Hello! This afternoon I am getting right to the content, so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or … whatever (is it too early for wine?) and join me if you feel so inclined.
In case you’re new around here or missed my previous sessions, they all stem directly from the discussions I attended during a women’s weekend retreat hosted by my church earlier this month. I have received a lot of great feedback on these posts, so I am continuing on to finish off the series with two more sessions. I hope you’re ready for ’em!
Session 3: Embracing the Role You Never Wanted
As I previewed each session subject in our pamphlets, I wasn’t sure what to think of this one. Embracing the role you never wanted… that’s a thinker.
After the introductions and warm-up into the session was over, the lights went down and spotlights appeared on four women wearing backpacks on stage. Each one told a short story of who they are and what role they never thought they would have to take on.
All stories were true, came from real life situations, and ended with nothing but the following words on stage:
Our speaker, Kristen, opened the discussion by sharing her background story of what seemed to be the perfect life.
After graduating college, she married a great man, moved to a new city with him, bought a nice house, and started a family. She was living the American Dream.
(Or so she thought.) At that point in the story, she walked over to a large camouflage bag with what appeared to be boxes inside. Unlike Santa Clause, she went on to describe how she unwillingly carries her satchel filled with past troubles and hard times around with her. Not gifts.
She didn’t say this, but I also think the camouflage also gave the illusion that we may seem strong and put together on the outside, but all have concealed inner struggles going on the inside.
Her story continued by showing how quickly life can change. After complaining about his neck hurting, Kristen took her son to get examined by a doctor and, eventually, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Her ten-year-old son had cancer, and it wasn’t in the first stage.
At this moment, she felt alone. She became one of those women on stage.
For a while, she wore a brave face. She took care of her son to the best of her abilities and did everything with a smile. She knew it was her job to keep him happy and healthy and she was going to do her best to assure that’s what would happen.
As the months passed by, the treatments became more aggressive, and her mentality weakened. She spent weeks at a time living at a hospital and said the hardest part of it all was watching her son getting treated by doctors dressed in what looked like astronaut outfits. No matter how hard she tried, she had to be on the outside and watch her son go through the pain and suffering without her help.
I’m not a mother, so I can’t even begin to relate or know how hard this must have been for her, but I do know that watching anyone I love that much go through something that hard, knowing there’s nothing I can do to help them would break my heart.
Before long, the brave face became harder and harder for Kristen to portray. She was angry with God for putting this hardship in her life and questioned the motives. Why her? Why her little boy? Why now?
She described her lowest point as going up to her husband, weeping, saying she quit. She didn’t want to be this mother. She just couldn’t do it anymore.
The response she received was the exact opposite of what she expected. No “take the day off honey, you deserve a rest” or “I understand, and it’s going to be okay”s were spoken.
Instead, her husband held her tight and with a stern voice told her she IS that mother. It’s not role someone can quit. Whatever is required of her is what she is going to do.
When he needs to be carried to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she will help him. When he needs to be spoon fed when he can’t eat on his own, she will do it. When he is tired and hurting, she will do her best to keep him positive and get the most out of each and every day.
He was telling her to embrace the role she never wanted.
This is the point in the story where I started feeling a connection to her.
My thoughts returned to the words left on stage and got me thinking.
Through all of the crazy, imperfect, and unexpected events that happen in our lives, we are all bound to take on at least one of these roles. If not most of them.
I realize that some people are directly affected on a much larger and more personal level than others, but at one point or another, all of us experience some kind of role we never wanted.
It’s there, it’s reality, and it happens whether we like it or not. Even when we’re not ready for it.
You quickly become the person you never saw yourself being, and you’re staring the rest of your life in the face with the option of embracing that role or continue carrying the camouflage bag around with you.
Which do you choose?
I feel fortunate for never having to directly experience the first two roles mentioned above, but I can’t say the same for the latter. No matter what it may look like from the outside, nobody is perfect and nobody bypasses the struggles.
What you learn and how you come out of the hard times is what shapes the attitude and outcome of the rest of your days.
The biggest take home I got from this session is that we aren’t alone. We all deal with our own struggles, and we react by choosing to dwell in them or move forward.
We morph into that person who went through this and that, and tend to carry the past issues to the present. Those four powerful words is what we define ourselves as, and we have to get past that.
How we handle the hard times is what shapes our future, and we either ignore the lessons or embrace them.
Embrace them. ♥
Previous Session Discussions:
• Session 2: The Comparison Game + Embracing Your Role As a Friend
• Session 1: Embracing the Here and Now
Another awesome recap of your retreat <3 Really loving this series!
Thanks, Alisha! Glad you are enjoying the posts.
Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Wine please! 😉
On a more serious note, thank you so much for sharing this woman’s story and your thoughts surrounding this session. I can actually relate really well with what the mother’s feelings were when Hunter went through his complications when he was born. Tears were a flowin’ while reading this – whew!
I’m so sorry to hear that! I’m sure you can relate… and I’m so glad Hunter turned out to the beautiful baby boy he did 🙂 Thank you for sharing your stories as well!
Loving these thoughts and how everyone can relate, even on vastly different levels. Each of these posts has gone into my “Inspiration” folder in my e-mail. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much for this post. Absolutely just what I needed today!
Like the other comments, I am really enjoying the recap of your sessions. I can relate to so much of what you are saying. It’s getting me inspired to become more involved in my church. Thank you for sharing in such a beautiful way.
That’s awesome, Allison! I have a feeling you won’t regret it if you do. Thank you for reading!
Runner Girl Eats
I really am enjoying these recaps. This is a great message and an awesome reminder for everyone. Life is tough but so are we <3
I love that!
Such an encouraging post, and on an issue we can all relate to. Glory to God. Thanks for sharing.:)
Thank you for sharing this story. I can totally relate to it. My son was born with a severe heart defect 2 1/2 years ago. I played the
“Why me, why him” game. It’s not fair. You can ask yourself those questions over and over again. Sadly, my little boy passed away 3 months later. I never asked to be a bereaved mother and that’s what I will be for the rest of my life. This is not the way my life was supposed to be. I would give anything in the world to have my son back, but we all know that will never happen. My son taught me so much over the 3 months he was on this earth and I will forever be greatful that he came into my life. I would never change the way things happened. Yes, I so badly wish things had turned out differently, but he has forever changed me and I can.never thank him enough for that. I am a better person because of him.
Now, I sit here a little over 2 years since he passed, with my one year old twins. Some days I want to stay in bed and cry for my son all day, but I can’t do that. I have to be strong for my kids and one day, when they are old enough to understand, I will be able to tell them all about their big brother watching over them.
Oh my goodness! I am so sorry to hear that and for your loss. You are incredibly strong! Congratulations on your twins… if Scott and I ever decide to have kids, we have always said that we want twins. Of course, we have no control over things like that, but just the thought makes me smile.
Your son, even at 3 months old, served a great purpose and I know some days are easier than others to cope with the fact that he’s gone. All you can do is remember what you had with him and be the mother your other babies need! You’re so right, though, one day you will be able to tell them about their big brother watching over them. Thank you so much for sharing!