I’m doing okay… until I’m not. Until I’m stressed.
Stress always reveals itself in interesting ways. I don’t seem much different than normal – maybe a bit more exhausted and short tempered but, generally speaking, I do a good job at managing the emotional symptoms of stressful situations. It’s my body that suffers first: daily headaches, hair falling out, digestive tract havoc, cyst and boil appearances, psoriasis domination. When those start to become part of daily life, my mind finally catches up and realizes there’s a problem.
In my post When Forever Begins Too Soon, I asked you to please pray for us in the days, weeks, and months following my father-in-law’s shocking death. The hospital visits, hospice stay, and funeral were heartbreaking – but I knew the hardest days were still to come. While the rest of the world has gone back to normal living, the Wilson family is still struggling to adjust to a life without its patriarch.
The holidays are approaching. All the major “firsts” are beginning. It is safe to say that the hardest days are now here.
All of us deal with grief in our own way.
Every time the garage door opens, or the air compressor kicks on, Aidan gets excited and runs to jump into his Papa’s arms. Each time we remind him that Papa is not here. Each time his 3-year-old heart is devastated all over again.
Abigail is experiencing so much anxiety and fear over the idea of dying that we’ve actually had to administer sleep aid medication and engage the advice of counselors. She has this paralyzing dread that she will fall asleep and never wake up again.
Isabella wears her heart on her sleeve and bears her soul to the world. She talks about Papa. She laughs. She cries. She laughs again. She cries again.
My husband is secluded. He is not one to announce his feelings… ever. I know he’s hurting. I see the pain in his eyes. I feel the tension in his muscles. He’s working through things but he’s doing it privately.
And then there’s me. I sit on the floor and play cars with Aidan just like Papa used to. I hold Abbi late into the night until I know she’s in a dreamless sleep. I laugh and cry with Bella as she retells stories. I quietly sit next to my husband, not pressuring him to talk. And, all the while, I think I’m doing okay… but I’m not. My body has started to yell at me.
Identifying stress is hard but dealing with it is harder.
Over a year ago, we booked a trip to Disney with my in-laws. While Dave and I have taken Bella and Abbi on several different occasions this will be Aidan’s first trip – and it is the first time my in-laws planned to join us. It’s interesting how an exciting trip can turn into something sobering.
Our bags are packed and we hop on a plane in just 19 short days. We will still go and have a great time but we are also not naive to the fact that someone important is absent. Preparing for this trip has been my undoing. I’ve had to be strong for everyone else these past few months but I’ve neglected myself.
Just like everyone grieves in their own unique way, everyone also deals with stress in their own unique ways. Exercise, for me at least, helps immensely. Running just a few miles can cause layers of stress to melt away. Preparing for Disney has been great in that way. I run, on average, 25 miles a week preparing for these types of vacations. That way, when I am pushing a 40 lb stroller with a 60 lb kiddo riding on my back, I’m physically prepared. But, in regards to stress, most of it is dealt with at the cross.
When I neglect the cross that’s when I start to lose sight of who I am. It’s when I go from bad to much, much worse. It’s hard, when in the thick of things, to remember that God has a purpose for everything under heaven. I may not understand His plans but He is STILL GOOD no matter what. When I am finally able to hand over my weaknesses and difficulties to Christ then, and only then, am I truly made strong.
What are ways that you identify and deal with stress? I would love to hear what works for you!
…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-11