I don’t believe I’ve ever conversed with anyone on a beautiful spring day who lamented and bemoaned the coming of warm air, green shoots, and longer, sunnier days.
Most of us celebrate good changes. When the year-long road construction project on the busy road exiting the neighborhood is completed, there is celebratory relief and widespread joy. When the coffee shop renovations make your favorite spot brighter, more spacious and inviting, you can’t wait to bring a friend and enjoy the positive changes. But have you ever experienced a person who will not tolerate good changes? How about the person who will not accept good changes you’ve made inside of you?
Jamie loved her family, imperfect as it was.
She devoted herself to loving them well, and it was just about a full-time job. Her parents were divorced and remarried, her siblings were all married with young children, and her extended family on both sides lived fairly close-by. She was there for them all. She worked to develop a relationship with each parent’s spouse and their families. She was sister, friend, daughter, aunt, grand-daughter, and often put their needs before her own. She loved to help her family and be there for them all.
She had her own husband and children, and they were active in church, the community, school, and sports. After Jamie’s third child was born, she came to find herself on the edge of a crisis. She was overwhelmed, overrun with commitments, and riddled with the guilt of not keeping all the plates spinning gracefully. Her sister was upset that she couldn’t attend her daughter’s recital. Her brother was frustrated she couldn’t babysit his kids over the weekend. Her mother wanted her to drop everything and help her shop for a dress for her cousin’s wedding – the cousin who had a drinking problem and called Jamie all hours of the night for support. After a sudden, scary panic attack, Jamie came to terms that she needed to change herself and her relationship with saying no. The need to please her family was slowly killing her.
As Jamie’s ability to lovingly say no to people, projects or priorities strengthened, her husband noticed the positive changes in her.
Jamie had more peace of mind, patience, and sparks of joy were beginning to return. Her children saw their mom in a new way – she was funny, relaxed, and more playful. At home, she felt supported and encouraged to take care of herself. However, not everyone was happy about the changes. Her family preferred Old Jamie the Yes Woman. They weren’t sure why Jamie was being so selfish now. Jamie heard their opinions through direct confrontations, indirect, passive comments, and felt it when left out of invitations or plans. While Jamie still loved her imperfect family and her devotion, while different, remained constant, she began to wonder if they ever loved her at all. And it stung and pierced her deeply. She didn't see this coming at all.