I'm sure most of us are familiar with what I mean by "that family." It could be the one that always comes in late, or the one with kids making weird clicking noises during times of silence, or kids who decide the aisle is ripe for a repeat performance of Usain Bolt's gold-medal effort in the 200m.
The past year of my life has contained more than its fair share of sorrow. Like most lives, happiness and joy were there too, but those were not the dominant flavors. Too much of the year was like a gruel I wish I could forget—an enormous swill of a stew with fear and misery stuck to the sides like week-old oatmeal. Thick, unappealing, and nauseating.
We put up our tree last week, and it's beautiful. It's fake and petite and 90 percent of the ornaments are at the bottom, reflecting the height of my children (its chief decorators). It's a perfect Christmas tree shape, which is what you get from a plastic tree.
I've spent a lot of time as a mother noting my children's milestones. Oh, I think: he's climbing up that ladder unassisted. That never happened before! Or oh, how about that—she just listened to song lyrics, extrapolated their meaning, and ask a relevant question about them!
Tonight, I sat across from my husband in a restaurant. This past year has been very difficult for both of us, and has been its own sort of milestone, for many of the weighty and immense reasons that make adulthood complex.
Once, when I was about seven, I jumped into the car after school and grabbed a Thermos rolling around on the floor. I was sweaty and dying of thirst and expecting water, or lukewarm juice, but was hit instead with a mouthful of my mother's leftover coffee.
One of the most dangerous effects of physical trauma is internal bleeding. It is insidious because it is often invisible, at least initially; internal organs can be gravely damaged with little or no outside evidence. The victim can walk, talk, and interact often to the point of seeming fine. Meanwhile, the body suffers, and once the damage is discovered, it can be irreparable.
I am in a phase of radical decluttering. The phrase “spring cleaning” comes to mind, but it’s a bit too Disneyish and doe-eyed to describe the full-scale assault currently underway against old toys, outgrown clothes, and random piles of crap inside my house. Until this is finished, I can’t relax.
I have come across, in my discernment journey thus far, many serious and devout warriors of the faith. These are men and women with battle scars, earned from fighting on the front lines of ministry, often at great cost to their own health and well-being and those of their family members.
Here's the thing about committing yourself to a daily discipline. I don't care whether you've vowed to pray or exercise or only eat M&Ms and watch Val Kilmer movies: eventually, you are going to get sick of it.