I think I have to let go of what I’ve always wished for.
Isn’t Advent a season of waiting?
Waiting is hard. I’m not good at it. During the course of waiting, things that are unspoken surface: dreams, desperations, memories that I thought had long ago faded somehow come and and out of focus in differing intensities.
Waiting is the middle of the journey and I suspect it looks a bit differently for each individual. Some may be asked to trust God to do something new. Maybe it’s staying the course when everyone around seems to be moving on. Maybe it’s time to leave where we’ve always been. I would hazard a guess that we are all in the process of waiting for something or someone because we’re all traveling a journey of faith to get home.
I realized earlier that it’s possible this Advent season involves letting go of what I’ve always wished for and involves waiting for God to meet me in my grief.
Here’s one of the statements that stuck with me from a reading: I am come to find you wherever you may be. I will look for you till the eyes of My pity see you. I will follow you till the hands of My mercy reach you, and I will still hold you till I bring you back to Myself, and reconcile you to My heart. (Charles Spurgeon ,1861)
Maybe it’s time to allow myself to say goodbye to what has never been, to what is lost, even if it was just in my mind. What I couldn’t do before: to let go of the home I wished I had, the family I wished for, the life I thought I would have. I’m never going to have a family and maybe that’s okay. Maybe it is okay to grieve what was then and what will never be and believe that God will be there in both, as well as here now. Not be consumed with the longing and the grief and yet not avoid them either.
Maybe in the saying goodbye, in the letting go, true peace can be found.
I really don’t like the holidays. Fraught with memories I’d rather forget, and missing more acutely those who gone. But I’m trying. I put up a tree and even threw some decorations on it (pictures maybe another time). I wrapped presents and put them under the tree. The nativity rests carefully on the coffee table as a reminder of what’s important, what the holiday really represents.
I feel like a fraud though looking at all of it because I know the truth about my own condition:
I don’t feel much hope these days. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I’m tired of being alone. I’m broken, perhaps even unfixable.
And when I think of my friends suffering with horrible diseases and struggling with their own brands of brokenness and heartache I sink deeper. What’s the point of it all?
While we’re entering the most wonderful time of the year for most people, we’re entering the darkest, hardest part of it for me, and no doubt countless others who suffer through the holidays hoping to survive them somewhat intact.
For me, it’s not just the physical darkness that makes it so bleak, it’s the memories full of pain and horrific actions, and death and frozen ground, and grief, what seems at times to be never ending grief.
I hate it and I hate me for being this way even more so this time of year.
No matter how I pretend, no matter how much I play the game trying to fit in and feel something different, it doesn’t change the facts.
Christmas music round the clock and twinkling lights don’t help. Increased pressure to socialize and “be happy” make it worse. Broken relationships hurt more. The stark reality of being alone presses in.
It’s been exactly a month since the person I had first felt safe with told me to “forget all the crap and get over it.” And in the same conversation told me that my perceptions were wrong, my feelings were wrong, and what I was thinking was wrong. What that person pronounced as a “start” as the conversation wrapped up, I viewed as an “end.”
I felt like a freak. Attacked. Devastated. And the after-effects have only served to reinforce how deficient and unworthy I am.
The exact same day, a six week old puppy came into my home, full of life and adventure. And I am thankful for both pups who love unconditionally and make me laugh, who cuddle when I cry and snuggle when the bad dreams come.
Most days it’s a struggle to breath. And I don’t know what to do about it anymore.
One of my favorite reads this year is Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I’ve actually made several of the recipes contained within, but it’s been her words, and her honesty with her struggles that have really fed me.
In our lowest, most fragmented moments, we feel out of control—controlled, in fact, by expectations and to-do lists and commitments and traditions. It’s that time of year, we shrug, when things get a little crazy. No avoiding it.
But that’s not true. And that’s shifting the blame. We have, each one of us, been entrusted with one life, made up of days and hours and minutes. We’re spending them according to our values, whether or not we admit it.
When things are too crazy, the only voices I hear are the voices of fear and shame. I stop being able to hear the voice of God, the voice of rest, the voice of hope and healing and restoration, the voice that gives new life to dry old bones. And instead a I hear that old song I’ve hear all my life: You’re not good enough. You’re not good enough.
But that voice is a lie. And it’s a terrible guide. When I listen to it, I burn the candle at both ends and try to light the middle while I’m at it. The voice of God invites us to full, whole living—to rest , to abundance, to enough. To say no. To say no more. To say I’m going to choose to live wholly and completely in the present, even though this ragged, run-down person I am right now is so far from perfect.
Let’s be courageous in these days. Let’s choose love and rest and grace. Let’s use our minutes and hours
To create memories with the people we love instead of dragging them on one more errand or shushing them while we accomplish one more seemingly necessary thing. Let’s honor the story—the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth, with each choice that we make.
My prayer is that we’ll find ourselves drawn closer and closer to the heart of the story, the beautiful beating heart of it all, that the chaos around us and within us will recede, and the most important things will be clear and lovely at every turn. I pray that we’ll understand the transforming power that lies in saying no, because it’s an act of faith, a tangible demonstration of the belief that you are so much more than what you do. I pray that we’ll live with intention, hope, and love in this wild season and in every season, and that the God who loves us will bring new life to our worn-out hearts this year and every year, that we’ll live, truly and deeply, in the present, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting for perfect. (169-170)
I can get through the next two months, right?
1 a: to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use b: to refuse to hear, receive, or admit : rebuff, repel
2 obsolete : to cast off
3: throw back, repulse
It’s been a tough few days. I’m exhausted and cranky. I stupidly shared something very deep earlier today, foolishly letting someone get a glimpse of the rejection I’ve felt both in the distant past and recently and how devastated both made me feel.
I need to stop lying to myself and telling myself it’s going to get better.
Ahhh September, I’m so happy to greet you and the dryer, cooler weather you will start teasing me with in the coming weeks. I’m thoroughly tired of this monsoon season.
I’m afraid of storms, and there have been plenty of them this year.
The past few weeks have been difficult for me, and breaking my foot ten days ago hasn’t helped. I feel trapped at the house (it’s my driving foot) and more alone than ever.
For most of my life, I have written schedules and kept multiple calendars and had daily to do lists as a measure for whether or not I was doing a good job or not. As a child and teenager, it was a way to bring some semblance of control to a chaotic, uncertain life. It turned into something much more as time went by.
I threw them away earlier this year and decided my worth should not be based on whether or not I completed a to-do list or did everything on the schedule well.
Getting rid of them felt good initially. But in moments of angst and uncertainty I crave them, because even if they pointed to me as a failure, they were comfortable and known.
I’ve learned that while I don’t need them, I do need a routine and constants in my life. I need the same breakfast every morning. I need a consistent morning rhythm, especially before work, and I need an equally consistent one after the work day has ended. Not as a measure of anything, but more as a guide to ensure that my anxiety doesn’t go off the charts.being overly alarming and unmanageable.
Even at the office there’s a rhythm to the day that is both familiar and comforting. It varies some from day to day, and even from season to season, but there’s a definite ebb and flow that allows for unexpected opportunities without
I haven’t found that in my home life (yet). There have been too many changes, too much uncertainty for those constants to be made known in the new way they will be. But they will. I’ve already discovered some of the “constants” in relationship: I’m learning who I can depend on in both the lovely and the ugly moments of life.
I just wish it were a little less painful.
Sticks and Stones” is an English language children’s rhyme. It persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured. It is reported to have appeared in The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where it is presented as an “old adage” in this form:
Sticks and stones will break my bones
But words will never harm me.
It’s a total lie of course. Words harm. Worse, the lingering effects of harmful words hurt and haunt.
The past several weeks have been remarkable uncomfortable, even painful.
I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. I saw my doctor this morning and he presented me with a real, viable, pragmatic process which would allow me to breathe out a sigh of relief and provide a respite from the battle within. The more I think about it, though, I realize that taking it would put me back where I started nearly three years ago. I would relegate that part of me I’m just getting to know back down into the dark recesses of myself, where it would be a changeling left to fend for itself…and inevitably because there would be no long-term resolution or satisfaction, the cycle would go on.
It’s a frightening thing to feel something within grow. After years of being, in essence, dead inside, finding a heart that feels and hurts and yearns, there is profound knowledge that there is something more than the abuse, something more than the words or the fists or the instrument of choice hurled.
My life is more than an account about unspeakable acts inflicted on a child or an acutely sick family in chaos or the death of innocents and innocence, but about hurt—both intentional and non-intentional, physical and emotional—how all involved are affected and in the line of fire, and how we get scorched on the sidelines, collateral damage. It’s also about hope, about how hope and grace can permeate the deadness of a heart and nurse it back to life, through the hurt, into that something more.
But still there has to be balance somewhere. It seems just outside of my reach these days.
Once upon a time, I wrote schedules and kept multiple calendars and had daily to do lists as a measure for whether or not I was doing a good job or not.
I threw them away earlier this year and decided my worth should not be based on whether or not I completed a to-do list or did everything on the schedule well. It felt good initially. But in moments of angst and uncertainty I craved them, because even if they pointed to me as a failure, they were comfortable and known.
I’ve learned that while I don’t need the prescriptive methods designed to provide a false sense of control, I do need a routine and constants in my life. I need the same breakfast every morning. I need a consistent morning rhythm, especially before work, and I need an equally consistent one after the work day has ended. Not as a measure of anything, but more as a guide to ensure that my anxiety doesn’t go off the charts…a balance of sorts.
Even at the office there’s a rhythm to the day that is both familiar and comforting. It varies some from day to day, and even from season to season, but there’s a definite ebb and flow that allows for unexpected opportunities without being overly alarming and unmanageable.
I haven’t found that in my home life (yet). There have been too many changes, too much uncertainty for those constants to be made known in the new way they will be, or at least I hope they will evolve and develop. Soon.
And then maybe the old scripts, the hurtful voices and words, will finally fade away.