A Stroke of Levity

What a week. What in the world happened to me? I have been so low the past four days or so…a place I have not seen in a while. Things are heavy, my heart flutters with anxiety, the list is too long, they want my attention but I can’t pay attention long enough to give it to them, I am divided…tired…distracted and desperately in need of the Lord. He is here. He always is and He always has been. This sheep just hasn’t been following her shepherd this week…but rather on the outskirts of the flock looking around. That is not a good place to be.

The dreams started a week ago. Reminders of pain and trouble in the past. Prayer and keeping my eyes on Him pushed me past these dreams(I thought) but there must have been some residual thought anchoring me down. Time away from my husband is always hard. He travels often for work and I often slip into a very independent, self-sufficient, “overdrive” mode when he is gone.  This helps me to keep moving so I can conquer the things that need done around the house as well as meet the needs of the kids. Only, this week I was away so it was a little different and I wasn’t sure how to feel. While I was gone, there was a lot of waiting…so I read an article on a news website. It was about a woman who was choosing to raise her kids without God. The article itself was so sad. But even more troubling were the strings of comments from people who agreed with her reasoning. Ok, so I didn’t want to read the news anymore. I opened the book I brought with me entitled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. This is for our upcoming women’s Bible study….surely it would be uplifting. Uggh. The first chapter centered around accidental death of a sibling and her doubt in God. I can only assume that this was going somewhere- but I just had to put it down. The “to do” list hasn’t really changed…just the way I am looking at it.  Back at home, each child is begging me to play with them, but they each want to play something different and I really, really need time with my hubby. How do I choose? And the person I needed the most this week is the one I spent the least amount of time with….my Lord. Waking up later after sleepless nights and not having my quiet time has been cataclysmic. (Yes…that’s a dramatic word, but it fits!)

cat·a·clysm

noun \ˈka-tə-ˌkli-zəm\

1. Flood, deluge
2. Catastrophe
3. A momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition; broadly : an event that brings great changes

This week my brother-in-law (bro) suffered another stroke. With the support of a wonderful husband I set things aside and went down the road to be with my sister. “This one was different.”, she said….and I could hear it in her voice. But little did I know that THIS is where I’d see God this week (praise the Lord)- while I was sinking.

My bro is a smart, bright, thoughtful guy. He works in the IT field and he’s on top of his game when it comes to his job. While he was in the hospital, there were moments when he’d gain ground…..and others when he couldn’t recall the names of those he loved most. He was frustrated because he wanted to pray but didn’t know how to- the words just wouldn’t come. Without going into too much medical detail…the stroke he has had resulted in memory loss, but not the way you’d imagine. It’s all “in there”- locked away in his mind….but he just can’t find the right words to get it out. I was teasing him the other night that he’d be excellent at a game like charades right now, because he is using hand gestures a lot to describe things. He knows so much and his speech is fine…getting the right words to match the person, action, or object is the challenge. He can describe what happened in an entire movie while asking what the name of the lead actor is- JUST so he can get that name. It really is amazing- but you can imagine his frustration.

But there’s something different. I was looking at his face the other night…just watching. There is a new kind of levity there. The stress that can come with life, or a job, challenges of parenting, or even just a drive through rush hour is gone. While he is facing these challenges- the challenges are not written on his face. Instead there is a light, an excitement, an eagerness to find the right words and a joy when he does. Even when tasting food…there is a new appreciation and it was one that he was outwardly expressing. “Zeal” is a good word to describe what I was seeing. It was so wonderful and interesting that I had to ask him about it. He said that it was almost like he had a new set of eyes. Although he wasn’t learning all of this for the first time….it all looked “brighter” (the word he used).  It was like God hit the factory-reset button on my bro- restoring him to the original, intended function and purpose he was created for. He took away all of the muck that can weigh us down- and replaced it with something pure and wonderful. Just before this incident, my bro accepted the position as Recreation Director at his church. While he was in the hospital he was telling me about an experience he had in the gym just the night before. As he was telling me about it- his face lit up…just a preview of the light that was to shine from his face a few nights later. I have a feeling that God is on the verge of something big with my bro.

In hindsight, looking back at my week and the feelings of being overwhelmed- I feel a little silly. Looking at the light in bro’s eyes and the smile that he has…even while facing challenges….reminded me that I need to snap out of it. Yesterday, I didn’t go to church- but started my week off visiting with my Lord. Quietly. Alone. Focused on Him. While it was a tearful day…another “c” word comes to mind.

ca·thar·sis

noun [kuh-thahr-sis]  

The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from , strong or repressed emotions. 
 I am looking up. He reminded me last night that each day is a new day, each minute is a new minute, each moment is a new moment. I don’t have to wait….there is a fresh start available to me at any given second. I need to be mindful about what I read, where I let my mind dwell, and where I place my priority. Lingering on the outer edges of the flock makes me more susceptible to wolves. And setting my mind on uncertainty or “what-ifs” keep me from functioning in the present. Interestingly enough, I looked back on a verse and a blog I started 2 weeks ago about eyes and ears…..He was trying to tell me to keep focused before I allowed all of these feelings to weigh on me. I’m going to revisit that draft today so I can share it with you this week. 
Pray for bro this week. Pray especially for my sister and their family. And, maybe mention me while you’re at it.
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