On the outside I hear folks telling me I look better, younger, more vibrant. I just shake my head. I laugh and say I must've looked pretty bad for a few months last year. Whatever's on the outside is of no consequence to me (although thank you very much, it's nice of you to notice)--it's the inside I'm working on. Continually. Or should I say, God is working on. Maybe the serenity folks notice on my exterior is because of the "work I've had done" on the inside.
Inside work isn't without its pain, that's for certain. I've struggled lately, trying to reconcile friendships and my nonconfrontational way of enabling, with the new-found peace God's given to me. I've gone from a shy quiet girl to a woman that will let you know exactly what she thinks on most any subject. I was always content to let Mark take on the lead, consulting with him on major decisions, but letting him pretty much have the last word....I don't have that pampered wife mentality or luxury anymore.
Instead, it's me. Me getting roof estimates. Me picking out vinyl siding, calling to get window estimates. It's a strange mixture of sadness, apprehension, and empowerment, all rolled into one. My focus has changed. So have my priorities. It's not good, nor is it bad...it's just how it is.
If I had a chance to turn back time, to be back with Mark by my side? I would still be working at the preschool for spending money, wiping little kids' noses, teaching them their ABC's and how to count backwards from 10. I'd still be the devoted wife, doing my darnedest to make sure that Mark had everything that he needed, supporting his endeavors, happy to be in the passenger seat, just responsible for navigating when travelling by car. And you betcha, I'd be loving every minute of it. It was my position in the family dynamic--we worked as a finely-tuned team.
But that's not an option. Instead of the status quo, I feel God has much more in store for my boys and me. I've decided to run with it. In the process, I've found my voice, my passion. Something that I can share with others, who might be going through similar circumstances.
You'd think that would be a good thing, yes? Well, evidently not for everyone. As one of my friends, Kit Hinkle, blogged a couple of weeks back, widows typically lose 75% of the friends they had before becoming a widow. That sounds high to me; however, in my own situation I've begun to see the falling away of some acquaintances. And it's not all them, in some special circumstances, I've been the one who needed to pull away. At this particular time in my life, I cannot deal with drama. I am so over drama. I wasn't a typical teenage girl 'cause I didn't even "do" drama in high school.
Where before I might smile and utter an encouraging word or two, and let my big strong husband run interference, I have no one to hide behind now. And my responsibilities have doubled, leaving little precious time for me. And I need "me" time, now more than ever. The result? I will tell you I love you, I wish you well, but I need time. Time to focus on my two little boys and the huge mess of responsibilities I'm dealing with. I am what I am, and I certainly didn't choose these circumstances. I wouldn't wish my pain or my children's pain on my worst enemy. But in the midst of the pain? I choose to live.
And I will continue to live. FULLY. Just as I was taught by the master (Mark). Just as my true Master, God, wants me to live.
I have time for just two high-maintenance relationships, those of a 10 year old and a 9 year old, bet you can guess who they are. And the best thing? If there's drama, I can put them in time-out :)
My Bible reading last night was "spot-on":
Keep Your Lives Simple and Honest
"Don't be afraid. And now here's what I want you to do:
Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak.
Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts.
Don't cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others.
Don't do or say what isn't so.
I hate all that stuff.
Keep your lives simple and honest."
Zechariah 8:15-17 (The Message)
Words I needed to read. Words that I need to be brave enough to live, each and every day. I think of the phrase, "keep it simple, stupid"....and wonder why it seems so easy on paper and so hard sometimes in real life.
I'm a work in progress. I'm not perfect. The imperfect human part of me may say or do something to hurt you--if so, I am truly sorry. God certainly isn't finished with me yet. He will continue to refine me, working on my insides until I'm the Christian woman and mother He knows I can be. In the meantime, I will strive to keep my family's life simple and honest. The rest of the good stuff will surely follow.