Today is a bad day. I am crabby and cannot figure out what is causing it. My clothes are tight and annoying me. I am tired lately, but cannot sleep. I am hungry and have no snacks because of my new diet. It is way too hot outside and the air conditioning is way too cold inside. I feel like every word said to me today is meant to make me mad or to hurt me. I am really hating my life today. As you can see, it is a lot of little things that are bothering me not one big item.
As I am sitting here wallowing in my very own pity party, my mind wanders back to 2008. Now that was a hard year and a year I am still reeling from it. The year started out like any other year with high expectations and hopes. I was tired of my lack of direction and was determined to fix that. I made many New Year’s resolutions that January, none of which I can remember now and none of which matter today. They did seem important, however, at the time.
Like many people during that financial time in the United States, I was over-extended and deep in debt. I was working a steady job with a decent income, but still was having trouble making ends meet. I was in constant “scheme mode.” I would try to figure out ways to leverage a payment here, then write another check for something else with the same money hoping it would not get cashed before I got paid again. The money shuffle was an every day occurrence and it was extremely tiring. Shall I mention that I believe it is also illegal and is called Kiting checks. Don’t do it!!
February is the shortest month of the year and is also one of the coldest in Northeast Ohio. My mother had a black cat that showed up at our house one day and we kept it. It was my mother’s cat, but we all loved him. His name was Barty. He was a typical cat, loving one minute, the next he was biting and clawing at you. He was ours though, and he was loved. He started acting funny in that February and very quickly he died. My mother was almost a shut in and Barty was her only real source of companionship since my husband and I worked all the time. We were all devastated by the loss of a good friend who had been with us for over eleven years. I promised myself not to cry over a cat, but I did and I cried a lot.
March came with the hope of Spring weather. I started feeling funny, so I went to the doctor for a few tests and found out I was pregnant. This ordinarily would be great news since my husband and I had been trying for close to twenty years for such news. Somehow, though, the thought of being pregnant at 46 years old did not appeal to me anymore. We finally decided to accept it and all the possible scenarios that would come with a pregnancy late in life when I miscarried. All the years we tried to get pregnant, just to get pregnant and miscarry seemed like a horrific cosmic joke. Just like with the loss of Barty, I took it hard.
July started with a bang and I do not mean with fireworks. My mother had been not feeling well and we all contributed it to the loss of Barty. She refused to go to the doctor and said she felt better each day, until July 3rd when my husband found her passed out on her kitchen floor. I called 9-1-1 and for the next three weeks we spent a good day thinking she was better followed by a bad day with turns for the worst, followed by a good day and on and on. She was in ICU the entire time and that should have rung a bell in my thick skull that something bigger was wrong.
The hospital staff told us to arrange for her to go to a rehabilitation facility for the next 30 days so she could regain her strength. We had her bag packed and had it sitting by the door. We were ready to take her there the next day when we got a call at 4 am to get there as soon as possible. My husband and I spent the next ten hours watching her struggle for every breath until she could no longer draw one and she was gone.
In that single moment, I was flooded with epic sadness, guilt beyond belief, physical pain from the loss and shear panic. She always took care of those types of situations for me. For example when my father passed away, she took care of calling everyone and the hard stuff. We concentrated on the necessary arrangements and such. Then I realized just how many things she had done for me in my lifetime and I felt lost.
Having spent the past several years struggling with money issues and other personal issues, I realized that I was absent a lot of the time to my mother. I may have been in the same room but I was “not there.” I was always thinking of the next move I had to make to keep the financial wolves at bay. Now she was gone and I was left to handle the heavy burden we call guilt.
The next few months are a blur. My husband and I somehow got through them with the help of good friends and support of each other.
The weather was turning cold again and the leaves were falling from the trees when I got word that I was being laid off from a job I had been at for almost twenty years. They offered counseling and a severance package that was extremely generous. I thought of this as a chance for me to get my act together and really figure out what I wanted to do when a week later my husband lost his job.
I know that there are many people out there right now who are having worse times then this, and I am not here to say that I should have some special badge because life hit me like it hits every other human being. I am just saying that these trying times hurt, they hurt bad and it is hard to stay positive and rely on the fact that something good will come out of it. It is hard not to fall into a pit of dark and despair.
Back when I was 16, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and proceeded to live exactly the way I wanted. I went to the cross only when I needed something like it was a spiritual ATM. I would have short bursts of genuine Christian desire to do more, followed by long periods of self-indulgence and self-pity. My Christian walk up until 2008 was me most running off the path to follow the next thing. But in 2008, my Christian walk was challenged and shook to its deepest foundation. All the ideals I had about my life and myself were ripped away and I was left naked before God with no more pretense with a chance to see Him honestly. This was the point in my life where I had to get on the right path once and for all or I had to totally turn my back to any kind of spirituality. I chose to try my Christian walk again.
I was eventually filled with peace over everything that happened and truly realized that it all happened for a reason. That is not to say that I do not have bad days (like today), but I am stronger in my knowledge that God is completely in control of everything, not just my little life. He sees the big picture when I can only see my small, very sheltered life. He sees what needs done for the good of the whole and I can only see what I think is good for me.
What did I learn from all of this? I learned that God is in control and when you finally are able to give up that control to Him, life does change and it does get better. Not in terms of a world view, but in terms of a Godly view. Priorities shift and you find out those pipe dreams you chased for so long, were just that. You learn that it is comforting to know that you can depend on Him to take care of you in His time, not mine.
My Christian walk today is a little more stable then it was prior to 2008. I still stumble and sometimes fall, but it is more consistent and more peaceful. It is through the hard times that we really do learn dependence on God and learn to not be dependent on self. I now understand what “trial by fire” means and I can attest to the heat of the fire, but the grace afterwards is breathtaking.
I need to reapply those ideals to my bad day today. Then I will see that I am just over-reacting and need to shift my attitude.
If you are going through a bad day, week, month, year, or longer, try to focus on God. Give it time because He does not work in our time frames, and see if things don’t change for the better. That is not to say the problems will go away, but it is amazing how our attitude about difficult times can change thus changing the situation. Good luck to you!