I woke up feeling anxious again, a condition that usually knocks me out of sound sleep around 4 or 5 in the morning (or in the case of last night – 1:30 in the morning), and in which I spend the next couple of hours trying to talk sense to my racing throughs. No, I’m not even trying to talk sense to them. They’re an unbridled horse, which has decided to make a run for it and drag my sanity behind.
I don’t have any real excuse for this anxiety. My home is not in the wake of a hurricane or a raging wildfire. I’m not ill or in the grip of worry over a loved one who is ill. But things pile on and, one by one, become more than I can handle. And I hate feeling out of control.
Please bear with me as I list some of the things going on in what has turned out to be a longish post. It’s making up for my weeks of silence.
- If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know our house construction started in the fall of 2015. It is now the fall of 2017. We’ve had a hole in our living room wall for a year and a half that looks like this.
2. Yes, this is us trying to prepare a baby shower in the midst of construction. (My second source of anxiety – the baby shower – which ended up turning out great!)
We had hired a 2nd construction company to take care of the water damage from the 1st company, as well as to put in the stairs so we could block that hole in the wall. The second company promised to come, and each week for the past month they put us off.
3. My mom and sister visited around the time the company first promised to come, and I was anxious that they would be here while the workers were here, and I wouldn’t be able to cook or that we’d have to sleep in the living room under plastic. (We gave my mom and stepdad our room).
That didn’t happen. But then, as the shower date grew near and each week they didn’t come, I was anxious that I’d be hosting a shower for 40 people, not only with a hole in the wall and packages containing the stairs in every nook and cranny …
but also with the room covered with plastic and dust. In the end, I needn’t have worried. The workers pushed off coming so long I was able to host the shower, then pack up everything in the kitchen so they could start the next day. But the timing of it all, and my lack of control over the timing, made me anxious!
We also paid them to do the kitchen backsplash. I wanted white tiles, but didn’t want it to look like a bathroom or subway station. These Italian tiles are longer and the surface is uneven so they don’t look too industrial. I’m happy with the result.
So the workers have come back and they punched a second hole in our wall so they can put up the stairs. The before …
Despite the noise we are able to live pretty normally since they made a curtain to protect our space from an excess of dust.
(I’ll show you what the stairs look like when they’re up).
Edited to say that after having smashed a second massive dangerous and drafty hole in our wall, the workers announced they won’t be back at all this week. And then … who knows when they will come? They’re pouting because they realised it was more work than they had bargained for and so they tried to get money and we said no. Sigh.
4. We’re far from the end in sight of this construction saga however. We decided to sue the original company for abandon because we paid them the next instalment of work and they quit right after that, so the amount they owe us is huge. We sent off the registered letter to start the process, and it came back “name unknown”, despite the fact they’re still registered as an existing company. All hope is not lost because even their insurance is responsible for them completing the job, and we have their insurance certificat. This bit of good news we found out when we met with the lawyer, who also encouraged us with some other promising signs of victory. But I must own that my anxiety level has not decreased, even knowing that we have a good chance for a happy ending.
5. My sprained foot … did I tell you I had a sprained foot? Possibly a sprained ankle too, but I only had the MRI on the foot. It happened early in August and has not healed since. I have a special shoe, but will finish with crutches if the shoe doesn’t work. I feel like my life is one series of doctor’s appointments. It’s been hard to get around, and serve in the way I want to with a swollen foot. I was frustrated not to be able to visit things when my family was here, or host the baby shower without pain. And my sprained foot hinders others things.
6. For instance. I’m planning a party for my husband to celebrate his 50th birthday. We’re hosting it here:
Because the rental was so expensive, I cannot afford to hire a caterer so I’m cooking for 150 people – mostly – myself. That, in itself, is a bit daunting, but the fact that I’m crippled leaves me wondering how I’m going to pull this thing off. Yesterday, I did a trial run with 5 kilos of chicken. (I’ll need 25 kilos in all). We sanitised the kitchen and ourselves and got to work.
This is my trial run for gluten-free.
Having tasted it, I can attest that the recipe is delicious. But it’s quite exhausting and I need to do that ^^ (the photos with all the chicken laid out) 4 more times.
Let me not exaggerate though – I do have a team coming over this weekend to help, and I have amazing friends who are taking care of all the appetisers. I don’t have to worry about it. I even have a friend who’s a patissière and she’s making the cake, and another who’s a boulanger and he’s making 30 baguettes for me.
But there are the decorations, entertainment, RSVPs, organising the list of who can help bring what (the smaller items such as salad, cheese, drinks, dessert). I was not even this stressed about my own wedding. Okay that’s probably not true, but I don’t remember being this stressed.
One day I woke up a little more anxious than usual (how many cheeses do I need to ask people to bring? do we have enough money for the helium balloons? how am I going to resolve the tension with that friend? did I let that person know how grateful I am for her help? what if the construction interrupts my ability to cook 150 plates of chicken marsala? will the French guests think it weird if there’s no alcohol?) – the list goes on. On that day I got a text. I have a friend who sends scriptures on a semi-regular basis, and that morning she sent this:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)
I just laughed. Do not worry about anything, it said. I resisted the temptation to argue back. Okay sure, God. I won’t worry about anything if you’ll just show me how I’m going to pull this off. You’re awfully silent for the God of the universe.
The thing is, though. God often doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t illuminate the entire path for our benefit. He illuminates only the next few steps that lead us in the right direction. And we need only follow where we see light.
God is working. He is watching over me. In addition to the impeccable timing on the work vs baby shower, he protected Matthieu and my son from getting hit by a guy who ran a stop at 40 mph in our residential town where speed limit is 15.
He caused the architect to submit (and the town hall to approve) a “declaration for planned construction” instead of asking for a construction permit, the former which has judiciary protection with our insurance, the latter which does not. So even some of our legal fees will be covered.
He keeps providing sources of money from unexpected places in just the amount we need. Even though there’s an enormous outlay of expenses right now, we always have it covered.
So why am I so anxious? That implies that God either has no power to solve the problem, or that he doesn’t care enough to do so. Both are false.
I received some encouragement lately above and beyond what I listed just above. I went to the nutritionist for the first time since July, certain I had gained back some of my weight from not exercising. But nope – not one ounce gained. I’m still 13 kilos (28 lbs) lighter than when I first started, a year and a half ago. Even if some of that muscle weight was replaced by fat, it was such a pleasant shock not to have put on more weight. And I can always put the muscle back on when my foot is healed.
I was nourished this weekend. We went to Normandy for a church retreat, and it was so uplifting and beautiful.
We ate, played, and danced together in addition to the classes. Here are the sisters from when we broke into two groups. We come from so many nations. Some of these women I’m very close to and have been for years. Others are new to the fellowship, and I was able to get to know them better this weekend. What a joy to have this fellowship.
And there’s more. After the party, my hard work will be rewarded. Matthieu and I leave for Vienna for a short anniversary trip. Never mind that planning it was another source of stress – that part is over. Now it’s just something to look forward to.
We’re going there because I once told my husband when we first married that this was my theme song when I was a young single woman (how is it that the words to this song are still so true today)?! He told me he wanted to take me there because “Vienna waits for you., Jennie”
There are so many bright points to hold onto amid the anxiety. The other day, I was listening to a Timothy Keller podcast, and he said something striking. The word “hope” has a different meaning in the English language than it did in the original Greek. Hope in English includes some aspect of doubt in its meaning. You hope for it and will stay positive, though there’s always a possibility of your heart’s desire not happening.
But hope in its original Greek form means, “a life-changing joyous certainty“. There’s no room for anxiety when you have this kind of hope. And I will have this kind of hope.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. Psalm 42-5