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Can we skip to the good part?

Lessons from the messy chapters of life.

I was a voracious reader as a kid. I wasn’t stuck on a particular genre, but if the story became too intense or lagged on long, I’d skip over the chapters and catch the ending. I welcomed spoilers.

Later, as a young adult in college, my friends and I would commiserate over the fact that we could not set our difficult moments to a soundtrack and zip over our studies, as if we were in a movie. Cue the training montage from Rocky III when the streetfighter becomes a skilled boxer in the 2 minutes and 48 seconds of Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now.” 

It’s January, the beginning of another new year. Does it feel a bit anticlimactic, as we muddle through this COVID-19 pandemic? Perhaps you’ve wondered out loud, as I have, “How does this get better?”

Real fatigue

Emotional fatigue is keenly felt when circumstances don’t seem to change or change so slowly. We want to skip to the good part, the part where everything gets better. I remember the well-intended questions of family and friends in the first years of both Rachel and Janneke’s lives, inquiring of their progress: Are they still on feeding tubes? Are they showing signs of walking? 

I also remember being invited to share our story for a local fundraising event with our children’s treatment centre. The local radio stations graciously set aside time to air story after story from local families, creating awareness of and financial support for the centre. I couldn’t help but feel a bit awkward in sharing our story because it didn’t have the bells and whistles of the bigger stories of first steps and first words that happened “all because of the work of the centre.” We were one of those families where, year after year, it was pretty much the same story. 

‘Risk with a direction’

Our family’s story of living with disability and mental health challenges has taught us to hold loosely to plans. As Rachel and Janneke age into the teen years, we wonder what the next stage of life for them holds, beyond school. We didn’t think we’d get this far when we held them in our arms so long ago in the hospital, with all their tubes and wires. 

Recently, I picked up on some insight from a podcast that featured author and professor J. Aaron Simmons. He described faith as risk with a direction. That concept resonates so much with my frustration and effort. 

Waiting for some light to return

I also continue to hold writer Anne Lamott’s words, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty . . . Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”

In the last few months, we’ve been spending a lot of time with Ralph’s mom. She lives in a long-term care home in our neighbourhood, and our visits are filled with conversation about memories. She often marvels at all the things that have happened in her lifetime, after which she takes a deep breath in our conversation, smiles and squeezes her eyes shut for a moment.

I’m looking forward to the day when I get to exhale and marvel – perhaps a montage set to music by U2. Yet, I am also mindful of where I am right now. Aware of both my disappointments and dreams, I’m still willing to take the risk that God’s got this, and head in his direction.
Happy New Year, all.

Author

  • Sara Pot

    The Pot family story includes a life of caregiving for daughters Rachel and Janneke.

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