We were driving home from our vacation. My four year old was snoring loudly in the seat behind me. Paw Patrol was entertaining Joel who had already woken from his nap and was unhappy to find he was still strapped into his carseat. Hubby and I had chatted the three hours we’d been on our journey home which is a bit unusual. Often times we are exhausted from these trips and not much is said.
I was dreading going back to real life.
The whirlwind leading up to Christmas had subsided. We spent five days playing games, hanging out and enjoying having no routine. No pressure to get to activities or lessons. No pressure to cook healthy meals or be anywhere at a designated time. No pressure to put on my “happy” face to hide the constant sadness in my heart.
We celebrated Joshua turning four. His excitement was contagious as he asked me a dozen times a day if he was four yet. Paw Patrol cupcakes and accessories, colorful balloons, family, and fun new toys.
Lastly, we loaded everyone up into the van and headed to a resort which boasted three indoor waterparks. We had gone here last year and enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to make it a yearly tradition. The kids and I had been looking forward to it for months. You can read about last year’s experience here.
Now that trip was coming to an end as I watched the miles slide past me out the car window.
I started mentally reviewing our January calendar (what I could remember of it!). Joshua’s well check, Caleb’s allergy shots, swim team and lessons, piano, school (shoot! I forgot to order Caleb’s new Science book). You know the drill.
I usually enjoy busy. Thrive on it really, but not today, not last week. I felt the urge to curl up in my bed, put a Hallmark movie on and hide from the world.
I was surprised at myself and rather than trying to make sense of the dread in my heart, I decided to sulk. Just as my pouting was getting underway, Brett said “check out the sunset”. I looked ahead and saw nothing but dim sky and tall pine trees.
“No, behind us”
And there was a beautiful display of red, orange, and pink. It filled the entire view of the back window with a bold brightness.
I turned around and glanced again at the bleakness in front of us. Yes, just like my life, I inwardly moaned.
Behind me was the fun we’d just had, behind me was the much needed break from the chaos, behind me was my Rebekah.
And there was the source of my dread.
My Rebekah was bright and colorful and full of light, just like that sunset. Christmas morning without her bouncing up and down, was a little dim. Our vacation couldn’t be completely enjoyable because she was missing. My goal of embracing 2019 doesn’t seem doable without her.
I watched the tall evergreens fly past as we continued the boring drive home. There was more snow on the ground now, the sky was darker, Brett was grumbling about the slow pickup in front of us.
Perhaps, this is why God impressed “embrace” upon my heart to begin with. I am afraid to embrace life because my life hurts. Embracing people resutlts in hurt too. I am afraid to embrace hope because I was once full of hope and that ended in an ugly accident.
So then what? What do I do with this attitude now? I turned and looked behind me. The vibrant sunset had faded to a dim glow of color. This fit my mood percectly.
I continued to sulk until God whacked me upside my head.
The color will return again tomorrow with the sunrise.
Tomorrow will have it’s own joys and hopes and dreams. If I continue to look back and mourn for what was then I will miss what tomorrow holds.
If I were in a better mood, this might have made an immediate difference, but I was pretty bent on being unhappy so I had to argue. Sure, tomorrow offers joys and hopes and dreams, but what about the terrible things it might also hold?
My good friend, Anxiety, spoke up. If you lost one child, you might lose another. Maybe that is what 2019 holds for you. More grief. I took a deep breath, then another. Brett glanced over at me recognizing the start of my anxiety attack.
Am I the only one who battles in my head like this?
I pulled my thoughts back to the sunset/sunrise anology. It works well for letting go and embracing, doesn’t it? The closing of one day, year, event, chapter in life and the opening of another.
Do we have to let go and embrace? Can we just hold onto what was and be ok with that?
Have you ever been there? So focused on what was that you can’t see what is ahead? Have you ever held so tightly to the regrets of the past that you cannot embrace the oppourtunities of tomorrow?
It pertains to unfulfilled dreams as well. Dreams that were never meant to be and yet we cling to them to the point we can’t dream a new one.
Maybe unforgiveness is in your sunset. Maybe you have been hardened by the injustice of life and you can’t let it go. Your sunrise is ahead of you and you can’t see it because you can’t let go of the justice you deserve.
Do we miss out? Is it wrong to stay right where we are?
I think we do miss out. Isn’t life a constant risk? We risk being hurt in order to experience love. Failing is a risk we take in order to learn and succeed. We risk sorrow to experience joy.
For me, it is letting go of the hopes and dreams of a life with Rebekah. It is the fear of leaving her behind and embracing a life without her.