Sunday, August 6, 2017

I'm Not the Same

My goodness. Is it really one year almost to the day that Dad went into the hospital for a three week stay never to return home again? Has time passed that quickly as it has that sneaky way of doing?

When I think about all that has gone on in one year's time, I realize an important truth: I am not the same person I was then. I think I view every day occurrences in a much different light. Stuff that bothered me so badly either at work or during a normal home day, has lost its steely grip on me. I don't think it's important enough to harbor grudges long, or at all. I don't waste time obsessing over triviality. When you've lost loved ones, life is put into a new perspective and it's up to us to learn the important lesson.

Lesson one: I'm beginning to de-clutter my closets and find that is making me a calmer person. If I've not used it, looked at it, worn it, or cared about it in several years, I'm not about to begin to either. So another person may benefit from it, or if it's ratty enough, into the trash it goes. Oh, the feeling of purging junk, and I'm not just talking about closet stuff now. We all carry garbage inside of us. Voices from the past that accuse and belittle. What if like the closet, we choose to rid ourselves of things we no longer need, and probably never did. That hateful comment from a relative, or a snide remark from a co-worker. Or what if what we heard wasn't really intended for us all along, yet we wore the remark like a heavy, old coat that needed retired years ago.

Lesson two: People are more important than things or chores. We all have daily schedules that we need to keep. But sometimes we push ourselves on one of our off days because heaven forbid, the grass wasn't cut, or there is a layer of dust on our end table. If given the opportunity to tidy up, or play with my nieces, I'm choosing the girls every time. There is always another day for labor, but sometimes a priceless moment can be lost forever. I've found the inner child when I'm at a playground with my nieces. I've been Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and countless other make-believe people as I enter their world. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

And what is it with technology? Put the phone down. Take a moment to look at the person sitting in front of you, or beside you. Talk in the car when going on trips. Giggle in restaurants together and make conversation. That phone, I-pad, Tablet or game will always be there. Don't miss the time with a real person having real talk. Learn from them, and listen.

Lesson three: Love really is the answer. Why oh why did I hold onto anger? When I've given grace to another, and let go of longstanding drama, I find that I understand the heart of God. For isn't this what He does for us each and every day? If God chooses to love us unconditionally, then why do I place conditions on every relationship I have? I don't need to think about what my husband said two years ago during a ridiculous battle. I can let go of bitterness toward situations I have no control of, and really love with all my heart. I can forgive, forget, move on and love.

Lesson four: Faith is important. Though I've spent years in church, have read my Bible, consider myself a Christian, did I really understand what true faith was? Have I been able to let go and let God handle my life and the lives of loved ones? When dealing with illness and death, I had to relinquish total control to the Lord. In the quiet of my soul when I cried out to Him, the answer that came back was to have faith. But what if what we pray for, and have faith that moves mountains doesn't come to pass? What if we lose the loved one(s) and we are devastated beyond belief? Does that make God any less real? No. For I've felt more than ever, His Holy Spirit deep within me. I've touched the peace that passes understanding and came away calm and whole. Though I had no control when losing my parents over this last year, God's plan is not my plan. But He deepened my faith, showed me that He never left me, and gave me an outlook on life that couldn't be learned any other way.

It's true. Grief and difficult situations can build character. They don't have to sweep over us and leave us crippled with doubt and fear. They help us to see what is really important. When we look for the small moments of goodness through the pain, when we see those who touched our lives and showed us that we didn't have to walk the journey alone, we then can know we are not the same people we once were. We have been refined like precious gold, no longer tarnished by the chains that bound us.

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