I really must keep a notebook nearby, in my purse or by the bed or something. Ideas keep coming up and if they don’t get written down they go *poof*
I Have A Project…a real one, with meat on it to sink my teeth in, and it will benefit people in a very real way, which, to my mind, will turn this whole ordeal into something useful.
Turning a bad situation into something good was something God taught me 25 years ago. I learned that if you can take something, say…like living in a town you hated, or suffering through an experience that made you miserable…and use it in a way that causes you to grow as a human bean…to come closer to God…to glorify Him and help other beans,,,then it will not have been in vain. You will have succeeded.
The first time I remember actually truly TRUSTING God, we were not-very-long-married, living away from family and what was familiar, and we were BROKE. Like, 3 days until payday and no food broke. At that time I don’t really recall thinking that much about God, pretty much He was someone I learned a bit about growing up and Jesus was an interesting historical character who had lots of wise things to day. But that day, I sat down and called out to Him, not in despair, but kind of as an experiment to see if He was listening. Later that afternoon there was a knock on the door. When I got there, no one was there and I saw the back end of a car down the road. On the porch was a big grocery bag (paper, back then) full of garden vegetables. Tomatoes, squash, and green beans. “well.” I thought. “I guess He heard me. Cool.”
A couple of years later, we lived in a different town, one I liked even less than the first one. We were in a tin-can housetrailer with holes in the floor. It was next to a peanut field, which was one of these “Turn down the dirt road off the paved road, then turn at the falling-down barn onto another dirt road…” sort of places. We had 1 child by then and I was expecting the second one. Himself was working nights, so I was there, by myself with tiny ones. He had also opened a woodworking shop with his father, making custom wood stuff. I was lonely for adult company and voices, so started listening to Christian radio, which was the only adult voice that was somewhat conversational, as I would argue with the people on the radio. My attitude toward Himself and his worked changed through all that. I decided that being lonely and bitter was very discouraging to him, as he had always wanted to go into business with his father. Through this, he learned that business with his father was a bad idea and tried to beat himself up over it. I told him that if he had never done it, he would have always wished he had, so he was learning something very important and necessary. That meant it wasn’t in vain. This attitude change was, for me, a miracle.
Later on, we had moved to another town in South Alabama, and were able to buy our first home, a cute little farmhouse that needed some work, out in the sticks, but on a paved road this time. We had some amazing neighbors, 2 acres with a fenced yard (perfect for your growing family)…a wonderful situation and much contentment. Except not.This was about the time my moods started fluctuating wildly and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After a serious bout of WHY ME IT’TS NOT FAIR, God told me “why not you, what makes you so special?” He and I worked together for a bit and I was able to realize that God has a purpose for adversity, and in my case I was to take this mess and use it to glorify Him. How? Help others in similar situations, to realize it doesn’t define who they are, and to keep it from overtaking their lives. I learned that bipolar disorder is not much different from diabetes, or heart disease. It is a disease of an organ that can be managed through lifestyle and medication. That God was able to turn me into someone with empathy and an ability to boil things down to something people can understand, that is another miracle.
We left that town some 6 years later, and moved to the town where Himself and I met, Auburn, Alabama. Those were some pretty comfortable years. Maybe they were a waiting room, a time to build up a store of…something…grace, something akin to the 7 years of good harvest the Egyptians had so there was food for the bad years. Oh sure, there was some of the usual drama one has with teenaged boys, but by then I had learned that adversity wasn’t an attempt to destroy me, but an opportunity to learn something useful. I learned to make fun of a situation, to write it down and gain perspective. I learned to say, after a questionable weekend with a troublesome son, “No one is pregnant and no one died, so it’s all going to be ok.”
9 years later we moved here, to East Georgia. The troubles kind of increased with the boys, as the 3 of them were now driving teenagers and capable of all kinds of nonsense. I had a bail bondsman’s number in my phone, and more than once called the emergency room to see if a young John Doe had been brought in. I learned that the bail bondsman (woman actually) was a very motherly 50-something, who would hug me and say “Honey, he’s alive and that’s more important than who he met last night.” Angels come in all forms, doncha know, sometimes they even look like Phylicia Rashad with a huge purse full of tissues.
We continued to go through the normal, sometimes difficult, stuff of life. We made a lot of plans, now that the kids were leaving home and becoming adults. Normal empty-nest type plans like buying an RV so we could go all over the country with grandkids, deciding if Himself wanted a motorcycle with a sidecar, or a 1957 truck to restore, do we keep this house with all it’s room or get a smaller one out in the country. Normal things. Himself decided that since major holidays tend to be spent with the daughter-in-laws’ families, he claimed July 4 as when we were going to have everyone here. Good, sensible, people-getting-old plans.
Obviously, God had other plans. And while it felt (and still does but that is getting better) like I had been ripped in half, and for a couple of weeks I couldn’t even think about what to wear or eat, through it all I have had the confidence that this was another one of those learning experiences and God is going to use it for something very, very good. Knowing that has made it possible to make plans and think. A lot of coping mechanisms have been implemented, small things like deciding to wear black (so I don’t have to think about what to wear, not so much as a badge of widowhood), eating more fruit (so I don’t have to think about what to eat, no preparation involved, just grab one and eat it), and writing a book.
Yes. I am going to write a book. I’ll let you know how it goes. It is another God thing, a handle I can hold onto amidst the turbulence. He knows my mind needs to be occupied, because otherwise it will spin off in a million directions, most of them bad. It will be a practical one, not necessarily a wholly Spiritual one….there are many of those (right now I am reading The Undistracted Widow, which is wonderful and helpful, but doesn’t have things in it like “do you have health insurance?”) It may wind up being 12 pages long, and printed on the copy machine at the church. It that happens, I’ll put it in a PDF format and make it available to anyone. It will probably take a year to write, because it will take a year to write. I can’t very well write about the first year after losing your husband until that has happened to me.
If God can use me through this whole situation, I am ready for it. If it took Himself leaving us all here to make something good, I am ok with that. well, sort of. I will miss him for a very long time, but knowing where he’s at and that it is wonderful, that is a solace beyond compare. I am sad, but I am not despairing. I have hope, and a project. There isn’t much more in this world that makes me happier than a good project to sink my teeth into.