Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I'll go first

Going first is something I've always had to push myself to do. Why? For the first 15 years, 3 months, and 11 days of my life, I had the luxury of walking in my big sister's shadow. At the time, it was something I took for granted. I always felt stifled, unrecognized, and as if I would never get my time to shine--typical middle-child syndrome. When Kim died, not only did I lose my sounding board for all the thoughts that entered my head, but I also lost my leader. I was suddenly thrust toward the front of the race, and the idea of having to experience all those life milestones first suddenly became my worst nightmare.

It's now been 10 years, 9 months, and 20 days since that terrifying transition, and I'm still standing.

It has not been easy decade. First kid in my household to graduate high school, move out, attend college, earn a degree, have a baby, make financial mistakes, get a job, learn to make important phone calls, buy a car, go to doctor's appointments alone, pay bills, etc. When you spend most of your life assuming there will always be someone to experience those things first (and be an example for you to learn from), being thrust into the forefront really takes a toll on you. I have felt lost, confused, and overwhelmed more times than I can count.

With this recent bout of new life experiences, my anxiety has been higher than ever. My self-talk has been on overdrive...constant, swirling, cyclical questions flurry around my brain every day. The unknowns are innumerable.
"Can I do this?"
"How will I do this?"
"Will I be okay?"
"Will Kimmy be okay?"
"Will I ever feel unburdened financially?"
"Can I really count on someone I don't trust to take care of his child financially?"
"How do I budget without really knowing if that money will come?"
"How will holidays work?"
"Will I always live here?"
"Where will I move to really start my adult life when I feel ready?"
"Can I open up and trust someone again?"
"Who has a big enough heart to accept Kimmy and me?"
"How do I find him?"
"How will I know when I'm ready to find him?"
"Will I ever get to give Kimmy a sibling that she so deserves?"
"Was getting my own place a smart move?"
It's no wonder I never sleep!

Especially since signing a lease for our townhouse, I have felt mega-burdened by responsibility. Depressingly so. I'm so excited to escape (sans the whole packing and actual moving experience). But, the numbers aren't adding up how I want, and all I can see on the horizon is financial strain.

On the flipside, my brain is giving me lots of useful coping mechanisms:
"Trust. Trust Jesus. You are bulletproof with his protection. Psalm 28:7."
"You can do this. You are doing it."
"Kim would have your back with all your decisions. You're not letting her down."
"Kimmy is happy and healthy."
"Life won't always be this hard."
"You deserve happiness, and God will pave your path."
But perhaps the most useful little thought nugget my mind has concocted is this: My struggles are not my own.

Not only do I have the loving, amazing, impervious shoulder of Jesus on which to dump my burdens, but I also have my amazing family and friends.

Beyond that, my struggles and the way I handle them are a source of energy and encouragement for so many other women walking in these same worn and tattered shoes that have endured the walk through incredible deceit, betrayal, mistreatment, acrimony, and disrespect.

Several women have come to me since I revealed my current reality and told me of almost mirrored situations. For perspective: I don't take pride in that, and I am certainly not happy for their struggles. I am happy to say, though, that no matter how chaotic I feel my life outwardly appears, I will gladly go first if it means I can help someone else escape to independence.

It may be uncomfortable and hard and scary, but I will go first. I can only hope that my testimony will be strength and hope, not an endless string of miniature disasters. That's where trust will come into the picture and stay. I will trust the Lord with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. I submit. These struggles are only as long as I am here on this earth, and God will hold my hand during that time. Even if life's burdens never let up, I will be rewarded for my steadfastness in eternity. In that I can trust, when all else collapses around me.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. 1 Chronicles 29:9
Lord, make my life meaningful to those [I may not even know] who need to see this journey that leads straight to the cross of salvation. Help me go first, even if I feel like I'm running this race in very last place.

Lots of love,