Saturday, December 24, 2016

Positive Lessons in Tragedy

I know it seems strange to write a blog about tragedy on one of the most joyous evenings many of us have, all year long.  But Christmas Eve is as good a time as any for me to share something that I have felt for about ten years and can finally put into words.  At least I think I can.  In the past week, I feel like there has been an abundance of tragedy.  Car wrecks.  Parents dying at a young age.  Children in the hospital with scary outlooks.  Unfortunately, I doubt that it is really a seasonal thing or a now thing.  I know that this is an everyday thing.  It’s just been more present, in my view.  This blog isn’t for any of my readers who are going through these things, now.  If you are fresh in a tragedy, this isn’t the blog for you … yet.  It will be sanctimonious and unwelcome in your journey.  You will hate me.  It took ten years for the fog of tragedy to clear before I could see any positive.

Now then, if you have been through a tragedy and are on the path to figuring out the “what now”, this MAY be for you.  It may not be and that’s fine.  It’s definitely for me and that’s why I write.

There have been a few hard times in my life.  Things that just didn’t go as planned and really set me back.  None of them as much as twenty years ago when my brother passed away.  The world is full of people who have lost a sibling.  I have learned that it is very rarely discussed.  When you lose a child, it is thought of and discussed, often.  As it should be.  When you lose a parent too early, it is a sympathetic plight.  Again, as it should be.  Losing a sibling isn’t really touched upon.  For years, I felt lost in why I was still so darn sad and no one seemed to notice.  Was I the only one who noticed?  The dynamic was off.  Things would never recover.  But, they did and then some.  Good things came from this awful, terrible event.  Don’t get me wrong, I would do anything to have Jared back.  I think about him all the time.  I wish with all that I have that my kids could have met him.  But, without this tragedy, I don’t think my path would have been the same.  I have a pretty bumpy but good path. 

From this time (at least a decade), I learned a lot.  I learned perspective.  Nothing slaps you in the face with perspective quite like the permanency of death.  Things like Austin’s accidents (yes, plural) were awful but not permanent.  I recognized that as long as he was here with us, we were winning.  As long as he still wanted to beat the pain, we had a chance.  As long as there was still fight in us to work together, we would make it.  And, we did.  Selfishly, I am hoping we passed those tests and don’t have to revisit that.  I have also learned what I call “little perspective.”  Little perspective is the practice of keeping a bad day or moment as just that.  A bad day or moment doesn’t make for a “my life stinks” perspective.  I have bad days.  I just quit letting them become bad weeks/months/years.

I learned that my timing and God’s timing are two very different things.  I wanted four kids in four years.  It’s easier to remember their ages if you just have to count down.  Kidding, sort of.  That didn’t happen.  Two years of multiple miscarriages were hard, terribly hard.  For a while, I felt like I had failed my plan.  But, I had learned that it isn’t my plan that counts and God would take care of me.  Now, I see it as I type and wait for the awakening of Chaney and twenty minutes of her sitting on my lap, sucking her thumb and holding her pillow.  Kind of hoping she lets me finish this blog because I am not sure I will finish it, if not.

The biggest positive impact this tragedy had on my life was in my relationships.  Yes, it feels a little off to use the words “positive impact”.  I have relationships that cleaned themselves out, as a result of this.  People who I held close or looked up to that showed they didn’t care on the level I did.  Sad, but necessary and probably saved a lot of sadness on down the road.  And then, I have relationships that showed up and stayed.  There are people who are quietly watching and cheering for you.  I began to recognize and see those people above the ones who are just present when it is easy or will garner them attention.  The best relationship change was one of improvement.  From Jared’s death, a relationship improved.  I won’t go into a ton of detail because this isn’t just about me and not everyone likes their feelings and soft parts exposed.  I can say that I have a relationship that I don’t know would have been a strong one had Jared’s death not changed both of us.  I am grateful that the direction it was taking changed.  I have an enjoyment of relationships that I didn't have before.  It's more about the interaction than the what we are doing or the excitement.

I have no idea what my life would have looked like if twenty years ago had been a different outcome.  Maybe, I would have ended up in the same place with the same people and same relationships.  Maybe age and life would have taught me all of these things.  I don’t think so.  I choose to believe that good can come out of tragedy.  That it is a life altering event that isn’t all bad.  Why?  It's the only way I can make sense of any of it.  Because if I don’t recognize the good, I get sucked into the world of “whys” and really there is only one “why”.  God has a plan and our ability to accept that plan controls our ability to find the positive moments in everything. 

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