“I feel like I don’t know you anymore!”
The words repeat in my head as I ponder actions and words in disbelief. What once was so familiar and comfortable now feels crooked and awkward. Like a favorite shirt that shrunk in the wash; the fabric remains the same, but the fit is all wrong.
People talk about life-changing events: missions trips, books, movies, even food. However, the truly life altering moments are those that evoke change whether you want it or not: marriage, death, children. In most cases you can’t will yourself to be different. After a time what once made such a significant impact becomes a distant memory. Then there are those experiences that shift you, crack you, and flip you inside-out.
They say that your taste buds change every seven years. In the Old Testament every seventh year was a year of remission, an opportunity to cancel all debts and begin again. Debtors were forgiven, slaves were set free, all became new.
Seven years ago this month I found out I was pregnant for the first time. Over half-way through our second year of marriage, we had just returned to Washington from living in California. My grandparents had taken us in, we were both working part-time and we were embarking on our first ministry leadership position. Most people would say we had bad timing, I say we had God’s timing.
Up till that point I would have described myself as a self-assured, organized, task-oriented person with an excellent memory and ability to focus. Today, seven years later, I am not so self-assured, my house is in a constant state of disarray, I’ve learned to focus less on the tasks and more on the people and I cannot remember anything.
I feel like I don’t know me anymore.
The last seven years have changed me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Nothing about myself feels familiar. The disconnect that frequently occurs between the words in my head and the ones that come out of my mouth remind me of a stroke survivor. I’ve lost my language.
Calendars used to be more for show than to serve as a reminder; two days ago I forgot about doctors’ appointments for my two youngest boys until an hour and a half after they should have been there. I’ve never been so thankful for a phone that chimes to remind me to pay bills and go to appointments.
Josh keeps encouraging me; it’s sleep deprivation, it’s stress, you’ll return to normal. But I am not so certain.
Doesn’t seven years of sleep deprivation eventually take its toll on you in a permanent way? Poor diet, lack of exercise and multiple pregnancies certainly has. Is it really just a matter of getting more sleep, or has something deep inside of me fundamentally changed?
And if those negative changes are temporary, what does that mean about the positive ones? Having children has shown me my selfishness, my tendency to ignore the human for the goal, my sense of entitlement and my pride. Although God’s still working on these areas in me, I do feel like great strides have moved me from where I once was. I don’t want more sleep and older children to bring me back to the starting point.
This is my year of remission. For seven years I have been in birthing mode. We have now stepped into a new phase of life, one that involves four little people who have their own personalities, wants, dreams, opinions and experiences. It will be interesting to see what kind of changes God does in me over the next seven years of our life.
What events in your life would you describe as genuinely life-changing?
How are you different now compared to then?