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?
I realized this morning that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to church, and it makes me very sad. I want to be wrong, but the anxiety has gotten worse since that day a few weeks ago when I realized that something very personal had been shared without my permission.
There’s nothing I can do to change it. And, in reality, it’s my fault for being stupid and sharing…for being stupid and believing the words “nothing you can share will change anything” and “I’m not going anywhere.”
I knew better than to talk. I knew better.
Just when I felt a corner had been turned, I found myself inconsolable, overwrought with grief. Not just over past memories and hurts, but also over recent ones, events and slaps that still sting strongly. A broken foot has left me immobile and basically trapped with my thoughts and the realities I generally work so hard to avoid.
At times, I feel like that child stuck in an adult world back then, surrounded by darkness and drowning in pain and terror with no hope of escape. For the past two months I’ve been treading some deep waters of facing memories and events and lies with the objectivity and light of today. There’s no more romance or nostalgia left for those days, only bleak reality and shame for what happened then, and how it impacts now whether I choose to acknowledge it or not.
And I know better than to talk about it. I know better.
Grief is a cruel thing. Tomorrow marks an anniversary that brings me both relief and stark fear, and there’s no one I can whisper either to anymore. There was a moment earlier today when thinking about it all that the losses, the cumulative losses of the past two and a half years, seem incalculable…and it feels large and bottomless.
I realized (and stupidly email a friend about it) earlier this week that I (1) do not understand love; and (2) am afraid of love because it is inextricably tied to pain and/or loss. I already know on some level that what I just stated is not true, but it’s not quite as simple as it sounds in that statement. Love and pain, love and loss are not the mirror images. I need to detangle those misperceptions despite the evidence I can bring to the table.
There’s much uncertainty in my life these days, and has been for the past several months. Couple uncertainty with loss and my world can get very dark very fast, and I can feel the pull back into the comfort of old habits, even if they’re bad ones.
But I also know I cannot go back there into that temporary shelter, no matter how tempting.
We both miss Luke. And Lucy.
The house is quieter, emptier without them. Luke’s presence especially was large and not just because of his size.
We’re adjusting slowly. Some mornings when I go outside to give some love before heading off for work she goes as far away from me as possible and refuses to come. Other mornings she sticks her paw under the gate and whimpers.
The past week and the first few days of the coming one are the busiest of the year for me work-wise. I feel badly that I’ve been gone so much even though I snuck home several times to check on her.
It’s hard to be alone.
He snuggled up and I stroked his head and told him he would be playing with his brother and Lucy again soon. My Luke died today with his head in my lap after having a stroke. It was quiet and he did not seem to be in any discomfort in those final moments. He would have been 9 in October. He was big (one of my friends kids called him a giant dog), but incredibly gentle. He was such a happy dog, a good protector, and a true companion and friend.
Life will be emptier and sadder without him.