Create Space, Make Room

First let me just say good riddance to 2012. Not my best year. Moving on to 2013, I choose to have high hopes. I am a survivor after all, and being one teaches you a few things. Not all of the lessons are good ones. In order to survive trauma you have to compartmentalize. In other words, you have to shut down parts of your heart. It sounds awful, and it is, but it is also necessary.
I was still a newlywed at 22. Life was fresh and exciting. The future was full. Then I got a phone call, there had been a terrible accident, and I became a nurse/therapist/mother/caregiver for my brain-injured new husband. I had no warning. There was no time to plan, or to rethink life. Survival was required, and so all my hopes and dreams were put away. In an instant.
Shortly thereafter, just as equilibrium was returning, the children arrived…four of them, in six years. Once again, survival was first and foremost. A different kind of survival to be sure, but it still required putting myself on hold. Or at least that is what I thought then. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world. I have loved every minute of motherhood. I was created for it, no doubt about that. I never hesitated to give up my own interests for my kids. Not once.
When cancer happened, the word survival took on an entirely different meaning. Fighting for my life had been figurative to that point, now it was literal. All that you hope for, and plan for is set to the side in order to buy more time. Housework no longer matters, neither does cooking or laundry. None of the mommy things I did were as important as being with my kids. Lying in my bed and talking with each of them while I was sick, was the most important thing…spending TIME…learning that each minute is a gift.
I emerged from Cancerland battered and scarred, but more fully alive than I had ever been. A second chance, a new lease on life…all of the clichés were true. In short, I have taken myself off of hold…this just at the time when my children are leaving the nest and I need to re-invent myself. Now the issue is remembering what I love. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but when you pour out for so long, you lose parts of yourself. At least that has happened to me. Parts of my heart have shut down in survival mode, and it has taken God as well as some really good friends, to reawaken those parts. I have found that all the desires and interests I had put to the side are alive and well within me, albeit a bit shy.
The words I heard for 2013 are “Create space. Make room.” I waited for God to elaborate, because he always does eventually. The clarification was not to make time, or to work somehow harder, rather it is to make room in my heart. The difference is very subtle, but critical to understand. Creating space in my heart means opening myself up to what I had shut out, or put away…allowing him to revive the parts that are long ago dead to me. He has to do that first, before I actually step out into it. “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies it produces many seeds.” I see now that the parts of my heart that are closed off due to being in survival mode for over twenty years have been dormant. Dead to me really. So much so I forgot them. Yet they are very much a part of who I am.
Carving out space in my heart for the seeds planted there to grow is his admonishment to me this year. Once I allow him to revive them, and I have made room for the hopes and dreams, then I will find the time and energy. Not the other way around. I think that forcing the time and energy first has a tendency to backfire and cause burnout if there is no room in my heart. This applies to most New Year’s resolutions. Making time to exercise, before your heart believes you are important enough to take care of yourself will not work. Somehow forcing a quiet time each day, before your heart is open to hearing God speak, will not be effective for more than a few weeks.
For me, creating space for my long forgotten artwork is beginning to sprout. Making room for another book or two to be birthed is growing within my heart. These seeds are fragile yet. I feel them taking root, but not strong enough that they are beyond crushing. Fear of hope is a formidable foe to a survivor. The dreams have been dormant for so long and my hope so crushed, that it will take much gentleness to bring them forth. However, my heart is opening once again…ever so slowly. Belief and hope are rising up within me because of the words he has spoken. He is always gentle and kind to me, now if I can just be gentle and kind to myself as he reawakens the deepest places in my heart. I will be able to create space and make room…

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