Today marks six months since John died, which is sad and weird, but on a more positive note today also marks six months since I began truly attempting to showing myself grace. I can't remember another time in my life that has caused me to struggle so much with being hard on myself. There isn't an aspect of my life that hasn't been affected by my grief. It's as if every little bit of me was shattered into pieces and I'm still working on picking them up and putting them back into place. I've never felt more dumb—like my brain has just stopped working. I've cried at work (thankfully not in front of the kids, but still—super embarrassing). I've slacked on my housework. I've slacked on cooking. I've even bathed less than ever before. (How's that for transparency?)
Sometimes I hear a voice whispering, You are a mess. You can't handle this.
I used to hear that voice and feel defeated. I'd hate myself for it.
Now I hear that voice and think, "That's true! I am a mess! I can't handle it—at least, not on my own."
It has been such a relief to realize that God sees my mess and loves me anyway. That when I fail to cook dinner or go to work, I'm not losing points with God. That when I fail to be patient with people and end up saying things I shouldn't, God isn't throwing up His hands and saying, "that's it! I give up on her!"
It makes me laugh to think about, but now when I cook up a meal or look over a room I've cleaned I have double the pride as I would have before John passed. When I can get through a sub job without feeling shaky and insecure and sad, my spirit soars and I can't stop saying God, thank you! Progress IS being made. Little by little, those shattered pieces are being put back into place, and I'm appreciating them more than ever.
Maybe you're feeling a bit like a mess yourself. What's been helping you get through it? Here are a few things that are helping me:
1. Rejoicing over ANY progress that's being made, even if it's something small. That might mean getting dressed, not desk-crying at work, getting through traffic without cursing...it could be anything.
2. Two words: dragon noodles. (Really those two words should be "insanely easy recipes." Well, that's three words.) I can handle making this meal even when I'm overwhelmed with life and my day has totally sucked. I use 4 oz. of udon noodles, 1 Tbsp of butter for the egg and I add a spoonful of peanut butter to the sauce. I also rarely ever make it with green onions because I don't always have them on hand. This dish brings me to a happy place. I don't know how to explain it. It's magical! And it's delicious reheated or eaten cold.
3. Asking for help. My mom has driven up to Frederick countless times over the past six months to lift my spirits (and help me accomplish tasks). It's easier for me to ask her for help than my friends, but that's important too. It's practicing humility—recognizing that you can't do it all on your own.
4. Happy music. A friend of mine reminded me of how great the You've Got Mail soundtrack is, and I've had that and the soundtrack from The Parent Trap playing on repeat. I can get into a funk SO easily, and sometimes I have to purposefully carry my laptop into the bathroom, turn the volume all the way up and make myself sing along while I'm showering (I really do bathe). You can't belt out "Splish Splash" and still have a bad attitude!
5. Walks. A walk does my body good, whether it's sunny or gray, five minutes long or an hour. I never listen to music on my walks. I prefer to daydream or think of nothing at all. I now understand that guys really mean it when they say they aren't thinking about anything!
6. Repeating Truth. I picked Psalm 91:1-2 to be my focus verses for 2014. Meditating on these verses brings my heart and mind to a place of peace and security.