When you're experiencing your darkest days, you don't necessarily want witnesses. I'm exactly that way. I am a very private person. I keep lots of things close to my chest. I cry often and mostly alone, it's one of the things I do for me. (Tears are healthy and there are scientifically proven therapeutic benefits.) I don't have pity parties, and when I do they don't last a long time. I say what I need to say, I cry about it ahead of time and/or after the fact, and I take a step forward. Change is hard, y'all.
I am often accused of trying to handle "all the things" on my own. I have people in my life who know me well and hold me accountable for that. I have a few really close friends, but only a handful of people that I hang out with regularly. I value my quiet time. I have been known to go an entire week without turning on the tv. I have music playing almost constantly.
I have also experienced my share of big life changes. I recently accepted a new job that has a LOT of autonomy and a lot more responsibility. It requires a lot of personal study at this point to learn the material I will eventually be teaching. In the past year, I've gone back into paid church work, on a very part time basis, after a several years break. I also changed the physical location of home. That change of address led to a tweaking of my definition of home. Home for me is a safe space where I can be unapologetically me.
Several events in my life have shaped my outlook. They shook me to the very core and have required a lot of energy in order to make the adjustments necessary to survive them with my sanity mostly intact. My divorce was probably one of the most pivotal moments in recent years with regards to my definition of home. I was married for just over 21 years. We were high school sweethearts, and we signed up for forever. Life threw all the curveballs and eventually we made the decision to go our separate ways. It was mostly amicable and completely gut-wrenching. There's still a great deal of love and respect present even though our relationship has changed. We still talk a few times per month and we bounce ideas off of one another when there's some big "something" nagging at one of us. I still have to work through things from time to time, but overall I'm happy with the level of respect we managed during that transition.
I'm also an empty-nester. I'm a Cici to three really cool kiddos, even though I'm WAY too young to have little people that claim me as a grandparent. I'm still learning how to sit in silence, especially when the music isn't playing or my thoughts are screaming at me. My definition of home no longer focuses on things I've accumulated. It's about stronger relationships and extending grace. It's about love. It's about knowing myself well enough to be okay with the chaos in order to relish the peace. It's about knowing my reasons for the decisions I've made without needing to explain myself to others.
It was in the times of chaos that I redefined myself. I have had to reinvent my personal identity a lot. After my brother died, I felt like I lost the title of sister. Through my mom's illness and later her death, my definition of daughter shifted. After my divorce, I was no longer someone's wife. While I may now be an ex-wife, I don't handle myself as one. My reality changed, and it wasn't always pretty and neat.
All of this is to say, we have a choice in how we deal with change. We could easily let negativity take root and break us down. We can also find the lesson in the struggle, meet chaos head on, and savor the peace that follows. We can't be idly complacent and expect peace to find us though. We have to be active participants in the process.
People struggle. We also have the capacity to pick ourselves up, and dust off the mess that feels chaotic, in order to work through the challenges and move toward peace. Home doesn't have to be just a physical location. My prayer is that in the midst of whatever chaos we experience, we manage to also find peace in a way that allows us to come home.