The last six months or so, there has been a stirring in my life and my heart. I felt so confused. I was working in a job, where I had been wildly successful with people who have supported me during a time of grief and healing. I couldn't believe what I had accomplished over the last few years, and at the same time, it wasn't enough. I felt like I was climbing a ladder, but I would never find the top.
It seems to me, that we are in a society that continues to teach us to work harder, achieve more, and make more money. I believe that for some, that is enough. I don't think there is anything wrong with that feeling, if it is what you truly want for your life. I've been living that for most of mine. Working hard in school to make good grades, get into a good college, get a good job, go back to school to learn more and get an even better job, and on, and on. When is it enough? When do we stop and say, "This is where I am supposed to be. This is enough. This is what I've worked so hard for."? And, when do we discover opportunities to create our own destiny?
The more I pondered on this unsettled feeling I had, the more I realized that part of that feeling stemmed from not allowing myself a break. I never took significant time off after Freddie died. Will and I both went through counseling, went to group therapy for grieving families, took a few trips and spent time together, but I never took any time to just "be".
When we started a family, our goal included me taking time during our young child's life to be a homemaker. Since I was a girl, I had always pictured myself taking time out of my career to raise my children while they were young. Obviously, life did not go according to plan. Cancer did what it does and swooped in and muddied every perfect little ideal we had. It amazes me how to this day, I worry about things that I ultimately have no control over. If cancer and grief taught me anything, it is that we can plan for what we think will happen, but somehow, someway, when a wrench is thrown in that plan, it is only trust and faith that will carry you through.
I continued to fight this stirring in my heart. I continued working. This meant, additional anxiety, stress, and conflict, all of which were taking a toll on the mother I want to be for William. I was ending each day at the end of my rope not leaving any space for quality time with Will or any of the people I love. I was not a fun person to be around.
Fast forward to August. For some reason, my birthday struck a chord in me. It isn't a significant, milestone year, but I began thinking about how I want to spend my life and I began wondering how Freddie would have lived his life differently, had he known cancer was knocking at our doorstep. He had so many dreams and ideas for his/our life. I began wondering what he would have poured his time and heart into, had he known that his life was going to be cut so short.
At the same time, kids were going back to school. I woke up on August 10th and it hit me: I only had one more year until my own son would be off to "big kid school" and start Kindergarten. I pictured dropping him off for his first day of Kindergarten, and feeling like I had not taken any significant time with him.
I am in a unique situation. Not everyone has the opportunity to take time away from their career, or even wants to. I know a lot of people probably think I am crazy, but that's their issue. I would rather look back and know that I made the decision my heart and my gut were telling me to make, than to regret that I didn't take the time while I had it.
I also know that often times opportunity may be knocking, but we are so busy trying to "live" our lives, that we don't even hear the knock. We are so distracted by the day-to-day, that we don't take time to stop and listen to our hearts and allow God to speak to us. I am SO guilty of this.
Throughout the summer, I began thinking about taking time off. I sought the advice and counsel of trusted friends and I was praying for direction. Leaving behind the job that I had worked so hard for and the stability that comes from having that job was scary. I was entering a time of unknown. But in my heart, I kept thinking about all the unknown I had faced before. God began showing me how he had carried me and my family through times of unknown - sickness, scary finances, big decisions - He was there. I knew that this stirring was not random. These thoughts had a purpose and God was presenting a new plan. My job was to trust and follow.
At the end of August, I had finally made my decision. It was time to resign and take time off to spend with my son and discover what the next phase of my life will include.
So, here I am, in a place of many unknowns. What I DO know is that I made the right decision. I already see such a difference in my relationship with my son. It has affected our time together, created more opportunities for quality interaction, and transformed his behavior. I see a difference in the way he trusts me and communicates with me. It's incredible, and if that is the only result from his whole experience, I will be a grateful mother and woman.
I don't know what my next steps will be. Right now, I am enjoying life with less stress and anxiety. I am enjoying spending time with people that I love, and I am learning how my outlook on life affects everyone around me. I look forward to what the future holds, and I know that when the next step presents itself, God will carry me through and I will have peace in knowing that I followed him and did what I believe is right for my family.
For now, I will leave you with a quote from a book I am reading by Jen Hatmaker (oh my, if you haven't read any of her work, you are surely missing out). I read this today and it summed up what I am experiencing so well.
Perhaps this applies to you, too, good reader. God may be leading you away without a clear final destination yet. As maddening as that is, could it be that He needs you to release what was before you can appropriately grasp what will be? Could it be that you might accidentally squash the lovely vision if you obtain it too soon? There is a horrid beauty in following God slightly blind. The victory later is sweeter, the prize more valuable than breath. Obviously, we are Americans; we like a plan, we like assurances. But the ways of faith exist so far outside of our tidy boundaries, it is a wonder we can ever receive its mysteries at all.
Jen Hatmaker, "Interrupted"