A few days ago I read a fascinating article on the BBC news site over research showing once again the health benefits of journaling through or reflecting over a particularly difficult time in life. This study found that participants who journaled were far less likely to visit the doctor’s office for care as their physical health improved for a short bit of time. Is that not wild? Being somewhat young but old enough to have tasted of life’s hardships, I can count three times in my life that were emotionally draining and terribly difficult to navigate, most of which I would rather not share in a blog format. The media brings devastating news almost daily, and friends I hold dear continue to go through trying times in regard to fertility, loss of a loved one, health, and mental health. Life is not easy. Instead, it is rather terrifying. While I find my hope in the Lord, He never promises to wave a wand, banishing all of the bad and replacing it with good. . .at least not in this life; He does promise, however, to be with me, to hold me up, to point my eyes toward eternity. When my friends hurt, I can’t give them anything beyond a hug and shared tears that will relieve them of misery, but I can pray, and I can ask my Father to apply His mending salve to their souls. This is so much more.
Four years ago on the 4th of July, while attempting to bike north on the Jenks Rivertrail to see the fireworks show off the 21st street bridge, I was hit by a drunk teenage girl. My body flew up over her car and rolled off its trunk, and she sped away in fear only to be chased and arrested by firemen who witnessed the accident. Jay, who was maybe a quarter of a block behind me, witnessed the accident, too, and was with me through every step of the recovery, beginning with my stay in the hospital. As I think about this event, I am somewhat detached as I didn’t see it happen, and my outcome is good: I am able to walk again, and I suffered no permanent brain injuries (well that might be debatable by some). What makes me fairly emotional even now is to think of how fragile I felt after the accident and how separated I was from my daughter who was nine months old at the time—she was scared of me at first as my face was cut open and swollen from hitting the road. In fact, even the physical therapist’s assistant on hospital staff was a little bit scared of me when she walked into my room: “OMG!! What happened to YOUR FACE?” The poor woman was promptly pushed out of the room by her more tactful colleague, “Uh, yes, well, we will check back on you soon.” Jay and I still like to use that line in jest when we think of it because, well, it is funny.
I spent twelve weeks on crutches, and Eden and I began walking at the same time, which was actually incredibly sweet. I was still navigating the newness of parenthood—four years later I still am but in different ways. All of this to say, now that I have recovered in all ways (even the road tattoo I carried on my right cheek for two years after the wreck has been “erased,” leaving only a splat-shaped scar), this difficult time in life feels like a dream. Others I know are experiencing real loss, not temporary loss, hardship that is life-shattering and heart-searing. Some are grappling with the emotional trauma of a lonely or even abusive childhood and are now attempting to work through the hurts done unto them in the past. Their struggles are so difficult. I know women who have had miscarriage after miscarriage and can’t understand why their fertility isn’t easy and straightforward like the women around them. This world, if one really examines it, is not a guarantee for great happiness. We might experience it, yes, but ultimately, we will also experience sadness. That is inevitable. We all age. We all experience loss.
I read a beautiful scripture the other day, and it has been with me, showing me my hope cannot thrive in the non-permanent: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3). Is that not beautiful? This melts my fears of my children growing up too quickly, of one day losing my spouse whom I love dearly, and whatever other trying life events I encounter along the way. Christ’s death and resurrection is secure, and it isn’t changing. He is steadfast. Tim Keller, founding pastor for Redeemer Presbyterian in New York, wrote an entire sermon series on hope, and from the sermons I have listened to, I have found great encouragement. Similar reflections are present weekly in my home church, a resting place rich because of its grace-based reformed theology. I’m not sure why I’m writing a blog about faith tonight, but I guess these are just the thoughts that have been banging around in my head in between diaper changes, night feedings, and meal preps. I wish I could say that I’ve been properly meditating upon them, ruminating as a means for joy, but honestly I’ve been frantically clinging to them at times and ignoring them at others. When I blog again in six months, I’m sure to pump out another sappy mom blog, stuffed with anecdotes that only me, my grandma, mom, and sisters care to read.