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  • Writer's pictureFaith Hakesley

Learning to Slow Down and Open My Eyes

Originally published to Faith Restored on July 10, 2019

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” -St. Gianna Molla

+JMJ+ In our fast-paced world we miss so much because we are almost always busy, always on the go. We spend hours in front of screens. There is constant noise and confusion around us and all too easily we forget how precious and how fragile life is. Sometimes we need to just slow down, breathe, and be reminded of God’s beauty and grace.

The last couple weeks have been very difficult for me and my family, emotionally as well as physically. I’m still reeling from my episode of ventricular tachycardia, an episode which would have taken my life if it weren’t for my ICD. I never thought I would be suffering with PTSD following a shock from my ICD but here I am flooded by varying emotions – gratitude, anger, frustration, disbelief, and fear. It’s been enough of an upset that I started seeing a therapist again to help me work through some of the emotions and work past my fears. I haven’t done therapy in years and so this all feels strangely familiar and yet new at the same time. My family was fortunate enough to get word of a Catholic therapist just minutes from our home (yes, she is truly Catholic – not just in name only!) and, with God’s help and grace, I think our work together is going to make a world of a difference for me.

Between medication adjustments, appointments and phone calls with my doctors, learning I definitely cannot drive for 6 months (that’s a tough one to accept), and trying to keep up with the demands of my everyday life as a wife and mother, not to mention writing my devotional for Our Sunday Visitor, I’ve been anxious, overwhelmed, and worn out. This is all making for quite an interesting experience as I write, though. Here I am working my way through a trauma that’s fresh in my heart and mind while writing about trauma in my devotional for survivors of sexual abuse. In a way, I feel that God is giving me a very unique opportunity for evangelization first-hand. Although this current trauma is obviously different from that of the sexual abuse I experienced so long ago, there are many similarities simply because of PTSD and it’ll be interesting to see if/how this all shows through in the finished product.

Understandably, the last few weeks have been tough on my husband and our three children too. Our oldest son, age eight, was the one who found me on the floor screaming on that awful night and he’s been very anxious about leaving me alone ever since then. We have not given our kids much information except that Mama’s “box” did what it was supposed to do in order to keep her safe and healthy, but of course they know something is “up.” Our usual routine is off with my not being able to drive and a higher dosage of my beta-blocker has left me unusually sluggish and weak.

Grumpy attitudes and emotions reached a peak this week and yesterday my husband suggested we head out for the evening as a family. I’m definitely more of a planner than Alex is. He tends to be very spontaneous and often makes last-minute plans which tend to throw me off-guard causing my anxiety to soar. Yesterday was different. I felt weary and deep-down, I knew we needed to just leave and escape for a bit. We ended up driving about an hour away to a little seaside town we haven’t visited in years. I don’t think my husband and I realized just how much we needed that time together as a family!

Our little outing together was truly a gift. We enjoyed a nice dinner, a walk (our two-year-old was thrilled to meet so many friendly doggies), ice cream and cupcakes (if you’ve never had a cupcake ice cream sundae, you’re missing out!), watched the boats, birds, and ocean waves, and took lots of pictures, something we haven’t done in a long time. There are many reasons I tend to avoid being in front of the camera, but for once I allowed my husband to take pictures of me. Years from now, I don’t want my children looking at pictures wondering why on earth Mama has hardly in any of them. I want them to treasure our special evening and remember what a happy time we had. I want them to know that, even though their Mama was feeling low at times, she persevered with God’s grace and slowed down every once and awhile to enjoy the things (and people) that matter most. I want them to see me smiling because there are no other human beings on this earth who make me smile more than my husband and our precious children (they also make me feel like I’m losing my mind at times but that’s all part of love!).

How can I honor God with my life?

For whatever reason, God has chosen to spare my life for now. I have the choice to either ignore this fact or I can choose to embrace whatever God’s special plan is for me and strive to honor Him with my life. God has a calling for each and every one of us even though we don’t always see it right away. Right now, I can say for sure I’m being called to be the best and holiest wife and mother that I can be. But what does the future hold? Only God knows that.

Everyday when I’ve been waking up over the past couple weeks, I’ve been asking myself these questions:

How is God calling me to live this earthly life that I’ve been given?

How can I honor God in the present moment?

I don’t have all the answers but I know that I need to keep my faith and trust in Him. I also need to be grateful for and savor my blessings and quiet my mind every so often to allow the voice of the Holy Spirit to come through more clearly. How often do we really slow down enough to listen to what He has to say? I know I don’t as often as I should.

Last night was a late one (the kids are nice and cranky today) and my husband and I are tired but I’m so glad we had that time together. My eyes were opened in a special way to recognize the beauty in everything around me. I have never felt more grateful for my loved ones and for the beautiful gift of this life with all its ups and downs.

Every once and awhile, take some time to slow down. You don’t always have to go far or do something extravagant. There is such beauty to be found in simplicity! Enjoy God’s creation, unplug from whatever screens that may be holding you captive on a regular basis, and just be fully present in what you are doing. Do something out of the ordinary, take pictures, make lasting memories. Thank God for His blessings.

Life isn’t perfect but there is such beauty to see, awesome memories to be made and glimmers of God’s love and grace all around us. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes!

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