They say that life has its seasons—and that everything can change in an instant. I despise change. When a sudden, painful event tried my strength and tested my faith earlier this year, I turned to my support network to find my way through the storm.
There is a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds, which was featured in the brilliant movie Forrest Gump. The song’s lyrics focus on how there are different seasons in our lives.
I despise change.
The Comfort of Stability
As I have grown older, I’ve become more set in my ways. At work, I park in the same spot every day. If someone parks where I want to, I get irritated. I sit in the same pew at church each week. My husband and I frequent the same few restaurants even though we live in Las Vegas, where restaurants are numerous.
I am a special-education teacher’s aide and have been for eleven years. For the past six years, I have had the pleasure of working with an exceptional teacher. She has been like a mom to me, providing constant support: on a daily basis in my work with the kids; during the launch of my memoir, Some Dreams Are Worth Keeping; while conquering my fear of public speaking; and at every point in between.
A Sudden Storm
In January of this year, my coworker went in for a medical procedure and had a stroke afterward. In an instant, our lives were changed. One day, we were laughing hysterically; the next, she was fighting for her life.
To be honest, I did not take the news well. I could not go into work the day after she had the stroke. I was in shock, and that came with deep pain and uncontrollable sobbing. I was unable to sleep, and I was unable to control my emotions.
When I returned to work, I walked into the room, feeling hopeless, lost, and lonely––as if my beloved coworker had died. But I also felt very grateful she had not. I cried and asked God why this had happened. I have always been a woman of strong Christian faith, and my faith was definitely being tested. How on Earth would I cope?
Finding Strength with Support
I knew I
needed my strong support system, which I am blessed to have in place. After my
coworker’s stroke, I ran to my first support––my husband. Honestly, he had no
idea what to say. Together, we prayed aloud for her recovery. He hugged me and
didn’t let go. I found strength in his loving embrace.
I also relied
on others in my network of supporters. I had over thirty people carrying me
through the storm. Current coworkers, a kind and caring principal, my close
friends, my parents, and a support group I co-lead at my church. I have never
had such a strong group of people in my entire life. It is a true blessing from
point on, I had to accept change—like it or not. Luckily, I had a long-term sub
I worked with. I enjoyed the experience and loved learning about her Muslim
Slowly Accepting a New Season
stroke, my coworker and I had planned on having three more years together before
we would go our separate ways. Apparently, God has other plans.
On the last
day of the school year, I packed up our classroom, with on-and-off tears,
having to let go of the past. She and I will never work in the same room again.
I was feeling empty and devastated.
principal popped into the room. She assured me that change can be good. Mind
you, I had tears coming down my cheeks. I listened, wanting to believe her.
Knowing she was speaking the truth.
lining on the dark cloud is that I know the next teacher I will be working with,
and I like her. She is much younger than me, and she still has her passion for
teaching. That can be hard to find these days.
school year will be a new season. Now I forever hold on to memories of my past,
and I look forward to this new season with optimism, knowing that God has a
beautiful plan for me.
Susan Johnson was diagnosed bipolar 1 in 1995. She graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in Sociology. She is the author of “Some Dreams Are Worth Keeping” A Memoir of My Bipolar Journey. She is an inspirational speaker. Her true passion in life is helping break the stigma of living with a mental illness and bring those living with one hope. She currently works with special education students as an Instructional Assistant for a school district in Nevada. She is proud to be a Christian. She enjoys hiking, baking, traveling, yoga, spending time with her Goddaughter and trips to Cancun. She makes her home in fabulous Las Vegas with her husband Gary and Siberian cat Angel-Ann. Visit her website.
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