As I look back over this past year, my personal assessment would include the words fail and mess with major shades of gloom painted all over it. It has been a difficult year and has often felt very lonely. It hasn’t been the fault of those around me. It has been because I have just gone inside my head and spent way too much time worrying about things I shouldn’t have. I have been blessed too, but the hard things and failures stand out in my mind.
I thought I had learned to ask for help, but it turns out I hadn’t learned to in this setting. So, as I felt more and more desperate, I went inside my head and worried instead of dealing with the problems I had to deal with! It was not a good thing.
As a result, I now weigh about 20 pounds more than I did and I became so depressed I could hardly hold my head up! I’ve gotten some help dealing with some of the problems that in many ways were probably more superficial, but I kept bumping into them every time I turned around!
I can’t get around it. Learning new skills at age 7o is stressful! I need to learn to do them joyfully. I’m not always successful.
The biggest problem is that my husband is no longer the same as he was before his stroke. He is here, but because of many of his limitations, the whole balance of our relationship has changed. I’ve had to take over many of his responsibilities. Often it has involved learning to do them! Some of those jobs are ones for which I have no natural affinity. But I have no choice. I should say, I have a choice. I need to choose to do it joyfully. Instead it has been a very stressful process that I am not finished with.
Learning to manage the household finances on a day to day basis has been very stressful. Keeping up with it has been even worse! Am I better at it now than when I started? Yes. But I have a very long way to go. It is eating my lunch. I’m finding ways to make the system work for me so I can understand it better.
I’m also not used to telling him what to do. Neither is he. We tended to be more mutual about things, but I usually wanted the final word for approval from him. Now, I have to make decisions for him and his safety that he doesn’t always appreciate. I’m needing to tell him he must get up at times when he doesn’t want to. It makes for tension and added stress. I know it isn’t the real him talking, but the totality of the words take a toll. It has thrown off the balance of 48+ years of marriage.
Meanwhile, the jobs I normally do are getting way behind. I’ve had a few nights when I woke in the middle of the night thinking I could sort out the muddle in my brain! It was not possible. Worry and grief do not make a happy mix!
At any rate, I have received some tangible help over the holidays that lessened much of my anxiety because it settled a number of issues I needed to answer. Now I know:
- I won’t have to move to a smaller apartment early in the new year.
- I will be able to get some help cleaning my apartment.
- I will be able to get help in weight loss that I need right now.
- I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel that is helping me think more rationally. It has surprised me how much my thinking has cleared up.
So here is where my year has ended.
It has been difficult for sure, but I also know that for many of you there have been plenty of difficulties as well. Some have seemed way more difficult than what I am discussing. Some of you are dealing with pending death of a loved one or even yourself, or the recent death of loved ones. Some are dealing with chronic illness that shows no end to its discomfort and misery and you wonder if you can continue moving on. Others are in difficult physical or financial circumstances that seem hopeless.
What do we do now?
Ask for the help of trusted friends to see if there is something you are missing. Yes, you are making yourself vulnerable. But you may get help with some wise points of view and others to pray for you. Widening the network of prayer will help. It will also help to have the input of wisdom from others.
But you need to give honest feedback. If you have tried what they suggest, tell them. If you feel too overwhelmed to try one more new thing, tell them. It may help them understand where you are. Keeping quiet while they throw many new ideas at you and continue to overwhelm you won’t help. You must give honest feedback too. It isn’t easy, sterile or even neat and tidy. Relationships never are. They are a process.
Here are some words of hope for you as you move ahead this coming year in your relationships with others and with Christ.
Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction,
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
II Corinthians 1:3-4
2017 is sure to have its share of blessings and struggles. I hope that some of these verses will be helpful as you walk into this New Year with unknown challenges. Join me as we walk hand in hand with Jesus into another new year.