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Monday, February 8, 2016

Live, Love, and Grow in Him

I have spent my entire life in a hurry.     When I was a teen, I was always rushing to get to school, speeding through homework, running to a friend’s house and then racing back home to meet my curfew.   While raising my children, I was constantly rushing to school events, darting to dance lessons or baseball practices, working full time, and scurrying to get everyone fed, bathed and tucked into bed so we can start the whole crazy cycle over again.     I had the illusion that after the kids were grown, things would slow down, I would be able to read a book, sit on my deck and relax, or take the time to have lunch with a friend, but there never seemed to be enough hours in a day.     Then suddenly my world abruptly came to a halt.   When I resigned from my job in November all deadlines, time constraints and commitments stopped.   For the first time in my life, I had complete control over how I would spend my day; and it was terrifying. 

I struggled emotionally following my resignation.     For more than six weeks, I teetered between manic and depressive episodes and wasn’t able to do much but heal my mind.   Since I’ve continued to be off work I’ve been blessed to live in a supportive atmosphere which has allowed me to gain control of my thoughts and settle into a peaceful routine.

Until now, I was of the belief that I would work until I die!  Society told me I would be bored being "just" a housewife, but I'm here to tell ya society lied!  I have established a comfortable daily routine, and believe it or not, I actually enjoy housework.    Last week I was wiping down my kitchen counter and it occurred to me that I wasn’t just “hitting the high spots”; I wasn’t taking any shortcuts just to get the chore done.    I could take time and do the job properly because I wasn’t running out the door to my next appointment.    Surprisingly..I like to iron!    My husband’s job requires he dress in a button-down shirt and Dockers every day.   When I was working full time, it was nearly impossible for me to set aside two hours to iron five shirts and five pairs of pants a week.   I now receive great satisfaction from “getting the wrinkles” out of his clothes.   I feel a sense of pride knowing that my husband is neatly dressed and ready for his work day.   To some women, that might seem a little too submissive but that is something else I’m learning; it’s okay to let him take the lead.   For years, I have lived in fear of “relying” on a man to provide for me.     When I was previously married, there was a six-month period of time after the birth of my son that I didn’t work.     My then husband would give me a small dollar amount to buy weekly groceries and if I couldn’t get everything we needed in the amount budgeted, I would have to grovel and beg for more money.     I was often belittled for my inability to stick to his unrealistic budget.     It was a humiliating and life changing experience for me.  After my divorce, I swore I would never again put myself in a situation where I was reliant upon a man to survive.    Today, I am supremely blessed that my present husband; loves his wife as Christ loves the Church and I no longer fear my husband taking the lead.   

My husband and I reside near several Amish communities and we enjoy the company of many Amish friends.    The Amish don't own cars and travel either on foot or by horse and buggy.    If they need to travel outside a ten or so mile radius, they often depend on the “English” (That’s what they call us!), for transportation. The Amish do not have electricity in their homes which means no telephone.   Some do have small phone shacks on their property connected to a simple landline.   When I say simple,  I mean bare bones phone service; no call waiting, voice mail, or caller ID,  just direct communication to one simple telephone.    Often times, this one landline is shared among several families.     So you're probably asking yourself "Why is she giving me a lesson on Amish living?"     Well, on Tuesday, I was asked by an Amish friend to take her to the hospital for pre-testing before her surgery.    Her appointment was at seven o’clock in the morning so I needed to arrive at her home about forty-five minutes earlier to get her to the hospital on time.   I arrived at her house at “o’ dark early”, and waited patiently in the car.    When she didn’t come out right away, I went to the door to see if she was ready.      When she didn’t answer the door, I feared the worst and began calling out her name, then suddenly I look to the back yard and saw a light moving towards me in the distance.   My friend was walking back to the house from the phone shack with her flashlight in hand.    The hospital had just called to inform her that she didn't require additional testing and a trip into town was not necessary.   Fearing she had ruined my morning, she was apologetic and invited me in for a cup of coffee.    Normally, I would have said no, I would have already been planning my next task for the day, but this time, for some reason, I said, “Sure, that sounds fantastic.”  

I sat with my friend at her kitchen table and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee and meaningful conversation.    We talked about our children, grandchildren, our mutual belief in God and our worship traditions.   I didn’t stay long, maybe twenty minutes or so, but I was able to slow down and enjoy the moment.   I can’t remember the last time I was truly mindful.      For the first time in my life, I felt like a “normal” person. 

Later that same day, I met with my therapist and she commented on how well I looked.   I shared with her about the visit with my friend, and I told her that although I felt good, I was riddled with guilt because I wasn't working outside the home.   I feel conflicted.   My moods are balanced and I feel as if I can handle anything that comes my way.   Maybe I should try to reenter the workforce, but then again the reason I’m feeling “normal” may be BECAUSE I'm not working.   

The following day I was reviewing our checking account and found a suspicious check for $39.95.   In this world of electronic finances, I seldom write checks so I quickly opened up the link to view the draft and was shocked.    The check was said to have been authorized by me, it listed an old address that we hadn’t lived at for over ten years and I had never heard of the vendor.    I researched the fraudulent company online and found several complaints from people, just like me, whose accounts had been hacked by this same company.    I felt sick to my stomach.    I called the bank and was advised to freeze the bank account immediately.    I became overwhelmed with panic…freeze the account?   Did this guy have any idea what that would mean?    We have automatic withdrawals, automatic deposits, automatic transfers, I just bought new checks, we’ll have to get new bank cards!!   My mind raced with all the details, my hands began to shake, I felt a heaviness in my chest and my speech became pressured as I talked to the customer service representative on the phone.    I was having difficulty understanding the agent's simple directions and I kept asking him to repeat himself.     When I tried to explain to my husband what had occurred, I stumbled over my words nervously.      What was wrong with me?   This was a banking inconvenience….it was not a life-shattering event.   I had been an office manager, I handled greater problems than this, what had happened to me?   I spent the next few days, cleaning up the banking mess and with each step, I felt overwhelmed and defeated.    

After the banking problem was finally resolved, I reflected on the events of the past few days and tried to come to terms with what had just happened to me.     Then I was reminded of the anxiety and panic I experienced when working full time.    This past year had been filled with so many extreme highs and lows, it’s amazing to me that I didn’t end up in the looney bin.     I spent so many days, crying in the car on my commute to and from work, and full of anxiety about what I did or didn’t get accomplished in a work day.     On good days, I felt on top of the world and was able to scratch all tasks off of my “to-do” list.   Other days I would sit at my desk with disorganized stacks of paperwork around me completely overwhelmed and confused on how to begin.    Although I attempted to hide my anxiety, there had been times when the pressure was so great I emotionally broke down at work in front of co-workers and parishioners.   I wore a mask of smiles and self-confidence when on the inside I felt tortured, scared and alone.     This little banking mishap was a harsh reminder of just how “sick” I really am.   

Since I’ve been unemployed, I've experienced peace I've never known.   Perhaps I am not meant to return to work.   For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about trusting God….it’s time I stop talking the talk and start walking the walk!     I have been praying for “Peace of Mind” and for the first time in my life I’m experiencing just that!    Thank you, God, for giving me a loving family, the support of friends and your daily guidance.   Thank you, God, for doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself.    Thanks, God, for clearing a straight path to peace for me so I may live, love and grow in You. 

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