Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sleep Without Rest

I tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight.

My kids didn’t get bedtime stories read to them this evening because I was half-asleep on the couch at 7:30. Micah was at the kitchen table practicing writing three digit numbers and Isaiah was sitting on my head reading Harry Potter. Yup, you read that right. He was so determined to get to find out if anyone was going to show up in the Hog’s Head to learn Defense Against the Dark Arts from Harry that he perched himself right atop the pillow I was sleeping on and started to read to himself. I woke up to an exclamation of “Expecto Patronum!” and tried to sit up, but my hair was trapped under his butt. To his credit, he did feel bad about that.

Once they were actually in bed, I went to the kitchen to grab a bowl of carbs and cut of a ginormous hunk of a caramel apple covered in Reece’s Pieces. Computer open and Friday Night Lights rolling on Netflix, it was time to work.

Except I couldn’t think. I tried to write and nothing could materialize. I tried to edit a piece for the website, but I couldn’t remember how commas work. Mostly, I just sat there and got fatter while I tried to decide if I wanted Tami Taylor to be my BFF or if I actually hated her because she is so skinny and has perfect hair.

You see, today was hard.

Even though yesterday was the day Evan was supposed to come home only to discover his kidneys were once again threatening to quit on him, today was harder. Today was our staff Christmas party at the church where I work. One of the other assistants made Jib Jab videos with the faces of every single person on staff, there was a hot chocolate bar complete with raspberry whipped cream, marshmallows and sprinkles. There were carolers.

So many people with good intentions and servant hearts came to ask how Evan was doing. And I told them. Then they asked how I was doing. And I lied to them.

I lied.

I lied to my friends. I lied to my senior pastor.

I said things like, “I’m getting through” and “Well, I’m here!” and “We’re doing okay.”

Perhaps those things aren’t total lies because I guess there certainly is some truth to them. We are getting through, I have been showing up to work, and for the most part we really are okay.

But my senior pastor asked me a question that I hadn’t really considered much.

“Are you sleeping?” he asked.

To be honest, I’m not even sure what kind of jacked-up answer I gave him, but I know whatever speech I gave, it was delivered in kind of a HEY LOOK SOMETHING SHINY fashion that is meant to distract the listener.

So here’s the truth.

Yes, I am sleeping. But I’m not getting rest.

Nothing is restful anymore. Every spare moment feels like it should be spent either working or writing the dozens of thank you notes I am behind on. I feel guilty even claiming to have “spare moments” because there are laundry baskets all over the house filled with clothes that someone else has folded that I haven’t even been able to muster the motivation to put away.

My desk is covered with medical supplies, so my office now makes me think of the hospital. The place where he is. The disease that started this mess. So that space that Evan was so insistent be just MINE? The place where I was supposed to be able to shut the door and just get away? Now that’s gone too, taken over by gauze, medications and a blood pressure cuff.

I let the auto-play feature of Netflix take over until it asks if I’m still alive – Are you STILL watching Gilmore Girls? – and then I realize it’s nearly midnight. I try to write an email, schedule some tweets, do something resembling anything productive to at least trick myself into believing I’m getting through this even half as well as everyone thinks I am, but instead I stare at the blinking cursor and wonder what I’m going to watch tomorrow night because we’ve reached the point in the series where Lorelai and Rory are apart and fighting because Rory quit Yale and moved in with her grandparents and they don’t speak to one another for like eight episodes which is the absolute worst.

I just don’t have the emotional capacity right now to handle the Great Gilmore Estrangement of 2005.  

Too close for missiles, switching to guns. Back to Friday Night Lights. I really need someone to give me their Hulu+ password so I can watch the final season of Parenthood. On second thought, I heard that I am going to cry ugly tears at the finale, so maybe it's best that I wait and try something a bit less traumatic like The Walking Dead. 

So when I finally fall into bed, I lay there and my mind just spins with all the things I should have done that I didn’t. All the worries about Evan, the fear, the guilt. All the prayers for God to fix this. All the tears because I’m so damn lonely and so damn tired.

Eventually sleep comes. But not rest.

The boys have to nearly drag me out of bed in the morning. I have an entire closet of clothes that don’t fit because I’ve gained so much weight in the last several weeks. Even my yoga pants are threatening to give out, so that’s saying something.

I get my game face on. I get the kids to school. I go to work.

I do the best I can, but I am exhausted.

Emotionally, physically, spiritually.


Even as I write these words, I am wrestling with guilt. Guilt that I am taking the time to write instead of trying to sleep. Guilt for even feeling like anyone will care about any of this.

There are people with real problems, the voice whispers. Cancer treatments, deaths in the family, disasters that are way bigger and way more important that anything you could understand. You are being selfish and whiny and you have become nothing but a burden. Your family needs you to be strong and instead you are failing and are relying on everyone else to do everything. How pathetic. Be a grown-up and get over yourself.

I’ve never claimed to have been strong against this kind of attack. But right now, my defenses are weaker than they have ever been and I can feel myself started to break.

So I sleep. I don’t rest.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bring Me Closer

Some of you have texted me today looking for an update, so I figure it's probably just easiest to post here because.....WOW. There are a lot of people following Evan's story and it is absolutely a testament to what happens when God get a hold of your life. I'm going to get a little soap boxy here for just a second, so sit tight.

"Church" is not a building, friends. It's not that one lady who didn't choose you to lead the small group when you felt you deserved it and left you hurt. It's not that unexpected leadership change, the worship service with not enough hymns anymore, or the committee that made a decision you didn't like. That is not the Church. At least, not as it should be.

The Church is where love collides with pain. Where the gates of heaven are shaken off their hinges simply from the sound of the prayers banging against them as the children of God hit their knees in intercession. Church is where Jesus is all there is, so everything is counted all as joy. There are challenges and struggles and disagreements because the church is made up of nothing but a bunch of sinners, make no mistake about it. But our family has been carried by our people who have asked their people who have asked their people and so on, until probably into the hundred of voices have been beseeching the Father on our behalf. And to be at the epicenter of it all? You realize just exactly how small you are....and how big this Jesus really is.

It's all true, friends. This Christmas story of a baby born to save a broken world? It's all true. When we see the news and feel the pain happening all around us, I know it sometimes feels like no loving God would allow this to happen. How could he? If it were true, why would people be murdered at a Christmas party? Why would cancer exist? Why would we be unable to watch the news without hearing about yet another senseless tragedy or natural disaster? None of it makes sense, not really. And of course no Facebook post is going to bring an answer.

But I know it to be true. I know it because no matter how much this sucks or how much the earth seems to be flying off its axis, I rest in knowing that none of this is coming as a surprise to Him. I drove home from the hospital recently with hysterical tears coming down my face and I screamed at God. Over and over, I pounded the steering wheel and demanded an answer as to why this was happening to our family. Was it a test? Some sort of refining process to make us closer to Him? Because if that's the case, He could keep it. I had no interest in channeling Job or any other such faithful servant. I just wanted it to stop and to go back to normal.

It was the first time I really remember really wrestling with God. And, like Jacob, I emerged not fully at peace and somewhat worse for wear. My problems were not solved and I had no magic answer. What I did have was the reminder that I was loved and that the One who loves me more than I will ever understand is not surprised, not taken off guard by any of this. In fact, He was pretty clear long ago that this would happen....that our world would destroy itself.

But "take heart," He said. "For I have overcome the world."

That night in Bethlehem, the Overcomer arrived. And right now, in this season as things are falling apart all around me, I need an Overcomer. On my own? I am nothing. I have nothing. I can do nothing.

So instead, I'm choosing to be held in greater hands than my own. I'm learning into my Church, the brothers and sisters who are going to battle on our behalf, many of whom I don't even know.

Church is meant to bring you closer to the cross. And that's exactly what mine is doing.

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