Wednesday, May 02, 2018


There are a host of ways to land in a ditch.  As I lunched with a friend last week, she told me of when she learned to ride a bike on back country roads in a farming state.  If you aren't familiar with roads like these, please understand that there are giant ditches on either side - probably for drainage or some other useful purpose that I don't care enough to google.  Anyway, my friend was terrified of landing in the ditch on her bike.  So much so that she would watch the ditch and inevitably swerve her bike in that direction.  Her father kept repeating, "Don't stare at the ditch!  Look at the road - where you want to be!"

It's safe to say that I've spent more than my fair share of time staring at the ditch lately.  I've been consumed with fear for all the ways that life can and might go wrong.  I've been worried about the future of each of my children for different reasons, and I've been frustrated by the lack of control that I have over their ultimate destinies.  There are real concerns and questions, and instead of setting them up against a backdrop of hope and truth, I have spiraled into sadness and anger.

The last few months have just about done me in.  More like the last few years or 15 or so.  Not entirely sure where to put a beginning point to it all, but the cumulative effect of life can certainly be wearing.  A few weeks ago, all the waves seemed to break at once as I lost my footing in all of the feelings.  There was the usual gauntlet of spring emotions for me, and this year, I've been facing some added realities of our family life being more challenging than I hoped it would be at this point.

Several week ago, my counselor noted that I am likely dealing with some situational depression.  She cited my general lack of hope as I spoke of the future, as well as the anger that I described that is unusual for me.  Her words were both enlightening and discouraging.  In some ways, it gave me permission to feel even more deeply, which meant later that week, John and I found ourselves in a parking lot, outside of an event that we needed to attend, with me heaving sobs and trying not to hyperventilate.  I did rally enough to stare catatonically around and scrape through the evening, but it served as a bit of a wake up call for the way I am dealing (or not dealing) with life.

Since then, I've been more mindful of how I'm spending my time and energy and looking for ways to conserve both, as well as trying to engage in things that are life-giving.  I already work out regularly, but I've been bringing my eating back under control (a little) and trying to drink more water (my nemesis).  I've been spending time with friends and endeavoring to sleep the right amount and all the things that we all know will make us feel better in life when we actually do them.

I've also had to be honest with myself about where I'm at by paying attention to the depressive spells and recognizing when I need to adjust what is going on when possible.  As someone who usually embraces fun and runs from pain, this self-examination does not come naturally.  But it is important, because there are other ways to land in a ditch.

I spent my high school years in Kansas where I lived in a tiny town on the outskirts of Wichita.  There were dirt roads and fields everywhere.  One morning, I was running late to church (I was likely running late to church every time I went, but I was in a particular hurry this time), and I was driving fast on a dirt road - probably about 70 mph.  I was 16 and didn't have enough experience to realize how dumb this was.  I don't remember why, but I needed to brake suddenly.  My car spun out of control, and I landed in the ditch.  I was able to drive out of it, and I'm not sure I ever even "mentioned" it to my parents, since there was no damage to the car.

I feel like I am trying to walk the tightrope of not freaking out about all the bad things that could happen while also recognizing and preparing for some negative possibilities.  Ultimately, this means living surrendered to the Lord and knowing that he guides and directs our steps and cares for us every step of the way.  I have to learn how to drive and not gravitate towards the ditch or speed past it and end up there anyway.  So tricky - at least for me.

One moment at a time.  One day at a time.  I'm hoping to walk more by faith and trusting the heart of God who loves us all more than I can comprehend.  This life is littered with situations I cannot understand, but little by little, I must put my trust in the one who gives life and loves the most.  Even and especially when I feel sad, angry and upset.  God can handle all of those feelings and then some, and he offers an easy burden and a bright hope for tomorrow.  I'm infinitely better off when I am looking at those.


Also, I'm working to soak in the sweet moments, which we have been gifted in spades.  There is tons of hard, but also tons of good.  I'm so thankful.