Deeper

 

Hope

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?

No matter how I pretend…

Obi Nov 14 2013While 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.

photo (28)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?

stop

Sept 24 CuddlesReject
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
(m-w.com)

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.

It’s not.

Pretend

During the holidays as a child my siblings and I generally played the “pretend” game…which means we lied to our peers and anyone else who asked about them. Talking about what happened at home was not allowed and doing so would result in unpleasant, and often painful, consequences if we were caught. So we made up stories of gifts and gatherings so it wouldn’t be so obvious what a mess we really were.

The reality of the holidays was they were a double whammy: no school for two weeks AND poor weather which meant being stuck inside.

I know now that my dad was at the lowest parts of his “cycle” from late November until mid-January and I know now that some of the resulted from his own miserable childhood. As a child, though, it was a lonely and fearful time of year. At least during the summer months it was warm outside and light later and so we could hide play in the row of hedge trees. That wasn’t a possibility in the frozen months of winter, no matter how much we bundled up.

Every afternoon when I get home from work (if I get home at my regular time) I sit outside in the sunshine, letting its warmth soothe away the day and remind me that it isn’t that way anymore, that the holidays don’t have to be time of fear and dread anymore.

So I put up a tree, simple, with unbreakable butterfly and dragonfly ornaments, with bells lining the bottom branches in order to warn me when a curious puppy (or 3) gets too close. I still found Luke nose to nose with Joseph under it this morning, and laughed, because he worked so hard to get there without touching a bell. I hung lights outside and even turn them on.

But it’s an effort to not just retreat and hide until it’s all over.

Wounds

I was supposed to write for 31 days in October at my other blog*. I made 24 days.  My focus was reflecting on selections from Vincent’s A Gospel Primer. 24 reflections, not 31.

Sometimes I feel like I’m enveloped in a mist where nothing is quite clear and where it’s almost impossible to find my way.

The flashbacks and subsequent aftereffects have been hard the past week.

My life seems full of change and transitions all of a sudden.

And my deadline looms.

So I stopped when completing the project seemed overwhelming in those moments, and I’m disappointed in myself for doing so. As difficult as the reflections were, they also helped clarify some things for me.

Then Monday I read something on a blog that made me catch my breath and see some hope:

“He wants to reach down into the dark, deep ‘fatherly’ wounds in your heart.”

  • Because I know how much I resist the idea of God as my Father.
  • Because I know how difficult it is to forgive.
  • Because I’m beginning to realize just how wounded my heart is.

I told someone this afternoon that I was stupid back then when I was little because I always wanted to believe it was true…that my dad loved me and just wanted to spend time with me…and ended up being betrayed and hurt every time. Not one time, but over and over. Stupid. He used the word gullible (because he tries very hard to steer me away from the word stupid).

In my rational, logical mind, I realize there’s no comparison between the two. In the dark of the night when the flashbacks and feelings threaten to choke me I doubt.

I push Him away.

My friend said that He’s holding me anyway, and has been, and that if I would just stop fighting and wriggling I would find rest.

I don’t know how to stop.

I wish it were as easy as it sounds.

There are moments of success…dark moments when using His word and rehearsing His gospel that He walks me through them without anything bad happening…moments when His words are louder in my head than my dad’s words.

But there are many more moments of failure…moments when I feel as though I’m suffocating with the weight of everything…moments when my dad’s voice screams “dirty, worthless, bad” relentlessly.

It’s risky to talk about these things. It wasn’t allowed “or else” for all those years. Worse, rejection could (and has) happened. It’s risky as well because in the dark of tonight there will be a battle over whether it was okay to talk or not.

But God already knows everything he did and how much it hurt and continues to hurt, and doesn’t seem to have thrown me out yet. I have to wonder though if He isn’t tired of me struggling and doubting and failing.

*email if you’re interested