Thursday, April 21, 2011

All at Once...

These past few weeks have been some of the hardest of my 20 years. At the end of March, one of my best friends left for Spain to study abroad for 3 months and my brother left for Texas for the AirForce. Saying goodbye to my brother was probably the hardest. I went from crying a little bit as we hugged and said our goodbyes to a full stream of tears as I drove by myself back to school. The hardest part was knowing that I wouldn't see him for 2 months. He is my confidant, my best friend and my shopping partner. Shortly before Matt left in March, I got a phone call from my dad at school. He told me that my aunt has been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I was in disbelief. I could not imagine what my aunt was going through emotionally and what she would endure physically throughout the next year. It has already been a huge ordeal for all of us and we are only a month into it. If that isn't enough to put a load of stress on, just recently I found out that my Grandpa is in the hospital. He has an irregular heartbeat and had some trouble breathing so they admitted him. My dad assures me that he is doing better and that he should be going home soon. It just feels like all of this "stuff" came all at once, ya know, like it was just thrown at me. There are two weeks left in my sophomore year which means one word, exams. Trying to maintain good grades, do well on exams and deal with everything else that is happening right now in my life is hard. I won't lie, it's really hard. Sometimes I feel like I am suffocating but I sit down, close my eyes, take a deep breath, say a little prayer and keep going. Things started turning around for me yesterday. I went downstairs to check my mailbox and found a letter in there. FROM MY BROTHER! I couldn't believe it! I ran upstairs as fast as I could because I knew I'd start crying as soon as I read the letter. I don't know how he knew what I was feeling but it was honestly like he knew exactly what I needed to hear or read rather. Soft tears were rolling down my face as I read the letter and I just laid on my bed soaking up the words and taking it all in. In this season of my life I have come to realize that is so necessary to just take one step at a time. You cannot jump ahead a couple of steps because it doesn't work that way. We have to sit back, relax and at least "try" to enjoy the ride. I miss my brother more than ever but I know that this is where he belongs. He was made for this. But I can't help but count the days until the end of May when I can jump on his back and give him a big hug. My family has a long road ahead of us with absentees and sickness but I know that we will get through this season. Not without struggles I'm sure, but we will manage. I ask that you pray for strength and healing for my aunt and grandpa. Also, pray for my brother, pray for strength and wisdom and the ability to get the job done. For all of you who have helped me in so many ways the past month, thank you. I am so grateful for the talks and the listening ears and I am also grateful for you. One step at a time, right? Well, the next step is Easter and I'm headed home. Happy Easter, everyone! Enjoy times with your families and cherish EVERY moment.

Grace & Peace,

"When you haven't yet had your heart really broken, the gospel isn't about death and rebirth. It's about life and more life. It's about hope and possibility and a brighter future. And it is, certainly, about those things. But when you've faced some kind of death--the loss of someone you loved dearly, the failure of a dream, the fracture of a relationship--that's when you start understanding that central metaphor. When your life is easy a lot of the really crucial parts of Christian doctrine and life are nice theories but you don't really need them. When, however, death of any kind is staring you in the face, all of  a sudden rebirth and new life are very, very important to you. I've found that I have come back to these words thousands of times in the last few years, a season in my own life that has felt in some moments like death at every turn. I've begun to train my eyes for rebirth, like looking for buds on branches after an endlessly long winter. I know that death is real, and I trust that rebirth is real, too."

"This is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. This is what I've come to believe about change: It's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. WHEN LIFE IS SWEET, SAY THANK YOU AND CELEBRATE. AND WHEN LIFE IS BITTER, SAY THANK YOU AND GROW."

~Bittersweet by Shauna Neiquist