The last five years have been some of the darkest days I have ever walked. Many days, weeks, and months my family and friends didn’t recognize me. I didn’t recognize me. Anger and bitterness had seeped into my heart and perhaps my soul. Depression and jealousy was my close companion. I watched others live the life I wanted, while my family was suffering. My flesh and soul were in agreement. Life sucked. I watched my life spiral out of control, without my permission.
Mark has had lyme and it’s co-infections probably since I have known him, and more than likely much longer. Doctors think he has had it for twenty years or more, based on the timeline of his earliest symptoms and based on now-that-he-knows what symptoms feel like.
I love being at home. I love being Mark’s cheerleader, raising my kids, and ministering to the world. When I applied at the hotel, it was suppose to be a seasonal thing, not a long term thing. Once it became a long term thing my attitude blummeted. I was not grateful, I was not excited, and I did not want it.
There is not handbook for full-time, working mom’s who do not want to be shoved out into the work force. And it’s not that I despize working, contrary. I love working alongside a well working team. I like physical labor. It’s that I love being home, mentoring my kids more.
This year. However. God began making me face my life as it is. I pleaded with the Lord to either physically let me die or to birth the thing that needed to be birthed. I know that when life gets to the point it is physically, mentally, emotionally, and soulfully painful God is about to birth something. But, often times it’s the slow, torturing kind of birth. Not the shoot me now and get it over with kind.
Mark and I both, wanted Mark to be the breadwinner. We both wanted me at home fulltime. But, then I realized my tantrum and our expectations is hurting my family more than it was helping it. Mark and the kids were suffering because of my inability to face life and the choice I had to make. To embrace becoming the sole breadwinner. A position I did not and still do not really feel adequate to fulfill. But, I wanted my best friend back. I want my kids to have a dad who could possibly play with them if he was able to conserve energy to do so, as best as he can. I wanted this more than I wanted a paycheck from him.
So, I hopped on Indeed. I am continually told I am wasting my talents at the hotel. I continually get offered positions and some I have considered with great thought before turning down. A couple of positions popped up through Indeed and I filled out the applications. Within seconds of submitting one of the applications, an offer of an interview came through and the sweating bullets commenced. As soon as I shook the interviewers hand I knew it wasn’t going to be a good fit. I left the interview more frustrated, because I was hoping it was “the one”. It wasn’t.
I threw another tantrum to the Lord. I was sick to the point of wanting to throw up. Maybe God didn’t care. Maybe he only blesses other people. Maybe God had forgotten about me. All these thoughts frustrated me even more. Because I wanted to believe in the goodness of God. I wanted to without grumbling and complaining trust the Lord. I wanted my attitude to trust the Lord without grumbling and complaining. It didn’t. And worse, I was out of obedience. Usually my obedience was enough to keep me doing what I know to be true of what the Lord asks of me. My obedience couldn’t even keep my mouth and heart “pure”.
I let go of all I thought I was right. I was lost. I was sitting in the dark and I didn’t know how to keep going. I heard loud and clear Elisabeth Elliot’s “do the next thing”. When life is dark and out of control, “do the next thing”. Go to work, love my family, run my kids to their lessons. Do the next thing. The next thing was exhuasting. I ran out of steam to do the next thing. I didn’t care about the next thing.
In a lot of ways Mark’s illness means I function some what like a single mom. Some days laying on the couch not swearing is about all he can muster. He watches life go by him, a life he misses, and it sucks. Some days he looks catatonic. Some days he looks like a shriveled raisin. Some days he has umph to do something with me and the kids. We all know this one day could tank him for weeks. We don’t go to church very often as a family. One morning of getting ready for church, driving to church, walking into the building, socializing, and then reverse to go home will tank him for weeks.
Last week while I was folding laundry at work, the thought hit me like a ton of bricks. My husband is dead. My marriage is dead. My kid’s dad is dead. And while he is physically alive, the life we wanted, the life Mark wanted, the life we wanted to live…is dead. Oh, gosh. It hurt. Still hurts. But, I also know when you let something die, that isn’t meant to be alive beautiful things can emerge. I can’t put Mark in the box that I want. He’s wilting and dying in that box. It kills me that I kept him in that box for so long. But, I couldn’t let my husband go, I couldn’t let the father of my kid’s die. So, last weeek I said goodbye. I had a funeral in my mind and I knew what I had to do.
I had a talk with my boss. I told her the reality of my life, told her the hours I needed and I panicked. I panicked because, what if what my family needed didn’t line up with what would work for them. What if God let me down, what if I had to find another job that wouldn’t allow me to keep my family goals. What if, what if, what if. I was physically sick, but also knew this was the path I had to go down. I had to take our financial income off of Mark’s plate.
And God and my employers met me where I am. With the hours I needed and the time off I had committed to my kids, with the abilty to rock and read to Timothy at bedtime. To sit at the supper table as a family and discuss the day. This time at the dinner table is gold to our family and one of our family priorities. I can run them to their events in the evenings. I can give them the gift of a not too tired mommy and be present.
I don’t know what life looks like in a month or a year. I don’t know if Mark will ever get better. Right now, there is not currently a treatment that is working for him. He’s tried antibiotics, but it came down to quality of life. Antibiotics often work if you catch Lyme and its co-infections right away, but not usually after having it for years. Some find ease of symptoms through various supplements. Lyme is a beast because what works for one could tank another. It doesn’t play fair and is not widely recognized by modern medicine. If you get the bullseye rash, you are lucky, and are are taken more seriously by modern medicine. Our experience with modern medicince has not given us a great trust for it. Quite the opposite, actually. We’re blessed in that Mark is still physically here with us. Death is a conversation we have as a family regularly. He will tell you death is not the worse thing that can happen to you. Life without Jesus, is the worse thing that can happen to you. Mark will tell you, an eternity without Jesus is worse than any torture on earth.
Finally, I have peace we are walking in the “right” direction. My whole life is usually bushwhacked, and I blaze my own trail. I don’t know why I would expect it to be different now that I’m older. But, I never walk the trail alone. God always goes with me. Even when I try to run a head of him, or yell at him to leave me alone, or when I think I know best and take the trail he told me not to. Even then, he doesn’t let me go. Even then he whispers as a sweet, kind lover who knows how to bring me back. He shows me he is trustworthy. He shows me doing the hard thing does not mean it’s the wrong direction.
Neither, Mark or I know how to walk our path. We know we are walking holy ground. God doesn’t make a mistake in where he sends us. I would ask you to pray for me at the hotel. Pray for my encounters with my co-workers and with the guests. Pray I would love them with Christ’s love. Pray I would see them as Jesus would see them and interact with them as he would do so. That I would have the woman at the well conversations with them. Pray for Mark as he loves and nurtures our kids. I have given him the Chief fun operator title at our house. Pray for us as we navigate church and what it looks like for our family. The word God has given me for Mark and my co-workers is seen. Please pray for me as I dive into what God means by that and what the action is our family is to put into place in regards to it. I’m on a trail that doesn’t have mile markers or directions, but that’s ok, God, Mark, and I love a good adventure.