Last month, when we found out that Shawn would need to have surgery again to repair a torn tendon in his arm, I found myself in a very dark and lonely place. This was not the news we expected to receive less than two months before the baby was born. This was not how we had planned to spend the remainder of our summer. I worried and stressed and cried and felt defeated: how would we do it all? Last year, after the accident, I carried the weight of the load while Shawn was down. But, this year, I am in the home stretch of my pregnancy. I don't have the energy and strength that I typically do because my body is fully engaged in the business of birth.
This year, I had to ask for help. And not just ask for help, but be humble enough to accept it. I had to admit to myself and the people who love me that I can not in fact do it all. Our family was in need and we couldn't get through this time by ourselves. I read a quote during this time, I can't remember where or who wrote it, but it said, "We are not, in fact, strong enough to get through these times. We don't have to be. God is with us. He is all the strength we need". I read those words and let them sink down deep into my soul, sitting with them as I cried on my husband's shoulder. Those words made me feel whole, they gave me hope. Because you can't just have faith and be positive and feel inspired during the good times, my friends. You have to be all of those things during the hard times as well. The hard times: they are the true test. They are the times when you truly realize who you are and what you are made of. They are the times that draw the people you love closer together.
And the people we love: they came out in droves. This time around, they weren't listening to me even when I tried to refuse their help or claimed to have it all under control. The people we love came in and scooped us up and did God's work. They shushed me when I cried and thanked them a million times over. "You would do the same for us", I heard over and over. "This is what family is all about", "What are friends for?", "Let me know if there is anything else I can do". Our village came out and raised up our roof and carried us through this storm and before we knew it we were on the other side of that mountain that seemed so daunting only a few weeks before.
My mother did our grocery shopping. Shawn's mother flew in from Arizona and stayed with us for two weeks. My cousin tackled our yard work. My aunts and cousins sent over freezer meals to keep us fed for weeks. My best friends took me out for a pedicure and lunch and brought us dinner as well. Shawn's grandparents drove in and spent a whole week cooking and cleaning and helping us get the nursery ready. And all that help allowed me the time and energy to focus on getting Shawn well and keeping myself healthy. For those three weeks, I didn't have to worry about cooking or cleaning or running errands. I just had to go to work and focus on my family. Everything else: it all came together thanks to our village.
Words never feel like enough when you owe such a great debt. "Thank you" seems so insignificant when people have poured their hearts and souls into keeping you afloat. But I say them anyway: thank you. I say them every night in my prayers when I ask God to return the favor to these people I hold so dear. I believe that every hardship in life leaves you with a lesson learned and a little more strength to lean on next time. This particular roller coaster we've just been on: it taught me so much about the people who have been placed in my life. It inspired me to do great things for my neighbor every chance I get. It reminded me to rely on my faith and believe in possibility. This time in our lives: it taught me to see beauty in the unexpected. It wasn't the summer we had planned, the end of my pregnancy as I had expected, but it turned out completely beautiful regardless.