Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kicking the Sh*t out of Option B

My friend Helen and I like to refer to Mid-life as the 2nd Middle School. It's all that awkward ugliness all over again in grown up form. There's disappointment, confusion, frustration...all of it. There is no doubt I'm there...questioning it ALL, wondering how I got here and how it'll all play out. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

My soul is being searched. My losses are currently being mourned. And I'm now planning to "kick the sh*t out of option B."

I am learning that grief comes in all sorts of packages, but painful nonetheless. It has truly been a year of  pushing through for me and my little family. I've found myself pushing through grief in the form of the sudden loss of my closest friend and neighbor, parenting, marriage, and career struggles. Not to mention, exhausting and unhealthy relationships, and dreams that will never come to pass. I have cried A LOT. I have screamed at God numerous times. I have begged for mercy and guidance. I have questioned every single fiber of my wonderfully-made self. I have wanted to quit everything. I have felt repeatedly kicked while I was down. But did you know, while you're "down", you discover a lot of wisdom, grace, love, and good ol' "Option B", as Sheryl Sandberg calls it. 

While grieving the sudden loss of a friend who knew my every move for the last 10 years, and who was like family is still very raw, it is the grace and love from friends and family that make the really difficult days a little more bearable. I have gained a greater appreciation for the old cliche..."life is short". And the concept of making a positive impact while we are here is far more brilliant than before. Through Robin's death I've learned to love more passionately! I no longer have her here with me, but I now have numerous new close{r} friends and a deeper connection to older friends because of her passing. I have felt God working through and in me these last 4 months. Her husband told me just a few days after she died that we all would have to take on being a little piece of Robin, because she just made this world a better, more interesting place. And it's true. Though it will never bring her back, our Option B is to keep her spirit alive through her love and passion for those she loved.

Losing someone special is never easy, and let's face it, neither is being a mom or wife! Marriage and parenting can sometimes feel like the most unrewarding, thankless, and difficult jobs we'll ever have. The worst part...there is no time-clock and there are no weekends off for either one. In recent months, there were days where I just didn't have it in me to play either role, because it seemed pointless.

There. I said it. 

But here I am, because quitting is not an option and I know deep down, it isn't pointless.

I'm the wife to an awesome man I've been with for 24 years. And we promised to love, honor, and duke it out for the sake of each other until we're dead. And I birthed 3 handsome, smart, talented, frequently bull-headed, bundles of love {who, at times, test my patience and make me want to get in my car and drive as fast and far away as possible, and live off the crackers and french fries under the seat, and drink from the left over water and Gatorade bottles in the backseat}. But regardless, I love them so fiercely! So, Shan and I are pushing through Option B - for better or for worse! 

With some guidance we're learning to communicate more effectively and attempting to put the quality back in our time together. And even though we usually feel like we're peeing in the ocean, we're continuing to teach our boys how to effectively communicate, love all of them where they are, and praying that they see themselves as God does.

Meanwhile, there's this whole career thing. Do you ever really know what you want to be when you grow up anyway? This year posed many questions for us in our professional lives. Shan has been feeling less than fulfilled and wondering if he needs to change directions. My contract wasn't renewed back in July due to a financial crisis at the college. And we've both felt a whirlwind of emotions regarding our futures. I even went on a wild-goose hunt for another job. I had the pleasure of experiencing hard-core rejection a few times, which was awesome. {Insert sarcasm font} Then there were the interviews and offers that came my way that just fell short. 

So I stopped searching. 

I just decided to be still and know that God's got this. For me, being quiet and still is quite a job in and of itself. But while I have been "still", I have had time to search my soul, lifestyle, and goals to see what's going to work for me and my family. I may never have a cut-and-dry title - doctor, lawyer, teacher, realtor etc., because I've never been one to stuff myself into a box. I absolutely do know what I'm good at though, and I know God is using all those things to cook up a fantastic Option B for my family and me. 

And what about all the "-ships"? That whole love is patient, love is kind passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It's for real. And when you start to feel all the things that love is not, it's your cue to get out. Friendships and relationships of all kinds. Those relationships are like sponges. They will suck the life out of you! It's not always easy, but it is completely necessary.

Slowly, but surely, I'm making peace with the ones I'm having to let go. Option B? Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, because it is so much better than struggling to make certain relationships something they'll never be. Then, that is where God comes in to fill those holes and redirect your energy to the people who need it most. He needs us to get rid of the weeds to allow the fruitful, beautiful relationships that He scripted to blossom.

I feel like it's the same way for dying dreams. You reach an age where you realize certain dreams will never come to pass. For me, it's a particular career, having a daughter of my own, giving my children a certain lifestyle, being a different size, etc. It hurts a lot to wave my white flag and surrender, knowing that these things just aren't possible. But dwelling on what will never be is only causing ridiculous amounts of negativity and pain. What I've learned is that letting go of these things is actually less painful than constantly mourning them. I've never been one to quit or give up without a fight. So it's really weird to have to throw up my hands and say "oh well". But it's all making way for Him to reveal His greater plan for my life. Option B..."Surrender", can be very bitter, but it is also far sweeter than I ever imagined.

I don't know why all of that had to come to a head in 2016. It was like a gigantic pimple that felt so good when it finally decided to pop! It all truly felt as gross as that sounds. Don't get me wrong! We've had our fair share of blessings and they have been counted numerous times and I'm usually not a Debbie-Downer on this here little blog. But all that muck may be why I haven't felt much like visiting this space. It's not really fun to write about pain and loss, and the weight of a heavy heart makes it so hard to be perky. If you can relate, know I'm praying for you and that we can move into this new year...2017, recognizing and kicking the sh*t out of our Option B.

Happy New Year!

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