Realistic vs Despondent

Those of you who follow me, or have read any posts of mine, know that I am very transparent in my feelings with you. This post is going to be as open and vulnerable as I have ever been in hopes that, as I allow God to work in me through these words, it will also touch many of you who are in need of a new perspective that I feel has been revealed to me.

I haven’t written a post in awhile…and for good reason. Life has been quite hard and emotional over the past several months due to my father’s health steadily declining. He did not suffer with pain and slipped gracefully and peacefully into eternity to meet his Jesus on Sept 7th.

However, loss is loss…and I have found myself in a bad place emotionally. This is not entirely due to my father passing away. In fact, it really has very little to do with that because, although I miss my father – I would not wish him back on this earth. He would have been 96 on Nov 2nd! He lived “large in life” up until the last year living for others and for God. He began to lose more and more ability to move independently and at the end of the summer became bedridden. It was not my wish to keep him in that state just so I could still have my father with me.

My “loss” began when my mother had her first stroke, now nearly seven years ago. We watched her lose the loss of one side of her body along with struggling to speak clearly.  She and my father should have had more help for everyday activities to help her and spell my father, but they refused. I tried to be OK with their belligerence, knowing it was because they were proud people who still wanted to be capable. Still I would often leave their apartment in tears knowing that I was leaving them in a state of neglect. My mother passed away a month after suffering her second stroke three years ago this month.

That means that for seven years I have been in the midst of watching my parents, other elderly relatives, and residents in the assisted living facility where my father lived, lose every ability they had when they were younger and become “the child” who depends on their children to care for them. I labored to maintain my father’s dignity amidst him losing the battle to having control of his bodily functions. I listened to endless stories (many re-told over and over) by this aging population as they re-lived times gone by…times that were filled with accomplishments, activities, family responsibilities and travels.

I know that many of you can relate to most, if not all, of what I am writing. Anyone with aging family members experiences this loss that I am speaking of. It is a loss that has to do with facing the reality that we too shall traverse this path. Our youth slipped away somewhere a few decades ago and middle age is fast becoming a memory also. We grieve the loss of abilities, energy, accomplishments and much more.

Facing this reality is hard, but necessary. If we face the truth of reality we can find comfort, strength AND HOPE in Jesus as believers, but, it became apparent to me after my father died that I was verging on despondency.

I believe the best definition of despondency is a combination of one from the dictionary plus the italics which are mine: hopelessness and despair from a distorted reality.

I am, by nature, an optimistic person – seeing the good in things and believing that the best will happen. But, when I entered the second half century of my life, I also became much more realistic than I had been prior to turning 50. As I said in the last paragraph, I believe it is necessary and good to be realistic about life and it’s hopes and dreams. However, somewhere in the process of becoming more realistic, I began to get a distorted view of that reality. I was unknowingly listening to Satan’s lies that he subtly whispered to me in my “weakened state”. Every difficult thing in life became enormous in my eyes. I knew something was terribly wrong, but it wasn’t until about six weeks ago that I was able to realize the despondency I was headed into.

So, now that I was aware of what I was dealing with, how could I begin to turn back to truthful reality? Comprehending that I had been listening to lies telling me I had good reason to be self-absorbed with my loss of expectations, placing my entire focus in the wrong place…on me and my circumstances – was a HUGE step forward. I had become morbidly dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction had spread like thick, sticky molasses over most every part of my life, and I needed to share that with my husband. (Until then I had not even been able to describe to him where I was at emotionally.) Once God revealed this distorted reality to me I was able to share with him and gain incredible support and love from him.  What a wonderful blessing he is to me!

I am a “fast twitch muscle” gal and I want everything to move fast, but this will be a slow, daily struggle as I focus on walking in truth with God, my husband, great family and wonderful friends encouraging me.

Our pastor spoke this past Sunday on “The God Who Sees” and this statement especially spoke to me: “I have to change my expectations to accept ‘God sees’. …I must trust despite mystery.” I do not like to think of myself as a control freak, but I must admit I don’t like the mystery that life often is. The question that I must answer every morning as I step out of bed is: “Will I trust God and believe that He sees in the midst of the mystery, or will I fall into a distorted reality focusing on what I know and see?”

My answer is a resolute: “I will trust God and believe Him because he IS the source of life. I will live in a God-focused reality.”