Lately, I’ve found myself thoughtfully contemplating my life. The long summer days have descended upon us and even as I dodge the heat while weeding the gardens, harvesting berries and preserving simple foods, my thought are often deeply preoccupied.
Is it the soon-to-arrive baby of ours that set these thoughts in motion? Or the fact that I’ve caught wave after wave of sickness due to low iron and have spent nearly the last 2 months isolated from the world?
Maybe it was Grandma’s quick and unexpected death? Or the fact that I’m just growing older and want to make my life count for something?
Maybe it was an accumulation of all the above.
Regardless of the cause, this summer I’ve been gently brought to the realization that I haven’t fully accepted and embraced some of the realities in my life.
Lately I’ve been feeling as if my life is an onion. I remove one layer only to find another underneath. Peel that one back and oh look! Here’s another.
I know that sounds cryptic, so let me explain myself.
You know my backstory. How I’m a born-and-raised farm kid who fell in love with working with college age students? How I thought I’d go on to work as a counselor in some capacity? And then how advanced Lyme disease brought my life pursuits to a screeching halt?
Health issues threw me back into living the simple country lifestyle. And health is why I’m so intently focused on raising farm-fresh food, cooking, preserving it and eating a clean diet!
I’ve spent the past 10+ years of my life battling advanced Lyme disease. Ten years of learning how to recognize triggers and manage symptoms. I’ve had a decade to transition from being an active individual to creating a slower, healthier, less stressful life that my body can manage.
And until recently, I thought I had made peace with my simple existence. But this summer, I’ve been realizing there’s still a part of me that hasn’t fully embraced the “limited” version of myself.
Somewhere deep inside, I’ve been holding onto false hopes.
Maybe someday, I’ll be able to do long hikes again with my man. Maybe someday, I’ll get to be the active mom I always hoped to be. Maybe someday, I’ll once again have a full and busy life that’s highly involved with people.
Perhaps someday, my body won’t need so much rest and I can just go live my life again?
I’ve been rebelling against what (deep down) I know to be true, simply by keeping hope alive.
And that needs to stop. All of it.
The old life isn’t coming back. That girl I once was? She isn’t going to reappear. Never again will I experience the same levels of physical, relational and emotional energy in this broken body of mine.
It’s gone. And I need to adjust my hopes for the future so that I can forge my way forward to something new and different.
I let it all tumble out when my man when we were driving home from Grandma’s funeral.
I’m realizing that I haven’t made peace with my brokenness, that I haven’t been willing to fully let go of the past.
I’m realizing I don’t know how to live this life well, to love people well, how to give freely when my limitations are always slapping me in the face. But I want to learn, find my place and start being more content. For the sake of my own peace. For us.
And since then, I’ve been thinking it over.
How do I fully accept my limitations and still live a life of purpose as a wife, homemaker, soon-to-be mother, cook, gardener, housekeeper, friend and neighbor?
Compared to what I used to be able to bring to life, give to others and participate in…well! I’m a sad shadow of my former self.
Is this really all there is for me? And is this really all that I can bring to the table?
Sometimes folks, I get caught up in comparing the present to the past.
I can’t help it.
Even today my best attempts at loving people around me look pathetic compared to what’s in my heart and especially when I compare it with the action I would have taken in the past!
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to belong to a community of people. To have a place in this world where my home life and community life intersect in a real way.
And yet I find that I often end up living an introverted life, simply because I need to rest between activities. Or because I’m feeling too run down to contribute. Or I’m sick yet again!
After these past weeks of mulling over how to live my life, I think I’ve come to a conclusion.
If I want to live and love well, I need to let go of the dreams and the “once upon a time” life I used to have. Instead, it’s time to start being faithful in the little things around me.
When something moves my heart, I need to learn to act on it. With prayer. Reaching out. Giving someone flowers or taking them a meal. Having people into our home when and where my health will allow.
Even in my hobbies and interests, it’s time to pursue some of the low key activities I’ve had a sneaking interest in but have resisted because…well…they’re a bit of a slap in the face. The old Autumn wouldn’t really have done that.
I think it’s time for yet another shift in my mindset. And while I don’t yet know exactly how it’s going to play out, I’m realizing I need to make peace with my reality.
I won’t ever hit those high and lofty goals. I won’t ever be the cause fireworks. Never again will I stand out in the crowd, or be able to work so hard and faithfully that I rise to the top in whatever I tackle. Those days are gone.
It’s time to start living a quiet and faithful life.
This summer, I feel like I’ve been on a journey of self discovery. Much like you, I do want to live my life well. And so, I’ll continue the journey in hope of finding the peace and settled feeling my heart yearns for.