I’ve read that all change, both change for the bad as well as for the good, causes stress. I doubt there are many people who would dispute that well known fact. Bad change, such as losing a job or a loved one, can wreak havoc on the world we once knew. The degree varies of course. Losing a parent, spouse, child, or other loved one doesn’t compare to losing a job, but the bottom line that stress is induced by bad change remains steady. Change for the good also causes stress. A new job or moving to a bigger and nicer home induces stress as well. A new baby is a wonderful joy, but I can honestly say that each time my husband and I added a new little one to our family, it upped the stressometer a ton! The latter part of 2013 was filled with stress for me as I tried to figure out what was next for my life while dealing with the learning curve of a new chronic illness diagnosis. The storm clouds grew a little more intense in the early parts of the following year as I experienced one of those good changes that brought with it stress I couldn’t have predicted.
I actually got the phone call in late August of 2013. It was late at night (for me anyway) so a ringing cell phone sent initial waves of panic as I saw my older daughter’s name appear on the screen. I shook the grogginess of being awakened from sleep and swiped to answer her call. She was crying. The waves of panic grew a bit. But then she told me the reason for her call. Her boyfriend has just proposed to her! She had been waiting for that proposal for several months and was crying tears of joy when she called. She was the first of our kids to plan a wedding and I was so excited to begin all the festivities that come along with weddings! They decided on a May wedding, giving us nine months to plan the celebration. That December, while the two of them were visiting for Christmas, they decided that there were too many obstacles in place to be married in May. They announced they would have a Valentine’s Day wedding–this was a day they both despised so getting married on that day would give them reason for celebration in the future. They also decided they didn’t want a big wedding. Instead, it would be immediate family only with a reception following at some point later in the summer. Suddenly we had six weeks to plan a wedding. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t unbelievably stressful moments planning even their small scale wedding, but in the end, it all came together. Valentine’s Day arrived with a fresh blanket of new snow and temperatures in the single digits! Their outdoor pictures are stunning, my daughter’s beautiful white wedding gown against a backdrop of clean, crisp white snow. The two of them were happy with all the decisions they made and how the day and evening went. The next day, I wasn’t expecting to get hit with the raw emotion that came with realizing that my baby girl’s last name no longer matched mine. As they headed back to where they were living, three hours away, a part of me knew things would not be quite the same again. It was a good change–we love our son-in-law so much! But remember, even good change can cause stress.
It was a few months after their wedding when two more good changes hit my life. Our third child, a son, was finishing Bible college and had an internship over three hours farther east than the school he had been attending. As we dropped him off and got him settled in his first ever apartment, alone, my heart was broken. This would be the first summer in his twenty-one years of life that he would not be home. I would miss his singing, his joking around with us, and his conversations with me that regularly took place after his dad had gone to bed. Not only that, he knew no one in the town he was living. He didn’t know his way around. He didn’t even have a vehicle. We left him his dad’s car to use for the summer. His girlfriend was living and working three hours west of him. He had met the pastor he would be interning under a couple times, but for the most part, he was alone. By his second week there, he called me, homesick and lonely. My heart was broken for him. I wanted so much to make his world perfect, but that power was no longer mine. We drove to hear him preach his first real church sermon. I couldn’t have been prouder. He eventually settled in and became very close with the senior pastor, his wife, and their adorable two year old girl. He even babysat on occasion! One day, as I was getting a haircut, I received a text message from him. It contained a picture of an engagement ring! He would be proposing sometime that summer. That proposal came in June. We would have another wedding to plan!
More good news came in October of that year. Our daughter called and asked when we would be able to come see her and our son-in-law. We planned a weekend and made the three hour drive. We were barely in the door of their apartment when she announced she was pregnant! Our first grandchild! I was beyond ecstatic! Of course, when we paused and looked at the timing, it couldn’t have been more stressful. Little man was due five days before our son’s wedding. Our daughter was torn. She has always been super close with her brother (they believed they secretly were twins since they are only fourteen months apart) and desperately wanted to be at his wedding. That wedding, though, was going to be in Indiana–thirteen hours from where they were living. As it turned out, our grandson decided to arrive three weeks early. The new little family did make the trip to Indiana for the wedding. It was insanely stressful, but he won’t remember any of it. 🙂
In the midst of all the good change, there were two big changes that did not rank on the good scale. The storm clouds got darker and darker, and the winds began to intensify. I began to suspect a major disturbance coming, but honestly had way too much on my plate to prepare for any of it.