Sunday, September 18, 2016

Because He Lives; A Chat With My Future Self

Psst!

Hey, Mary, wake up!  I have something important to tell you.

"Huh?  What time is it?  And who in the world are you?"

It's me, your future self.

"My future what?!"

Your future self.  I'm from September 18th, 2016.  I just thought I would drop by and have a little chat.  You don't know this yet, but today, September 18th, 2010 is going to change your life.

"I'm sorry, I think I'm still asleep.  How is this even possible?  And what do you mean today is going to change my life?  Kinda like 'Today is the first day of the rest of your life'?  Or, 'Carpe Diem'?  Apparently my 'future self' reads way too many Dear Abby columns."

It's called memes, honey.  Everyone in 2016 reads them.  In fact, this whole "open letter from your future self" idea is totally a Twenty Teen sort of thing.  But never mind about that.  When you give up your lame slider phone with the Qwerty keyboard in a few years, you'll understand.  But that's none of my business.  Now pay attention!  This is important.

Last night when you went to bed, you had a vague moment of unease that maybe something was wrong with the baby you are carrying.  You weren't sure if you were bleeding or if it was just your imagination.  You are determined not to be held back by anxiety, so right now you are refusing to contemplate that you are on the brink of losing your fourth baby.  I understand that.  In fact, you have no idea how bad things are going to get in the next 12 hours.  But, I'm not here to scare you.  I'm here to reassure you.  Everything is going to be okay.

Tomorrow morning you are going to wake up, excited to experience a beautiful autumn day with your family.  By early evening you are going to wonder if this was the last morning you will ever wake up beside your husband.

It's not. 

Twenty four hours from now you will be tossing and turning in a hospital bed, wondering if your life will ever get back to normal after this devastating loss of your twelve week baby.

It won't.

And yet it will.

What you don't know yet is that this healing process is going to take years.  It will span two more pregnancies, two serious hemorrhages, anxiety, depression, flashbacks.  You are going to wonder what happened to the happy and strong girl of September 17th, 2010.  Where did she go?  Will she ever find her way back?

The answer is no.  She's gone.  But a stronger, more joyful woman is going to take her place.  One who has faced some of her deepest fears and found that Christ's love is stronger than the flashbacks.  It's deeper than the pain.  The darkest depression is no match for the Light of the world.

You are going to be beset by denial.  You won't believe this is actually happening to you, again.  You won't make the best decisions.  You will feel stupid for some of those decisions.  You will feel ashamed.  It won't make sense why you would feel ashamed, but you will stuff that feeling way down inside and try to move on.  But you won't know how to move on.  So, you will try to deal with the gathering storm of depression the way you always have, by trying for another pregnancy.  But this next time it's not going to work. You see, God is hemming you in.  You have avoided dealing with so many things over your adult life.  You insisted you were fine when you clearly weren't.  Because God loves you, He's going to make you sit down and deal with things.  And that is very gracious of Him.  It really is.  You aren't going to be able to grow without it.

So, don't give up on God and don't give up on yourself.  All things are going to work together for good in God's own time.  In fact, He has already made everything beautiful in His time.  That's going to be an important thought for you tomorrow. 

Second, be honest with yourself and others.  It's okay to be weak.  You don't have to always be brave.  Sometimes it's good to let others in. Let them see and hear the ugly thoughts.  The scary thoughts.  True friends will always love you.  And true friends will always point you to Jesus.  One of your very best friends is going to give you a book on Gratitude.  Read it!  Read it outside with a cup of tea.  Read it in the tub.  Read it late at night.  Read it over and over again.

Don't live inside your head.  This is going to be your biggest downfall.  You will want to retreat into your thoughts and relive every horrifying moment over and over and over again.  This will spin out of control into terrifying flashbacks and these will drag you down into a morass of emotional deadness.  When Paul admonished us to take every thought captive, he wasn't kidding.  Physical and emotional trauma, relived every day, will literally suck the life out of you.  Some things we can control, some things are beyond our control.  You are going to be tempted to think your memories are beyond your control.  But when you relive them through the lens of gratitude, their power over you will be broken.  Focus on the present treasure you have in Christ, the future treasures you have laid up in Heaven and your current mission in life.  Your mission, which you will have no choice but to accept, is to love and serve the people that God has placed in your life right now.

 You might find it helpful to have an outlet for your thoughts so that they don't stay bottled up in your head.  I hear there is this nifty thing called "blogging" where you can write whatever you want, hit publish and people all around the world will instantly read it.  Oh, and there is no editor, so that's kind of scary.  I know you will thrive when you have a way to open up to other people.  So, don't be too intimidated.  Just start typing!

One other thing, become an advocate for life.  All life.  You can go to the local abortion clinic and plead for the lives of the unborn.  And that is a great thing to do.  But it's not the only way to advocate for Life.  You will come to the startling realization that God has spared your life twice.  Twice!  If it was the 1800's you would probably not survive.  But God has a purpose for your life.  Live it fully.  Every day.  That means look into your children's eyes and tell them what a gift they are.  Recount the short lives of their siblings in Heaven and make sure they know that all life is precious to our Creator.  Show them that every person is created in God's image and has an eternal destiny.  Remind them that if that is true, then we have never met a mere mortal.  All that cross our paths have been divinely appointed by God.  Make the most these divine appointments.  That may mean nothing more than a warm smile at the elderly man sitting on a bench at the grocery store.  You may be surprised how loudly a smile can affirm the sanctity of life.

I really hate to tell you this, what with all the cheery news I've been delivering.  But, 2016 is kind of a scary place.  Terrorism is global.  Christians are being killed in every country, including ours, just because they follow Christ.  There are riots all across the country.  Everyone is accusing everyone else of being racist, islamophobic, homophobic, not conservative enough, too conservative, not using the right car seat, not watching your children closely enough, watching your children too closely. 
Nobody is sure anymore about what the legal definition of gender is, much less what legal and socially acceptable marriage looks like.  Everyone is confused and angry.  Everyone wants a scapegoat to pin all the blame on.  The two presidential nominees are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for Pete's sake!  We need to be a light in this dark and clamoring world.  A beacon of love and hope.  God never makes a mistake and none of your pain and sorrow is going to be wasted.  It's a life long process.  Embrace it.  Look for ways to love people, and your own burden will be lightened.

Be of good cheer.  Christ has overcome the world.  Because He lives, you can face tomorrow and the next day and the next year.  That's all I want to say.  If you just remember this one thing, you will be okay.

"Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

Mary!  Did you fall asleep?  You didn't hear a word I said, did you?  You are impossible, you know it.  But that's okay.  Sweet dreams.  I'll see you in six years.
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"Rob, I just had the weirdest dream!  I was talking to myself and I wouldn't shut up and - "

"Are you sure you were dreaming, dear?"

"Very funny, Rob.  Anyways, she told me or I told me or, whatever, Donald Trump is going to run for President in 2016.  Get this, as a Republican!  Hahahaha!!!!
 It seems there was something else that she said, I just can't remember what it was.  Something about the Gaithers.  For some weird reason I want to sing, 'Because He Lives'.

 Time to get up! 

We have a beautiful day ahead of us."