Monday, November 18, 2013
Frustrations in life
While we were still in the hospital, I remember thinking that once we made it back home and survived all of the grief and drama of the first couple months, I would no longer allow the "stupid" things in life to bother me. How could I get upset over a broken down car, a lost book, or any other little thing when I had just survived the trauma of life with a sick child. The depth of emotions that I had been living through made everything else in life pale in comparison. Therefore, I was shocked to find so many things annoying me once we were back home.
All of a sudden I was dealing with equipment companies, insurance companies, and nursing agencies. What I expected to be a simple call to order supplies for Caleb would turn into a half hour call where I was told, "the insurance company only allows a limited number of those items, and Caleb's need is greater than the amount allowed." I would then have to navigate the insurance company in order to try to get the larger number approved. Needing to push eight different buttons before I could even speak with an operator and then being put on hold was the limit to my patience. I was so frustrated that at times I slammed the phone down in complete disgust.
Soon the insurance claims started pouring in. My degree was in social work, and so at least I had some idea how to order equipment, but I certainly had no idea how to understand the thousands of items listed on the insurance forms. Nor could I understand why the ER we had taken Caleb to was in network, but the doctor that saw him at the ER was out of network. One night, after a particularly trying day dealing with all of these calls, I prepared to collapse into bed, only to receive a call telling us that Caleb's nurse could not make it. The agency would be sending a new nurse, but we would need to train her before she would know how to work the case. I found these situations infuriating, and this anger began to consume my life.
I am in complete agreement that every one of these situations is cause for annoyance, but the fact that I was becoming consumed with it, began to concern me. I would wake up in the morning and already be thinking of the calls I would need to make, and I could feel my heart start to race. I would go over and over in my head the injustice of it all. I began to live in a state of justified anger. The only problem was that none of this brought me peace.
I needed to return to a more relaxed way of living. If these frustrations were only going to be short lived, I could have perhaps just pushed through. But they were not going to be short lived; this was my new normal. I needed a new way to cope.
This new outlook came in the form of putting my life back into perspective. If I truly wanted my life to be used by God, then this was the way He had chosen. I always imagined missionaries in other countries or people giving up their lives in order to stand for what they believed in, as being used by God. So in comparison, if I had to sit in an air conditioned home on the phone for an hour every day, dealing with what I thought were incompetent systems, then I would accept my lot. I began to look at every telephone call, every appointment, and every meeting, as an opportunity to care for Caleb and to serve God. No longer did I see these situations as an intrusion into my day. Peace began to return, a little at a time, as I began to practice this shift in focus. Sure, I still didn't like the tasks, but I was no longer carrying around the anger or feeling the need to fix all of the systems.
Just a side note to anyone who is going through a crisis with their child. Systems are broken and you will not fix them by becoming angry, yelling at others, or obsessing about the incompetency. You need to save your emotional energy to meet the needs of your child. Deal with the companies as needed, but then let go.
Life is filled with little things that can become big annoyances. I believe that if we continue to view every annoyance as a reason to fight, we will soon become weary and battle scarred. It is in the letting go and the finding peace in the midst of the "stupid stuff" that we can travel through life and allow ourselves to become more patient and forgiving individuals.