Over the last couple of years, our family has completely loved watching Survivor together.  We record it and wait until we are all together and then we cuddle up to press play.

One of the main components of the show is making fire.  It is a necessity for all things – keeping warm, cooking food, light at night. However, to make fire they must start with nothing but a piece of flint and a machete.

This skill is crazy important to learn because if you make it to the final four, two of you must face off in a fire-making challenge to see who moves on into the final three.  In season 39, I watched as one guy taught the remaining two contestants  how to make fire.

First, you use the machete to hit the flint hoping to cause a spark…if you are so lucky as to make one, it will hopefully light the beginnings of a small tiny fire that you must work to keep going.  The conundrum is that the next step is to blow on it. This seems like it would be completely opposite of what you should do to keep a flame alive…to keep it from dying out.

But flames need oxygen to light…maybe a bit of wind.  So the contestants blow on the small flame to help keep it alive and grow the fire bigger.


The very thing that you would think would EXTINGUISH the flame, the fire,  actually gives it life, makes it stronger.

The winner must achieve a flame big enough to burn through and break a piece of string.  

I feel a bit of a mess today.  I have been divorced for just over 7 years now and all is good with that.  I no longer hold onto that relationship and what could have been. But I have a daughter with my first husband and therefore, the relationship must continue and be navigated.  It is not easy.

Without divulging too much out of respect for my Summer, it is a challenge…often daily. I have been to many counsellors to figure out how to take each step.  They have advised me on how to proceed in a way that protects Summer, who is the most important in this situation. But just this morning, I was reading something that brought me to tears. 

I struggle with guilt over my handling of it all…am I making the right moves? Is this in Summer’s best interest? I never ever want her to grow up and throw accusations at me for how I handled the whole thing.  I’m terrified of that.

And this morning I couldn’t avoid the barrage of questions:

Why me? Why was I given this task to deal with? What am I doing? I have no idea? Why am I given this responsibility?
I shouldn’t be the one! It should be someone else’s fire!

These questions also seep into other areas of my life. 

I remember the first time that Avery referred to me as her stepmom.  I’m 3 years into that role and, shockingly, I still haven’t perfected it yet.  I feel overwhelmed at times, I snap, I don’t love as unconditionally as I should…selfishly, it is hard to be the 3rd parent…3rd on the imaginary totem pole.  Sounds terrible.

Sometimes I want to fiercely hold my arms tight around my Summer and I can get bitter when one of the others tries to pry open my arms so they can get in the embrace of my life.  But how good and fun does a group hug feel??? Why block that out?

Also, as someone who struggles with depression, the battle rages right now.  There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” (2 Cor. 12:8)  How often since my late teens have I pleaded this same request? To be removed from the pit…from the downward spiral.

Oh to not ever have to feel emptiness, purposeless, hopeless, helpless.  What a life that would be.

To not feel like you want to take a knife from the kitchen and slowly scratch at your wrists, deeper and deeper. To never feel like you want to drive away and not come home.  To not have your mind wander to the best way to quietly exit from this world.  

These are some of my battles. 

But how different would my life be if my life hadn’t had these fires like this?  If these hadn’t been a part of me?

I see my current marriage as a thousand times more beautiful because of how ugly my first was. 

My Summer and I have a crazy bond because we had to only have each other for so many years. And even as odd as it sounds, how amazing to see the likeness of her and her biological father in her face expressions…to feel like you are looking into his face. 

How amazing to have Ted choose to be with me for life, to want to come home early because he misses me, to wear his ring daily…things my first marriage was void of. But I would have taken it for granted if I hadn’t had the first.

My first husband would send me away for any special occasion – solo spa trips.  I was aching for him to want to be with me, but off he would ship me. Now I have a husband who can’t get enough of me…how good that feels!!!!!!! 

And when I come home every day, I have 4 kids to hug and kiss.  It used to be just Summer to greet me and that was sweet as pie.  But now I have FOUR pies…and I love pie. Tucking them into bed takes longer because now there are four ‘good night’ rituals. What a beautiful pain in the butt!

Mornings are more rushed and louder because there are 6 of us getting ready…no longer 2.  Grocery bills are bigger because there are 3 extra kids to feed…maybe even their friends. Fighting over the remote and what we watch on tv has escalated because I’m no longer alone just living for me. I get to live for 5 other people.

What a blessing all of these annoyances are!

And depression…what a strange gift.  In an odd way, it feels good to feel. Maybe you feel sadness stronger, but you also feel happiness and joy stronger too.  And I wouldn’t know the beauty of joy if I didn’t know the pain of such strong sadness.  And honestly, my sadness makes me be more creative…and I love that.

I was crying before I typed this, but do you know what has made me feel lighter?  Writing that paragraph above about the kids. My depression makes me speak my prayers more honestly and candidly…it makes me run to God, not away from him. 

How much would I ignore God if I didn’t have something that drove me to him?

So while all of these appear to be contradictory or defeating the purpose, they are like blowing on a small flame which is what makes that fire grow.  

The very things I think would extinguish the flame of joy in my life, the fire, 

actually give it life and grow the fire bigger. 

I hope I open my flame up to the wind…pull up a chair, soak up the warmth, roast a marshmallow or two.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *