It is Well with my Soul BYU Vocal Point

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Challenges of the Season

Sometimes, to me, the holidays are more like hurdles than something to look fward to; personal challlenges to survive and overcome. It's sort of like a dare: let's see if you can get through this wiathout going into the hospital and without crashing and burning, either physicially or emotionally! And often I fail at those challenges. Either I'm so exhausted from the work and preparations that I get sick and have to be hospitalized for asthma or pneumonia; or else my mental illness rears its ugly head and either leaves me psychotic or depressed beyond functioning. More often though, of late, it just becomes a matter of expectations which I've inadvertently set me for myself and my family (PLEASE: let's just have a NICE DAY!) and due to one thing or another, they fail to get met, and sadness or anger ensues as a result.

My Thanksgiving was sort of like that last scenario. I was DETERMINED; really determined, to make a nice day out of it...despite the fact that it was one year to the day since my father in law had died and my husband is struggling with that as well as with some other stresses and is exhausted beyond words. Despite the fact that my daughter is in the midst of her own struggles. Despite the fact that my own respiratory health is pretty precarious since I've gotten home from the hospital and is really limiting what I can do...and despite the fact that we were going out for sushi and a movie rather than celebrating in a traditional manner. And I ALMOST succeeded....

The day had its ups and downs emotionally and relationally...the meal itself was enjoyable...but there were a bunch of tensions which emerged at other times...and when I got home that night; I was spent. Drained emotionally and physically. And very much felt like crying.

If only I could learn to just go for the ride; take it for what it is without having any anticipation or preconception of what it SHOULD be like. If only I didn't feel obligated to put up a tree and decorations--then I wouldn't be so disappointed with myself that I just CAN'T manage to do it strength or breath-wise. If only I could approach the days without anticipating that cinnamon and gingerbread-scented scenario that my childhood calls up for me...a role model that I feel an OBLIGATION to emulate. Baking; preparation; gift giving; HAPPINESS;....you get the picture.

Part of the problem is that I know that on some level my daughter would like all of that; and has her own expectations....which she has carefully stifled and buried into a sea of obdurate resignation....and I so much wish I could fulfill every hidden wish that she has! I know that her greatest wish though is just that I will BE HERE and be in my right mind for the holiday. So maybe I need to spend more time and energy guarding that possibility instead of trying to meet all the ancillary ones and then blowing the big one!!

Expectations are killers. And yet they are much of which the holidays are comprised. And I think that they are also the reason that depression and sadness and lonliness are so rampant in this season. I'm going to really try to just take it as it comes; to have one goal and one goal only and to take steps to guard that goal...and to try to let go of all the others.

My goal?
To take from the hand of God whatever comes this holiday and to maintain a thankful heart for the blessings I can find in it. Yeah, I know 'Thanksgiving' is over...but thankfulness never goes out of style.
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