Emily at Chatting at the Sky has started a poignant series called "Tuesdays Unwrapped." Here she invites her readers to be real, to allow people a look into their real lives (and their real struggles). Her idea is a good one, I think. It's amazing how much of a community exists among bloggers. And yet there's always the temptation to allow our readers just to look at the things we want to show. We often keep ourselves "wrapped," and by doing so we miss chances to enter fully into our own lives as well as others'. Emily challenges us to be real with one another and to take encouragement from one another's realness.
So I'm going to tell you a little of my story from the past year.
My profile says that I'm an amazingly blessed woman, and that's true. Here are a couple of photos of my family from our trip last summer.
My husband and me (I like this because I'm standing on a rock, and you can't tell that I'm actually a foot shorter than my hubby.):
Our three sons:
The past year has included amazing blessings for us, including the trip on which these photos were taken. Yet we have faced some big challenges in the past year, too. In April 2008, one of my sons had major open-heart surgery. (Well, all open-heart surgery is major, but this was really big: removal and replacement of his ascending aorta with a graft and replacement of his aortic valve with a mechanical valve.) Then in December my husband's heart went into atrial fibrillation. When he was hospitalized to address the a-fib problem, we learned that the a-fib was really just a warning of a larger problem. And so in February 2009 my husband had open-heart surgery. He had his mitral valve replaced with a mechanical valve. On the day (the very day, no kidding) that my husband was released from the hospital, my son became very ill and had to be hospitalized again. He had an infection and had developed pericarditis (an inflammation of the pericardium, which surrounds the heart). We learned that, for both my husband and son, we'll have to be hyper-vigilant about treating infections, since a bacterial infection could possibly reach their artificial valves. Things finally settled down, though, and we were starting to get back to a regular routine, when in April 2009 my youngest son became very ill. Turns out that he needed an emergency appendectomy.
Three surgeries in 12 months. That's too much. Recently, I was at a church gathering at which the pastor asked all of us to introduce ourselves and say where we lived. I said, "I'm Richella, and I live mostly at Duke Hospital." A weak joke, but that's how I was feeling.
I wish I could tell you that, with reliance on God and help from family and friends, I made it through all these stresses with flying colors. But that wouldn't be what is real. Oh, it's true that I had to rely on God, and He came through with flying colors. And it's true that my family and friends were incredible--I mean really incredible--in their kindness and support. What's not true is the part about me. I didn't come through with flying colors. I didn't even come through with one flag flying. I limped through. I broke down. I struggled. I crawled. Even with all the support, I just barely made it through. Just barely.
Turns out that "just barely" counts. I'm prone to grading myself on my performance, and I end up being disappointed that I didn't perform better. But I'm learning that, sometimes, just getting through is enough. No one else is grading me. No one is else is disappointed in my performance.
I didn't get through this past year with an A+. But I got through. And I think that the lesson for me is that, sometimes--maybe even oftentimes-- getting through is enough.