Monday, January 28, 2013

The Struggle with Loss

It's amazing to me how I can be going along, minding my own business  feeling pretty great and then WHAM something happens and I react to that something in a very nonsensical way. I mean, I consider myself to be a very sane and normal person, yet my reactions can sometimes be crazy. Well, I know and I hope other people know too, that I'm not crazy, I'm just dealing with loss. I'm glad that I'm able to recognize these feelings and I hope that in the future I will be forgiving and much more caring towards others who are struggling with their own losses, whatever those losses may be.

Yesterday I had my own little pity party for a while. It was horrible. It hurt. It was just for me. Why? Because I was asked not to bring my children to the blessing of my nephew. It was a perfectly reasonable request, it is flu season after all and this nephew of mine will be just a few day old on the day of his blessing and we should try to limit the amount of germs with which he will be brought into contact. Easiest way to limit germs- limit kids! That's right. Understandable and perfectly reasonable. But my kids are kind of like my teddy bears right now, they are a bit like my security blanket. They are proof that I was once able to make beautiful babies and I guess the thought of not having that proof with me while being around a brand new beautiful baby, well it kind of broke my heart. My first reaction was "Well, if my children aren't welcome then I am not going, Ken can represent us" and then I realized that my reaction was a poor one and I found a place for my children to be while Ken and I attended our nephew's blessing. But that didn't help my heartache, heartache is just something I get to figure out how to live with.

I think what confused me the most about this situation was how quickly I went from feeling fine, feeling on top of it, to feeling as though I was drowning and no one was trying to save me. Picture yourself in a small boat out on the open ocean.This is your life. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes storms rage, but you have your boat and you know you will make it through safely. You may get wet, sometimes you may not feel like you are headed in the right direction, but, day in day out, you have your boat. Now, imagine that for some unknown reason you lose your boat. Most days the water is calm and you are very good at floating. You also know how to tread water, so you are okay when the water gets a little choppy. You are tired, but your head is above water, and that is really all you can ask for. You are grateful for everyday you can keep your head above water. Stormy days teach you that you are strong, you may find yourself below water a few times during a storm but you probably also saw the storm coming and you were prepared to fight a little harder to keep your head up above the surface. Eventually you know you will find your boat again, you will be dry and you will be able to rest. Eventually.

Most days I feel like I can see my boat, I'm even sometimes able to cling to it's side. Yesterday morning I felt great, it was a clinging to the side of the boat kind of day, then I got hit by the rouge wave of grief. It might have been the first rouge wave I've dealt with- because it threw me for a loop. I wasn't prepared. I don't know how I could have been prepared. I am grateful that I was able to find my bearings and follow the bubbles to the surface of the water.........and start treading again. As grateful as I am, I'm also tired. I want my boat back.

So, that's a little glimpse into my head, I'm guessing that my struggle is not to different from anyone who is dealing with loss. We all know people who are dealing with different kinds of loss. Heartache and heartbreak come in so many different forms. People I love have different losses than I do but they are just as painful and hard to deal with as mine. Whether it be loss of a marriage, loss of the ability to have children, loss of health, loss of a job or any other loss, all of these things have the ability to spin us around and make us lose our bearings, maybe even capsize our boats and force us to tread water for a while. I hope and pray that I can give the love and support that my loved ones need should they ever find that their boat has gone missing. I hope I can help them keep their heads above water. I hope I can remember that they aren't crazy, they are just normal, precious people, struggling with loss.

And those are my thoughts for today. I think today is going to be a better day, even if it is a treading water kind of day.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why prayer is important to me

I am grateful that I was taught to pray as a child. I don't remember how or when really, but I do know that by the time I was a teenager I felt it was important to pray. Over the years I had enough experiences with prayer to know that there was a power there, I knew that God was there, he heard my prayers and he answered me. A friend of mine, she and I served as missionaries together, made a comment in a church class today about how one of her missionary companions had told her that she felt her burdens lifted through prayer, she then turned to my sister (who happens to attend church at the same congregation) and confirmed that yes, it was me, Kate. My sister said she suspected it was me. I guess I must talk about prayer a lot. That got me thinking, maybe I should talk about prayer some more.

I was 19 when I gained my testimony of prayer. I'd been saying my prayers for years, as most of us did as children, but at this point in my life I really needed to know if God was there and if he knew who I was. I got an answer quite quickly. I knew God heard my prayers and so I kept praying. My faith was strengthened through that experience and looking back on it now some of the experiences I had in the days and weeks that followed were truly miracles. Miracles given as answers to my prayers. I remember laying awake at night with pains in my legs, knees, hips and ankles, I remember praying, begging for the pain to go away and it did! Seriously- no pain medication, just prayer. I still find that amazing. That burden that was keeping me awake, was gone. It may not be a huge thing, but at the time, it was important to me. Later that year I got my first real job. I worked at the customer service desk at Fred Meyer. This scared me a little because there was the possibility of people trying to return things that they hadn't purchased. I prayed everyday before I walked into work, I prayed for guidance and protection. I worked hard at that job and I felt like I did a good job. I transferred to a different store about 9 months later and I had to turn a key into the security office on my last day. I was surprised when the head of the stores security told me that he was sad to see me leave the store. He told me that I was one of his best resources. He gave two reasons, one- bad things just didn't seem to happen when I was around and two-the returns/names that I flagged as being questionable, usually were. I knew that I felt comfortable doing my job but what he had just told me reinforced to me that my prayers had been answered in ways that not only I felt, but other people noticed and appreciated. I wasn't an amazing store security officer, I was a customer service girl who was receiving the guidance she had prayed for and apparently protection too- because like he said, bad things just didn't seem to happen when I was around. From this I learned that God cares about me and my day, if it is something that I care about, then it's something that he cares about. I hope that my children learn this early in their lives, because it has meant the world to me.

I don't want to give the wrong impression. I am not a great spiritual prayerful powerhouse. I know that I still need to improve with my daily prayers. Most of the time I feel like my prayers are more like quick emails to God, letting him know that I'm grateful for what I have and that I need some other stuff. Yep, not the best. I don't think I am alone in this. I think it's a very human thing. I heard something last year that I am hoping to be able to truly incorporate into my prayers, but as yet I haven't always remembered to try. And that would be to think of my prayers as a conversation and pause every once and a while to let God be part of that conversation. I don't feel condemned because I've not yet been able to make this change, I know that God still hears and answers my prayers, even if they are more like quick voice-mails or texts sometimes.

Now, knowing that I have had burdens lifted as answers to my prayers. Knowing that I have received peace, comfort, healing and guidance when I asked my Heavenly Father for those things in prayer. Understanding that I haven't received every blessing I've ever prayed for, and sometimes the answers I received, the blessings I was given were things that I never expected, even the exact opposite of what I had prayed for. But I can truly say, I've always been given what I needed- even if it wasn't what I thought I wanted or needed. Recognizing those things today, I realized that I've come to know God, my Father in Heaven, through prayer. As I thought about this today I felt so amazing, I felt so grateful. Life is hard, but I KNOW I am not alone.

This week I read something that made me sad, it was a post on a pregnancy and infant loss group site that of which I am a member. A woman told about how she cringes when her friends tell her that they will pray for her and she wonders what good their prayers will do because she is mad at God and they are praying to the God who stole her baby from her. I was sad because this is not the God I know. She and I have two very different experiences, but I hope and pray that she will come to realize God hasn't stolen her child, that he has prepared a way for her to be able to be with her child forever AND that he wants to be able to give her the comfort and healing she needs now, in this life, when she is ready to accept it. I don't know her and I didn't feel it would be appropriate for me to say anything to her, but I will pray for her as well and I hope that  at some point her pain will ease and she will find peace and healing. I am so amazingly grateful for prayer, I am grateful that I was able to pray and find comfort so many times during this past year.

And there you have it, just a little bit, about why prayer is important to me.