My first Valentine’s Day with a sweetheart looked like it was going to be a lonely one. I was 18 and living in a dorm at a Rhode Island Bible school. Over the course of the day, girls walked down the hall, giggling as they clutched a card or flowers or box of chocolates. But I had nothing. My boyfriend, Dana, and I had been dating for a year, but he was going to school in New York. It seemed he’d forgotten all about me. Later that long afternoon, someone knocked on my door. A delivery person was waiting outside. And there was a lovely bouquet of roses from Dana!
If you are pursuing a goal, you have likely been tempted to quit. Maybe it is excising more, eating healthier, saving money, or spending more time with your family. My mother’s goal was to help translate the Bible into a language in which it has not yet been published. Tucked among the papers on her desk when she passed away was a verse from Scripture. Written in capitals, it said, “BE STRONG + DO NOT GIVE UP – FOR YOUR WORK WILL BE REWARDED,” 2 Chronicles 15:7.
If your heart has not been pulverized by sorrow, disappointment and injustice by the time you reach midlife, you are either sorely disconnected or extremely lucky. During the first week of this new year, I find myself wanting to lay my head down and weep at the hardships that encompass from within and without. I have much to be thankful for – a safe home, the love of my family and a few close friends, opportunities to pursue meaningful work. But along the way, the losses and regrets and awareness of my own limitations have snowballed to such a degree that the utter weight and size of my sadness threatens to bury me.
Moms, this one is for you. You who struggle to work and raise kids. Who are figuring it out as you go. Who are in it for the long haul – the rest of your life. No vacation days. No sick days. No pay other than the love deposited in your soul from countless hugs and kisses. While preparing for the arrival of my first child, I was taught that labor lasted about ten hours. Six children and nearly two decades later, I now know that labor lasts a lifetime.
Do you long for change? Last December, when we bought our little house in the big woods, the weathered shingles were as gray as a dreary winter day. A rusting light fixture hung outside the mold-stained fiberglass door, with the house number scrawled on front with black permanent marker.