Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Important Stuff: a harsh reality

When I think of Rhea, as my husband, I think of how incredibly cherished he made me feel daily.  He totally rocked as a husband.  He had OCD, clinically not just made up, so he was an awesome help around the house.  I never had to ask him to do anything; he just always did it, whatever it was.  I would put the girls down or give them a bath, and he would pick up the kitchen or fold laundry.  Truly, we made an awesome team.  He was attentive and asked me about my day and always put my needs before his.  He cared about my passions and watched my silly TV shows with me, because I liked them and they made me happy.  He always said my job as a mom was way harder than his, and I deserved to be pampered.  For real, ladies, I kinda hit the jackpot with Rhea.  No, it wasn’t all perfect, we had a few bumps here and there, but really, it was good.  Our marriage was really wonderful, something for the books. 

A few weeks ago, I reached out to a battle buddy of Rhea’s and asked Clint to help me build shadow boxes for Rhea’s military honors and awards.  The girls and I took everything over to Clint’s house where Clint and I took over the kitchen table with documents and computers, and his amazing wife, Rachel, kept track and watched all 5 kids. 

During the process of building the shadow box online, I started to get really upset with myself.  We went through his awards, built his ribbon rack, went through patches and unit crests and unit awards, etc.  And, I couldn’t do any of it, without Clint.  I knew nothing.  The military, the Army, Rhea’s entire world and passion…I knew nothing.  I cannot tell you the amount of nights I watched Rhea pour over his military awards book.  Or, how much time I watched him build shadow boxes for other people and ribbon racks for his own soldiers.  He would work countless hours on his own military book, or as Clint called it, his “I Love Me” book (apparently this is what they all called it and everybody pretty much has one in the military.)  This was a huge part of him and of his life, it was important, and I can’t explain one piece of it to you. 

Since that night, I have been incredibly heartbroken.  I realize that I messed up.  Rhea always made what was important to me, important to him.  He really did, from my job, to singing, to my soap opera, to my books that I read, it was all important to him.  I did not do the same, in this major part of his life.  I was not all that he was to me, for him.  I dropped the ball, and I’m devastated by it.  I don’t get a chance to fix that.  That chance for me is gone with Rhea. 

I talked and cried heavily about this in my last counseling session.  There’s not a thing I can do about this.  It’s just something I have to deal with.  The few people that I’ve talked to, other than my counselor, have told me not to be so hard on myself.  And, yes, I know Rhea would say the same, and he would say that it’s just boring Army stuff.  I can’t do that though, I am upset with myself, and rightly so.  This is a huge deal to me.  My counselor, Sonya, she totally gets that.  I didn’t do this aspect of my marriage right.  I can reflect on that now and see it clearly.  It’s not me being hard on myself, it’s just me realizing something that I did wrong.  I didn’t make his important things, my important things.  He ALWAYS did that for me.  He deserved the same from me.  So, Sonya, said to me near the end of my session, “Now what? How long are you going to allow yourself to be upset about this? And what can you do about it?”  I’m not sure this is something I can get over.  And, there is not a damn thing I can do about it now.  But I can learn from it.

Here is the truth that I have learned; I refuse to make this mistake again.  It’s too unbearable to live with.  I will not do this to my children.  If dance is important to Joanna, then dance is important to me.  If soccer is important to Abby, then soccer is important to me.  Whatever their passion is at the time, that is my passion, too.  And if someone new comes into my life down the road, I will pay attention to what’s important to them and make it important to me.  And, as for Rhea’s passion, I can’t redo that time in my life.  What I would give for that? You have no idea!  But, I can make it important to me now, and I can learn and teach his daughters about his passion and love for the military. 

I think, Rhea probably has been laughing at me as I look up and study the different ribbons and awards he has.  How, I myself, have been looking up words and verbiage in his memorandums found in his “I Love Me” book in order to try and understand what indicators need to be put on which ribbons and why.  The medals are beautiful, and so intricate.  His passion was a wonderful passion, and is really very interesting to learn about.  I don’t know why I didn’t make it important to me, for him.  I’m so incredibly sorry that I didn’t.

My words of advice for all who read this, if you love someone, show them by making their life and their passions important to you.  Make time for their stuff, even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense to you.  Make what is important to them, important to you.  Don’t mess that up.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Readying My Heart

I set a goal for myself after VBS to attend church before August 14th.  So, I went to church last Sunday.  I made it the entire church service.  I felt good about it.  I was a little anxious, but I talked through all the worst-case scenarios in advance with a friend and role-played some conversations that could possibly happen.  I’m going to pat myself on the back here, folks.  I totally rocked it and met my goal!

Now for complete honesty…I went, but that’s about as far as it got for me.  It was purely about being there.  Not about anything else.  I didn’t have much feeling or emotion.  I was simply focused on making it through an entire church service.  I brought my Bible, but didn’t open it.  I stood and sat with the rest of the parishioners of the church.   I didn’t sing and I didn’t pray.  I was merely there.  At first I felt wrong, like if I was there I should be doing it all.  But, that’s not true.  This is a relationship I’m working on here.  I’m not going to fake it.  I’m going to be as real on this journey as I possibly can be.  And doing things that don’t feel right yet, or authentic, is not being real. 

The hardest out of it all, is not singing, not worshiping.  If you know me at all, you know that I sing.  You know that I was once a praise and worship leader and that putting my heart completely in a song to proclaim my love of Jesus was nothing but basic nature for me at one time in my life.  I can’t do it right now.  I can’t sing praises to Him.  It breaks my heart, but I just cannot actually do it.  Not yet.  I sat next to my friend, Jackie, and she processed with me a bit after the service (also I was avoiding the flood of people in the foyer.)  She mentioned that she had noticed I wasn’t singing, and then she thought about it for a while.  She had the absolute best words to describe it.  She said it was like being asked to sing a love song to someone and not actually being in love.  Exactly!  I’m not there.  I don’t have praises to sing, yet.  I am still hurt, broken, and angry.  When I come through this, then I’ll praise louder than anyone else.  I miss it…I really do.

That was last week, but Sunday came again this past weekend.  I went to church again.  Once more, I made it through the entire service.  I still didn’t sing, and I still didn’t pray.  I did, however, open my Bible.  Actually, I opened Rhea’s Bible.  When Rhea went on deployments he always took a soldier’s Bible.  Mainly because the conditions were so bad he didn’t want to ruin his good Bible.  So, during the last deployment he left his Bible and asked if I wanted to take it to church with me.  He always marked in his Bibles - highlighted, wrote notes in the margins, wrote prayers of his at the bottom of the page, etc.  While he was gone, he asked me to do the same in his Bible.  He wanted me to highlight the passages from church and Sunday school, and write my thoughts on them in his Bible, and I did.  It just feels right to take his Bible with me now.  I actually didn’t even consider taking my own, I went straight to his on my dresser.  But, as I was saying, I did open the Bible this week.  And one of the passages this week that we looked at was in Psalms.  And it just so happened to be a passage that Rhea had read.  It was highlighted, it was written around with his handwriting, and it took my breath away.  I didn’t even read it.  I just placed my hand on it.  Like, he was here, he was right here.  My hand was where his hand was.  It was the day for me to open the Bible.  It was real, and it was the right time.  All the other times will come, too.

I can sit here and think about all the things I’m not doing.  I can tear myself apart for not being further along in this journey.  But really, this is very difficult and though they are baby steps, they are all really big and important steps.  It is nothing to be rushed.  My heart has to be ready.  This is a process, every single week, of readying my heart.  I have built up all these walls and guards around my heart.  I am not ready to surrender it yet.  When you have been there, when Jesus was your safe place, your refuge, your strong tower, and then your entire world crumbles and He didn’t stop it for whatever reason, it’s so incredibly hard to say, “Well, yeah I get it, it was just his time, Jesus.  We’re still cool.”  No, I don’t feel that way.   But hear me when I say, I want to be a version of that. 

This is truly a struggle for me.  I never thought I would be a person who would struggle with their faith.  I cannot tell you how many people, family, and friends who have told me to just trust in Jesus, to lean on Him.  This is not something I can do in this moment.  I just think that I was up to bat in my faith, and I got hit 50 times in a row over and over again with a curve ball to the gut.  And now, I’m back up to the plate.  I’m not going to stand there easily without fear.  I’m going to jump out of the box and waiver.  It’s hard to trust that the same exact ball isn’t going to hit you in the gut again.  And I’m just supposed to trust.   It sounds so simple to say it, and I truly wish it was that simple for me to do it.  It just isn't that easy.  But, I will be patient, and I will ready my heart for when it is time, and I am ready to trust Him again.  I will wait until each moment feels right.