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A New Lens

The most clear lens I’ve put on is Jesus. This lens also comes in and out of focus as well, but as I allow God control in my life, it all becomes so much clearer. When I find one of those old lenses trying to come back, I switch to the lens of Jesus. Switching to the lens of Jesus is quite incredible. With this lens on, it doesn’t matter what other lens I may be looking through, adding His lens brings everything back into focus.

10 Months: A New Lens

I've been wondering what I would write about this month.  Life is good.  It's really good.  We are still fumbling our way through this new normal, but in all of God's grace, He's greatly lessened the sting and allowed our eyes to see forward and not behind.  I realized just recently that I have been saying 'we' a lot in my posts.  We seems natural as I often write about me and the kids, but I think it's also important to not put words out that aren't approved and also validated by my kids.  So, this is a writing of my feelings (no we).  Not to say they don't feel the same way, but I just don't want to speak on their behalf without permission. 
I went to the eye doctor last week, my first follow up visit since getting progressive lenses a year ago.  I had Lasik surgery in my 20s, but have just recently been struggling 'some' to see up close.  So I went to see someone last year and he gave me progressive lenses.  If that doesn't make you feel old...anyways!  I've struggled to get used to them so I went back for a check-up and to make sure the prescription was correct.  Turns out, I need an adjustment to the actual glasses and probably an update to the prescription too.  Awesome. 
But as we were sitting there going from lens to lens, looking at which one I was able to see better with, it got me thinking about how the lenses of the vision of my life over the last ten months have changed. 
Let me explain...
Back in October when I took my solo vacation to the beach, I read a handful of books.  One of them was Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko.  This book is so beautiful and I highly recommend reading it at some point.  It's a tribute to his daughter Lenya, who unexpectedly passed away from an asthma attack, and just 5 days before Christmas. 
During those first handful of months I found myself searching for stories of people who had been through trauma, loss, grief, etc. and I wanted to hear how they were doing.  I wanted to see how they lifted the veil of grief and began to see and experience life again.  If I'm being completely transparent, I wanted proof from others that there was life on the other side of it.  Hearing and reading their stories became a critical part of my healing. 
Will we trust what we can see is there, or believe what God says is there? 
...The human eye sees more than you realize - much more than you can actually process.  For instance, when you look up at the stars, you are technically looking at all of them; you just can't perceive all you are seeing.  I can prove it to you.  A telescope or other lens just magnifies and brings into focus what you are already looking at, what is there all along.  Even in the daytime, the stars are right in front of you, hidden in plain sight.  The reason you can't make out what you are seeing is because of distance and interference.
So it is spiritually. You must not rely on the naked eye. What you think you see is not all that is there.  There are unseen things.  Spiritual things.  Eternal things.  You must learn to see life through the eyes of a Lion.  Doing so is to utilize the telescope of faith, which will not only allow you to perceive the invisible - it will give you the strength to do the impossible. - Levi Lusko
Levi has a real knack for writing and I was instantly drawn into this book.  He tells about his family and his precious daughter Lenya - or Lenya the Lion as her nickname described by him the 'ferocious personality and full head of hair that was wild and mane-like'.  Intimately describing the details of the day his daughter passed and the days that followed, I felt his pain and anguish coming out of the pages at me; and while our stories were much different, the underlying emotion was excruciatingly similar.  It was in this book I first started to understand the idea of our different phases of life as being lenses we view life through.  This is not the entire premise of the book, but just a part of it.  Again, highly recommend.
Death doesn't always call ahead or make a reservation. Even those in the throws of a terminal illness don't know when it will happen.  It happening is inevitable, this is fact.  We are all on this earth for a limited amount of time, and only God knows how much time we have.  But death rarely gives us a notice that it's on the way.  So the question becomes, when it reaches your life, how do you get through it?
When tragedy strikes our lives, how do we learn to accept that change has happened without warning?  How do we move forward while still honoring the one that is gone?  How do we keep living, find joy and embrace the life and time we still have on this earth?
I'll admit, these thoughts were really tough for me to sort out.  From the moment that I was told Joe was gone, it felt as if there was a really heavy cloud sitting over me, on top of me at times.  That cloud - grief, sorrow, agony - it sat so heavy I thought I would suffocate at times.  It sat so heavy I didn't want to get out of bed.  It sat so heavy, that I had no appetite.  It sat so heavy, that it clouded my vision and didn't allow me to see a way out.  This was my lens of grief, and added a lens of sorrow which further clouded my sight.
I wouldn't call this depression as it wasn't something that was persistent for a prolonged period of time, but it certainly could have been if given enough space to grow.  If I had allowed that feeling to continue to sit on me, I feel we'd be having a very different conversation right now, if one at all.  That's the reality of all of this.  The reality is that it's just so damn heavy. 
Add on to this heaviness was a really extreme state of anxiety. There's a lens that hits when someone close to you passes. I can only imagine this is what someone with PTSD deals with, on a much larger scale than me. Every time I heard the sirens of an emergency vehicle, my heart would flutter. If I had to be in a social situation, I would quite literally force myself to go, stay close to one person I was most comfortable with - and when it was time for me to leave, make a straight line for the door, get in my car and have a full on meltdown - including uncontrollable sobbing. Then the next day, or days at times, I would be exhausted. If I saw a show on TV that involved a medical emergency, especially involving CPR, I would have to remove and compose myself. Taking the kids to open house at school was excruciating.
It felt like everyone knew I was now a widow. I hated the looks of 'I'm so sorry' that I seemed to get all around. I found myself closing in the circle and only spending time around those that I was most comfortable with. As much as it hurt, it also helped that few people were comfortable being around me. I went to the gym, when I could, and only went at times I knew someone would be there that I could lean on, if needed. Those that were at that time, still are. They understand just how important getting out was, even if just for a walk. They knew that I could erupt into emotion at any moment, and they were OK with giving me that space to do it. Those are my people. Those are the people that I will forever be thankful for. They, probably without even knowing it, supporting me through that lens of anxiety and helped me work through it.
On top of exhaustion from social situations, I was just exhausted from all of it. Sleep still has not returned to normal. I no longer have nightmares, thank God, but I struggle to sleep for long periods of time and often wake up feeling unrested. I have started to use this time of non-sleep and give it to God. I put on worship music. I open my Bible and I read - and then I write. Exhaustion narrowed a lens for me and helped me turn my focus away from the world, from the fear of being alone, from the anxiety, grief and sorrow - all the darkness - and turn it towards the light.


The night of his passing, I remember looking at my kitchen counter with more than a handful of bottles of wine that people had so thoughtfully brought over.  I very easily could have opened and consumed all of them that night.  I didn't want to feel. I wanted to numb and drift away from all of the feelings.  It was just so much.  I was already taking medication to sleep, and combining that with any alcohol consumption could have been a really bad combination.  A choice had to be made, and I've written about this before, but I made the choice that night to take a break from alcohol.  My kids had just lost their dad, and they needed me to be of sober mind.  They needed me to be as clear as I could be, even in that sorrow.  They needed as much of me as I could find.  It was a good decision.  It was the right decision.  That lens, the one that allowed me enough awareness to say no to alcohol, cleared my vision enough to say no, and continue to say no for over four months.
That single decision has propelled me further into this new normal of life.  It has given me the eyes to see that I am strong and capable of more than I can imagine.  Making the choice to feel and process clearly I think has been critical.  This lens, has walked me straight into the pain, and pull me closer to my inner strength.
I remember early on telling someone, I freaking hate feeling like this.  I hate having this heavy blanket of sorrow over us - and they lovingly said, maybe you're supposed to have this right now.  Maybe you're supposed to be in a season of less, a season of pulling back, a season of digging into God's promises, a season of healing - maybe it's supposed to hurt for a bit longer. 
That lens was hard.  Looking through the lens of pain is one that I didn't want to look through.  But when you do, you see things differently, and maybe that's the point.  You see how other people suffer.  You have a greater empathy for them.  You see how clearly some things just don't matter in the grand scheme of life. The rest of it, the stuff we all struggle with on the regular, it becomes a blur.  You become hyper-focused on what you need to survive, and then as that becomes clear, the lens opens a bit more and more as to what you need to thrive, and then it opens up wide so you can live. 
The next lens of healing I was able to put on just a few months later. I think it really started with my trip to the beach.  It was my first ever solo trip.  I literally told the kids I would be gone for a couple of days, booked a condo, grabbed my bathing suit, some sunscreen and hit the road.  In less than six hours I had my toes in the sand and felt my heart starting to heal.  Water, the ocean, has always been a source of immense peace for me.  Something about the smells and the sounds, I can't explain it.  It's peaceful.  I needed peace to begin healing.  I needed to be still, and distraction free for just a bit.  I needed to narrow my focus on me, so that I could begin healing for others around me. This lens, healing.  The lens of healing has taken the longest to come in to focus, and it's almost like putting on the wrong lens at times, it comes in and out of focus; but the longer you look through it, the clearer it gets. 
The most clear lens I've put on is Jesus.  This lens also comes in and out of focus as well, but as I allow God control in my life, it all becomes so much clearer.  When I find one of those old lenses trying to come back, I switch to the lens of Jesus. Switching to the lens of Jesus is quite incredible. With this lens on, it doesn't matter what other lens I may be looking through, adding His lens brings everything back into focus. Jesus is my Lion. He's the reason I have been able to perceive the invisible and have the strength for the impossible.
As time goes on, these lenses start to adjust themselves and I see my world coming back, except now it has hyper focus. Some lenses are still there, but they have the lens of Jesus with them. Stacking them together brings peace, it brings a stillness to the uncertainty of anxiety, it squashes fear and blankets grief with grace.  It's like finding the most perfect prescription for my life.  The more I look, the more I adjust, the better focus I have.
Just as we have the capacity to learn new and hear new during different seasons of our lives, I believe that God uses these different lenses to illuminate new truths to us to move us along in our healing.  The key, we have to let Him.  Letting Him in, to adjust and direct the lens that we view through during each season not only shows us how much more we are than we can imagine, but it also shows us how much more of Him there is to be discovered. And that my friends, is the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced.