Labor Day has always been a tough day for me. It approaches with dread every year. When I was a kid, Labor Day was always the last day of summer break. I could never relax and enjoy it because the first day of school loomed large in my mind. I have never done well in new social settings, and the fear of social execution at the hands of spoiled girls who might shun me from their lunch table was enough to make me wish for a highly contagious strain of the bubonic plague to hit me in my sleep.
But Labor Day since we have moved to Colorado has marked another milestone- it was the day we physically arrived here with our moving van back in 2005. To move here we left friends in Florida, dear ones that had become family to us and a church we loved. I also left a lot of denial behind. Hurricane Katrina was hitting as we were driving up to Virginia and on to Colorado. I feel it was a fitting image for our situation as well. Just as the residents of New Orleans were finding out how fragile their existence in the below sea level bowl of a city really was, my layers of outward appearing "fine" ness were being peeled back like a rotting potato being carved up for the garbage heap. The winds brutalized, the waters flooded, and New Orleans and I collapsed.
That was six years ago today. There was so much wrong in our marriage at that time. But I was able to ignore it when times were good, friends were close, and busyness could occupy my hands. Then all that was taken away. God left me with truth, our immediate family and about ten million moving boxes. That first year here in Denver comes in second place as the hardest year of my life to date.
But we worked hard, we worked on our issues, and we survived. God showed up with grace like He always does when we get real and humble. We began to thrive. We now have all the things we lost from Florida- dear friends, a church home, feelings of belonging and purpose- and we have truth, which might be the most precious of all.
But just because life is good now does not mean I dread Labor Day any less. There are some hurts and milestones in our lives that will always be painful no matter how much good has come of them. It makes me think of Frodo at the end of The Return of the King. He saved Middle Earth, he saved the Shire. But the Shire was not saved for him. He would forever carry all the suffering of the journey. We will always carry the suffering of our journeys within us. The sharp pain will lessen over time. But it is foolish to hide from it- it is part of us, an important milestone that proclaims we survived. I took a long shower this morning and wept. I am crying now. Thank God for where I am. But where I was can't be erased and must be recognized.
This wasn't what I intended to write today. I am still a little shocked all this came out of me and I am about to post it for the world to see if they wish. But writing is about being real. As Anne Lamont said, it is about opening the door we have deadbolted in our hearts and laying our souls bare so others might find truth and freedom through our struggles and defeats. I hope you, dear reader, connected with some truth in my words today. Be brave. And never ever give up.