Friday, March 17, 2017

Perspective

When Zane's accident happened in 2011, I had a choice. My husband almost died; we spent months in hospitals; I fed, bathed, and changed him; and his body was permanently disfigured with scars. Most people would say I had every right to be mad, bitter, depressed, and sad.

Almost 2 years ago homeland security showed up at our door and 19 months later my husband was handcuffed in front of me and taken to jail. I was left to take care of our toddler, 4 businesses, all our personal matters, and sell our house. I'd experienced betrayal, disappointment, and extreme deep hurt like I'd never felt before. And again, I had a choice.

The past two and a half months, I've been more overwhelmed than I ever thought possible and struggled to manage my responsibilities with some sense of grace. Each day I wake up with my little dog where my husband should be and I realize again... I have a choice.

The thing is, we ALWAYS have a choice. You can be a victim, or you can be a survivor. You can focus on YOU and your pain, or your can focus on others. The thing is, when you shift your focus off yourself, you realize that SO many people out there have it worse than you. If you're still alive, the truth is that is COULD be worse. It's all a matter of perspective.

When Zane was in the hospital, I could have focused on my own loss and the challenges that were ahead. But the second I took my eyes off all that, I realized that there were people whose loved ones would never leave that hospital alive. There were people who had no support. Most of all, there were people who had no faith.

Through this whole ordeal with Zane's addiction and legal issues, it has been harder than ever to keep perspective. There were times I did lose perspective, and the thought of our future was enough to make me question whether life was worth living.

It's a dangerous thing when you lose that grip on reality. It happens so fast and it feels like the ceiling of life is just crashing down around you. The only advice I can give is to breathe. Have a moment of grief, and process those feelings. But don't stay there. Tie that knot my sister talked about at the end of your rope and just hang on.

God doesn't promise a worry-free life. He doesn't always give us answers when we want them, and things don't always make sense. Of that, I'm personally very sure. But I do know that there is a drastic difference when our lives are not centered around ourselves. When you stop to look around, that hole you feel you're stuck in doesn't seem so deep.

I went through a period where I was mad at God and didn't want to hear from him or let him in. Honestly, a big part of that was because I was focused on my pain. It took me a little while to process all of that, and get my eyes off myself. I still can't explain of all the "why?" questions, but what I do know is this: doing this with God and allowing Him to hold my heart through my struggles is a heck of a lot better than when I thought I didn't need Him or couldn't trust Him. And, this life we have on earth is only a short time compared to eternity. Keeping that eternal perspective brings many of our selfish thoughts back into check.

Life is made up of many events and many choices. Sometimes you have the power to make decisions about what will or will not happen. But sometimes, things just happen to you, or around you, and your only decision is what you'll do about it.

I like having control of my life as much as anyone. Zane's accident and then his legal issues more or less just happened to me. I had no say in the matter, and both events shook my world. It would be easy to play the victim. But what good would that do?

A victim mindset robs everyone around you from something valuable. If you go through struggles and focus on yourself, you don't learn anything from it. You don't ever get to share the gift of experience with others.

If I went through all this, and never shared our story, I never would have heard from so many people who were touched by it. If I never turned my eyes to the other people around me, my heart would be so much more selfish and ugly. I'm still a work in progress. My natural tendency isn't to be the most tender, compassionate person in the room. For a girl, I'm not the most sensitive one in the bunch. But my experiences have softened me. God has taken my pain and allowed me a glimpse into what others feel. He's given me compassion for people that I may have been skeptical or even judgmental of previously.

I share all of this to remind you.. if you feel like you're sinking, look around, and look up. It could always be worse, and when looking at the big picture in light of eternity, our problems seem much more manageable. Take a breath. Cry if you need to. Then start naming your blessings. You can't do that for too long without having a perspective shift, and it will make the dark & heavy times a whole lot lighter. Whenever you're faced with a challenge, you have a choice. You are not powerless. You can get through it. It may not always look pretty or graceful, but there is a way to hold on.