A Long Hard Climb
Friends, I'm tired. I'm physically tired, but it's so much more than that. I'm tired of everything being harder than it should be, or than it seems to be for other people. I'm tired of a simple trip feeling like an insurmountable mountain. I'm tired of doctor's appointments and therapists. I'm tired of equipment and feeding tubes. I'm tired of having to carry or push a 30+ pound 3 year old everywhere. I'm tired of guessing at what she's trying to communicate.
I'm tired of cancer and cancer treatments for Bryan.
I'm tired of my own minor health problems that no one seems to fully be able to figure out and everyone keeps blaming on stress. I'm tired of stress.
I'm tired of feeling all these hard feelings for so long and I'm tired of these long uncertain roads.
Today, I showed up to yoga with Stephanie Moors and she talked about this mountain top experience and the abundant life God offers and the GOOD that comes from doing hard things. And tears crept from my eyes because I believe that, but I sure don't feel it right now.
She told us to press into the deep places, to do the hard good things, in our practice and in our hearts.
Every ounce of me wanted to scream, "I'm tired of pressing in, of deep work, of hard things. I'm tired of climbing the mountain, I just want to be at the top already. I want that freedom and space already!"
There have been seasons since my husband was diagnosed with a terminal cancer and since my daughter was diagnosed with CP when I have stepped back, when I've said, "This is too hard." There have been seasons I have numbed, avoided, placated, indulged.
This has not been one of those seasons. This spring and summer season have been a time of pressing in, or not letting how hard something will be keep me from doing it. This has been a season of feeling all the feels. This has been a season of tears. This has been a season of creative shifts.
But, it has been hard. Really hard.
I'm grateful that externally it has been a pretty mild season. Bryan's doing pretty well right now. His body is slowly responding to this treatment. He isn't terribly sick most of the time. He's working and living. We just got back from a really nice trip. The kids are healthy and will both start school soon. Sage is learning new signs every day and communicating more all the time.
But, the constancy of these trials are hard. Three years of grief catching up to me is hard. Three years of stress weighing on me is hard. The fact that I don't know how long Bryan will feel this well, or how long treatments will work weighs on me. The fact that Sage's journey is only beginning, and the road ahead looks so unfamiliar and overwhelming is heavy.
It's all just hard.
I wrestled my way through yoga class today. I struggled with my balance. I felt angry. I felt wildly unsettled. I felt resentment even. I wanted abundance. I wanted freedom and victory. I didn't want to keep climbing this long, hard, super tall mountain.
I felt all of this as we laid down in Savasana at the end of class. Part of me wanted to cry, part of me wanted to throw something, part of me wanted to curl in a ball and hide. I pulled my arms over my face. I breathed fast and shallow and tried to hold back tears.
I knew in that moment. I could pull back. I could step away. There is grace for that.
I couldn't change the circumstances, but I could make it slightly, momentarily, easier. "There is grace for that," I heard. And I knew it was true, I had experienced it. I knew that in other seasons I wasn't ready to enter in the way I have been recently, and that's ok.
"You can step back, if you want. There's grace for that. But you don't have to..." The invitation came like a whisper. It was an invitation I didn't want to answer. I pulled my arms a little tighter over my face.
It came again. "It's your choice," it said.
And I knew, I didn't want it to be so hard. I wanted a path that was simple and clear, well lit, with big sign posts. I didn't want this hard, steep, hot, climb. But, I knew right then I also didn't want to stop or step back. I made my choice. I pulled my arms off of my face and laid them on the floor with my palms up. Opening my heart to the sky. "Ok, here I am. I don't really like it, I'm not really comfortable, but I'm here."
And that's when Stephanie started to pray. Her prayer was general at first. I listened and took deep breaths and tried to fight back fear, anger, and tears. I chose openness in my body and fought to choose it in my heart.
Then Stephanie started to pray for me. Out loud, in front of the whole class. She prayed for Bryan. She prayed for our kids. She prayed for me.
Something shifted. The wrestling and battle stopped. The tears fell freely. I covered my face with my hands, this time not in hiding as I had covered my face before, but in humility. Her prayer felt like God's personal response to my choice. It felt like God showing up and saying, "I'm here. I'm right here. I know it's hard. I know you're tired. I see. I see you fighting. I see you pressing in. I see you. Right here. Right now. I see you."
My face was soaked in a bath of tears.
Two beautiful women I respect, who were in the class, came and placed their hands on me as Stephanie prayed. I wiped tears away constantly with one hand and with the other I reached out and squeezed the hand of one woman and then the next.
After class I gave Stephanie a long hug. There was so much I wanted to tell her, about the way God used her to speak to me, about the way she so often brings the truth I need to hear. But I just said, "Thank you." There were doctor's appointments to rush off to, kids to drop off places, errands to run.
As I left I felt a little lighter in my body and my heart, a little less tired.
I find now that I want to put a stake in this ground, to remember this choice. That moment. To remember that God doesn't just offer an invitation to us, he shows up at the other end of it. To remember that when I am weary and tired and heavy burdened, the answer is always to look to him, to press in to Him, to trust and surrender, and open. That's the way to get lighter.
And I want to remember that so often he gives us new lightness not in isolation, but through community, through others coming around us and holding up our arms, holding our openness, when we don't have the strength to do it ourselves. This is what I believe. This is what I've experienced. This is the ground I'm claiming.
I'm putting a mile marker on this bit of the climb.
Because, tomorrow I will likely be tired again.
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany