Monday, March 30, 2009

A Retreat from the Chaos

Allow me to preface this by saying (more like demanding) that I am still NOT a grown-up. This past weekend I retreated from the chaos of my everyday life. That's right folks, I went on a Women's Retreat with 270 other ladies from my church. I don't go on many women's retreats. In fact, I've only been on one that I can remember and that was through my old church back in Atlanta (oh how I miss Spring in GA, but that's beside the point), and that was a disaster. In my mind retreats such as this are more for the grown-ups, the mature women of faith in the church that sit around crying, singing hymns, and talking in Christianese.

Now granted I may be 30 and married with three wonderful children, but I am certainly no grown-up. But for some strange reason I felt compelled to go and drug my friend Katy along with me. Maybe it was because it offered me an excuse to get away from my lovely yet draining boys. Or maybe I'm a little tired of being the rebel. Or maybe, just maybe, God had an all together different reason. Either way I just knew I was supposed to be there. And it was only as I was returning home that I truly grasped why (at least in it's entirety).

I'll go to the fluff before I reach the depth. The weekend was great. Katy and I loaded up Joyce's car. Yeah, we couldn't take our own cars because our husband's needed them to tote around the rest of our kids. We strapped in the babies, plugged in the GPS, and headed towards Rocky Gap (beautiful place by the way). Madison and Beckah were the only babies in a room filled with estrogen. I felt like I should have started a waiting list of people wanting to hold Madison. It was great cause Lord knows none of them would have been swooning over my two boys. It's amazing how they start crawling and suddenly people want nothing to do with them. But what a blessing to have people so willing to take your child so you can cut your meat with both hands or take notes from a heart-wrenching talk. We were placed at tables, "randomly assigned," and it was with those 9 women that I would live life for just about 36 hours. We were a mixed brood to say the least. Katy & Michelle were with me, and oddly enough (though completely God-appointed) my friends Melissa and Natalie were with us too. And then there were two of the speaker's friends from Galox, VA and a couple women just a few years my senior from Grace. After each teaching time we would break off into various places around the resort for a table talk.

At the end of the first table talk, Heidi asked if anyone wanted to share something on their hearts. Before I knew I was blurting out one of my deepest struggles. You see, one year ago this week I left Maryland and traveled 10 hours with two small boys to Augusta, GA to be with my dad. Four weeks later he died from a three year battle with renal cell cancer. Lately I've been struggling with death. I'm a Christ-follower and believe that when I die I will go to heaven, but when I think of the end of this life, my body literally shakes in fear. Several times over the last couple of months, I've doubted if what I believe is what I really believe. Would I have this fear if it were? I shared this fear with these women, some friends and some strangers, and asked for their prayer and support. Over the rest of the weekend God began to reveal to me why I've been plagued and haunted by these thoughts.

I don't think it's a coincidence that these things start to surface around the year anniversary of my dad's death. When I first came home from Georgia, the day after the Memorial service, I was fine, confident of my father's place in eternity and experiencing peace that surpasses understanding. As time went on though, I began to avoid him and things that reminded me of him, not because I didn't want to remember my dad, but because it was too painful. When I close my eyes and try to picture him, all I see is his lifeless body. I can't seem to get back to a time when he was just my daddy. When "Be Thou My Vision" (the song that he walked me down the aisle to at my wedding and the same song we processed to at his funeral) comes on the radio, I quickly turn the channel. I feel like I am haunted by those 4 weeks. Don't get my wrong, I'm glad I went. I'm glad I was there, but I don't think I've ever really dealt with it all. For weeks people close to him called me a hero. They couldn't understand how I could do what I did. Heck, I don't even understand it. But be assured that I was no hero. I did what I was called to do for that time, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. When I got home, all I wanted to do was be home, and that was easy to do since I could jump right into my life and be a wife and mom again. I figured I had plenty of time to flush through all this junk piling up in my heart, but then one thing after another piled itself on top, burying the pain deeper and deeper.

Two weeks after I got home, I found out I was pregnant, which prompted us to put the house on the market. No one thought that house would sell in 24 days, but it did. So I'm doing camp, buying and selling a home, moving, and being pregnant all at the same time. There just wasn't time to process. When we were settled in our new home and camp was over, life filled in the empty spaces adding to the layers. Honestly I think these paralysing fears are simply my body, mind and soul telling me (screaming in fact) that I have to dig it back up and deal with it once and for all. If I don't I will never be able to close my eyes and see the dad I loved and not just a body free from it's soul.

Through this process, I've made a commitment to myself to blog everyday, even if it's has nothing to do with David Foster. Blogging is therapeutic for me and helps me to process through all the crap inside my head. Things run through this head of mine all the time, and I think to myself, 'I should write about that." Then I forget or get too busy and I find it's been a week since I last posted. By that point my mind is so filled with mumbo jumbo I have no earthly idea what to write about, so I don't. Poor excuse I know. For those of you who read often, keep me accountable to my blog. Email me if I'm not living up to my commitment. I need that accountability. While you're at it, ask me if I've spent time with the Lord or logged my food for the day or told my kids that I love them. Man how I need accountability and prayer. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in my own chaos. There is only One who can pull me out of the mud & mire and place my feet on the Rock.

1 comment:

Manuel Lopez said...

After my sister died at 36, the family began marking the day of her passing. That bothered me because they were remembering her death when they should have been remembering her life.
Your dad was a great man who was surprised to learn he was loved by so many.
Get a photo of him at his happiest and look at that when you want to see him. And celebrate the good things he did.