When you go through trauma, you are never the same. Nor should you be.

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We remember many days and events of history and our own lives each and every year.  Many are celebrations of excitement.  Like birthdays, anniversaries, announcements of babies, and so forth.

But we, collectively as the world, also remember the other days around the world.  The ones where great sadness took place.  And they are remembered for the ages in different ways.

While the first celebrations usually include cake and balloons and banners and shouting and laughing and running and clapping, the second are usually remembered with flags, marches, speeches, wreaths, memories.

My family has lived trauma—where everyone has miraculously emerged on the other side of it.

But to say that we made it through okay would not be accurate.

We made it through.  Our son is alive.  And we get to watch him grow.

But this trauma has changed me in a million and one ways.

The first being gratefulness.  I look at my living, breathing, running, crazy happy boy and rejoice that I get to walk life with him.  And every moment he is alive, I hold him tight.  I don’t ever want to let go.

But that brings me to my second feeling.  The one that makes me cry.  Sadness.  Sorrow.  Heartbreak.

I received my baby back into my arms to live another day.  And I know that this is a gift.  A gift beyond.  Not every mother nor father gets to receive their child back into their arms.  Alive.

Sometimes those arms get to only hold their baby one last time.

And, as tightly as they hold their baby, they have to let go.

I know, one day, I will have to let go of Maxwell, but it is not the same.

At all.

Which brings me to now.  My last feeling is “It’s okay“.

That’s what I hope the mommies and daddies are telling me.  The ones that did not get their babies back.  The ones that had to let go.

That’s it’s okay to celebrate my son.  And his life.

That’s it’s okay to be happy.

That’s it’s okay to hold him tight.

And it’s okay to not want to let go.

That’s it’s okay.  Because that is what they would do had life been different for them.

I can’t even write this without sobbing.  My three year is sitting next to me constantly touching my “creers” as they are running down my cheeks, touching them lightly, somehow sensing these tears carry a heavy weight:  Sorrow and guilt entwined with personal gratefulness.

Yet, I still hope in my ears I hear the words, “It’s okay.”  Because I know for their own lives it is not okay.  And never should have been.  Yet it is for them that way just like for me it is a different way.

A way I will never understand…

The other day, my husband and I were discussing “This time of year”, and that’s when my son, Maxwell, heard us praying, “Thank you, Lord, for giving us back Maxwell.”

After we were done praying, Maxwell looked at us with wide eyes and a goofy grin, saying, “Mommy, you’re silly.”

Because, to him, he is fine.

He doesn’t know the great battle that was fought for his life.

He just knows he lives.

And I just held him.

Trauma has changed our family.

Trauma nearly broke our family.  Not just my son’s life nearly being ripped from our lives but our marriage, too.

Trauma has made us work a lot harder.  Trauma has made us think a lot more.  Trauma has opened up our hearts to a bigger world—a world of immense suffering.  Yet overcoming.

Trauma has made us more empathetic and understanding.

Trauma has taught us how to cry freely.

Trauma has caused us to put on glasses of reality.  That life will not always deal you rainbows sprinkled with sugar.

And it has made every day of our living, breathing, walking, talking lives more important.  More beautiful. More fragile.  More.

Trauma has taken judgement out of me and made me crumble.

Trauma has made me a mess and yet picked me up.

Trauma has torn a huge hole in my soul and then healed it up.

Trauma has shown me the harshness of the world and then the compassion that surrounds the world.

And trauma has taught me that I am not alone.

Trauma has changed my very core.

Maybe, just maybe, one day I will say thank you to God above for this trauma.

Until then, I’ll simply say “Thank you” to God for bringing me through it.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23. 

Here are some sites you can click on to help you understand your trauma:

1.  Healing from Trauma

2.  When Trauma Strikes

3.  Understand Trauma and PTSD:  A Christian Counselor’s Perspective

 

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I used to think it was age that defined contentment. Now I realize it’s attitude.

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I was certain once I hit 30 years of age I would be content.

Satisfied.

Happy with life.

Life equals good equals no more looking for the outside to fulfill the inside.

I was certain that would be the case.

I was wrong.

I am about to hit 40 in a year.  So, I guess “about to” is a bit exaggerated.

Anyhow.  40 is around my corner.  A few miles off (or kilometers, depending on which side of the world you are reading this) and I have come to the beautiful conclusion that age does not bring about contentment.

Attitude most certainly does.

We continue to live in a rented home and I don’t have the Jeep that I really, really want.

My belly remains squishier than I desire.  My bank account smaller.

My bedroom doesn’t have a closet, and I really only fit in one pair of jeans.  Unless maternity jeans count.

And as I look at everything around me, I am just so plain content it’s crazy.

When I was younger, I was certain that life would begin at 16.  That is until I turned 16 and realized that life began at 18.  But then I turned 18 and realized life didn’t really begin until 21.  21 came and I was certain that adulthood began at 22, along with the disappearance of my acne.  Both didn’t occur.  Well, I guess I grew up a little, you know, getting a professional job and all…

But 22 came, and that is when I was 100% without a doubt certain 25 must be the age of magical, grown-up, beginning.  And, even though I was married and now living in a foreign country at 25, 25 just didn’t seem to be that age.  30…Finally with a baby in our life.  Nope.

But as I near 40…what many call “Over the Hill”…I smile.

And I look back 38 years and see.

I see the little girl that had a muddy, sand-filled, boy-chasing, big-mouthed childhood.  And I love looking there.

I look back to the awkward teenager, too skinny, with braces and absolutely horrendous hair.  Still a big mouth.  Rather athletically talented.  And I love looking there.

I look back to the young adult, still too skinny, sinking grades, tumor at the base of her brain, and dating a guy she might just possibly marry.  I look back to that girl that bought her first car with the help of her parents and the one that moved away and back home again.  I look back to those young adult years and I love looking there.

And then I look at my married years.  Exciting.  Fun.  Adventurous.  Hard.  Compromise?  Say what!?  Different country.  Poor as a church mouse.  No car.  Cold.  Walking everywhere.  Different.  And I love looking there.

30 came.  Ah beautiful 30.  I loved turning 30.  With 30 my body changed.  I finally graduated out of the child-size clothes.  I birthed a baby.  I matured emotionally.  And I love looking there.

And the rest of my 30s have gone by with so much trouble and heartbreak and success and excitement, it’s unbelievable how much less than a decade can cover.  And I look at it all.  The sadness and gladness.  The senseless and the secure.  And I realize I am different because of them all.  And I smile.

Even though I always thought that there was a magical age when contentment came and life changed, I learned I was wrong.  Age has nothing to do with any of it.  Attitude does.  That is what I was missing over the last 38 years.  The attitude of contentment.

I love my children’s hand-me-down clothes.  I love our rented house.  I love our 3 dogs—one being a ridiculously ugly farm mutt.  I love our small rooms and no closeted house.  I must admit, I am not in love with my stove nor stove fan (contentment is still obviously a work in progress in some areas, apparently 😉 ).

I love my husband and his graying hair and his endless wit.

I love my daughter despite her idiosyncrasies in being a child of 2 cultures and not much at all like her momma.

I love my son and all of his health issues and all of the money he costs us just to merely maintain his little lungs.

And I love my daughter, my youngest, that came in way too heavy, where I was cut open, and her cheeks that literally melted off of her little face.  The girl that smiles and wrinkles her nose.

Contentment.  It’s definitely not an age.  It is not an item.

Contentment.  It’s an attitude.

And I am glad that I finally got it right.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Matthew 6:19-21