When I was a brand new mother (oh, those were thrilling, exhausting days!), I wanted so badly to do everything “right”. I read books written for new parents, talked to friends who were also mothers about their methods for feeding and getting baby to sleep, asked our pediatrician questions. When Jamie was a few weeks old, I came out of her room and burst into tears in front of a bewildered Jeff. “Some books say to let her cry, and some say to pick her up right away and comfort her! They disagree! Who do I listen to?!” I wanted, of course, for one omniscient source to just tell me what to do.
Before I continue, I must tell you that unlike probably every other woman on the planet, I actually want my husband to offer solutions to my problems, rather than just offer a sympathetic ear. (What’s so terrible about a man who helps fix your problems? But I digress…)
Jeff held me while I calmed down, then gave some advice that has served me well many times since. He said something like, “You’re listening to too many voices. Pick one of the books to keep as a reference, then just listen to your intuition. You’re already a good mom…”
I ran into this again decades later during Joe’s cancer journey. Of course there is a plethora of conflicting “information” and advice on the internet. I probably read too much and stressed myself out trying to wade through it all. But when real-life medical professionals give different advice, who do you listen to? The one with the most education? The one with the most experience in the field that pertains to you? The one who seems to care the most?
I came across a lone sentence in Joe’s journal the other day:
“If it weren’t about real-time decisions based on limited information, it wouldn’t be a story”.
I’m not sure whether he was quoting someone or it was an original thought. I also don’t know whether he was actually referring to a story (he was a budding writer and was working on a novel) or life in general, but I will apply it to the latter: Isn’t that pretty much the way life works? We make our plans, but we have no idea how things will turn out. We live our story… making decisions based on what we know. We don’t have the benefit of hindsight while we’re in the thick of it.
I sometimes wonder if I should have made different decisions regarding Joe’s care. But Joe’s journal sentence gives me grace. I did the best I could at the time with the information I had available. And that has become part of our story.
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 4:6-7