{Remission}

“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?

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14 thoughts on “{Remission}

  1. Being dianosed with MS, not able to do all I used to, but God has shown me things I needed to let go of and to let others bless me (allowing them to walk in what God has gifted them with) realizing I cannot do it all myself.

    He has taught me to rely on HIM.

    • Tonya, you reminded me of a life-changing event I had forgotten. The way you have adjusted your life and dealt with the changes MS has brought to you has been so inspiring. You handle it with such a grace and dignity. I have seen people who deal with chronic illness and you can see the bitterness and discontent that invades their heart. I have never once heard you complain or “curse God” and although I know there must be times where you feel hard pressed, you have turned to Him with it. You are a gift to those around you and I am blessed to have you in my life; you and your family. Love ya!

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  3. In the valleys, it always feels like there are no mountaintops, or that maybe this is the new mountaintop. This is why I have found my prayer journals/other journals to be so helpful. “Oh yeah! I did just feel complete elation a year ago…And it lasted a few months!” Or “Yup, I felt complete helplessness during THAT phase, but the Lord brought me out of it.” It’s finding the things that rejuvenate, which is a challenge with kiddos in tow. I’m encouraged by your ability to look on the positive side and look forward to the new season. I’ve heard over and over (and over) from moms who have older kids who talk about the toddler years and how hard they were. They usually look back with chuckles and grins about the funny and sweet memories, but they nod knowingly about the challenges. The sleep deprivation does go away, and there are so many joys in this phase of “four little people who have their own personalities, wants, dreams, opinions and experiences” (Melissa Brotherton, A Work in Progress). ;-)

    I definitely think that becoming a mother was the most life-changing event in my life. I was really unhappy before I had London. It is weird to look back now and see how unfulfilled I felt. I feel like my purpose is so much more significant, now. The Lord needed to take me through that first 5 years of marriage to really grow up before having children, but it was a difficult time for me. I just didn’t love what I did. Now, I feel like I have purpose in a different way. My hardest days as a mother feel wonderful compared to my hard days pre-parenthood. Those days, I was bearing difficult things, but it felt like it was without purpose. Now, I know that even though things are hard sometimes, it is worth it in the long run. Does that make sense?

    Love you! Thank you for making me think.

    • What you said about purpose is so right on! It’s so much easier to endure a difficult time when we know that it’s for more than to endure a difficult time. The purpose behind it helps us to persevere. Isn’t it crazy to look back and see the changes God has made in you through parenting? I feel overwhelmed by it sometimes. :) Now just wait till it’s compounded by two. Haha! You’re going to do great!

  4. I never realized that about the 7 years. I couldn’t even begin to describe how I’ve changed in the past 7 years. All I know is there were times that yes felt like I was losing my mind, but He was always there. And God is still changing me each and very day.

  5. This is deep girl… thanks for sharing. I feel like I am being forced into change through marriage…it’s our first year and boy has it been genuine change, whether I wanted it or not!

  6. I liked this line…I’ve lost my language.
    So true! The amazing thing is…we are learning a new language while we lose the old. And truth be told it’s a deeper language. I have 4 children..7 years apart…I know how difficult those early years can be. Rewarding but intense! I still keep finding times when I need to reach deeper into myself learning new ways of dealing all the time! We also just left the church we were helping to lead…new language. Tough stuff! but it’s good learning a new normal..it keeps us limber:)

    • It’s so encouraging to hear that it gets easier. :) Well, maybe not easier, but less intense? And if not, just leave me in my oblivion till I get there. Haha! Good luck with your new normal…knowing that it’s all in God’s hands always helps.

  7. Well, of course YOU know how life-changing my first baby was, but I think one of the most important lessons I took from that time was learning how to let go of the old me and allow the change to occur. It was really hard for me at first because I didn’t get it. I knew that everything changed when I got pregnant, but I assumed that when I was done, I could just go back to my life as usual. I spent at least a year looking backwards while being propelled forward. When I finally figured out life only goes in one direction, I felt like I literally turned around to face forward. I know that I am happier and (mentally) healthier for it. The best part is, every time your life changes around you and you adapt, you learn more about yourself, who you are at your core, by seeing how some things you thought were “you” disappear, and how other strengths (and struggles) follow you into new situations.

    • That’s something Josh and I were talking about recently. How some people go through experiences that are legitimately life-changing, but try to keep it from changing their life. You were so young, it’s understandable that you would want to retain what was your life before he came along. I thought you did a really good job of stepping up and moving forward though, I never knew you went through that time. You were, and are, a wonderful mom and you have great kids.

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