful that God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross so that I could have a forever life that is free and unbound from the worries and trials of this world.
What better gift is there than that?