I made a sudden realization in the last few weeks. Friends and acquaintances would tell me how busy am I. I guess I was but I never thought about it. I do have 4 kids at home but I never gave myself permission to think I was busy. We don’t do a lot of after school activities but it seemed almost overnight there were too many things to do. Driving to play rehearsal. Youth. The twice-daily trip to school. A new high school schedule. My alarm goes off early. Too early. Pete’s schedule changed and so my schedule changed too. That on top of all the other stuff–laundry, groceries, meals. I guess it isn’t any surprise then when I found that I was overwhelmed. Often.
We recently went to a grade 8 high school open house for our fourth child. First of all, it is hard to comprehend that I will have another child who is old enough to be in high school in the fall. I believe it is called denial. Secondly, we were back in the same halls that Arlynne walked during her last 2 years on this earth. I didn’t really think about it until the mom of one of Eden’s friends started telling me about how she was feeling about her oldest starting there in the fall. The program started and all of a sudden I had this rush of memories. The principle who came to our house after Arlynne died. The head of the spiritual life department who performed her graveside service. Then seeing some of the kids she knew. Not many. Enough to start the memories.
It is also starting to feel like Christmas around here. Maybe not at my house yet but all I need to do is walk into a store or turn on the tv and it is there. I have been filled with conflicting emotions of Christmas excitement and dread. The celebration of my Saviour’s birth and the difficult time of missing Arlynne at the table. The chance to reconnect with my oldest and my niece who will be home for the holidays and the bitter reality of knowing I won’t have that time with Arlynne again. Not yet. In December of 2010 she told me to get used to her not being here at Christmas. I was shocked. “Why?!?” “Because”, she explained, “I am going to finish high school, go to university and then I will be gone to a foreign country. I am going to tell other people how much God loves them.” She didn’t finish the school part. She didn’t have her passport or travel to some exotic country. But she travelled. She did share God’s love with a bunch of precious kids. And 2010 was her last Christmas with us. I don’t think she knew she would die. But God was preparing us. Such bittersweet memories.
I also recently read a post on her FaceBook account by one of her friends. She was talking about her regrets. How she regretted that she never called Arlynne on the last weekend that she was alive. She regretted that she never got to say good-bye. I have my own regrets. Not many. But one especially.
On July 28th, 2011 I spoke to Arlynne for the very last time on earth. It was the day after her 16th birthday. I was first on the phone and everyone in the house (except the twins who were sleeping) got a turn. It was a little surprising when all of a sudden I realized that she had hung up. I didn’t say good-bye or “I love you”. I figured it was okay. I would get another chance.
I never did.
Regrets can leave me feeling extremely overwhelmed. I could let them pull me under the waves of grief until I become afraid of drowning. I am so glad that I have so few of them. Arlynne knew I loved her even if I didn’t tell her so that day. I know she loved me. All I had to do was go into her last few email updates and I know that was true. I can remember how she would hug me. I can pull it from my memory and almost feel her weight on my back. God also placed a need in me to send her an email very shortly before she died. I told her how proud I was of her. How she was growing into an amazing woman of God. She was. And she knew. She told me she read it. It made her cry. I am so thankful that I listened to the Holy Spirit’s nudging and did it. I had a chance to bless my daughter.
I have been overwhelmed in a different way also. As I have spent time in studying the Psalms in a Bible study with a very good friend, I have been overwhelmed with God’s love for me. This isn’t something new. I knew that God loved me. At least I did in my head. I have heard it since childhood. What I have recently realized though is how much He does. It says in Zephaniah 3:17 the God “will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness[a] with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy“(HBSB). I can’t even imagine the My Father God would love me, ME, that much. But His Word says He does. And not only Him but His Son, Jesus, too. There have been times in my life when I have thought that Jesus could never love me. He could never accept me. He spoke out against sin. I would never measure up. Then I remember that He chose to die for me. He CHOSE to die. He didn’t have to. But He did. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to be good enough. I can’t. He can redeem me. He does redeem me. When I let that sink in, when I finally let that penetrate my thick skull, I am left feeling overwhelming loved.
Being overwhelmed by Him doesn’t fix everything like a magic pill. All the other “stuff” is still there. It is just tempered. It is balanced by the knowledge that my Father God has not left me alone. He can’t. He promised He wouldn’t and He can’t lie. When it seems He has left it is just because I have shifted my focus from Him to me. He is also big enough to handle all my regrets. All my overwhelming emotions. So that is where I will leave them. 1 Peter 5:7 says that we can “cast all [our] care on Him, because He cares about [us]”(HCSB). Jesus also understands because He was human. He felt pressure. Not the same as mine exactly but life’s pressures are universal. He knows.
I honestly don’t know how I could do it without Him.