by Jennifer Dyer
Have you ever felt as though you just couldn’t keep going? Tasks as simple as fixing your hair or putting on a nice outfit seemed daunting?
It’s been that kind of week for me. Just getting out of bed is a struggle, and not because I am tired. I don’t want to face the day. Tackling each chore is like showing up to climb a desert mountain with only flip flops for shoes.
I know some of this is wrapped up in the grief and sadness I feel over my dog’s passing. We have lost a family member, so the dynamic at the house has changed. Yet, I feel guilty because life is easier without having to constantly move a 100-pound dog from room to room. Life is less stressful because Rachel didn’t like Missy, mostly because Missy’s loud bark upset Rachel’s easily unbalanced sensory system. I understand that, but it still hurts that my child didn’t like the dog I loved so much.
To make matter more complicated, Rachel has warmed up to our new dog Bart since Missy’s passing. She even played peek-a-boo with Bart the day Missy died. I should have been amazed and delighted to see my autistic child initiate a social routine with our dog. Instead, a surge of heat flashed from my chest to my eyes. Why didn’t she love Missy like that…? Then the next moment a cold dread spread over me. How can I be so ridiculous and selfish that I can’t even celebrate my child’s social/emotional victories? Ack!
As a mom, my life is wrapped into so many areas, sort of like Christmas lights. No matter how carefully they are stored, they still come out of the box looking like a giant ball with a hairy spider living in the middle. There is no disentangling one strand from the other.
Wednesday afternoon I found myself lying in bed, unable to sleep, but unwilling to get up and move. Everything was too much to handle. Not only my grief, but also my guilt about my shortcomings as a mom, not yet solving all the issues I needed to face about Rachel, and all the others problems of the world I had decided to pile on myself. I didn’t want to do anything I needed to do. I didn’t even want to do something I would enjoy. I wanted to feel sorry for myself and hide from life. The place I often went for comfort and hugs when life spun out of control–Missy–was gone.
So I stayed in bed. Who cares that my kitchen counters and the “laundry chair,” as eldest calls it, would have to be excavated by a professional archaeology team? Who cares that my hair looked ratty and I was wearing the same sweats I wore yesterday? Yes, the dog needs walking, but so what…?
When it was time to pick up the kids from school, I glanced in the mirror and cringed. I looked ten years older. Not only that, I felt older. It was time for one of THOSE talks with myself.
First, I had to face that I had placed too much of my comfort finding in Missy. The only true place of constant comfort is in Jesus. I’m not saying people and animals and hobbies lack comforting ability or are wrong and bad. Not at all, I just think I had misplaced my own priorities.
Second, it is okay for me to feel sad for a while. However, I still have responsibilities. People depend on me. So, I must make a choice: Stop feeling sorry for myself or continue wallowing. It wasn’t an easy choice, but I made the decision that I would resist the urges to hide from the world. I would get up and get back involved.
After picking up the kids, I kept true to my decision. We baked cupcakes and made decorations for a charity event. Not only that, I made myself write and change out of my sweats. Plus, I took our new guy Bart on a walk–well, he took me for a run. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. I also listened to the Newsboys newest album God’s Not Dead, which uplifted me. It also helped to drown out the sound of me gasping for breath as I tried to keep up with Bart’s greyhound ancestry. Whew!
My friends, may the hope and grace of the Lord Jesus, who is very much alive, lift you up today.