A few weeks ago, something happened in my current family (revolving door policy means family members are constantly mobile) that set me into a very bad place. By this I mean the unpleasant feeling that follows when your bubble is burst. Your lovely comfy little bubble where everything was working just fine and needed no changing is suddenly gone. The feeling is cold, exposed, shivery, shattered.
This one family member by marriage decided to act out in a typically 16 year old hormone driven way and led to a situation that I would have very much have loved to never experience. I had a lot of trust in this particular child, thinking that her behaviour is a result of an unsettled childhood and abusive parenting. Yes, I did have a ‘saviour’ complex when I got her to come and live with us, so did my sisters mind you. Anyway, in all the unpleasantness that followed I got a really annoying revelation I thought would be great to share with you.
I must mention that I experienced this disappointment in my body, all over my body. I ached, I felt pins and needles and my appetite vanished as headaches moved in to stay. I am the responsible adult at home right now and these kids are my responsibility; I felt a huge failure in not being able to know what they had been doing right under my nose all along. With a busy work schedule and starting on a masters course, I was a sucker for stress and anxiety. To some extent it felt uncontrollable, the amount of anger, grief, bitterness and self pity that kept coming out of me in the days that followed. I could hardly bring myself to speak to her knowing I could say something without thinking.
On my way to work one morning, I was lost in unpleasant thought when it occurred to me how ugly these feelings are. I am not used to having ugly thoughts, I have a lot of thoughts but they mostly stop at mild road rage and impatience with mobile network connections. I was surprised at how mad I actually was, all the time. I was mad at her for being so deceptive, mad at the other people involved for not being as mad as I was! I was mad that someone else had actually made me this mad!I was mad with the fact that another person had the power to burst my bubble and introduce such darkness into my otherwise sunny existence.
Traits of my controlling nature had resurfaced, although I had convinced myself I had stopped being controlling. With the madness came grief that I had lost trust in who I thought was a sweet little girl (haha!), but it was mostly sadness that I hadn’t been able to control this situation. I kept thinking I could have seen it coming and done something to make sure it didn’t happen, I kept thinking I…kept thinking I….kept thinking I!
It didn’t occur to me what was happening until my sister pointed it out to me-several agonizing days later. This whole situation had moved away from being about this child and her naughtiness and had become about me and my poor dear burst bubble.. It wasn’t about how she had made a mistake as teenage girls do, and how we as a family could help her fix the mess; it was more about how my world had taken a knock and left me reeling. Perhaps this is a normal reaction, perhaps its a form of defense, I don’t really know. What I do now know is that this event had brought out the nasty in me.
Looking back I am grateful to have learnt something so ‘yucky’ about myself. I really didn’t think I was capable of those feelings, I didn’t know they were even there. Especially when I thought I was the most selfless person-a saint really. I realized that when it got really tough all I really cared about was me. I am an adult, I can-and have-survived a few knocks along the way. My focus should really have been on this 16 year old, perhaps using my shrink training to help her out of the corner she had put herself in, or maybe just to be supportive and be there to help. I did neither of these.
Luckily, we have quite a full house and there are others around who were able to speak with her. I needed to take some time out after that, my physical symptoms had become a daily pain and I couldn’t go on like that. Since Monday is my fasting day, I decided to go somewhere out of town to be alone, to get my mind right and repent. It was important for me to process what I had experienced because I never want to react that way again. I needed to take stock of what was going on inside me so that it doesn’t surprise me when I lose another bubble in future. Yes, trauma can bring out the worst in us, but surely we can control what ‘worst’ actually means right? I mean, having the right stuff stocked up in your heart will only produce the right stuff even in the most horrible times right?
Naturally, I believe it is the work of the Holy Spirit to root out junk from the very depths of our being. I know from past experience especially in my 20’s He would bring out something that I would struggle to admit had come from within me. His intention was to ‘create in me a pure heart,’ a process that often hurt but made me a better person when He finished. The revelation here was that:
- Life happens, and sometimes it happens badly but really what matters is how I react to life
- I have to be aware of what I have in my heart, is life going to bring out the best or the worst in me?
- I am not all that matters, believe it or not!
The place where I ended up going on Monday illustrated something so lovely to me. I got there pretty early in the morning while the sun was so bright and beautiful. As you will see in the pictures its an amazing spot and the sun made it so perfect. After about an hour, my perfect scenery change as huge grey clouds rolled in so fast and covered the bright warm sun. The effect changed everything, it got cold, the scenery wasn’t quite as inspiring as before. But I continued to read my Bible and listen to God.
“You see, life won’t always have sunshine. The sun is great as it gives life to everything-but just because the clouds cover it up for some time doesn’t change the fact that the sun is still there.” (Me, 2017)
Although the cold made my time there harder to bear, I took this as a lesson. Some hours later the clouds did roll away and the sunshine was amazing. I didn’t have to pack up and leave just because my perfect conditions had changed; I had a mission to complete up there that wasn’t dependent on the weather. That is how we should look at life, we are not here depending on how others treat us, or what life throws at us -some worse off than others- but we should have a mission-a reason to be here that transcends anything that happens or doesn’t happen. I dare hope that this would make us stronger people.
Love always, Julie