Have you ever had a really bad day — that lasted a whole year?
I started this year thinking my biggest challenge was going to be confronting my husband on some serious relationship issues. We did have that confrontation soon after New Year’s, and it was pretty rough, but it didn’t turn out to be the biggest problem of the year.
Our teenagers are the ones who have given us a “run for our money” this year. At the moment, our 19-year old daughter is pregnant and getting a divorce from an abusive husband who started beating her within weeks after they eloped. They had only known each other 2 months when they got married, and I had begged and pleaded with Breanna to slow things down. But she was in a serious prodigal season of life and wouldn’t listen to me. She also won’t listen to our recommendation to place the baby for adoption, so she plans to raise the child as a single mom. Breanna lives with the family of a friend, because we have “too many rules” at our home, incidentally. I’ve no idea how she’s going to manage single parenting. Did I mention, she’s clinically depressed, too?
Our other teen is our 17-1/2 year old son, Brenden, who moved out the day before Thanksgiving. There was a huge blowout because of his ignoring house rules and treating me disrespectfully. If you asked him, he would say he was “trying” to abide by the rules and conditions we had set for him around the home. But to me, he was mostly trying to skate around as many as possible. For example, it seems he thought he had a loophole with the “no girlfriend sleepover” rule. Instead of having her stay here all night, he would go get her earrrrrly in the morning, so that they could still loaf around together all morning, eat a leisurely breakfast, take a late morning nap, etc. This had been happening throughout Thanksgiving week when they were off school, although I had prompted Brenden repeatedly to go job hunting. But he ignored my recommendation, as well as my reminders to clean up after himself in the kitchen… and a big fight ensued. I didn’t kick him out, but I was very close. But he said I didn’t have to kick him out. He was ready to leave. He packed up and left that night. He’s still away, staying with various friends or in his car. We’re turning his room into a home gym.
On top of all this immediate family stuff, there were several extended family crises this year: two deaths and two major surgeries. In addition, I’m going through a season of burnout in my career. I’ve made a major decision to implement some significant changes in ’07. It’s quite intimidating, but I do feel it’s God’s will.
I saw a girlfriend recently whom I hadn’t seen in a few years, and gave her the Reader’s Digest update on our family life. She stood there with her jaw open during most of my tale, and then wanted to know, “How do you get up in the morning?” I laughed and said, “Some days I don’t!” That wasn’t entirely true. I’ve never stayed in bed all day, unless I was sick (and I have been sicker than usual this year. Our bodies can only take so much stress!) But I have dealt with a lot of depression the last twelve months and certainly didn’t want to get up many days.
By the way, in case you’re thinking this is one of those testimonies in which someone’s problems are miraculously resolved and life is wonderful again… I’m sorry, it’s not. I’m still in the midst of my storm, even though it seems slightly calmer for the moment. But I will tell you how I’ve made it through thus far and what I’ve learned in the midst of it all.
First, I want to say that those sermons you hear about God being a rock and being the one thing you can hold onto in the tough times — it’s true. I’ve pictured myself so many times this year clinging for dear life to that Rock while waves of adversity crashed violently all around me. God never wavered or moved. He IS there for us in times of need. And second, one of the ways he’s here for us is through other people. I’ve been immensely blessed to have the support of family, friends, and a good counselor throughout this season of life. I also started going to a new church early in the year, and God showed up in those believers, too. I had no choice but to speak up and ask for prayer many times. Fortunately, it’s a fellowship that values and relies on prayer, and I’ve literally felt that foundation upholding me. Lastly, I’ve learned that it is possible, and even crucial, to praise God in the storms of life. In fact, my theme song this year has been Casting Crowns’ “Praise You in This Storm” from the album Lifesong. The lyrics of the chorus are:
I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
Even now, these words bring tears to my eyes because they’re so true. My heart has been so broken this year, and I’ve wondered why I have to go through these trials with my family. True, they’re not as dire as, say, facing a terminal illness. I know we’ll get through this crazy time, and hopefully be stronger people for it. But right now, the pain and loss are still fresh, and I know there are more challenges up ahead. My daughter’s baby is due in early March. I’ve no idea how she’s going to manage with a newborn. Our son is supposed to graduate high school in June, and all I can do is hope and pray that he does. Yet in the midst of all the doubt and disappointment, I really do find joy and peace in the simple act of praising and worshipping the Lord.
If you can relate to having had a really “bad” year, I hope you’ll find a little ray of sunlight in the storm through my story. We don’t have to go through life’s tough times alone. We have a very big, very good Father in Heaven, and we have each other here on earth to embrace with arms of love when we hurt.
Kim Garrison is a writer and a professional publicist in Oceanside, California. She is a contributor to two books, You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal and But Lord, I was Happy Shallow edited by Marita Littauer. Kim is a faculty member of the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference (glorietacwc.com). As a publicist, she promotes many Christian authors and speakers, including popular Crosswalk.com writer Jim Robinson of ProdigalSong Ministries (ProdigalSong.com). Kim’s blog is at http://oceansidekim.blogspot.com and her email address is [email protected].