Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Grace

After Danny and I found out that I was pregnant, we agreed that if we had another girl, Grace would be part of her name. We were first struck by that name before the pregnancy while watching an Adoption Story. If I remember correctly, a subtitle after a commercial break contained that word in a beautiful statement. Once I became pregnant, that name fit even better for me because I felt that this baby came to be by the grace of God. That is where the Grace in Allison Marie Grace came from.
__________________

As I mentioned briefly in an earlier post, October has been one of the best months of my life. This month of October was an epiphany for me. When you spend so much time focusing on the existing, assumed, imagined, anticipated negatives in your life due to depression and anxiety (or just because you’re plain pessimistic), you lose sight of all the good and all the joy that you have in your life.

My awakening began the moment a gorgeous birthday bouquet of lilies arrived at work from Trista. The tangible beauty those flowers brought into my work space reminded me of the indescribable and encircling beauty her friendship has added to my life. It’s not that I forgot that she was my best friend. It’s not even that I took that friendship for granted. It’s that I forgot to be thankful for that gift which flowed first from God to Trista and then through Trista to me from her own free will. Friendship is a powerful thing.

For the first time since Emma’s first birthday, I was excited about celebrating my children’s birthdays. I loved designing their invitations myself. The creativity invigorated and excited me. Before they were sent out, I spent some time with my friend, Becci (Charlie’s mom). I mentioned the spider theme of the party to her and she hit the ground running. It was as if I was doing her a favor to allow her to make – actually create – the snacks and food for the party. She didn’t ever fully understand that this gift she thought she was giving to Emma and Allison was really a gift to me. Of all the parts of throwing a party, food prep is the only thing I dread. After she received the actual invitation, she gifted me in another, more significant way. She loved the invitations so much that she wants to start a party planning business with me. Not only did making those invitations fulfill a need to show love for my children through creativity, through Becci I learned that what I view as simply a hobby is actually a valuable talent I can provide to others. Nowhere in our area is there a business that offers customized party themes. Assuming that there are people out there who would love to throw a party in their own home but don’t have the time, energy, or creativity to come up with a theme and put it all together, we have a real shot at success. This just might be the way I am able to be at home for the girls after school and I had it in me this entire time. Talk about receiving a shot in the arm of self-worth!

Meridith drove down with her children and my parents to be here for Emma and Allison’s birthday. Just her even thinking about doing that made me so happy. Trent turned three months old the day they arrived at our house. She didn’t let the fact that traveling with such young children could be a complete nightmare dampen her enthusiasm or stop her. I was so thrilled to be able to meet Trent for the first time while he was still a baby. As it turns out, the reason why it was so important to her to come to Virginia was not just to celebrate the girls’ birthdays. She wanted to ask me in person to be Trent’s godmother. There is no greater honor than that.

I learned that someone I love dearly is experiencing some of the same depression and anxiety that I did. It breaks my heart that anyone has to go through that. This person trusted me enough to talk with me. I shared my experience and offered some advice. Hopefully, having someone to talk to will help her see that what she’s feeling isn’t real. It’s a result of her depression and anxiety, not a sign that she’s a horrible mother. As I was talking with her on the phone, I was thankful that I could – at the very least – listen to her with the ears of experience. I was thankful that she doesn’t have to go through this alone. Isn’t that being thankful for the most painful experience in my life?

Danny and I celebrated our 9th anniversary on the 25th. I have to admit that this day was not the foremost in my mind. The girls were having their 2 and 4 year checkups that day and I was concerned with making sure that I ask all of the right questions. It was foremost in his mind. On the afternoon of the 25th, a dozen Sterling roses arrived for me at work. Imagine – flowers twice in one month! They were pale lavender and I have never seen such beautiful roses in my life. Once I got over my shock and awe, I sent him an email thanking him. His reply: “There’s more, give me a call.” That email took my breath away. Wow! What more could there be? Danny researched the traditional flower for a 9th anniversary. Since no one on this continent had poppies, he chose those uncommonly beautiful roses. Because the traditional gift for a 9th anniversary was boring to him (pottery), he went with the modern gift – leather! Danny told me to pick out the leather coat of my dreams. I could have died from delight (and I just might when I pick my coat Saturday). I’ve always wanted a leather coat. Was it the gifts that made me feel like a queen? No. What made me feel like a queen that day and what continues to make me feel like a queen today is the knowledge of just how much Danny loves me. The past two years of our marriage have not been storybook to say the least. Through it all, he still loves me and wants me to be happy. He wants to build on our relationship. Having children can change a couple’s focus from each other to their children very easily. As much as children need their parents, both parents and children blossom within a healthy marriage. Deciding to make our marriage a priority again is going to be a great adventure in the years to come. His love and companionship are the most valuable gifts in the whole world.
__________________

I met with my therapist today and related to her all of the wonderful things (and only a few are mentioned here) that had happened to me in October. As exciting as it all had been, that much happiness makes me uncomfortable. It’s not like I’m waiting for the hammer to drop. I just wonder if I really deserve it. Susan asked me what I thought about grace. I responded that I’m far too clumsy to have very much of it, but I knew what she meant. To be honest, although I memorized its definition in catechism and have attributed many things to the “grace of God,” I don’t really have much of a feel for it. My focus is on the wretch I am, not the grace that’s so amazing. From that point of view, grace is harsh, scary and foreign. Susan led me with questions until I understood for myself for the first time that grace is a gift without condition. Grace is a friend treating you to time away from the world. Grace is a sister traveling 12 hours in a car with her two children under the age of 15 months just to see you. Grace is being asked to be a godparent. Grace is the opportunity to watch your favorite baseball team win its only game in the World Series with your father. Grace is the top of a jean quilt made by your grandmother. Grace is watching your parents play with and love your children. Grace is a sister telling you how she has seen God working in her life during the worst of times. Grace is a husband standing behind an unstable wife and taking care of the kids when he’d rather just be alone in peace and quiet.

As we continued to talk about grace, I started to get tears in my eyes. In a flash, I thought about Allison’s name. I remembered how I first learned to appreciate destiny through Emma. Whether you know it or not, names are very powerful. At the time, I simply believed that my pregnancy was a gift, or a grace from God. Only now do I understand that Allison was brought into my life through grace to teach me about its very nature. How can I not cry? What felt like complete abandonment into the 8th circle of Hell was actually God carrying me to the place I needed to be. I never would have made that journey on my own.

I can also see how I have been a source of grace for others. After all, when you get right down to it, grace is a mother loving and caring for her inconsolable baby day after day when she’d rather just run away. Grace is a circle, expanding without end.

4 comments:

Kary said...

Jennifer, you are grace. You have allowed God to work in you and on you in the last couple years. You have been open to His lessons and you have learned. Aren't the highs wonderful?

You will have more challenges, but now you are armed with an entirely new set of lessons from your struggles of the past couple years.

You are an inspiration and a delight to read. Thanks so much for sharing. It means a lot to me.

absolutegray said...

I love the name Grace and it is my daugther's middle name. It helps that she was born on a Tuesday and according to the poem-Tuesday's child is full of Grace. Nice reading your blog!!

Trista said...

You are definitely grace to me... touched by grace, giving grace to others. I'm so glad you're starting to climb out of the hole.

Melissa said...

Jennifer, I enjoyed reading your post. I am glad October was such an awesome month for you! Kat's middle name is Grace too. A lovely name:) And one full of meaning! God bless!