This week has been a tough week. There has been much to process and preliminary decisions needed to be made. I was successful at neither. One of the days this week, and I honestly don’t remember which one, I found myself sitting in front of the television, wishing so much that I could take out my cell phone and call someone–just to talk. I went through a mental list:
my mom? No. She would just worry more and that would snowball into more stress.
my sister? Possibly, but she is dealing with some of her own big problems and certainly didn’t need mine added to the pile. And the worry factor would be there too.
a friend? Maybe, but I think I’ve pretty much exhausted the few friends I have. Like the McDonalds commercial used to say, “You deserve a break today.” I felt they needed a break from me.
a pastor? No. I didn’t have a specific question that could be answered. I just desperately needed to talk to someone.
So my mental list turned up nothing. I know, as I knew then, that God was there. The thing is, sometimes, one just needs to hear a voice–an audible voice that just reassures that even though one may feel alone, that isn’t really the case. I know God is somewhere in this mess of my life. That day I needed to hear words of reassurance. Of course, not having good results with my mental list just reinforced the fact that I was alone.
The problem boiled down to one thing. Dreams. Or, more accurately, the shattering of dreams. Early in the week I had come to the realization that a dream that I had for most of my life and one I thought for SURE would someday be realized would, in fact, never be realized. My heart was broken as I pictured the components of this dream shattering like a window hit by a big rock. I didn’t want someone to pacify me with soothing words like, “It’s going to be okay. God knows what He is doing” or “You don’t know the future–maybe this will happen after all”. I knew both of those things already. What I needed was just someone to say something like, “It is hard to watch things slip away. I’m sorry.” Just someone to validate that my feelings were real and acknowledge them for that.
You may wonder what dream I saw shattered. In short, it is the dream I’ve held of living in the country with some land, a barn, some chickens, and some goats. I pictured myself feeding my animals each day, petting the heads of the goats and watching the funny antics of the chickens as they strutted about. I have always loved animals. My mom used to tell me that when I grew up and got married, I could have a zoo if I wanted. I was allowed a dog as a kid. One. Dog. I pictured myself sitting in the loft of a barn, reading a book while several barn cats snuggled around me. I was drawn to pictures and puzzles of big red barns surrounded by large green, grassy fields and a herd of goats dotting the landscape enclosed within a white fence. I imagined the farmhouse kitchen where there would be plenty of cupboard and counter space for me to cook and bake to my heart’s content. Perhaps there would even be a fruit cellar where I could store the jars of home canned peaches, tomatoes, and apple sauce that I would spend time preparing at harvest.
This past week all of those things disappeared within a two hour conversation we had with someone. You see, my dream was not my husband’s dream. It isn’t that he hates all of those things mentioned, it is just that none of those things fit with the career he has chosen. He is a white collar professional business man and, as such, his job requires him to live in or within close proximity to a major city. Living in the country makes his commute long, miserable and, in the winter, dangerous. Since his job is the sole provision for our family, we have no choice but to live where it demands. In addition to that, it has become apparent to even me that, most likely, my health would not allow me the luxury of taking care of animals and land. Perhaps it is that fact that really sent me into a tailspin this week.
As we sat and conversed with someone emotionally uninvolved and wise, it became apparent that this person agreed with my husband–moving would be a wise decision. I didn’t speak up at the time, but that fact, to me, felt like someone had stuck a knife in me and twisted the blade. At times this week, I wished someone had actually done that. Moving means much more than the loss of a life-long dream. It also means leaving the somewhat rural community where we have lived for nearly twelve years. It meant that one more loss could be added to the list of people and things I have “lost” this year. My daughter got married in February; my son is engaged and moved 600 miles away; my other daughter moved to her own apartment; my health has deteriorated and I have lost some of the abilities I used to take for granted. Loss. Loss. Loss. It seems everywhere I look I see loss and pain, and now I am being told that moving is wise and needs to happen. Even though I mostly agree with that, it doesn’t make the sting of the loss any lighter. Just to note–I realize that many others around me have lost much more than I have and their loss could be considered more of a real loss. For example, I didn’t completely lose my daughter…she got married and one could say I gained a son-in-law. I understand that. But, I read something this week that helped ease the guilt of feeling like my loss is not worth grieving over. It read, “Saying I shouldn’t be sad because there are others who have it so much worse than me is like saying you shouldn’t be happy because there are others who have it better than me.” Again, feelings are real regardless of whether they are entirely true to how they feel.
Early in the week I sent an e-mail to the person we sat and talked to, explaining how difficult the conversation had been for me and how saddened I am at the realization of these shattered dreams. His words, again, were wise, but still hard to swallow. In essence he said that sometimes we see our dreams come to fruition and other times we need to step back and see that our dreams aren’t always God’s plans for us and trust that God’s plans, in the end, will be even better than our dreams. My week was filled with those words and thoughts, yet the sadness permeated my days. The loneliness just reinforced the sadness and I found myself in a spiral of emotions going in a bad direction. I wish I could say I have completely recovered from that downward spiral, but I cannot say that. What I can say is that I am trying–trying to accept this new reality that I didn’t ask for nor want but, for some unknown reason, God saw fit to give me. The picture that kept forming in my mind was that of sandcastles on a beach. Whether the work of building the sandcastle took a few minutes and was as simple as a bucket turned upside down or a few hours and was as elaborate as any architectural drawing, it only takes one wave to destroy it. One passing of water and, before your eyes, the sand dissolves into a thousand minute grains flattened once again.
This week, my sandcastle was hit by a tidal wave and I have yet to come to terms with that fact completely.