Change and my faith have been two constants in the last decade and a half of my life. I think somewhere around our fifth move I felt good at applying the principle “bloom where you’re planted.”
At the time, a lot had just wrapped up including an extended work assignment overseas separating my husband from our first baby and me at home. I was overjoyed to have our family reunited. Our firstborn was rapidly learning and growing as a one-year-old, and I was fairly successful in soaking in the moments. After my husband finished grad school and accepted an employment offer out of state, I had someone stop me after a church activity and tell me she was so grateful for the way I jumped in and contributed even when I knew our time was short in that location (we were there about eight months).
Flash forward three moves and three years later. Now in an entirely new-to-me Colorado, I was again eager to jump in with both feet to opportunities locally. Three months after our move we had a minor house fire that kept us in a hotel or visiting family for a month. My husband was traveling for work, while simultaneously our second child decided to stop sleeping through the night and literally would not sleep without touching me. Then the new-to-us vehicle we purchased had the transmission go out three weeks after we bought it. And then . . . You get the idea. A string of challenges I was just not prepared for. The hardest part: I was cranky, miserable and lonely.
My husband loved his new employment – really loved it. And for the first time in my adult life, I could not see anything good about where we were and felt like this was just not the place for me.
About the time I had convinced my husband I could not last much longer (oh, I had quite the laundry list of reasons NOT to like living in a place plenty of people dreamed of being) someone encouraged me to train for a 10k. I knew this was a long shot, but realized I had been neglecting myself and life needed to be put back together for everyone’s happiness including my own. And it needed to start with me.
Faith and Perseverance
I told my husband I was going to commit to training for this race. Not to race, but to have the motivation to make a change. Permanent change. Three weeks into my successful efforts I posted my efforts publicly on social media. I meant it this time, and the benefits started to emerge. Then I suffered an injury unrelated to my training, but highly effective in derailing my plan.
If there were things that came from this pattern of unexpected up-rootings and lost expectations, it was faith and perseverance. It worked in all of the previous challenges in my life. And I had hoped it would work again.
I decided to do something about my health. I made a plan and executed it (and am still working on it.) I started up a summer park group to be more engaged with people. I began looking for opportunities to serve – and do my best. I tried to be a friend. Then something changed.
All of a sudden things were not the drag they had been. I also noticed a change in my happiness. It is a daily battle to stay on top. A conscious effort to not slide back. I had to consciously let go of things that maddened me, and decide to try to enjoy the moments.
A Lesson in Grace
I called my best friend in Pennsylvania, and she told me to give myself grace. What did that mean? I mean, I know what grace is, but had always thought of it as grace given to me from my Savior. Giving myself grace?
After our minor house fire, I realized how blessed we were just to be together. Being in close quarters demands field trips for little ones, and we took them! I would invite others, but when it ended up just my kids and me, it was okay. Instead of stressing over a packed (and perfectly nutritionally balanced) lunch, I grabbed some MRE’s (meals ready to eat) from our emergency packs. Living out of a hotel because of a house fire constitutes an extraordinary situation worthy of use, right? I started to let go. We got outdoors. Explored. Got muddy. Had time to disconnect.
After a few more months of mulling, I decided maybe giving myself more grace would not be so bad. Challenges happen. And even though life is very imperfectly put together right now, I let my kids make pancakes for breakfast with a squeezy bottle full of batter, and they LOVED it. We planned to camp only to have a rattling thunderstorm roll in, so we set up the tent in the living room. We blew-up marshmallows in the microwave while the thunder resonated outside; and read stories in the tent by lantern light. It was great, and my kids slept like rocks.
Learning to Love Today
Maybe this process of humbling, out-of-my-control challenges during the last year made me not like “where we are right now” were exactly what I needed to learn to adapt again. I learned to love today. To look for the opportunities to do, love, serve, and laugh today because nothing is stopping me, except me. It’s a process. And the next time I am facing inevitable change ahead I hope I will have learned enough from the last year to give myself more grace, faith, and hope at the moment, so challenges will derail my life less allowing me to grow a little sooner.