Trees and Forests and Such

We started our annual trek southbound on Sunday.  This summer was painfully short and definitely not sweet.  There were good times, but mostly frustrating.  We lost almost two of our 5 ½ months in Michigan to COVID.  First was the isolation and waiting, confirming what we already knew, testing positive, and recovery.  Then finished off the summer isolating and escaping, but caring for family that did test positive.  For all you folks that don’t believe it’s a real thing, I don’t even have time for you.

This summer was really stressful – and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own.  It took leaving for me to realize this.  How stressful?  Not sleeping, eating horribly, not exercising, not taking/making quiet time for listening for God’s calming voice and feeling his presence.  My body hurts, my mind is chaotic, my spirit is turbulent.  And before anyone starts apologizing – not your fault.  Like I said, it took leaving for me to figure this out.

After much reflection, I realize that distance grants you perspective.  Let’s try for an analogy – you know the old “can’t see the forest for the trees”?  I let myself get so focused on my “trees” – things I perceived to be crises or potential crises – that I lost perspective.  As we drove south, I realized that just because we left Michigan, the same situations were still present – I just had distance between the situation and me.  The “situations” ranged from my health, my family and friends, volunteer organizations, employment, church (especially church right now), even travel plans.  Our Michigan “homebase” campground is for sale, so some unsettled feelings there.  None of that has changed since we left – it’s just a bit more distant. 

When I allow situations to overwhelm me, I lose faith and fail to remember that I don’t have to be in control.  Helplessness and resentment takes over.  Distance causes me to rely on faith that things will work out with my interference.  I completely lose sight of long-term goals and outcomes, as well as the ability to identify the steps to achieve them.  Kinda like somebody took one of my paddles, and I can only propel my canoe in circles.  Frustration follows quickly on the heals of helplessness and resentment.  Frustrated that I should know better, that I don’t take corrective action instead of just overplanning it, that I don’t have faith in the grander, larger plan.

When this stuff starts to happen, I stop doing things that bring me joy.  Probably because I think I don’t deserve it.  I mean, hey – I have to spend all my time ruminating, griping, heaping more “stuff” on my plate.  I also recently realized that the more stressed I am – the more I try to take on.  Like I don’t already have enough on my plate – let’s heap on more.  Maybe, subconsciously, I feel like I will finally be able to control something and will get everything else in line. 

Control, helplessness, resentment, frustration, dissatisfaction – these are all feelings that I allow.  No one is standing over me with a stick trying to beat them in – I am just standing there opening the door and welcoming them.  Distance allows me to really look at the situation, and see it for what it is.  Something I can’t (and shouldn’t) try to control.  Trust that God is indeed in control, and it’s not necessary for me to see the reasons – but it is vital for me to trust and have faith in the outcome.  Not up to me to save the world – He created it, already has the grand plan – all I have to do is trust. 

Perhaps trust is just part of the equation.  God created the world, and I don’t believe He meant for it to be all work and no play.  Appreciating the glorious things he made (and that includes ourselves) is high up on the list of priorities.  Taking care of me has moved up on the priority list considerably. 

My annual wellness visit with my doctor was unsettling this year.  Nothing major, but I was discussing a few minor concerns with her.  Her recommendation/prescription?  Start taking care of myself with the same care I take for others, and before I take care of others.  Make my health a priority.  Now, this sounds suspiciously like the advice I used to hand out to others (and still do).  And yes, I have blogged about this before.  To actually have someone “prescribe” this – not sure how I feel about that.

Bill is so precious.  He never chastises me for my idiosyncrasies – even though he sees them long before I do.  All he does is support and encourage.  Find yourself someone like that – someone who tolerates the grumpy, frumpy, cranky, frustration and loves you anyway.  They don’t decide what you need or make their needs and wants more important than your desires.  For those people have been placed in your life by God’s loving hand and intention.  They inspire you to grow – to climb up out of the chaos and into the sunshine.

I think it’s time to sit among the trees and survey the beauty of the forest.  I don’t need to cut down any trees or rearrange the landscape.  Breathe in the clean, refreshing air, listen to the birds and the sound of the wind, play in the dirt and revel in green growing things.

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