This last while I have been finding things difficult. Life has been confusing. A struggle. A lot of wrestling and not enough embracing. Henry did a simple thing earlier but it spoke so loudly to me, and it’s shown in the picture below. He is holding on. Ok, to a toy muffin. And if that’s his comfort at the moment, I won’t judge! I’ve often grabbed a large bar of galaxy chocolate and held on tight to it for comfort, many nights! But it got me thinking... “Julie, what or who are you holding on to?”
There have been a lot of emotions hitting me lately, all of which have been tough to untangle and process. Don’t get me wrong, Henry has been doing great and I am deeply thankful to God for all the work He has done and is still doing in my little boy’s body and life. But for a long time, I felt I should discard any other emotion I feel apart from gratitude because God is doing such great work and is healing my boy. However, that’s not me being real with myself. Of course, I could praise God from the rooftops when I look at the storm He walked us through and keeps guiding us through, but there are moments when all I want to do is cry. There’s a deep hurt and pain still, and lately, it’s been feeling more exposed and at the forefront of my mind. My soul has been feeling uneasy.
I haven’t had a lot of energy. And I know I say we are exhausted with the aftermath of what we have been through, Henry sleeping in our bed with us (for now!) and the constant cycle of medication, feeds, cleaning, keeping on top of everything in the house... that’s all a separate exhaustion. I’ve felt weak deep down. And it‘s been making me feel upset and guilty.
The more I sit and feel all I am feeling, confronting the emotion, and trying to understand and process it, I begin to realise that my focus has changed. I sit too long in this place, dwelling on how I’m feeling. I’m not letting go of it all. I’m holding on to it. I am allowing all the wrong things to fill my mind and steal my attention away from the only one who can bring me peace. God.
I have been going through some self-discovery for a while now. This entire season has forced me to. It has broken me. I mean, it would break anyone! But God has always reminded me throughout of how close He is, how He is holding me, how He will never leave me... and He has been shaping and rebuilding me along the way to be the person He made me to be. He is preparing me for my purpose. Although it’s a long process. There were, and still are, a lot of deep-rooted things that God has had to work really hard with me on. This has been painful in itself and I guess the work has been continuing more recently as I start stepping out of my comfort zone.
When God first gave me the Conquer idea (you can read this story here) He started a work in me that looking back I believe was to prepare me so I could handle Henry’s diagnosis and treatment. He helped me conquer a lot of things. But I wasn’t expected to handle it alone. Never. I had to remind myself a lot back then that God was with me every step of the way. And the weight of it all wasn‘t for me to carry alone. I’ve needed to remind myself of that very much lately, and I believe there's more for me to conquer.
I’ll be honest, each day is so repetitive and it gets quite boring. Well, not boring, just very monotonous. Nothing changes. Not that it’s a waste, but we have been feeling that we want to do more with our time. Well, the time we have among the routine anyway! We have been trying to get some sort of structure around this too. With that time that I have for myself, I’ve been trying to fill it with those things I’ve always wanted to do, but never felt brave enough to! Mostly singing, playing guitar, writing... all of which set my soul on fire and I feel closer to who I’m meant to be, and I love being creative in that way. But while busying myself with this, I feel I haven’t been looking to God enough. I’ve been looking to people instead. Not that I’m saying that that’s a bad thing, but when you place so much on people, giving them power over how you feel about yourself, seeking approval, craving their opinions and acceptance, hoping they like what you’re doing, waiting for their feedback and wanting to hear what they have to say about you. This leads to disappointment and hurt. And the culture we live in unfortunately thrives on that, throwing a perception of ‘who you should be’ at you through social media etc... creating addicts who obsess over the number of followers and likes... it all leads to hurt and a feeling of rejection.
Now, I’m being reeeeeally honest and open here. I feel like I’ve been edging towards this behaviour lately. Looking to people and their opinions of me. And it’s horrible. I was in this place years and years ago. It’s so destructive. People are temporary. People come and go. Ok, I’m fortunate to have people in my life who have stuck by me and who love me so well. I’m so thankful for them and I know God has placed them in my life for a reason. But I shouldn’t give people that much power and control over my emotions and who I am. I’ve been holding on to that too much recently and I haven’t been holding on to God. He is the only one who can give me what I need. He created me. He knows me more than I do. Thankfully He doesn’t seek perfection, there no such thing as approval, He just loves. And He loves me in a way that no one else can or ever will.
This is what I need to hold on to, tightly, every day... and remind myself of when I start feeling lost or weary. Realising this has explained why I’ve been feeling weak, exposed, vulnerable, and uneasy. My eyes haven’t been on God.
It also explains another emotion I’ve been consumed with. Doubt. I have been doubting myself so much. I have felt so incapable. Even with small things about the house. But mostly, being a Mum. I know our situation is far from a normal one, and Henry does require a lot more care and attention. There are many more things we have to consider. But it gets so tiring. Parenting is tough work at the best of times. I’m not seeking a trophy here or a pat on the back for what we have to cope with in addition to the ‘norm’. Even when Henry was born I felt incapable, and I know so many other parents who have this struggle. I guess it’s normal. I have just been doubting myself more lately.
With the joys of Covid there are things we can’t do which other folks can. And having those ‘choices’ taken from us has felt quite tough. I know this has been a thing for everyone since March, but we are truly only realising the effects of it now. Before Bristol our focus was only on Henry’s treatment date and when we were going. Selfishly, nothing else really took our attention. But being back home on the other side of it, there’s no real ‘finish line’ or date set now to look to. It feels like a longer waiting game again. We are still so thankful we are through the worst, and Henry is still doing amazingly. However, any type of waiting game is difficult. But again, we are looking at all those things we don’t have or can’t do, instead of looking at what we have and the things we can still do. Mostly, we are in the comfort of our own home and we are all as healthy as we can be. We have food in our cupboards. We have heating. We are thankfully living in a time that allows us to have zoom calls and FaceTime with our loved ones. We can still connect with people and see their faces! God has provided all our needs up until now, and He’s not about to change now! I pray that in these crazy times we are living in that we all remember to look at those things we have rather than those things we don’t have. These times are only temporary and there’s light at the end of it all.
I hope this post hasn’t sounded like a pile of complaining lol. I just wanted to share where I have been in my head but where God has pulled me to and the truths I’ve been reminded of about His faithfulness and love. I want to be real and honest. Not for attention or pity, or for me to be seen at all in this. But so God can be glorified, and that maybe some part of what I’m feeling could perhaps speak to someone else. And it helps me sort through it in my head too! So thankful God gave me this prompt today, this question... who or what are you holding on to? Because it should always be God. And I’ll be clinging tightly to Him now.
Who or what are you holding on to?