When my kids were little, toaster strudel breakfast pastries were my nemesis. Yep…that’s right. Those toasted, flaky, pockets of deliciousness were the bane of my existence on school day mornings. Why you ask? Those darn icing packets! You see…the icing couldn’t just be drizzled over the top of the pastry. Oh no! That was a travesty apparently. Even a perky little happy face didn’t do the trick. No…in our house the icing had to be drawn into a cat. And not just any cat…it had to be a perfect cat. Now my son was more patient with me. I’d cut that packet of icing, purse my lips together, tongue poking out of one side, and do my best to create a masterpiece. A cat masterpiece. What I ended up with was a sad little blob with ears. My son would loving look into my face with an expression that said, “well you gave it the old college try mom…good job.” And he would proceed to eat his pastry. My daughter on the other hand would be reduced to tears…making sure to point out all the ways that I drew that cat wrong. All the while explaining that she couldn’t possibly eat such a hideous creation. Did I mention this was a school day and time was a ticking? Now…if she was so particular why couldn’t she draw the icing cat? Good question! “I want you to do it!” was her mantra. Oy vey! Ain’t nobody got time for that in the morning when you’re doing your best to make it out of the door in time. Luckily I got better with time, and lots of instruction from my daughter. (Did I mention she’s now an art student in college and an incredible artist – I didn’t stand a chance!) It also helped that this breakfast pastry was a treat and not something they had everyday (Shew!)
These past two months have been a whirlwind. Feedback that I’ve gotten about sharing my journey at church has been very positive, but there have been negatives as well. People have trusted me with intimate details of their lives and the lives of their loved ones, they’ve shared ways that they are trying to love better, and they’ve told me that although loving is good, I’m going about it the wrong way. There have been many voices, opinions, reactions, and consequences of sharing that day. Some good, and some bad. Top all of that with the stories I naturally see because I’m an ally for the LGBTQ community and about three weeks ago I hit a wall. I felt like that sad little breakfast pastry with the blob of icing that didn’t meet expectations…whether they be my own or what I thought others needed of me. My brain broke. I couldn’t think clearly, I couldn’t remember how to complete tasks…basically Elvis had left the building. The last time I felt like that was 20 years ago when I lost my mom suddenly. I knew I was in trouble.
What do you do when you have responsibilities, but you feel like you can barely function? When I looked in the mirror, I sort of saw myself…but it was more like the toaster strudel cat…a blob with ears. And I cried…a lot…but that’s ok because it gets things out. And then it happened…I got sick physically. I have an auto immune disease so stress is not my friend even more so than the average person. I’ve had a fever for a few weeks (a side effect of my disease) and I got a nasty virus. Again…Oy vey! I had to do something.
I muddled through work the best I could. It took me longer to complete tasks because my concentration was lacking. I took a break from social media…stepped away from the LGBTQ groups for a bit. I vegged out a lot. I watched mindless television. I don’t recommend doing this on a daily basis (smile), but I needed something to occupy my mind to keep my thoughts off of the negativity that I felt like was creeping into my soul. A distraction if you will. I can’t read much when I’m in fever mode because I just end up falling asleep…and it’s hard to concentrate so the television had to do. I’m taking a week off of work coming up in November and my family is traveling down to Florida. I will get so see my dad who I haven’t seen in a few years and I will get to meet his wife which I am very excited about. So that will definitely help.
Of course there’s quiet time with God. A must, but it’s hard to get. When is the world really quiet? Even in the quiet my mind was noisy…but I kept at it…along with lots of prayer.
So, the virus is gone now. I still have the fever, but I think as I continue to decompress it will go away. I am starting to feel like myself again. I sort of took off last Thursday for a break. I did some work from home and I ran some errands for Sunday’s service. When I stopped by church to drop the items off, I went into the Worship Center. Since I was there by myself, it was of course very quiet. I sat in one of the pews and I asked God what He wanted me to do. How do I balance all that I’m doing? How do I keep the negativity at bay? Am I doing what You want me to do? These are questions that I asked. I didn’t get any answers…at least not then. Honestly I had a hard time shutting my mind off enough to hear Him…part of my problem lately.
Later that night I had an opportunity to spend time one on one with my son. A rarity lately because he is so busy. He is usually out with friends or his friends are at my house. My daughter was at work, and my husband was at karate so it was just he and I. We had dinner together and we chatted about life. He is trying to decide what to do with his career. I was still sick at this time with the virus. He asked me if I thought it was from stress and I said yes. He told me that he’s overheard my husband and I talk about things that have happened since I shared at church. He had some questions about that so we talked some more. We had chatted so long that it was now mostly dark outside. We were sitting in the family room and the only light was the glow from my husband’s laptop. I noticed a tear in his eye and he asked if he could have a hug. I of course said yes and as we hugged tears flowed. I asked him why he was upset and he said he didn’t know. Then he said that they weren’t tears of sadness, but just pure emotion. He told me how strong he thinks I am and he said how proud he is of me for doing what I’m doing. He thinks I’m making a difference. So God answered me when I had put everything aside and was just concentrating on this precious moment with my son. God spoke through him…even though a lot of the world would say that he and God don’t go together because he’s gay…but that’s a discussion for another time.
Love each other (and yourself)…because love matters.
*To my point of this post…I hit the publish button instead of the save button before I was finished. So, if you get this twice sorry about that! I’m getting my brain back slowly but surely and apparently I have a ways to go (smile).