This morning, I woke up and was so thankful. On September 14th, I did not feel very thankful. On October 2nd, I was scared. On October 13th, I was relieved. On November 3rd, I thought we had taken a step in the wrong direction. But today, I am so thankful. This is the journey of wholeness, isn’t it? There is not a direct path. There is not a paint by number path to wellness. Not in the spiritual or the physical realm. There are good days and there are really hard days. There are days when you put your head on the pillow and you know you gave it your all. And there are days when the best you can do is say that you survived.
That has been the journey of the last two months. When Harvey passed and our community changed, something in our family changed as well. We saw the hurt. We felt the need. We experienced the fear. We loved the least. And for those with a super natural spirit of tenderness, which I believe is God’s best wiring for my girl, sometimes there is just too much pain to understand.
I don’t think the storm CAUSED this. But I do believe that when those of us who are wired to serve and give and change the world see the depth of despair, we understand pain on a different level. When we stood and watched the water come closer to our house at 3am and we rushed the precious things upstairs, innocence was lost that night. Two weeks later, when those in our community that were not directly impacted by the storm went back to “normal,” my old soul of a girl could not shift like her peers. Homecoming meant very little. Dating and driving and practice for solo and ensemble felt empty. How can we just keep going when classmates are going home to no walls and no beds and no food? It just didn’t make any sense. And most days it still does not, but we have created space to process and make a difference and press on.
There is a sure fire way to move your head space from self pity to hope, and that is action. Serving someone else has always been the key to help me see that this world is not about me. That is what we have done as a family. With the decision made to start 10th grade over and attend online school, we had the opportunity to reset.
To those of you that have followed Dolls For All, you know that Anna Jane has pressed into her passion for helping kids with a new excitement. On the days that the world seems heavy, thinking about the smile on a 2nd grader’s face makes things better. I have seen her lead and speak and strive for more in the midst of pain and hurt and fear. That is what life is all about, isn’t it? When the morning is filled with anxiety, she has spent the afternoon planning a delivery or matching dolls to recipients. When a precious 8 year old that recently lost her dad wraps her arms around her in excitement, I have watched the worry fall away.
On a side note, if your kiddo does not fit the standard school offering, give yourself permission to explore what else is out there. Had this crisis not happened, I am not sure I would have looked. What I have found and embraced – in all the fullness – is there is no one path. We each have individual needs and wants and goals and passions. For my beauty, attending football games and playing sports have never been the thing. But interesting interactions with teachers and students around the globe, attending virtual field trips into active volcanoes in Guatemala and being challenged in the areas of study and life that ignite her passion is right up her alley. Additionally, the freedom to plan study and school around service, leadership and family has opened doors that we didn’t know existed.
This is not the end. This is simply a new beginning. But I have been reminded, AGAIN, that the thing that seems the darkest, the hurt that is so painful, the hopeless moments that are so lonely can become the moments where life is transformed. I also love how God weaves new passions in the midst of pain. I thought I understood the need for improvements for mental healthcare in education, through laws and within community resources, but I didn’t know the half of it. Watch out world, this momma has a NEW mission.
P.S. We wrote this 5-day blog long before we pushed publish on even the first day. Experiencing the way that we have been wrapped in love and care and genuine willingness to learn gives me so much hope. I don’t know how this will unfold, but I pray that this will be a ministry of healing that AJ and I can move through as a mother/daughter power couple. If you know of a group, friend, family, church, team or organization that wants to learn more about anxiety and depression in teens and families, we have a story and now are reconfirmed in the power of sharing it.