I am either a very slow learner or very stubborn. I'm not sure which is preferable. I woke up this morning with that ever so familiar gnaw of indecisiveness. The very thing I wrote about yesterday. So, I prayed. I loosely settled on a 'plan for the day.' The monkey wrench came, as is not uncommon. Indecisiveness returned.
You know, I have this character defect of being much attached to what I want. I tend toward inflexibility. This is bad enough in itself. It leads to stress and seeds of selfishness being sown, rather than seeds of love and service. It's compounded by the fact that I don't actually know what I want. I just seem to want something else a lot. Something other than what's presented me. This is a problem.
I was sort-of ruminating on this this morning and I realized that of course, this all goes deeper, as character defects often do. Often these flaws sprouted in childhood in self-defense and we have fed them for so long that they can not be easily extracted. And I'm an over-analyzer. I like to know cause. Which can be tricky. See, I think if I know the why, then I can deal with the what. But really, I can't deal with the what at all. Awareness and knowledge are necessary and should be sought after but the only way to actually shed any troublesome character defect is to pray it away. Sometimes God is more than happy to oblige. Other times, He lets us struggle so in our weakness He can be made strong.
And sometimes analyzing can be a tool we use to postpone giving something over. At least, in my case. And then, sometimes, analyzing leads to realizations that aren't exactly settling. This was the case this morning. I realized that my indecisiveness over the small things is a cover-up for the big things.
There is unrest in my soul because I am living my life in a way that is incongruous with how I desire to live my life. How I know I am called to live. And so it manifests in unease with small decisions. I am avoiding big change so resisting small change. Oooh, how painful it is to write this. But I feel that if I don't acknowledge to myself the truth, I will stay stuck in the wavering. Which is an unpleasant way to live. So, I have to give all of myself over. I have to allow God to lead my life in the weighty matters as well as the seemingly inconsequential ones. Only then, will I have peace.
"...sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand."
Already wondering what I was thinking when I wrote a couple days ago. Why, again, did I want to return here?
So often I'm prompted toward what doesn't make sense. Or, probably, more correctly worded, I'm prompted toward what goes against my flesh.
I was praying yesterday, lying on the floor of my room, and in need of answer. I wasn't feeling desperate or sad. More like anxious and slightly irritated. I felt indecisive and feeling that way makes me grouchy. It's all a time issue.
The setup now is that my kids go with their dad, one to two days a week. At first I hated it. Now I love and hate it. In the beginning, I just felt lost without them and sort of wandered around the house in not quite knowing what to do with myself. As time went on, I began to look forward to these breaks, anticipating my 'alone time'. My 'me time'. But I've found lately, that these days arrive and I want to squeeze everything into a twenty-four or forty-eight hour period. I want to write, do schoolwork, clean, paint, shop, catch a meeting. But the bottom line is, that usually I can't do all that. So then I feel stuck on the prioritizing. What do I want to do? What do I want to do most? This has become a pattern for me. And I find that I've become resentful when asked to do anything I don't want to do on these days. I've become selfish with my time. This time where I end up not really accomplishing much of anything because I'm so busy debating on what the best way to spend my time is and I get angry if something pops up that isn't in line with the plan I haven't created yet. It's ridiculous, really.
So, yesterday, that's the place I was in.... and I realized I'm sick of it. So I prayed. I asked for direction. And I do pray every morning that God would direct my thinking. But the goofy thing is, I rush through the prayer so I can get on with my day, thereby, negating the entire purpose of the morning prayer.
So I'm laying there, and God shows me that I'm going about it all wrong. I'm stuck because I'm trying to figure things out. I'm trying to get the most for me. What do I want to do with my time? Well, it's not my time. That's what God told me. It's His time. So, maybe, that's a basic understanding for most but it came as a revelation to me. I hadn't looked at it like that before. I had tried other 'tricks': gratitude, being in the moment, attempting to not rush. But honestly, these things weren't working real well.
So, realizing that my time- my time with or without the kids, really belongs to God, seemed like a relief. Surprisingly, I didn't feel the need to fight against that idea. It didn't feel like God was snatching something from me and had plans to fill my time up with selfless acts of service. Rather, it felt like a responsibility was lifted. If it's God's time and not mine, all I have to do is obey His leading. That removes the pressure of figuring out my every moment and then worrying about if I've chosen the most 'fruitful thing'.
So, I agreed. With God. With relief. And I'm here. Because it seemed, this morning, as if this was a good place to start.
And you know, a lot of things are being 'taken' from me right now. In a spiritual sense. And that's okay. In fact, it's actually, pretty good.
I haven't written in seven months. I feel a little rusty. I had pretty much come to terms with the idea that I would no longer blog here. Much has changed and I struggled with finding a place I wanted to share from. Originally, when I began writing here, I was married. I was homeschooling. I was living in Iowa. I was desperately seeking a closer relationship with God out of the depths of loneliness and a need for meaning. In so many ways, I found that intimacy through this process. I found that as I shared here, God met me and touched me and perhaps, used me on some slight level but ultimately, used this place and the writing that occured here to draw me into Him.
Life happened, as it does to us all and everything I thought I knew was suddenly challenged. I moved home to Arizona and my marriage began to deteriorate. Not wanting to share the details of that horror (nor would I have been able to had I wanted to) I wrote less and less. I had nothing uplifting to say and no hope to transmit. The pain, too, was so personal, that words would not come. At least not in this form. I did write poetry. I returned to that form and there was a different sort of healing in it. I could write the truth but with more vagueness. I could touch on what I was feeling in the mystery and symbolism of stanzas and I was freed from the need for the sort of raw honesty this blog required. This blog required that truthfulness from me because as I wrote here, I felt compelled, more and more, to share openly. I had realized early in my writing here, that transparency would be the only way I,myself, would receive and was the only hope I could bestow. When that openness no longer seemed an option, I trailed off. I missed this place but began to look back at it as a season, rather than somewhere I had been permanently called.
And yet, I am here today. And I don't know what that means. I am not sure if God wants to use this place again as a means to reach me or if I am just feeling a little extra wordy. All I know is that today, I feel story brewing in me, in my life, that perhaps, could be processed here; could be shared here.
I won't waste time on backstory. I am no longer married. I have returned to homeschooling after one year off and I am still in Arizona. I am still and will always be seeking that deeper walk and that, I think, is why I have returned to this place. Something is stirring in my soul. Many things are beginning to shift and while many are still too new to share, I do feel prompted for some reason to process through these changes here. To write about the joys and fears and ups and downs of this crazy walk with God. I have found Him here before and I believe He has more to reveal, so I have returned.
Once upon a time I applied to grad school. Like, once upon a time, two weeks ago. To one grad school. My top choice grad school. So, I sent my application out, sat back and
waited patiently. For two weeks. Then
(and only then) I got a wild hair to Google, “Chances of getting into an MFA
Creative Writing program.” Basically,
the news was that, had I applied to Harvard medical school or Harvard Law, I
would have stood a better chance.
That awkward moment when you realize you've been painfully naive. Why or how I did not quite understand the low probability of acceptance, I don't know. How did I not know this when three years ago I chose English Lit as my major - the end goal in mind, grad school.
I have no Plan B. Thus far, in my life, I've found nothing I want to do other than write. And yes, I can write without a Master's, but I can't teach without one. And I suppose that teaching was really already my Plan B. Plan A, originally being, to study what excited me for as long as possible while honing my craft.
The bigger point in all of this , the reason I'm writing about it, really doesn't have much to do with the somewhat horrifying notion that I better come up with a backup plan for life. No, the thing, triggered is the "God thing". The God thing that has tormented my mind for life.
Praying last night only for His will, I found myself in Eeyore -esque fashion bemoaning that, "It's alright. God probably doesn't want me in grad school." Can you hear the long, slow, pitiful tone here? "He has it reserved for someone else. It's okay."
Then another voice of every prosperity preacher I've ever had the misfortune of listening to, melded into one, starts yelling at me like a gym teacher, "God wants you to be expectant! That's what pleases Him most! Name it! Claim it! Let's go! " I'm panting and that voice is shaking its head, warning that if I don't get in, it's just proof of my lack of faith. Then, there sits God, arms crossed, waiting. Waiting for my faith to pronounce itself. He's surveying all applicants and those with the most faith win. That's one version. Another is where the one with the most virtue wins. Or whoever prays the most. Take your pick.
With me, it always comes back to this fear - that there's a popularity contest with God, and I'm at the bottom of his favorites list. He sits judge of a pageant and we parade in with talents and testaments of purity. First place takes the prize. Yep, God's gonna give whatever I want to someone more deserving. And furthermore, shame on me for even wanting anything.
I immediately run down the procession of unanswered prayers in my life. A few, I can see now, were for my good , but several still hang in the balance of all enigma, placed in a category labeled, "You'll find out when you get to Heaven - Dont Waste Your Sorrows:!"
I'm well aware my theological understandings are just a little messed up. So, I start chanting the Serenity Prayer and remind myself not that He will give me the desires of my heart but that all things work together for those who love Him. Then I worry I don't love Him enough. I stifle that thought and concentrate on the 'work together' part and begin sharpening my trusting skills. I make mental note that one purpose in all of this might be the awareness I'm experiencing on this "God thing" that I had though I had grown away from.
I joke with myself that my naivete actually substantiates the fact of my childlike faith...and that has to increase my points. Returning to a less serious view of myself, I tell myself, Well, this will just be my practice run.
I turn the radio way up when Alanis Morissette's Hand in my Pocket plays and I choose to believe that. That right there is God speaking to me. That's the God I get. The God I love. The one who says to me, "...everything's going to be fine, fine, fine, 'cause I've got one hand in my pocket and the other one is giving a high five..."
Bought by the blood, kept by the power, art an adoration and
yet- I worship self and I make a terrible god.
Why is it so hard to be obedient, remain in the state in which
called? Wise in my own eyes, I fall, and
then by precious grace, the fight is won; adorned again in words not my own, pruned
to bloom, I count it joy to lose that I may serve the work.
I want to write about it but I don't. And I wonder if a lot of people are feeling that way. There are words - but not enough and maybe, not the right ones. I want to hope but I struggle.
Maybe, it's just pen to paper, heart to heart that heals. Maybe, it's voice. It's listening. Sharing. Cleaving.
I could be wrong but it seems I've seen much more faith based commentary, postings, stories, this time around - how sad to have to say, 'this time around' - and I think it's because they were children- babies, really. Tiny.
My kids were with their dad this weekend and when the two little ones came home, I hugged them both, hard and looked at them. I looked long at my five year old. My kindergartner. At how small she is. I think of how she wouldn't have been able to grasp, really, the evil. Honestly, I can see that she would fear, but confusion, too, would have clouded. Looking at her, I pray that it was quick and that they didn't have time to process. The cruelty or the pain. And I have to believe that God somehow miraculously overrode the darkness in those moments. And that's what I'm seeing out there in the conversation we do and don't want to end - a new hope-filled discussion on God's presence and the afterlife. Because when it's babies, we need a heaven. I have to believe this because otherwise, it's too much. It is too much right now for those families.
When Verity touched my face this morning with her little hand, just that size for a short time longer, the tears came for those who won't feel or hold the little hand of their child, won't experience that child's remarkable child-like forgiveness and glee. How will they celebrate Christmas? How? How do they tell the kids left, anymore, that the good guys always win? The siblings. The twin. How do the nightmares go away? And the missing? I have no idea.
We are best when we are loving children. I think our parent sides are the best sides of us. And when we can't protect our children ....when the President spoke these words, and told us we all needed to help, my cynicism wanted to sneer, no, I'm not trusting the village anymore because one person gets it wrong and this what you have. But then the stories are there of those beautiful teachers who are martyrs and I know that children can bring out in us what is of God. God is a father. And a mother. And I have to trust somehow that in the majority of us is that God given light. And that it has more power than the darkness in one.
Could we be a multitude of light? Are we sick yet of the dark?
This Christmas, let's bring back the light of the world.
I haven't been here in far too long. It feels weird. This place, once so needed, now avoided. Because I can't come to terms with what to say or how to say it, here, the same way, anymore.
And yes, it's true. Writing is as fluid as life. But what once was, here, in this place is so far gone, so lost from me that I can't quite discern anymore what I ought to shed here.
It's been poetry, lately, for me. Before that, a whole lot of nothing. Because when the pain comes, though the words should as well, often they just don't. And truly, I haven't been in pain this last couple of months. More a state of numbness, retreat.
It's been a year. A year since it all turned upside down. And I'm sick of not knowing what to say. Sick of trying to analyze the grieving process. Sick of a lot of things. I am powerless and my life has become unmanageable Or so it feels. I'm in this place where I want to run away, elude, shut down. Because I've ended up somewhere I didn't plan on being. I didn't plan on being divorced. Or sending my kids to school. Or being so busy I can't catch my breath. I didn't plan on finding my mind reverting to a state of immaturity formed from fear of the future. The phone rings and I cringe. Emails come across and I groan. I want people to go away and leave me alone. I want my old life back. That's just where I'm at right now.
So, I'm having to take a hard look at exactly where I am and how I got here. Ask myself how long I can sit in this without doing something about it. How long my relationship with God can remain stale. Because I'm dry and I'm feeling the thirst. I'm starting to wilt.
Today, I'm extra irritable. I want space. And then I get it and don't know quite what to do with it. Do I write here? Do I work, write a paper for school, cross off any number of pressing items on the never ending to do list. I want to throw the list away and start from scratch. I want my kids back. I want my honesty back. I want to voice my confusion like I used to. I want to purge all I've been repressing. I want all of this more than I want to know what the future holds. Because I've been hating where I'm at and unsure of how to get to where I'm supposed to be. I've just known that I can't live like this anymore. I'm weighted down with far too much, that' I've brought upon myself I need boundaries and plans. I need to remove certain people and activities from my life. I need boldness of spirit and confidence to say what I mean and mean what I say. I need to get control of my life back. I've given my power away somewhere recently and as a result, I'm drowning in the consequences of that decision.
Will I keep coming here? I don't know. Will I keep the kids in school? I don't know. Will I continue to crowd my mind with useless thoughts of tomorrow or will I find it in me to do the next right thing each day that comes my way. That I can say I will work on. I'm admitting that my life is unmanageable. And that something's got to give.