As I got older, I think I expected that to be the way I always felt. And it was for a very long time, but over time, my child-like wonder and hope has waned a bit. I grew up a very positive, resilient person. A glass half full kinda girl. When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I think I thought that it would come for a season, and I would "heal", and then it would pass. However, like most things in this life, my plans are not His plans. Instead of bouncing back or gradually getting better, this season has been a tumultuous journey of hills and valleys. Moments where I feel great and alive and full of purpose and then there are times when I feel numb, paralyzed and disconnected. It hasn't gotten better. There have just been good days and bad days.
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I have longed so very badly to feel merry and happy and carry child like excitement for what the month of December would bring. Excitement for traditions and family and waiting to see my children's eyes light up with wonder. Instead, I've felt numb. Stressed. Overwhelmed. Paralyzed. I've been in survival mode. I feel broken. This devastates me. This isn't what it's supposed to be like. Christmas is supposed to trump all of these feelings of hopelessness and despair. But it's not. And so I wait. Wait for change. Wait for joy. Wait for hope.
This brings me into the season of Advent. Advent means "coming" or "arrival". It is essentially a season of waiting. Waiting for Jesus to come into the world. It's a beautiful season of reflection and hope. Reflection used to be somewhat like prayer for me. I would sit back and think of all that I had to be thankful for, those things that I wasn't proud of and wanted to change, and at other moments, I would reflect on my future-goals, dreams, and aspirations. With these diseases come fewer moments of reflection for me. Perhaps this is my body's way of staying stable and resilient. No emotions mean fewer ups and downs, but that also means that I function more like a robot and less like a human being. We were made to emote, to feel.
While I haven't been so much in the Christmas spirit this December, I have in fact spent more time reflecting. In fact, when you take away all the glitz and glamour of the holiday, you are stripped down to the bare bones. You're left with a little more simplicity. I've somehow found myself reflecting as of late on the past year or two. Though without much clarity, I'm asking more questions in hopes that I might find the answers within myself. I am allowing myself to experience this season of Advent- both the Christmas kind and the one that's stirring in my soul- with grace and simplicity. Maybe this year, Christmas spirit doesn't mean Christmas baking, tons of holiday parties, and hustle and bustle, and maybe some years it will. In 2013, I wrote a blog post on the 25 Things I want my Kids to Remember about Christmas. You can read it here. I went back and reread it this week, and those are still the things I want. So, instead of regretting how things were done and getting upset about the moments that were stressful or overwhelming, I'm going to jump into the week and vow to be as present as possible. I'm going to try to smile more, soak in the memories, and not set any expectations that are too hard to achieve. There will be no bar to be set. There will just be family and friends and Christmas. And when Christmas is over, I'm going to spend some time reflecting on how to make next year better in spite of my anxiety and depression. I'm going to set some manageable goals with a LARGE margin for grace.
Until then, here are some things I've been enjoying the last few months. After all, this is where I'm coming back to smile when my kids are all grown up, right?
|Watching Jae play basketball|
|Midweek movie dates with my oldest|
|Sun slivers and the wonder of the first snow|
|Slow Thanksgiving mornings with apple cider and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade|
|Spending quality time with your family and remembering how lucky you are that your kids have such amazing aunts and uncles|
|Reuniting with friends old and new|
|Family traditions and cutting down the tree|
|How funny it is that he can hardly lift her up anymore, but tradition is tradition|
|My silly one|
|My mild one|
|Birthday dates with my momma and feeling nostalgic over a little Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith Christmas music from the 90s and then The Voice winner- Jordan Smith performing as the cherry on top|