There was a musical number halfway through the church meeting. It was a cello, violin, and piano rendition of I Know That My Redeemer Lives. I sat in the congregation with my eyes closed, attempting to really focus on the beauty of the sound and to feel a devotional spirit from the meeting. The hymn is very familiar to me, so the lyrics floated through my mind along with the music. However I also mused upon the thought that if I really believe in Christ and the gospel, then that belief should inform every action I take. My beliefs should echo through my decisions and how I spend my time. I think I generally do well with that, but in specific details I could do better. It seemed a beautiful message to take to heart from a hymn, so I was content. But then the arrangement of music shifted and grew more complex, the instruments played separate parts instead of being harmonious, and the words for that portion of the song presented themselves in the front of my mind.
He lives to calm my troubled heart
He lives all blessings to impart.
By the time we reached heart, I was crying and trying not to do so obviously. Because my heart has been quite troubled for a long time. Not on the surface, not in daily life, but I was seriously shaken last spring. Several of my beloved people struggled mightily with mental health issues and my parental self-doubt was dredged up and spread in a layer over most of it. When the turmoil subsided, I was glad for the return of stability, but my deep heart was troubled. I let it rest because there were things to do and because I knew it was not time to heal.
This week I send Kiki to college. I send Link to high school. I send Gleek to junior high. The only one not making a schooling transition is Patch. All of us are going to have to adapt to not having Kiki in the house. Patch is having to adapt to the fact that Gleek is losing interest in the games they used to play together. Howard just attended a week long convention and is about to attend another which has historically been a difficult one. There is so much potential for things to be as emotionally chaotic as they were last spring. No amount of logic and calm observation has been able to quell that part of me that is troubled and waiting for the sky to fall again. Yet in church I was handed the answer to a question I didn’t even know I ought to ask.
The closing hymn was Oh May My Soul Commune With Thee, and in the final verse we sang:
Lord, grant me thy abiding love
and make my turmoil cease
Oh, may my soul commune with thee
and find in thee my peace.
Message received. My heart has been troubled for months. It is still troubled, but now I know where to start in finding peace to calm it. Because I can recite to myself the ways that my people are amazing, but He can tell me it will be okay in a way that I can maybe, hopefully believe. I have been afraid for six months and it would be nice to stop. Really stop. Empty out the scared place and fill it with some other emotion, because I’ve reached the point where all the waiting is done. The change is here and I don’t know how much sadness I’m going to feel this week.
In the last few months I’ve had many conversations with parents who have already been through launching kids into adulthood. Several have spoken of ongoing grief at losing the mother identity and struggling to find something else. One talked of having a permanent hole in her heart left by the departing child, which sounds depressing to me. I would like to make this transition gracefully and joyfully, because launching my kids into independent adults has always been the end goal. Yet I cried for two days when they went back to school a year ago, because I knew that it was the beginning of the end of the part of my life when all my kids were under my care and direction. A reasonable amount of grief is to be expected, but I hope this week brings joy too.
Perhaps that troubled place in my heart can instead be filled with anticipation for the many cool things that are yet to come. I’m excited to see how Link will step up to the challenge of being the oldest kid at home. I’m curious to see whether this will be the year when girls become interesting and he starts talking to them. I’m looking forward to Gleek having both choir and art in her schedule. I wonder how long it will be before she makes a dozen friends at school. I’m hoping to see the at-home kids learn to communicate with Kiki via email and skype. There is so much potential for good in this coming year and I’ve been avoiding thinking about it because it was mixed up with the emotional turmoil.
So, song as prayer: Calm my troubled heart. Make my turmoil cease.
These will be my theme songs for the week and at the end of it my world will be a different place. If I really believe all the things I claim to believe, then opening my troubled heart and allowing it to be filled with something else is one of the specific details I need to be better at. Strange how I hold tight to my fears and it is hard to let them go, but clearly this is what I’m being asked to do. I will try.