Last night, Jordan and I got a little dressed up and went to a benefit dinner for a local women's shelter.
It's probably one of the best things we'll have done all holiday season long, simply because it caused us to step outside of ourselves. Plus I cried a little (which can, at times, be good for a stopped-up soul), and we bid on a silent auction item... and won!
All in all, it was a great evening.
Then, as the program came to a close, a dear friend of ours from church came up and asked if something was wrong -- I blame the leftover tears. It was a touching program! I cried! -- but right after he asked, I knew: Yes, something was wrong. And it has been wrong for weeks.
November was a hard month. Normally it is celebratory and joy-filled, but this time? It was stressful.
I try not to give away too many personal details on the blog out of respect for my husband and for our church and for our lives, but now that we're putting some things behind us, here's the deal: My husband had a minor health scare last month, and I think it's beginning to wear on me.
Twenty-five year old men don't typically have to do colonoscopies. This past month, Jordan endured two (sort of), which meant two rounds of fasting and prep in less than three weeks. Monday when we walked into the follow-up appointment, the doctor did a double-take. We thought it was because I was there -- nosey wife and all -- but turns out, he was just shocked to see somebody so young in his office. Awesome.
Thankfully, the tests didn't come up with anything too scary. Nothing a slight lifestyle change and more fruits and vegetables won't cure.
But spending the past month worrying and praying and crying? Oh, it has taken its toll.
On top of that, there have been church struggles.
If you regularly attend and -- this is key -- are involved and active in a local body of Christ, you know: It is hard work. And because Christ's body is made up imperfect, redeemed souls, words can get spoken and wounds can be opened, and the fall-out that ensues can be nothing short of painful.
We are enduring a painful time at our church.
I have experienced pain in Christ's body before, in particular, during a few hard months at my Christian college, when I published a "controversial" newspaper article that got me in a bit of hot water and resulted in a couple of tearful meetings in the university president's office. I'll never forget how hard those months were, how as a 21-year-old, I was trying to figure out that fine line between making a difference, taking a stand, and speaking the truth in love. It's a balance I still struggle to find, and as a believer surrounded by other believers I know: I am not alone.
As a college senior, I knew my university was experiencing what I termed "growing pains." My very small school was expanding, attracting new types of students from all walks of life, and it was struggling to know how to adjust.
I think our church is experiencing those same troubles, and that can take a toll on the members who -- for better or worse -- see all the wheels turning and the mechanisms spinning.
So yes, November was hard, and December has started off in much the same way.
It is advent, and I am trying so hard to wait, to be patient and quiet and prayerful while the wheels keep on turning. I am trying to think about practical solutions, to reduce the stress and anxiety that can invade our little home without our permission.
The waiting and the quiet is one solution. I also, though, think there might be another.
Because last night, as I turned my thoughts from outside myself to someone else, I began to feel better.
The wounds weren't healed, but I was distracted. I wasn't thinking about me anymore. Instead, my attention turned to the women -- of all ages, races, and economic statuses -- who will be spending this Christmas in a women's refuge shelter. Women who were beautiful and smiling because they felt loved and appreciated. They had found a home, and they had found hope.
For two hours last night, I didn't think so much about Jordan's health or about our struggles at church. I thought about how we could help this ministry in the coming days.
And I know this "think outside yourself" idea isn't new. I'm sure you've heard it so many times from Oprah that you think it's not true.
But it is. It really is.
And I wonder if sometimes, the problems that we think are so big would become a lot smaller if we'd just start to think a little more about others and a little less about ourselves.
It doesn't mean the problems would be any less scary. Jordan's appointments still would have stressed me out, and the church emails and meetings still would have been painful. Guess what, though? Worrying over those problems didn't solve them or make them less scary, either. But taking that worry and that trouble and turning it into empowerment and generosity and blessing for someone else?
That filled me with a peace I haven't known in a long, long time.