When my children were much younger (the oldest was thirteen at the time), I experienced the surgical menopause to end all surgical menopauses. Undergoing hysterectomy at the age of 39 left me with an abrupt hormonal deficit that quite literally took me to the brink of insanity. (At the time, I sort of wished I could just let go and sink into oblivion, but I guess I was too much of a control freak.) The result? I was an entirely lucid bystander at my own neurochemical meltdown, and it would not be an exaggeration to call the experience horrific. In fact, with four children depending upon me, it was a nightmare.
Fortunately, my doctors eventually came up with a hormone replacement cocktail that mimicked my former production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone closely enough to put me back on track...but it was not an easy process, nor a quick one. The healing took place over a period of months and even years, and the Lord gave me the opportunity to learn many things about myself that I could not have known otherwise, but those things are not what I want to write about today. Today, my thoughts are turned to what the Lord taught me about family. (Especially my family.)
I'm convinced that getting through the first month of mood swings, sleeplessness, heart palpitations, and general malaise without the help of my sister, Nikki, would have been all but impossible. Despite having three children of her own, one a brand new baby, she spent every waking hour at my house so I wouldn't have to be alone. Several months later, when my husband and I made the difficult decision to move away from our support system in order to pursue a career opportunity, my parents continued to lend a hand by paying me lengthy visits, while my other sister (Jayne, who lived in our new area) became part of a sisterly tag team that kept me afloat. I knew for certain that I could call upon any one of my four siblings and have immediate help, and my mom and stepfather made themselves completely available to me, too. Best of all, throughout the entire ordeal, my husband and children stood by me with as much love and loyalty as anyone could ever hope to receive.
Which brings me back to my main point here: what I learned about family. I learned that belonging to mine meant that I would never find myself up the creek without a paddle. (Not that I hadn't known this before, but now my knowledge was experiential rather than intellectual.) I had seen my family in action, and they had not disappointed me.
Let's face it. Bad things happen to good people and not-so-good people...to careful people and not-so-careful people...to lucky people and not-so-lucky people. In fact, troubles come to everyone, young and old, wise and foolish, deserving and undeserving. What I want my children to know, as I have known, is that their parents are solidly behind them, no matter what happens in life. Or how it happens. Or why.
Our family motto is "Stand sure," and I hope my children feel sure that their immediate and extended family members will stand beside them always, through thick and thin. If they are not yet certain of this, then life will teach them (as it did me), and they will not be disappointed.
The simple truth is this: No burden, challenge, mistake, misunderstanding, or quarrel is so powerful that a healthy, committed, eternal family structure cannot support it. Sure, the walls may shake a little, but if the foundation is solid, no amount of huffing and puffing can blow our houses down.
Which is why that cool picture at the top speaks to me so loudly...
Because family means never having to be up the creek without a paddle.
And that means everything.