I don’t really know how one begins to write a blog post after being silent for so long. After blogging for more than ten years here at MississippiMom.com, I barely managed three blog posts in the past year.
And it’s not because 2020.
(Though let’s be fair: 2020 certainly didn’t help.)
I’ve written a bit to my friends over email about the things that have been going on in our lives since the end of 2019, but to be honest, I haven’t been able to bring myself to blog about all of it.
There are numerous reasons for that, but I think I can boil them down to just a few for you:
- First, I like to be honest in my writing so I haven’t written because the truth has been hard.
- I’ve been afraid that writing about our lives will lead you to the wrong conclusions. Some days, you might come away thinking I’m some sort of saint, and on others, you will know how very much I’m not. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere between the two extremes, leaving me squarely in the place of a person in need of grace.
- More importantly, I have hesitated to write about the struggles we have been facing because our stories are irrevocably tied to others’ stories, and my feelings and opinions on any given day might reflect poorly and inaccurately upon those people.
- And, finally, I’m exhausted, and as I told a friend one day after she had invited me to join a group in some activity or other: “I simply cannot add one more thing to my life right now.”
If you’ve made it through the myriad of excuses I’ve made for not writing, you’re probably wondering what on earth has happened. I wonder that every single day.
It’s simple really. My in-laws moved in with us.
More than a year ago.
My father-in-law had a stroke in December 2019, and after my mother-in-law recovered from an illness that had them both in the hospital (actually, in different hospitals) that month, she joined us in our home to be followed by him a couple of months later after he did rehab.
So, basically overnight, we went from a busy family of six to a houseful of family with home health nurses and therapists coming and going from day to day.
And then COVID.
We were all stuck at home together, and while one might assume that would have given me more time to write, the opposite seemed to be true. Oh, I wrote plenty of blog posts as I walked up and down our driveway for hours at a time last spring, trying to find solitude and some sanity. I simply couldn’t bring myself to transfer those posts from my mind to my computer.
That might have been best for all of us.
Still, there are things I want to share with you, things God has shown me along the way and ways he has pulled us through. A friend of mine invited me to join a new local blogging group, and as we set goals, I made my first one simple: write.
So, if you’ll join me in the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing Lessons Learned in the Longest Year.
Because it really has been, hasn’t it? And, as I sit here in the warmth of a dear friend’s home while ice covers our community and my husband shivers at our cold house, stoking the fire and trying to keep our pets warm, I can’t help but feel like, so far, 2021 is just offering up more of the same.
More conflict, more confusion, more chaos…
And, oh how I need it!
This past year has taught me how much I need his help, but it’s also shown me how much I need others’ help, too.
One of the first memories we made on this journey of caregiving is one of my most precious. My dear friend and her four kids helped me rearrange our large formal living room, bringing over a mattress they didn’t need and working with me to turn that room into a suite for the in-laws. I’ll never forget the way she answered my call for help and came to the rescue. Without her, I would never have figured out how to put that adjustable bed frame together properly.
Then there is the friend who cheers me on every day at school, a woman I barely knew a year ago but who has lifted me up and walked with me almost every day since I collapsed on the floor of her kindergarten room because I just couldn’t do any of it any more.
And the woman at whose table I sit right now, drinking coffee made in the pot she keeps only for guests because she doesn’t touch the stuff herself. And where is she? Living it up in the warmth of the sunshine state and wondering how and when she’ll get home. But when I called because my father-in-law needed his breathing treatments and our power was still out? She opened her home from afar and did her best to help me not feel guilty.
Because I do sometimes, you know? I’ve always been fiercely independent, and asking for help makes me feel like I’m admitting my failure.
I hate failure.
But, this year has taught me that asking for help isn’t waving the flag of failure but calling in the cavalry.Asking for help isn't waving the flag of failure but calling in the cavalry.Click To Tweet
And, in the family of God, boy does the cavalry come.
After all, Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Here’s the thing though: the church can’t bear our burdens if they don’t know we are carrying them.
Sometimes, we have to ask for help. We have to be humble enough to show our needs and vulnerable enough to admit we can’t meet them ourselves.
For me, it’s little things like admitting I don’t want to have a friend over for coffee and being brave enough to ask if I can come over for coffee instead. That’s been a big shift in my relationships because my kitchen has been the go-to source for coffee and “chitty chat chat” for years.
But do you know what?
My friends don’t care.
We drink coffee in their kitchens or in their cars. We even Zoomed our coffee a couple of times.
I have literally called and said, “I need coffee. Can you come get me?” And they have.
One went so far as to pick me up and take me to the beach for a weekend.
It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had to take the same advice I’ve given one of my good friends time and time again. She’s a widow with four precious kids who never wants to ask for help too often, but oh how we love being part of her family. I’ve told her over and over, “Bless us by letting us bless you.”
That’s a truth in the church, too, you know. If we don’t share our burdens with each other, we can’t carry them for each other.If we don't share our burdens with each other, we can't carry them for each other.Click To Tweet