Practicing Peace

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The month after Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. OK, I hate the snow and the wind and the ice. I hate how cold and dreary the world becomes. But I love the freshness of considering the past year and starting anew. I love the hope that perhaps this year will be better than the year before. I love the possibility for new dreams, goals, and ideas to come to fruition. A lot can happen in a year, and it is always possible that some of those things that happen will be wonderful things.

This year I am moving into a lot of unknowns. The first three weeks of January are laid out on my calendar, and I feel a small surge of dread every time I look and see how busy they will be. Next week I will start working three half days a week. I have other events scheduled into the cracks – a doctor’s appointment, supervision, extra work meeting. Extra events have all collided into the first three weeks of January. Not to mention, when will I cook and clean and do all those other things that have to be done? It will be a true test of what my body is able to handle.

Will I be up for the task? Will this new job be manageable? Where will my writing take me in this coming year, and will I even have time for it? Will my blog fizzle out – do I even have anything else to say? How will I make my book public without loosing this safe place I have created? What comes next?

There are infinite questions tangled in my mind that are causing an underlying sense of worry that surfaces every time I consider what lies ahead. The worry is grounded in my fear of severe relapse. It is grounded in a fear of one of those flares that you never recover from. Three time since chronic pain started I have had relapses that I never recovered from, and it is this fear that underlies all of my other fears.

As I consider this fear, I realize that more than anything else I want 2016 to be a year of peace. A year in which my heart is well and sure and content and filled with courage. A year in which I can look into the future, not knowing what is next, and still be a rest. I want 2016 to be a year in which I step out into the unknown, taking one day at a time, trusting, depending, knowing that I don’t know the future, but God does.

How do I get to this place? I am not quite sure. I know all the right answers. I know all the right theology. But I think back to two days ago when I was all a mess over how work would go the next day. I think back to last night right after I got home from work as I worried over how sustainable this job is. Worry. Fear. Restlessness. Anxiety. No peace.

I know all the things I am supposed to know, yet still my heart is so often not at rest. I know that God is near and present. I know he holds the future. I know that heaven awaits. I know to present my requests before God with thanksgiving. I know that each day holds enough trouble of it’s own, and that I should not worry about tomorrow. I know all these things, and still my heart considers the worst case scenario. Still my heart desperately fears going to places as bad as or worse than where I have been before.

Yesterday I considered how we turn this knowledge of truth into a true belief and living out of truth. How do we turn what we know into what we believe and do?

I started reading through Philippians because it has a lot to say about joy and peace and being ok in the worst of times. It talks about prayer and thanksgiving, spreading the gospel, living for Christ, putting aside earthly gains, looking towards heaven, and thinking on things that are true and noble. And right at the end in Philippians 4:9 Paul says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Practice these things. Practice these things and God’s peace will be with you.

And so that is what I plan to do in 2016. To practice peace. To take those things that Paul taught and lived out and wrote about in Philippians and other books and consider what it means to practice over and over again. To practice these things until they actually settle into my heart.

I am not sure all of the things that I need to practice. I am not sure all of the repetitions that I will need to do over and over again. But that will be part of the journey, part of the discovery, and part of the learning.

I hope for 2016 to be a year of peace.

What do you hope for?

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Beautiful writing as always! Right to the core of the fears and anxieties that creep up on us, too. In the end, you just have to believe it will be all right after you have done your part : )
    I also like how we somehow separate the years and always end up hoping for better for the next. Again and again. That made me think I was indeed hoping that each year was better, that I was glad each year was only 12 months, and actually find it easier cutting it into 4 seasons to give me courage that “maybe next winter won’t be as bad as this one” or right after a bad summer I tell myself “maybe Fall won’t be as bad”. Maybe that is one underlying reason why we love season changing so much. For 2016, all I hope is again that my health gets better even just a bit as long as the trend is up over time. That my husband’s job will let us both breathe this year (it was his first year as manager in a new role last year and it was just too much and he was so stressed he wouldn’t take family-duty days or sick days almost). And I want to find ways to occupy my mind that will be creative like learning to draw digitally (I do but need to update my skills to fit the year 2016) and maybe create children’s books or resources at my pace. Something to feel useful on top of chores.

    1. Ooo I love your thoughts on season changing. I think there is a lot of truth to that being why I also like the season changing. For me, I always think ahead to summer, because it just feels like a hopeful time when something good might happen. Every summer I have the same thoughts, that maybe this year will be the year I start to make vast improvements.

      Let me know what you end up doing to occupy your mind. I love the idea of creating children’s books! Let me know if you start that! I bet you would be great at it 🙂

  2. I have been ill all during the holiday season, and normally I am in the balancing act of managing RA, so I’ve been thinking about some of the same issues that you pose so well. It is indeed an ongoing “practice” — to try to trust in God’s loving care, without limiting that trust to any particular outcome. I wish you a peaceful unfolding of whatever the New Year brings!

    1. Yes, it is a one day at a time practice! I hope that your holidays ended well, and this new year is off to a good start for you.

  3. Hi again Esther and all,
    anyone with an overworked husband is welcome to answer back!
    So there I am this morning at 4am re-reading your Finding Peace blog… because I woke up in a sweat at 2:30am.

    I don’t usually do this but I have no one to talk to. If only I can write it to someone maybe it will help. I know you are super busy now, it’s fine, I don’t need an answer. I just need to write. I’m sorry if this sounds like a rant. I don’t want to burden anyone. And that’s the problem with us home-bound people, we always feel like a burden and have no one to talk to when we just can’t swallow it down one more time. But maybe just writing will help. My arms are shot but I don’t care.

    I think my dear hubby forgot he is working today but we are soooo strained already and really really have to work on our invalidity claim for my pension. I had to get up to check the schedule which we drew for his vacation (couldn’t stand staying in bed and not knowing) and the occasional manager Saturdays he takes. It does say he’s supposed to work today but we both didn’t write it in our phone’s calendar. I won’t wake him now but really don’t know what to do. He’s stretched himself thin all week, all year, working 10 hours a day (because he takes no breaks as such), and we’ve delayed this too long because of his work and then he was so tired over the holidays (due to work) I didn’t have the heart to ask him to work more than 5 hours on it… I’ve put a lot of my sickness on hold so he could work and try to minimize what I needed for the past year since he’s taken the job as manager… but another year of this terrifies me. I have daily nightmares while sleeping but compared to that, I’d rather go back to bed and face those nightmares than the prospect of another year of “work, work, work”.

    How do you find peace when you’ve given it all to your work? When work has taken over? I have not been into the naturopath in 11 months because of his job since it is a big stress on his Fridays when we go there. Or a dentist since last March. Or family doctor since May even to check on other things. We only went to my specialists. Or he’s had to almost shove me in the car even though I was not feeling well because his boss said he had to be back at a certain time so we could drive back from an appointment (but boss still thinks it’s being so generous and kind without realizing just how horrible it makes everything), he was all stressed taking me in yesterday to a clinic just 5 minutes away because I needed it last minute and he was stressed for the work day (he started work later but was on his phone working during the appointment even though I had trouble speaking and could have used his help more but he was distracted trying to help one of his employee at the same time – because of his big heart)… It makes him feel bad and yet he’s the sweetest husband one could ask.

    But his job is just too much… and I couldn’t help it when I learned that his raise was going to be $40 a month for all that extra grievance we go through O_O I thought it would be more but after-tax ends up a lot less (I love our tax system in Canada, pays for a lot of stuff, not complaining – it’s just hard to budget what will end up in your account is all). He got a little pay raise last year when he became manager but that’s $200/month. So a big $240 a month for having no life. Make no mistake, that ain’t US money. All the stuff I see on Amazon.com is 3 times the price on Amazon.ca so divide by 3 for a good estimate of how much money that really is ($80US of buying power probably) Not worth it!!! We were much happier before, had less strain, had a life even with my “life in slow motion”, we had time for appointments and his old bosses wouldn’t ask him to still work a full shift after because they knew he already put in lots of unpaid overtime anyway. We had time for short country-side car rides just up the road, taking care of his mom even, and everything got done. It was no picnic with my disability but at least work was not worst.

    So how do you find peace? He won’t let go, he won’t take a day off even when he’s sick because he says he doesn’t have the time. Then we put everything personal (not fun stuff as such, more like important papers like insurance, groceries, seeing the dentist, laundry, errands, health, etc) on the back burner for months… all until I have a little energy to tackle part of it or it becomes super urgent. Do I just wait till he drops of a burnout? I think it is much more likely now he will end up with a work burnout than a caregiver burnout like I first thought. Well, my first year I was really in bad shape and could barely walk so that was a good assumption. But now, yes, I’m worried he’s a great candidate for work burnout. I wanted to find him a new family doctor because his right now is a prick and even if he were dying of exhaustion on a hospital bed would only give him a day off work (I’m almost not exaggerating about his doctor!). My dad got cancer following a burnout so maybe I guess I am even more scared of it than others. And having constant pain and fatigue, having fallen down the abyss after working like a madwoman to stay in the workforce so long and being reduced to such a health state, I also have this fear that it could happen to my husband who also has a health problem…

    I tried in Nov and the start of Dec to say nothing, support him, do the most I could… and guess where it landed me? A super crash of course and I was barely making it on my own every night into bed. So he said he didn’t like me doing that. It made him worry more. That puts me in such a little box of helplessness. We tried hiring cleaning help 4 times and 4 times we got cancelled the day before O_O

    The hour of his waking approaches… or should I wake him? If he has to work, he has to cancel the very important massage he needs for his muscles. It’s important for his health condition and to keep headaches off. We went to bed a little later because he was off today. a little bit of joy. He was lifeless on the couch last night though before 10pm… and then had to work 45min because someone messed up at work! No he’s not self-employed, works for a big company but has the work ethics of a Japanese with Navy Seal ‘got to do it’ mindset in a crippled body. He’ll fight and say he doesn’t need a day off after all if I even suggest he needs one in his state (he was in pain all week among other signs). He’ll say he has too much work, people count on him, etc. All the websites about this are useless. They talk about overworked people but not people who have disabled wives as well. Or they talk about caregiver burnout but never about work/caregiver burnout together. Or what to do when there is no one to take over.

    In any case, just writing helped a little to get the steam out. Thanks! Sorry, too.

    1. Claudia, I read through your whole message. Thank you for writing. Please don’t say sorry! You can write any time – either on my blog or through a private message on Facebook. Saying a prayer for you and your husband right now that you will have wisdom to know what to say and what not to say and how to approach him. Praying for your health, for his job, and for you to be able to find peace even when so much is falling apart. Praying that your husband will be able to see clearly if there are any changes he needs to make so that he will not have work burnout. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Hugs <3

      1. Awww, thanks Esther! Thanks for the prayers. I went back to bed and was out before he was up. I’d left him a note. He had indeed booked to work that day but I’m glad he decided not to do it. I got so stressed that even later I had hives (urticaria) which wakes up when I have had too much stress. That usually takes A LOT to trigger it, but I guess I could only see a whole year ahead of what 2015 was made of and it scares me so much. We have a very respectful relationship him and I. We’ve never said anything nasty to each other, we’ve had some arguments about stuff and recognize it as situational and not personal. That’s a great strength we have and cherish. He’s much better than I at wording his thoughts though, especially since I’m dealing with brain fog in my second language while trying to convey my feelings in a proper manner. So he did the errands he had yesterday, now he’s working on the insurance we have to submit. They are supposed to send you a letter asking: “Did you send us all the documentation before we review your file?” but we don’t trust that. And it’s a Damocles sword over our heads. We want to give it our best shot. Of course insurance are like greedy lawyers and will turn everything against you to make it look like you can work even if everyone says you can’t, just to test your resolve. That’s why so many cases get resolved in the US (as we learned on John Oliver) out of Court: people are scared and can’t afford a good lawyer against such powerful enemies who spout out ridiculous claims against you. But we’re still trying our best. He helps me do this because I could never do it alone, just from the sheer length of it but also reading their nasty interpretation of specialist reports on my disability. And I don’t want to get affected by them but I’m human, I do. Even my husband does and it’s not about him per say. Well, he lives with me sure. But he was used to the medical world being so nice to him because his disability is an old condition and well understood, nobody will say it’s bullocks. He’s shocked by the process himself because he was used to doctors being so neutral or positive. But with my case, he’s seen them turn into unbelievers even though there is lots of science in on the subject now. So there, thanks again. I hope your work is ok with your life and all. Need to keep some arm power to do the litter x_x It’s a cardio activity for me and I’m crushed after but I love my cats. Take care!

        1. I’m so sorry the stress got so bad! I hope the hives are better by now. It is a wonderful gift that you have such relationship with your husband <3 And I really hope everything comes out well with the insurance. Stuff like that is such a pain, and so much worse with them saying nasty stuff about your disability. The would affect anyone I'm sure! Wishing you extra spoons today <3 <3

    1. Thank you <3 Reading through Philippians this month has been such a great experience. I do think God is working on my heart.

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