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 the 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.I had to consciously let go of things that maddened me, and decide to try to enjoy the moments. Click To Tweet
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.
Look for opportunities to love, serve, and laugh today because nothing is stopping you, except… Click To Tweet
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 in the moment, so challenges will derail my life less allowing me to grow a little sooner.