So, in that spirit, I want to tell you about my personal struggles associated with this trip.
Some of you know that I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety in the past. It’s definitely a part of my family heritage. The summer of 2002 was the darkest time in my life thus far, though I’ve had a few more times of struggle since then.
As the Greece/Italy trip approached, I knew that it could potentially be enough of a stressor to lead to anxiety. When I thought about leaving my kiddos for two weeks and being hurled over the ocean packed like a sardine in a metal cylinder…Well, that was a little stressful for me.
So, I asked our class at church to pray that I could focus on the TRUTH and not the what-ifs. Because that’s really what it’s about, right?
The morning of the trip came, and we packed all the kiddos in their jammies into the van. We enjoyed the beautiful sunshine (pictured above) as we drove to the church. Of course, I was tearful with the anticipation of saying goodbye.
When we pulled into the church parking lot, Grandma and Papa (my mom and dad) were already there. The kids pretty much jumped out of the van and into their arms. The kids were so excited to see them that they forgot to cry about Mommy and Daddy leaving the country. So we hugged them, and off they went.
And I cried a little with my dear friend Kathy, who understood my pain, because she also left four little ones at home (who happen to be some of our kids’ dearest friends).
And that set the pattern for the trip. We talked to the kids over Skype (or Google Talk) each day, and almost every day it would bring me to tears, simply from missing them. But they never cried. They were always happy and having fun. (Which is a GREAT thing! I think I would’ve cried much more if they were unhappy.)
I believe it was the third night in Greece that I was lying in bed – SO exhausted – but I couldn’t sleep. I was really struggling with anxiety. If you’ve never struggled with issues like this, you won’t know just what it’s like. To me, it’s like a darkness falls over me. That’s the only way I can think to describe it.
Thankfully, prior to the trip, I had asked my Facebook friends (gotta love social media, huh?) for suggestions of Scriptures I could take with me to focus on. I had printed them on index cards, and that night as I lie in bed, I got those little cards out and read them out loud. And prayed. And read them. And eventually I fell asleep, focusing on the TRUTH.
I am so thankful for God’s Word.
For the rest of the trip, I was careful to remind myself of the truth every time I felt a whisper of anxiety. Each time the airplane would take off, I’d pray, “Lord, you have me here for a reason, and you know the number of my days. Today is YOURS.” It was important for me to really relinquish control of my life (and my children’s lives) to Him. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned.
That’s not to say that there weren’t more tears. I am a mommy, and I missed my kiddos! In fact, Gracie girl got strep throat while we were gone, and her blood sugar levels were out of whack, and that was really hard for me. I LOVED being in Greece, but I also wanted to be home with her!
But again – the TRUTH. My God loves her much more than I do, and He always does what is good. I can really rest in those promises.
I’m praising God today that He orchestrated the events of those two weeks the way He did – allowing me the opportunity to know Him better. Thank You, Father!
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”