POD #12: Adaptogens
Without thinking, I can say that God and my faith in Him is what helps me to withstand the stresses and strains that life places on my system. Almost daily, someone will comment on how they don’t know how I handle the things that are thrown at me daily. Being a social worker, I see the best and absolute worst of humanity. I see the sadness and heartache and the physical and emotional barriers that people face on a daily basis. Generally my response is, this is the ministry that God placed within me, I am trained for it. I also let people know, it is different when it is not personally mine to handle. I am able to help with outside the box thinking, but at the end of the day, I still get to walk away from it – whether my help solved the problem or not.
Except when it is. The reality is all the training in the world, all the knowledge of resources and processes don’t help when it is mine to handle. When my mom was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure, that was a new learning curve. The dementia was another, no book or story can prepare you for watching someone who has always been your rock slip away like that. To see someone who always had the answer struggle for even a simple answer, cuts to the core of my soul.
Making the move from having her in our home to assisted living was an adjustment, but one that was easier to make for me as I knew she would get good care and be safe since I was rarely at home and hadn’t realized how bad things really were. When the doctor mentioned hospice, I was taken aback – I thought she was doing much better. He was just preparing me as we moved towards palliative instead of curative care. In the midst of her illness, I lost my job and really spend some time re-assessing life and drawing closer to God.
Then it came time to make the nursing home move, it really hit hard because I had made a promise to my dying father (along with my siblings) that I would take care of her. That was a promise I had taken to heart. She had always told me “I don’t want to go to your damn nursing home” since the time I started working in the medical field helping other families make that transition for rehab or long-term care. I found a lot of blame towards the doctor when we made that move. I also felt the need to check on her a few times a week, even if it was just a few moments. I felt bitter towards my siblings for not being there for her and leaving everything to me.
Then the day come that hospice really was the option. I had such a peace throughout the whole process. Not that I didn’t grieve, but God carried me through that with a peace and strength that still amazes me, over a year later. He alone sustained me, as I spent every day working full-time, then going to sit at her bedside until she kicked me out – daily for three months straight. I missed two days with her, as I had a wonderful friend that said “Let me take the shift – you go.”
When my mother passed, I waited for the peace to go. I waited for my world to crumble down around me, as it had twenty years prior when my father passed. It didn’t. Instead a weight lifted, and I stepped into the next stage of life with a renewed passion and purpose. My help to families took on a new depth, as I ministered from where I had been and where God had not only led me through but strengthened me though.
I know that there is nothing that He will not carry me through if I give Him my cares. I can withstand the stresses because He is the one whose strength I rely on.
Through the process of life, the past twenty years, and really all my life, I have seen God sustain me. He has given me creative outlets that help emotionally and mentally – writing has been an outlet since at least sixth grade. While I might not share emotionally, give me a pen and paper or even a computer and I can open up my soul and process things that I can’t get out otherwise.
Relationships, my family has always been my lifeline. I have the most amazing husband – he has been there through everything. Even when we were dating, and broke up He was there providing care for my husband, my daughter, and our children when I was an emotional wreck. My children have saved my life more than once, my life was so altered by them. They bring such perspective, balance, and joy to my life. My parents, my siblings, my aunts, my cousins – my family has always been there to ground me, spoil me, love me, and call me on my stuff!
Yet, the people who really serve as a breath of fresh air, joy and clarity for me – are my grandchildren. There is something about their precious little faces, the excitement they great me with, melts everything away. Their unconditional love, although sometimes they tell me “You mean mimi.” makes the world brighter, if only til they start whining.
When I am at my breaking point and ready to give up, someone always crosses my path with the message “Your blessings are closer than you think.” Since 2001, I that single message has been spoken in various forms from someone in to my life when I have reached the giving up stage of life. The idea that what happens if I give up right now, and my breakthrough was going to come tomorrow. Yes, there are other things I have read and quotes that I love that give me hope, but that one message has carried me through my darkest times.
Music is something that speaks depths to my soul. The truth is it depends on what mood I am in what I need to hear. Most of my comfort comes from contemporary Christian music. Currently a few songs that speak loudest to me are 7eventh Time Down – Hopes and Dreams, Ashes Remain – Here for a Reason, Danny Gokey – Tell Your Heart to Beat Again and Ryan Stevenson – Eye of the Storm. Of course that changes daily, but these are ones that have consistently spoke to me over the past year. Of course there are days that I need to hear Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, or a little Aerosmith, Poison, Guns N Roses or Def Leppard. It depends where I want my mind to take me at the moment.
Life throws many things my way, stressors that could weigh me down or stop me in my tracks. It’s important to have many sources to draw from to protect myself from the elements that come against me. Ultimately, regardless of the mix – God is always the biggest part of my safeguard.