Hi there! I was not planning on writing today but something happened that is threatening to send me into a spin. Jesus tells a parable about not lighting a lamp to cover it or put it under the bed but put it on a table so it can shine it’s light everywhere. Although not exactly what he meant, I feel like telling my story out loud is like putting that lamp out where it’s light will touch everyone around me. If I don’t talk about the grief or the anxiety when it hits me, it is akin to putting that light under a basket where I will know it is there but it won’t be seen and won’t be able to help anyone see the way.
My cousin sent me a Facebook invite to the annual Thanksgiving family Football game. It brought back memories of all the years previous with my Beloved and how much he looked forward to this tradition. I remembered when he threw a snow ball into the megaphone my Aunt was using to cheer her team (not his team!) during the first game he had participated in and how I was mortified and certain that no one would ever want me to bring him anywhere after that. Of course, everyone loved him and maybe even more because he stood up for his team even when he probably didn’t even know the names of the people he was playing with yet! I remembered how every year when we got the invitation he would say he wasn’t playing this year, he was too sore after last year’s game, blah blah blah. And then we would go and he would play. I remember that he never told me if his team won or lost, just about all the fun things that happened or how different people did stuff on the field. I remembered that last year he was barely walking and the idea of bringing him to this state park with its dirt road and grassy fields was too much to even plan. Even when Al was just getting to know us, he was a part of the family when it came to playing football. After crying on the couch, I responded to her invite with an enthusiastic “Can’t wait!” (Fake it till you make it, right?!) And I can’t wait for real. Even though every part of me wants to spend this holiday alone in my pjs, I don’t think that is what I am meant to do. My sister in law always tells me “Life is for the living, go live!
My Pastor talked about forgiveness in the last sermon and how it is truly for the person who is holding the grudge. I realized while he spoke that I am holding a grudge against Al for leaving me here to go through all this alone. I know it isn’t realistic to be mad at someone for something they couldn’t control, and I am sure if he could have Al would be here. Still, I need to be angry at someone so why not be mad at someone who can’t fight back or defend themselves, right? I wrote Al’s name on a piece of paper and put it at the foot of the cross. Symbolic but also part of my memory now. Whenever I start to feel that anger bubbling up I recall writing his name down and giving it to God to take away the feelings of hurt. Maybe it is simplistic, but that truly helps me to stop and thank God for the experience.
I am trying my hardest to be a light in the darkness for those who will go through this experience. It isn’t always easy (actually, it is almost always NOT easy!) but God gave me the power of a voice while Al was sick and I don’t think it was a tool he wanted me to use then and discard after!
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
So Day 9 and 10 are kind of intertwined. Day 9 asks me to list all the parts of my day (big and small) and thank God for each part. Day 10 asks me to list the little ways that God is present and helping me throughout my day (my God Smiles!). Since they are both so interlaced, I will do both!
This morning I woke up, texted my friend like I do every day to let her know (and let me know) that we are fine, got dressed, brushed my teeth and hair, and left the house for my morning cat sitting jobs. (thank you God!) It was raining on and off today, but when I left for work there was a small amount of time where it was clear (so I could get into the car without getting completely soaked!) (God Smile!)
I was meeting a customer to get her key and it worked out perfectly that the time I left to take my walk (an hour and a half of alone time with God and my thoughts…Thank you God for clearing my schedule so I can do this walk!) and the time she left to run errands had us both in the center of town at about the same time. I was able to get the key from her without having to meet her somewhere later in the day (I was babysitting my granddaughter so I didn’t actually have time!). After my walk, which I wore a rain coat for in case I got completely rained on and I did not!, I had time to jump in the shower and make myself beautiful before I had to rush out to do evening cat visits.
When I was doing my dinner visits, I was feeling stressed and anxious because I had told my daughter I would be there earlier than I ever had before. I seemed to get stuck behind every slow person in the world (!) and then when I got to the assisted living facility I finish my day in I ran into the daughter of one of the residents whose cat is on my run. My first thought was dang, I am definitely going to be late now. But she told me that she had to catch up with me because she wanted to let me know that I looked really good. She said that my face looks noticeably thinner and I even walk different. Now I have already mentioned that I am vain but it is all an act. I am actually pretty insecure and it was SO GOOD TO HAVE SOMEONE ELSE NOTICE. I am working out like a crazy person lately!
The bottom line is this–today was a pretty typical day in the life of me. There were times when things didn’t go my way (like getting stuck behind the sight-seeing people on Saybrook Road!) but because I am trying to keep an attitude of gratitude, I turned it around. I assume that when things don’t go my way it is just God keeping me where he needs me a little longer. Maybe there was an accident about to happen that I avoided because I was going slower than I would have liked? It is not in my job description to guess what God is doing or thinking. Actually, that is the main thought on Faith! Thanking God for the good and the bad parts of every day should be second nature for people. It is for me now!
So today is day three of my YouVersion Bible Study, 21 Days to cultivate a grateful heart. In day three, I am asked to write 5 (or more) wonderous acts of God that I have seen in my life lately. A wonderous act is described in YouVersion as how God provided in a time of need, someone he used to impact you or your family’s life, how he protected you or someone you love, or anything else that made you go “Wow, God”
I definitely used to watch out for these little “God smiles” I called them. Things that were definitely given to me by God and they made me smile (original, I know!) Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my way. Maybe it was when Al’s first scan showed that the chemo was keeping the cancer at bay but not really doing anything to slow it or make it go away. I believe that was the first time that I doubted that God “had my back” and I am still fighting those feelings of abandonment. One of the biggest reasons for this blog actually! Anyway, back to the wonderous acts.
I see God smiles all around me. When I was having tiny anxiety attacks about my non-existent bank account and the large part of my rent that I had to use to fix my car, I suddenly found myself with a job that was going to pay me enough to cover the rent and plump my savings up just enough so I could breath again. When I run into my neighbor and he tells me how happy he is that my son and I are going to stay in our apartment another year, it reminds me that I have begun a community where I live and people actually care about ME. Sometimes I forget that I am more than just “Al’s wife”, and God sends people like my neighbor to remind me. Along the same line, I had lunch recently with a few of Al’s friends that I made while he was sick. I told them how nice it was to have lunch with them and how I felt like they actually invited me to lunch because they wanted to see me, not because they missed Al and I was the sloppy second or whatever so they figured it was as close to him as they would get. When we talked about that, they said they couldn’t figure out why Al never really introduced us and a voice in my head (God, is that you? It’s me, Margaret…) told me that perhaps I only met the friends of Al’s that he wasn’t close to because he was worried that they would like me more than him. Al loved to be the most important person in the room so that is not really a stretch! When I am waiting in line at the deli to get something for a client and a woman comments on my kitty sneakers, which turns into a discussion about her cats and how her sister is selling her house and moving so this woman is not sure what she will do for vacations; I know that is God putting people in my path that need my help and in turn are helping me with building my small empire (insert maniacal laugh). Finally, last week at church I told a friend about my struggles with entering the church after I had driven there and she told me she had the same experiences and how she worked through them. It was so healing to know that I am not alone in this fear. God sent her to be in my path so I would tell her my story and she would validate it and tell me hers.
I had forgotten to look for the God smiles in my daily life. I am smiling as I am writing this blog…I think it is time to put my detective hat back on and look every day. I guess it is like breathing, you don’t realize how important it is (like, life giving and stuff!) and you never really stop to think of how great it is to be able to breath. Without reminding myself of all the ways that God DOES have my back, it is easy for me to hold on to the grudge I have against him. But maybe daily reminders of His goodness will melt that ice. Cultivate…I don’t know…a grateful heart?