"Everything is going on around me as if nothing is happening ... as if my world is not crashing ... exploding ... imploding."
I remember thinking those words when my marriage began its shattering.
Nobody knew. And life continued.
I recall standing up before a class of fifth- and sixth-graders, teaching them grammar and thinking, "How do I do this? How do I pretend that this is just a normal day? That I don't just want to crawl into a corner and weep?"
It's such a surreal thing, trying to be normal when everything isn't.
I'm feeling that way again as I watch my father's health decline dramatically.
The other day I sat next to him, propping him up with my shoulder, holding his hand and leaning in to hear his soft, mumbled words. I was struck again by life's challenges.
I'd spent the day with my children playing at the park—running, laughing and sweating. Now I was sitting still, crying a bit and, well ... sweating. My Dad's room is pretty stuffy.
It's weird to walk through all these emotions. I remember that walk when my husband left. I remember trying to make life normal and fun with my children. I'd laugh with them during the day and cry when I was alone at night. It was a truly terrible walk for a season, but I haven't walked there in a while ... until now.
Anyone who has suffered a loss or tragedy or challenge of any kind can understand: Life goes on. We still need to set alarms, pack lunches, get kids to school, do schoolwork with children, go to work, make dinner, drive to soccer games, smile at people, listen to others share their stories, and just plain live life.
I'm finding it difficult to figure out how to be normal anymore—I mean, not that I've ever been completely normal! But how do I find normal when things keep getting wonky on me?
My prayer partner and I pray each year that this will be the year without trauma or drama. So far, we are 0-6. Not a great record. But I will say that God continues to work in me and around me despite the decidedly difficult times. He continues to show me He is faithful before, during and after the troubling times.
Somehow or another, even when I can't necessarily see it or really understand it, He makes it all bearable. At the end of the day, I realize I've survived. And so have all my children.
And it isn't just survival. I've learned so much about myself—and about Him through each heartbreak and sorrow.
God loves me and my children—and you and yours—so very much.
Lately God has been showing me how very, very much He loves me and my children—and you and yours. There is no limit to His love. The amount doesn't diminish on a bad day or even increase on a good day. He loves us perfectly and completely because He is love.
I read a quote years ago by A.W. Tozer from his book Knowledge of the Holy that says, "Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself."
I'm so blessed by that, so thankful that God loves me regardless of me or my circumstances or my fears or my challenges or my difficulties or my emotions or my failures. God loves me because He made me to love.
There is hope for me in that. There is hope that even when everything seems completely out of sorts and daily life must continue on, I can trust that God has it because He loves me. I can trust that I am secure in His unfailing love.
Even when life shatters, God's love keeps me together.
Sue Birdseye is an author and single mom of five kids who range from 4 to 17 years old. Her book, When Happily Ever After Shatters (Tyndale House), is in bookstores. This is adapted from her blog, uptomytoes.com.