Posted by: Beth | December 24, 2020

Unruffled Feathers

The following showed up in my Facebook memories. I wrote it five years ago.  Fifteen days after my daddy died of a heart attack, his first sign of heart trouble.  One year and three months after DSS placed our then two-year-old grandson with us, which tells you there was still a lot going on there.

“Beth, how do you do it?”

A quizzical look crossed my face. I replied, “Do what?”

“You’ve got stuff going on in your life, too, and you just breeze right through. Nothing bothers you. You’ve always got a smile on your face.”

I laughed a little, “It’s an illusion. It’s just an illusion.”

Some of you are laughing, too, because you’ve seen me when I wasn’t breezing right through. You’ve seen my feathers ruffled and may have helped smooth them, or at stayed nearby until I calmed down and saw reality instead of my fears.

As our conversation went on, I could honestly say, “I’ve been where you are. I have been there! Not exactly maybe, but pretty close.” As happens too often in our lives, the conversation was cut short, but I thought about it later. How did I get from there to here? The complete answer is long and winding and filled with ups and downs. The churchy answer is “God.” Perhaps there is a short, honest answer. This change has taken years, and involved an attentive doctor, changes in diet, nutritional supplements, thyroid and hormone medications, homeopathy, supportive friends and family, dedicated prayer group, and rest. The simplest part was the most difficult to do: to rest.

We all rest every night, right? Or at least we make an attempt. Most of us know we need rest. But how, realistically, do you sleep eight hours a night when you have a job and church commitments and friends you enjoy being around? The answer is this: you give up something. You decide that something in your life is not worth being so exhausted that you take a nap at work and don’t have the energy to do your own laundry and dishes. Since I got up around 5am to get to work, that meant I needed to be asleep by nine. O, the horror. NCIS came on at 8:00 and there was no way I could watch that and be asleep by 9:00. If a meeting ran past 7pm, I rarely went. If I did, I basically rested the next two days. Fortunately our children were about grown, otherwise I doubt that I could have even attempted to sleep eight hours. Making those changes hurt my feelings and hurt my pride. Seriously, what grown person has to be home by seven every night?!?!

Fast forward to today. I rarely sleep eight hours a night anymore. I’m lucky to sleep seven. There may be a string of days when I feel normal and say “yes” to one too many commitments. I still have to pace myself. If I don’t take it easy a day or two a week, I can see myself sliding back to where I was. I have to be aware of my physical limitations and be willing to say no.

What does this have to do with being ruffled by the winds or setting your sail to catch the breeze and go with it? Everything. Sometimes we hear the message that life is wonderful and you have no problems after you accept Christ as your savior. That is not reality. Once we’ve made that decision and the Holy Spirit dwells in us, our lives change. Sometimes those changes are pleasant, and sometimes they are not. Although the changes are positive, some people around us will doubt or ridicule or even complain. We know the birth pains of a mother in labor, but I wonder how the baby feels. Going from darkness to light; hearing muffled noises to loud, jarring sounds; and being squished through the birth canal may not be the most pleasant experience. I also think of the butterfly. The larva is content, munching along on leaves until the day it begins to form a chrysalis. It is alone and in the dark for a while, then it must fight its way out of the chrysalis and into a new freedom, no longer confined to crawling along leaves and stems but flying from flower to flower.

The bottom line is this: Change is hard. Growth is hard. Learning to set the sails instead of complaining about the wind takes practice. The good news in this? God has set the path before us, and provides guideposts for us. May we read, listen, learn, and follow in that path so that we can set our sails and smile through the journey as the wind ruffles our hair but not our spirits.

Added in 2020:

Change is hard.  This year we have ALL experienced change that we neither asked for nor wanted. I made the comment today, “I am tired of trying to be content with nothing being normal.”  However, nothing is normal.  I still have the choice to be content and find laughter when I can, or wallow in the mire of disappointments and anger. I have my moments of wallowing and crying.  Bad things will happen and harsh words will be said.  I pray we all put effort into looking for the good, lovely, admirable, true, right, excellent, praiseworthy, or noble things. 


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