Thursday, August 29, 2013

Because You Can't Rebuild A Life In A Few Months

Most days I don't realize how difficult this summer was for us until one little thing will happen or I'll hear a particular song or smell fresh landscaping. Then it all rushes back and I'm reminded of what our family has waded through. And I'm so grateful that we didn't drown. We talked in our small group tonight about how we have lost our spiritual edge. The series our pastor taught was over the prophet Elisha who, among many other miracles, helped a student retrieve his axehead from the river by causing it to float. The question he asked the student was, "Where did it fall?" So we asked one another where our spiritual edge had fallen.

Mine fell the week of May 20. Though I was strong and overwhelmed that God had taken care of us, my stamina and diligence in life was depleted in those moments. I was running on awe and pure adrenaline, but my heart was so raw and a sort of depression was quickly setting in. I've since realized that while every physical need was being met with great speed, the emotional and spiritual needs were being stifled or ignored. Not by others, but by myself. I simply didn't know what to do with myself.

I had an oblong package stored in the garage at the rent house that sat unopened since June, I believe--until yesterday when I finally opened it. Why did I never open it? I still don't really know. The summer left us (maybe mostly me) paralyzed in so many ways. No matter how hard I tried, there were some everyday things that I just could not will myself to do. Cooking was out of the question after an emotional fiasco-attempt at a Father's Day dinner for Matt that ended in 2 am tears and then an ER visit on the actual holiday. Buying groceries was even foreign to me. I wonder now if I didn't do it much because it would force me to face the reality of what we lost, and I just couldn't swallow that for some odd reason.

My friend Cindy, who lost her home by fire at the end of June, has been the one person who has completely understood right along with me how it feels to search high and low for something in someone else's kitchen, just to finally realize you don't have it anymore. Even in this new house--which we absolutely love--I searched for a long handled spoon to empty out a jar yesterday. I knew I had those long handled spoons because my mother in law had given them to me. And then it hit me. No, I don't. Matt went to a hardware store and bought some tools and things (just realized how much of a girl I am because I have no idea what the names of these "things" are!) and he didn't buy the actual drill bit because he already had that. Then he got home and it hit him. No, he doesn't have that. It's so odd how our minds are still playing tricks on us. One night after church on the south side of the city, we were going to dinner with some friends in Moore and we were accompanied by my mother and father in law. My husband was trying to convince his parents that they needed to drive their own car because after dinner, they'd be driving north while we'd be driving south to go home. (We had moved to the north of the city.) He actually argued with me for quite a few moments, and then at last I saw it click in his mind.

We don't live there anymore.

Poor guy. It actually tore him up right then and there. It's so hard to make our minds stop toying with us. I'll mention to a friend that I have something if they'd like to...oh wait. Such a weird new normal, and I suspect this will go on for quite some time until we truly "get" it.

Back to the package. It turned out to have a very sweet card in it from a precious friend. I could have read her encouragement in June, but because of my emotional paralysis, I read it in August. And maybe that's the way God planned it! I have healed tremendously since June, and I may not have appreciated her encouraging words at that time. Maybe I would've been angry at receiving a decorative piece for a rent house I was not excited about decorating. Only God knows. And it works perfectly in our house, by the way. But my point in writing about it is that it reveals how out of it I was this summer. There are so many things I have not written or even shared with many people just because I didn't know how. For some reason, I lived out of a suitcase until July. Even I could not explain why; I just did it. I didn't hang my clothes up in the closet but just kept tossing them--even after laundering them--back into the suitcase. My husband had moved into his racks just fine. So why couldn't I?

While having early morning coffee with my friend Marcy, she asked what I miss the most. And I broke. I sat in the coffee shop, sobbing and telling her how I miss the three towers that served as a landmark to guide me back to our house, the shade in our backyard where we could be outside even at 3 pm and feel cool, the neighbors and their kids, knowing where all the stores were, late night walks with my dog, how much nicer people seemed to be there than they are up friend cried with me as I pulled out all that had been festering inside me. I just missed the "normal", the familiar. Learning a new area, new streets, new stores--it's harder than it sounds. It's probably because I did not solicit the move, but was kicked out. I've moved before, obviously, but this was so different. It was there one second and in one instant, it was not. I cannot begin to fathom the way those who lost people and not only possessions and a way of life feel regarding this.

There were and still are so many blog posts I had/have wanted to write but just never did for one reason or another. This is one of them, and it's for my healing purposes if nothing else. Coffee with Marcy reminded me how important it is for us to continually reach for this healing--that it is not an arrival, but a process. We will heal one piece at a time. And my friend Cindy texted something simple yet so meaningful to me as well. She said we need to help one another remember that we cannot rebuild our whole lives in a few months. So true. I realize now that I was spending so much energy and time grasping for that complete rebuilding all summer, that I neglected much of the emotional and mental rebuilding I was desperate for. I need to take moments and just remember, grieve the loss of it. Even though I have so much to be thankful for, the loss still stings.

I wonder if I'm the only weird person who can in one second be swept back to a time in life by particular music? If I'm not, then I wanted to share a couple of those moments with you.

I remember standing in the devastation and singing the same phrase over and over from a song I'd heard on the radio:

Even when it feels like the light is fading 
And I've lost my way 
Still I'm holding on to the One who's making 
All things possible 

Even when it feels like my heart is breaking 
Hold on, there is strength 
Knowing I belong to the One who's making 
All things possible 

--Mark Schultz "All Things Possible"

These lyrics literally carried me as we dug through our lives those first few days.

Just before the tornado, Matt and I had gotten hooked on an artist names Josh Garrels. There was a particular song that I liked a lot, but I could not have known how it would take on such profound meaning for me after losing the house. Here are a few of those lyrics:

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this all by and by...

Still I get hardpressed on every side
Between the rock and the compromise
Like the truth and a pack of lies fightin' for my soul
And I've got no place left to go
Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on

Skippin' like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the son of God is forever blessed
He is the kingdom we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test 
Sing Lord, come soon
--original song lyrics by W.B. Stevens, rewritten by Josh Garrels

I remember the drive to our "house" the next morning after the tornado. It was just Matt and me. We were going to see how bad it was, neither of us knowing what to expect. This song came on and I'll never forget the look we gave one another, the way Matt reached over to take my hand. I knew he was saying, "It's going to be okay. We're going to make it." So this song is still so special to me today. I love to hear it, but it truly does take me back, so I have to be mindful of when I listen to it.

Three months later, I feel that God is allowing me the chance to answer Him when He asks, "Where did it fall?" And I am working to sit back, breathe, and let Him restore my spiritual edge. What was lost can be found. God has placed incredible people in my life to help with this process that no doubt hurts tremendously at times. He is faithful to walk with us through the hurt, isn't He?

Peace of Christ to you,

1 comment:

  1. No, you are not alone about music, sounds, sights, and smells. I hear songs on K-Love that were such a comfort to me immediately following the days after the tornado. We were spending most of our time cleaning up, but since we stayed with our kids in Guthrie the first nine days we had a 64 mile drive back and forth. That's a whole lot of thinking/listening time. Such an exhausting time, but such a blessing. God rode so many miles with me in that car and in our truck. We were so grateful to still have a truck, much less a radio that worked. K-Love was such a balm to me. I can't even count how many times I would sob and drive, and a certain song would come on and I would have to pull over and have some time to let it all out. And I still do. Plumb (Need you Now), Tenth Avenue North (Worn), Laura Story (Blessings) and so many more. It felt as though God was playing them all just for me at the exact moment I needed them. And I am so grateful.

    On the sounds. I still jump and cringe at certain sounds. We went to see Where Was God? yesterday and afterwards went to the OK Strong tent. The wind was whipping that tent all around and it was popping and blowing. Needless to say, we didn't stay long. My nerves were so raw and I was so glad to get out of there.