For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When It's October

The temperatures dip lower, but the trees haven't caught the drift yet. Leaves still cling green, and grass still requires my mower's attention. It's a beautiful time of year in Texas.

It's also the hardest time of year, and I think this just hard.

Last week Mom had been gone four years. Not something I dwell on. Not something I mention to anyone. The tombs is not where I dwell, but last week I had a stomach virus and really wanted comfort foods that might stay down. I was craving chicken and dumplings, so I reached for the phone to call Mom and get the recipe. It got worse because then I remembered she had given the recipe to Rob one time when I had the flu so I needed to call him...but neither had written it down. How do you let people die without getting your favorite recipes from them?

Over the weekend I was walking in a clothing store when I saw the perfect, non-Virginia Tech shirt for Rob. Right style. Right fabric. Right color. He had one in every color he could find. I have often regretted giving those away with the rest of his clothes, but probably just as well because I would probably wear one, and really, how lame is it to wear the shirt that smells like the husband who didn't want to be married to you anymore?

As I was saying, I was walking down the aisle of this clothing store and saw the shirt, so I stopped my shopping cart, picked up the sleeve, and stopped just before I put it to my nose and breathed deep. Needless to say I felt stupid expecting it to smell like him.

Now it is football season, and I miss hearing his yells of ecstasy and agony as he watched Virgnia Tech football, and I miss his laugh.

Isn't it weird how I don't miss being married to him, but I miss familiar pieces of him?

Tonight I stood at the sink and washed dishes, and big tears fell.

For whatever reason, the thought, "Thanksgiving is next month," came through, and I just put the dishes down and let the tears fall hard into the sink of sudsy water. I don't like Thanksgiving. I don't like Christmas, and I would pay someone to stay at my house and pet sit so I could be anywhere but here.

I breathed deep and kept washing. Like walking away from a sink full of dishes could make it better anyway.

Three movies come out this month that I want to see, and I can go see them by myself. I've done it before. It's just, for some reason going to a movie alone screams lonely to me. Movies should be enjoyed with someone, but then, I think most of life is meant to be enjoyed with someone.

Yesterday was my youngest brother-in-law's birthday. He hasn't spoken to me since the funeral. I don't have his phone or address or email and wouldn't know what to say even if I did.

And last week I wrote Rob's dad and told him we wouldn't be making the trip to see them. In all honesty, I am sorry. I have great compassion for his dad. When his dad and I talk, I always end the call with, "I love you," and I do. But some who are involved in the family fallout still struggle with trust or have simply seen too much to want to make the effort. I'm not judging, and I won't say they are wrong. I'm just infinitely tired of living in the aftermath of someone else' bad life choices. If anyone needs proof lies will blow a family to pieces, the damaged relationships Rob left in his wake say it all.

And I think this October is harder because this is not where I expected to be "four years later". Mentally and emotionally I think I "reached the other side" awhile back, but this is not the lifescape I had envisioned.

Sunday on the way home from church, we discussed God's faithfulness, and in course of conversation, it became obvious I'm not the only one struggling with feeling disillusioned, trying to trust God but wondering what in the world He is doing. As my son said, "Mom, hearing people say God is faithful is like the parent who says they'll get you a toy but not today, so when you mention it next week, there's another reason why it isn't that week. Three months later, there is a reason why it isn't then, and eventually, they say they'll get that toy for you so long that it is no longer even relevant." I understand the feeling.

Then I think of Abraham and wonder if he had an October. Maybe his or Sarai's birthday when the age went up and still no baby. I wonder about Joseph. How many Octobers did he think of his dreams and his brothers while he sat in a country not his own without a family of his own?

I don't know. The Bible doesn't tell us a lot, except for one moment with Abraham. God visits Abraham and tells him He is going to pour out blessings so big Abraham can't imagine, and Abraham, this man we know as righteous because he believed God, answered, "What's the point? What does it matter? Who cares if you give me the world if I don't have an heir?"

I love this. Oh. My. Lands. I love this.

"Yeah, um, that's great, and I appreciate the thought, but, God, here's my heart."

Then there is the moment when Abraham's honesty could have slipped past the line and God could have gone fire and brimstone on this ungrateful piece of mud called human.

But He doesn't.

Instead, He speaks right to Abraham's heart. "I know. I promise. I've got this. I've got you. I've got your heart."

Isn't that beautiful gone stark raving mad?

Instead of seeing a man dissing the promises, God saw a man sitting right in the middle of October.

And this is what I have to believe.

I have to believe God sees me right in the middle of my October, and He sees my dreading Thanksgiving and Christmas. He sees me swallow hard when I see a VT shirt because He knows the laughter I'm talking about. He knows I miss Mom's perfume. He knows very well I'm not the only person who doesn't dig "alone." He knows. He sees me. He's right in the middle of it with me.

I don't have the promises Abraham had or the dreams Joseph had. What I do have is a God right in the middle of October with me, and since I am trying so hard to be brave and healed and all things faithful and faith-full when I'm honestly sad and kind of confused but really, what do I say about the fact it is four years later and something in me finally realized my mom is gone and who could can remotely grasp anything to do with...Rob? And right now when I feel like no one could possibly understand any of it, the fact He understands it all gives me a place to breathe. It gives me a place to talk, to process, to navigate October.

The peace isn't in knowing all the promises that will come someday. The peace is knowing He sees me now. He knows me now. He has me now....especially when it is October.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
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