Right. I know it's not Christmas anymore or time to pull out the old classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" My mom and aunties simply loved that movie. Every year they pulled it out to watch it.
In reality the movie is kind of sad. A lot of traumatic things happen and life is really hard for awhile. But in the end, the sun starts to shine and there is a glow at the end of the tunnel.
Sometimes, hard things make you really discover what you appreciate about life.
Right now I feel like I appreciate everything.
After Christmas I had some MAJOR obstacles I had to overcome. The dread built with each passing week, day and then hour as my health procedure reared it's ugly head. My chest was continually getting tighter and I had a hard time focusing on anything at all. My brain fought my obsessive paralyzing thoughts but my body and heart made it hard to surrender.
Now that the procedure is over, I can look back, as I do about many things in life and think, "That was not so bad, and definitely not worth all my consuming worry!" In fact, my health issues showed me how awesome my friends are. The people who cared. The people who called or wrote to ask about what was going on. The prayers lifted up. The friend taking me home after my sedation of heavy does of drugs and the friend holding my hand while the IV was hooked up to me. The friend getting me chicken broth, the friend being there when I woke up, the family member fasting for me.
I literally awoke to a whole new world.
The sky was bluer. The grass was greener. And while yes, the happy drugs made me very happy, life just seemed to be full of unending joy and possibilities. I could eat again. I could drink again. I didn't have to be on a yucky diet anymore. I didn't have to worry about health forms and paper work. It was over. The news was good. I am healthy!
And what a huge blessing that is.
But I am finding my fear and obsession of "the worst" is almost more binding and paralyzing than the actual situation. My emotions run ahead of me without my consent, breaking free of the leash I so fiercely cling to .
Today I feel happy. Alive. Not a care in the world. Breathe deeply. Everything in life looks good. I am going to Hawaii in like 4 days! How can it not look good?! Soon I will be sipping drinks on the beach and indulging in the sun and sand between my toes. Even my paper that is due before I leave can't rip this joy from my heart. This joy is mine.
I am finding that optimism is a gift. I get annoyed with my optimistic friends. I am a realist. I live in reality. I am studying marriage, child and family therapy. I learn about domestic violence, child abuse, drug addiction and dysfunctional families and broken people. I don't want to step into optimism because it's not reality.
Or is it?
My friends who are optimistic do HAVE MORE FUN. My one friend Toby is an EMT, he sees a lot of heartache. He sees people struggling with age, having heart attacks and being scared on a regular basis, yet he is so optimistic. I think that saves people more than anything.
Because yes, bad things do happen. But on the off chance they don't, why not cling to that hope? The addict may change. The family may choose transformation, the person may be healed...
In the end I'll probably regret not being more optimistic anyway.
What am I really so afraid of? Because somehow, in a way I can't describe or understand fully, God's got it. God's got THIS. ME. IT. Whatever "it" maybe. Despite free will and predestination, whatever you believe about God intervening or not intervening in our fallen world, He is the One who's got this. Got you and got me. In the end HE WINS. WE WIN. The sky really is the limit.
And it really is okay to let go.
During my procedure and leading up to and after in recovery my mind kept coming back to a day at the beach with the two year old I nanny. For whatever reason, Owen, ever since I've known him has been terrified of the beach and HATED sand. It's like "You live in San Diego buddy, ENJOY IT!"
But noooo time and time again Owen cried when I would get near the ocean or his sandals would fill with sand at the park. One day though, he joined a bunch of kids playing in the sand at the park. He probably joined because he saw trucks and trains and he simply can't resist those. But he sat there in the sand.
This in turn gave me the idea and the plan for: BEACH DAY FOR OWEN.
So Owen, and a dad and his two year old son and I planned a "play date" at the beach. I knew Owen liked Reed (the two year old from his gym class) and once he saw how much fun Reed was having he would too. But Owen clung to me tightly as I carried him onto the beach. He was crying. I held him and told him it would be alright. We got out a blanket so he could sit on it instead of the sand. I sat down next to him and played in the sand. Owen was too scared to venture down to the ocean itself so the dad, Eric, brought a bucket of "ocean" up to Owen, full with sea-shells, sand and water. Even then Owen was afraid to stick his tiny fingers in and touch whatever mysterious creature may lie below the depths. He checked to make sure I was there, caught my eye and sat down on Eric's leg and slowly reached his hand in, reeling back with water and a smile of sheer delight plastered across his face.
Not so bad at all. Somedays I think God brings the ocean up to me in a little bucket. Maybe someday, when I'm not so afraid, I'll actually let him walk me down to the ocean.
But for now I'm okay with the seashell bucket. It's a wonderful life!