Choosing to Celebrate: Digging my way out of Survival Mode

I remember the year Silas was born and I felt like I had hit my groove in motherhood. My twins were 5 and had amazing teachers in pre-K.
I loved being home with my new baby and teaching part time on campus and online.
Life was good. I remember thinking, “I am so happy.”

It’s hard to believe that Silas is now four years old. We’ve had some hard times since that Happy Year.

I had a miscarriage.
Benji started struggling in school.
I had another baby and it was not easy like it was with Silas.
I fought with the school about doing a child study to discover if Benji had learning disabilities (He did).
We found out that Benji is autistic (and ADHD).
We found out that Micah has ADHD.
After two years of massive stress (see above), I quit my job, which created its own brand of melancholy.

It’s been almost a year since I stopped working and, although many things are better in my life, I still feel like I am fighting the funk.
I was in Survival Mode for a long time and sometimes I feel like I’m still there, like I’m still trying to recover from the wind being knocked out of me. Life throws some giant curve balls at times and they hurt.

I want to go beyond Survival Mode, but it takes a lot of effort, especially if you’ve been in survival mode for a long time and your life has lots of stress and lots of complications.

Strength, I find myself praying. Please give me strength.

A verse from childhood comes to mind: The joy of the Lord is your strength.

But I roll my eyes. What in the world does that mean anyway? because I am so beyond manufactured, “put on a happy face,” “grin and bear it,” plastic-Christianity.

Despite all my yoga, and good diet, and supplements, the stress of my everyday life isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only going to get more intense with our upcoming move and life style change to the Military in just a few short months.

But when I prayed for strength, God told me to celebrate.

At first, this seemed like a weird answer to my prayer, because putting the effort into anything “extra” in my life is exhausting.

But I decided to try it, try out-of-the-ordinary celebrating.

In January, Micah and Benji both made honor roll at school. They’ve gotten school awards before and, while Aaron and I are lavish with our hugs and “I’m-so-proud-of-you’s”, we’ve never indulged in a “formal” celebration before.

But that night we got a babysitter for the two little boys and we took Micah and Benji out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings (Benji’s had a Christmas gift card). Then we went to the trampoline park for 30 minutes of bouncing and hilarity.

We had a wonderful time, so good that it surprised me. I felt shocked when I realized that this was the first time since our younger two boys were born that we had taken our twins out for special time with mom and dad.

We had good food, good conversation, sincere smiles, and genuine laughter.

The joy of those hours pushed away the fog that comes from the monotony of Everyday Life and gave me an unexpected side effect of peace.

And with that peace came strength too, the strength that said, “You’re doing okay. You have good kids. Look—your kids are strong and healthy and smiling. Sure, you’re kinda messed up but overall, you have a happy family.”

We celebrated and we rose above Survival Mode for a few hours.
We don’t have the money to do restaurants and trampoline parks on a regular basis but I’ve been looking for small ways to celebrate in our everyday life.

For Valentine’s Day, I made rice crispy treats and wrote clues for the boys to follow so they could find the snacks when they got home from school. The whole game was over in five minutes but they really enjoyed it.

So did I.

The anticipation of creating a surprise for them and waiting for them to enjoy it brought me real joy, and in turn, it strengthened our mother/son relationship.

Last night, I lit a candle at the dinner table.
“What’s that for?” My husband asked.
“Just for fun,” I replied.

Just for fun—a small moment of effort, a spark of beauty in the middle of the mundane moments of everyday life.

Just for joy.

My life is challenging, but I’m trying to dig my way out of survival mode, one small moment of celebration at a time. It’s the out-of-the-ordinary, created moments of joy that are giving me strength these days.

Maybe that’s what that verse means: When we delight in the life that that’s been created for us by God, we find the strength to keep on living it, day by day, moment by moment, joy by joy.

Are you in Survival Mode right now?
What is one way you can celebrate today or this week?
Share your story below or on TheBamBlog Facebook page!

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