“There was a change in Mother after Dad died. A change in looks and a change in manners. . . .
While Dad lived, Mother was afraid of fast driving, of airplanes, of walking alone at night. When there was lighting, she went in a dark closet and held her ears …
Now, suddenly, she wasn’t afraid any more, because there was nothing to be afraid of. Now nothing could ever upset her because the thing that mattered most had been upset. None of us ever saw her weep again.”
Belles on their Toes
by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr.
and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
I first read this quote last April on a blog I frequent. It came to mind later that month during one of the darkest most painful moments of my life. The sentiment sunk deep into my soul. I realized my greatest fears, all the things I never thought I could survive, were happening. The crazy thing was while part of me died another part of me was born. A freedom from what-ifs.
What-ifs lost much of their power. Along with this mental freedom an emotional numbness crept into me last spring. A chilling sort of feeling compared to the warming physical world surrounding me. I struggled with this coldness. It was not how I wanted to live.
It was just part of the process. These changes in me are not instant or complete. They are continual, sequential and necessary. Like the math concepts I explain to my children, they have to be experienced and understood before you can go on and be successful at more complicated concepts. They also at times have to be revisited for a refresher.
This freedom from circumstances still comes in waves and on occasion the backwash will seem to pull me back toward an unwanted dark depth before the next wave rolls in sending me closer to the shore. The latest wave, or better description would be tsunami, thrust me a great distance further then I thought I would go. The ride was pure terror, the pull of the backwash that followed felt as if surely I would drown.
I survived. I gained unimaginable ground. It is not the way I would have chosen to travel, but this temporary destination, this calmness I now find is no longer numbing. There is a great warmth growing in the cold emptiness previously created in my heart. A gift was born from pain; a knowing of who I am when what-ifs become reality. As I resurface from the almost drowning, from the almost giving in to the cold dark rage, I still CHOOSE to hope, trust, love.
My imperfections, my failings, my mistakes do NOT define me.
My good qualities (few they may number), my successes, my correct actions do NOT define me.
God’s love defines me. God’s mercy defines me. God’s will defines me.
We travel different courses, carried by currents and thrown by waves called forth from the fiery sea of refinement. All leading to the same shore of Love covered in innumerable grains of mercy, forgiveness, and grace.
Fear not the what-ifs.