Monday, May 8, 2017

Do You Have the Courage?



May is an all-together unique month.

Growing up it was the exciting month of my birthday.

It was also the time of 'May flowers'. Of lacrosse championships, and yes, disappointing losses. It was the month of awards banquets and another school year ending.

Then it became the month of finals, more lacrosse games, and coming home to celebrate, always, my birthday with my twin...our birthday.

It was all of the things of hope and promise until it wasn't anymore. It was the spring of 2002 when my mom was terminally ill. I was turning 28. It would be three days after my birthday when mom would die.

Then May became something it hadn't been. It was the month of loss. Mother's Day without a mother. A birthday so close to death. The memory of May 24th and mom here one moment then not.

Last year May became the month of my second hospital stay for bipolar disorder. I celebrated Mother's Day and two days later started with delusions. I entered the hospital on May 14th and came out one week later, on my birthday.

I didn't know it then, but I do now. Fittingly, for me, May is also 'Mental Health Awareness Month'.

So, how do I live this month? It's full of promise and pain, of the hallowed and the hellish, of abrupt endings and tentative beginnings, of gladness and grief.

It's the month of one essential thing: courage.

It takes courage to face the pain of your past, the deep wounds of your heart. It takes courage to comb coarse hands through to sift the wheat from the chaff.

When a time, a season, is pregnant with both ravaging beast and promised child, there is no blueprint for how to walk it; how to live it. So, it takes courage.

Courage is a funny thing. It often comes when we least expect it and in the most unique of ways. It finds us in our last drop of strength and at the height of our fears. Courage doesn't ask permission but says with authority 'I must be yours NOW.'

This month, this symbolic May, in the rhythm of my life, teaches me much. I remember who I have been and what I am becoming. I remember the courage it took to care for my mama as her body was wasting away. I remember facing mother's days and becoming a mother without her. I remember what it was to carry the weight of such a celebration.

I remember the nostalgic too. How I lived my high school years with such youth, naivety, and yes, courage of heart. I remember how the sun-laden days and goalie pads were of a different kind of courage. I see my teenage self, focused on that hard rubber ball coming right for me again and again. And yes, there was mama cheering heartily in the stands.

I remember the shared birthday cakes with my twin, Sara. The matching outfits and dual blowing out of candles and sixth grade sleepover and just how nice it all was. Like snapshots they fall through the cracks in my brain meant for the courage to keep facing May birthdays apart from each other.

And I remember with a sheen of tears what it was, last year, to be separated, yet again, from my family. One night, where almost all which I remember, was delusion; I banged my head against a concrete wall and I remember with the heart heaves the horror I 'saw' which brought me to this point.

It takes courage. Because my May is your October or March or every day of  your life.

Yet courage teaches us all something different. It shows us resolutely we are survivors. We are meant to make it and, in Jesus, are given all we need to do so. It's in our spiritual DNA to be people of courage.

For One Day our Mays will become the sweetest of rewards as we stand in the presence of Love and experience the redemption of all things.



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