Take the First Step (Part 1)

I’m thrilled to share a part 1 of 2 preview of my new book It’s Okay Not to be Okay!  Pre-order by Oct 2 and you’ll receive the entire audiobook (read by me), a 40-day devotionalan 8-week Bible study and more! Simply pre-order from AmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBook.com or Books A Million, then enter your receipt info at SheilaWalsh.com/okay.


It was 10 PM. Not too late by normal standards, but late if you’ve been up several times through the night for the past ten nights. I was trying to get settled in bed. Trying to relax a bit and watch the women’s freestyle ice skating competition, but the TV signal had just gone out . . . again. I was about ready to throw the remote through the screen. My husband, Barry, was exhausted and snoring like he was the one in a competition and was clearly in the lead. I thought about giving him a gentle nudge, but I didn’t have the heart to wake him. He’d been sleeping on the sofa downstairs for the past ten nights, so to be back in our bed was bliss. Now, before you begin to assume anything or pray for us, we didn’t have marital issues. Our twenty-one-year-old son was home from college and had just had his tonsils and adenoids removed. He was in a lot of pain.

The doctor told us this was the most painful surgery an adult can have, but it was worse than we imagined. On the day of his surgery I made the mistake of asking Christian to open his mouth so that I could have a look inside before I drove his semi-conscious self home.

Christian pulled down the visor on the passenger side and looked first. He turned his big brown eyes toward me, clearly shocked. “Oh my gosh, Mom, look at this!”

Wow! You can’t un-see some things. It looked as if the surgeon took a garden trowel and dug two gaping holes in the back of his throat.

“Yeah, that’s . . . well, wow . . . okay . . . hmm . . . Let’s get you home,” I said.

The first three days were rough, but when we hit day four, his pain went to a whole new level. He was literally shaking from the pain. He couldn’t eat, and it hurt to drink. It was hard for him to swallow anything. I had to put his pain pills in Jell-O so they would slip down easier. The doctor told us to be vigilant about staying on top of the pain and make sure he took his pills on time, so I set my alarm for midnight, 4 AM, and 8 AM. Barry slept downstairs on the sofa outside of his bedroom in case he needed anything during the night. Now we were on day ten and things were finally beginning to look up.

I turned the television off, waited ten seconds, and turned it on again. Nothing. I was tired but wide awake, so I went downstairs to make a cup of tea. I checked in on Christian while the water was boiling, and he was fast asleep. It was a welcome sight. There are so many things we take for granted until they’re absent, like the simple gift of your child sleeping through the night. I thought of the families who have chronically ill children. How do they cope? I can’t imagine. I paused in the kitchen and prayed for moms and dads who long for a break after ten days but instead the days turn into weeks and months.

I was beginning to feel as if I could fall asleep, so I went back upstairs and climbed into bed. It was then that I became uncomfortably aware of a damp spot beneath me. I gingerly put my hand out and discovered not a spot but a puddle and one sheepish looking dog. Belle, our Bichon Frise who sleeps on our bed, is fourteen years old, and the thoughts I need to go to the bathroom and I just went to the bathroom now seem to occur at exactly the same time. The vet told us we need to put her in diapers at night, but with everything else going on I’d forgotten. Now came the interesting part, trying to diaper a reluctant dog in the dark. I would get half of it on and she’d take off across the bed. At one point, I realized I was diapering her head. Finally, I had her pinned down and the diaper on, when the television suddenly came blaring on. Barry shot up in alarm just as I fell out of bed. I sat on the floor beside the bed and started to cry.

Have you ever had one of those days when you’ve just had enough? If you have to do one more load of laundry or find one more recipe for chicken or take one more kid to a sports practice you might just physically combust. What I went through in those few days was nothing compared to what many women have to face, but I felt overwhelmed and had had enough. I think of a dear friend. What she deals with on a daily basis is hard for me to imagine. She is wheelchair bound and has to rely on others for everything. She has no family where she lives, and she is dependent on local health workers to bathe her, bring her food, and every other thing that I can do by myself without thinking about it. She, like me, and like you I imagine, wants to live a life that’s honoring to God, and yet she’s told me sometimes it feels as if it’s not enough, that she’s not enough.

As I sat on the floor that night feeling sorry for myself, I was tired. I’d overeaten since I’d been up during the night, I’d had to cancel my appointment at the hair salon to get my roots done and was beginning to resemble a skunk, and, once more, I was behind in my Bible study plan. I was disappointed in myself and discouraged. All I wanted to do was get Christian’s post-surgery ice cream out of the freezer and consume the whole thing. I think what discouraged me the most was the feeling of being back in the same place—again.

You see, somewhere deep inside, although I’d never admit this to anyone but you, I think I can be Super Woman. I’m too old for the tights, but the rest works. I want to be the best mom in the world. I want to be the best wife in the world. I want to honor God with every thought and every action, and I just don’t. Some days I’m very aware of God’s presence, and prayer and thanksgiving flow easily. Other days I open my Bible and it seems dry and prayer is hard work. I have a habit of stretching myself too thin. I want to say yes to everything and be a superhero for God.

I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve talked to lots of women who feel let down by their lives; it’s a common thread. Here’s my question though: Are we discouraged because of the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves—expecting ourselves to be what God never designed us to be? Think about it for a moment. How many times do you feel like you’re not enough? It makes me wonder where we got the idea of what “enough” is. Take a typical Sunday morning: You finally get everyone ready for church, into the car, dropped off at their various classes, and flop down in your seat. At first, it’s hard to enter in to the worship because of a million other things going through your head, but eventually you feel the presence of God and you focus your heart and mind. The message that morning seems to be tailor-made for you. Every Scripture speaks to you, and you leave encouraged. You remember who you really are; you’re not just Sam’s mom or David’s wife. You are a child of God and you are loved. On the drive home, you even think up one more way to cook chicken. And then Monday comes.

Read part 2 – Available Thursday, Sep 27

 

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