When What Doesn’t Make You Stronger Does Kill You

As a school teacher and mother of school aged children, life is measured not in calendar years, but school years.


Six years ago was the worst. My heart was so broken by a friend. My life was changing as I transitioned into a new season in life. This transition, that would take several years, was just beginning. I dreaded what was to come. Being slighted by this friend was surprisingly painful. So many nights I would get a hurtful email before bed and cry. Jay actually asked me to stop checking email before bed. It might sound funny to say, but I was so hurt and yet a desire to live above reproach had me defending this person, taking responsibility for his actions, and then smiling and pretending that everything was fine. I don’t do pretend well. I do real and honest and unfiltered. It was a lonely year, and I felt fake. It was the worst, but I found my strength as a woman. Then…


Five years ago was the worst. Have you ever had everything in your life torn away in tiny pieces. It’s not fun. That was the year that my daughter went off to school and I prepared for the impending move of the other two into school at the end of the year. If that wasn’t a big enough life change, changes made in our church led to my leaving my ministry position. While a planned change, the way it ended up playing out left me feeling devalued and wounded. I spent the entire year wondering if God would ever give me a ministry again. God was not giving me any answers to my question. It was the worst year ever, but I found my identity in Christ. Then…


Four years ago was the worst. Seriously, I had been a homeschool mom for years and now my kids were in school. I needed a job to pay for this and none of my applications had panned out. So now, here I am subbing in different school every day for not a ton of money. I am trying to juggle school schedules and helping my kids adjust to a new schooling situation. That was also the year of the hospital. Our eldest son and my MIL both spent a significant amount of time in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, none of which were near us. It was a rough year. Half way though I landed a full time teaching position, and while the full time job helped relieve the financial pressure, the workload was so much I could barely manage. It was the worst, but I found my strength in gifts I had never fully tapped before. Then…


Three years ago was the worst, not emotionally, but physically. Having finally acquired a full-time teaching position I was determined to get my teaching certificate. I wanted the paper, sort of as an insurance policy, in case life happened. I was balancing my first full year of teaching while taking classes for 4 hours every Friday night and all day every other Saturday after an exhausting workweek. Then there was the homework. Ugh! I had barely had a minute to breathe. I just kept thinking, “If I could just get through June.” It was the worst, but I found out how much I truly could accomplish. But then…


Two years ago was the worst. Two of my kids switched school. One was not happy about the change. I was juggling work and kids in two schools. My heartbroken child moved into the teen years, turning her hurt and anger outward just as much as inward. Watching your child hurt is painful beyond words. And when that hurt child turns their words at you, it can be unbearable. The entire school year was rough on everyone. It was the worst year ever, but I found my strength in friendships. Until…


Well that was at least until last year. Last year was so hard it was almost epic. I spent 20 hours a week caring for an ailing mother, eventually coming to a place where I was changing adult diapers and bandages which covered that which one should never see. Last year pretty much took the cake for soul-sucking. When Mom passed in March she left behind a lot of crap and no money to run her estate while we tried to muddle through it all. From August-July my entire life surrounded around Mom in some shape or form. The later form being ashes in a box, but still. It was absolutely the worst year ever, but I found my strength in family. And then…

Then this year happened. Seriously, after last year I was pretty sure that I had hit the low point. What else could happen? But then it did: a series of crisis moments that strung together in such a tapestry of chaos that I knew I could never survive the year. And I haven’t. I have died. I have died to my dreams of motherhood. I have died to my hopes for my children. I have died to my expectations of what my life should be like. I have died to my understanding of how God works. I have died to putting on a happy face. I have died to self-sufficiency. I have died a million tiny deaths this year. It took me six years, but I have died. All those things over the years that made me stronger, gave me confidence, and gave me the strength to carry on, they just weren’t enough. Christ is carrying me through this year like a boss. He has sent dinners to me that have just appeared in my fridge. He has wrapped me in his arms with dozens of friends who have gone above and beyond in their sacrificial love for our family. I am solely dependent on Christ and those he has sent to lift us up this year. It has been far and away the absolute worst year I could ever imagine, and I lost my strength. What I found was my weakness.
And still I will follow!


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