Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wrestling with the Heart

My heart is in a troubled place, torn between freedom and captivity, between the past and the future, between God and the world. It’s an interesting place to try and process.

When, as a little girl, I dreamed of all the things I might do when I grew up, of all that I might be. Compared with the fantasies of others, it was highly realistic. I didn’t dream of going to the moon or being the president or walking on water. No, I wanted to go to college, graduate, land a successful job, find a husband, and have a family. It’s just that simple. But I might as well have dreamed about being an astronaut.

Life saw things differently for me. A lot of people make good, strong friendships throughout their years, growing up in a wonderful network of fellowship. That was not possible for me, not given my situation. So I find myself now, at age 24, with many acquaintances, but few friends. Actually, there is no one that I “hang out” with. And in pain, self-protection, and anger – that never used to bother me. But as I find my freedom, it is kind of a hard pill to swallow.

Here I am, 15 months after graduating college with an impressive academic record, and I find myself unemployed and alone. It is a life I am highly unsatisfied with, frustrated to the point of tears. I cry often over shattered dreams, of things that have not worked out as I would have liked.

Yet, as disappointed as I am over shattered dreams, I am also cognizant of the fact that God is still doing wonderful things in my life. I can’t imagine another path for myself. If life had not gone precisely the way it has, I would not know the pain of healing that I now deal with everyday. It’s a beautiful feeling. It’s like peeling the scab off a wound and exposing it to fresh air – it stings, but it also feels surprisingly good, freeing.

My freedom grows more concrete every day. I am able to think about things in a whole new way, to consider more possibilities and really open myself up to whatever it is God is (slowly) unfolding in my life. Sometimes, it even seems clear that He is purposely withholding a job so that I can focus on telling my story, on the healing process He’s begun within me and wants so badly to finish, now that I will let Him.

Physically, freedom reigns, too. Mom has a new boyfriend, and they spend quite a lot of time together, which leaves me home alone to “nest.” That’s what I call it, anyway, and it’s something I haven’t ever done and didn’t notice I was doing until I’d already done it. I’ve never had a place called home, but the more time I find myself alone in this place, I wonder, “Why can’t I make it more comfortable for me? Why can’t I make it conducive to living here and growing here?” So I change little things around the house, clean up here and there, and really just have a whole different vibe in my body when I walk around this place and think of it as my HOME. (And, I like the alone time to spread my wings a little and just experiment with the great things inside of me that God is revealing, one by one. Though, I am not condoning alone time. I’d still like some friends.)

But what I am also finding is that if you want something, go out and get it. There shouldn’t be anything stopping you when what you want is good and holy. I didn’t feel very well today, struggling with something I am not quite ready to reveal. But there was in my heart some things that I wanted to get accomplished, so I did them. When you’re in the house long enough, you start to get afraid of outside. As a kid, bugs and dirt did not bother me, but now, the thought of one gnat keeps me inside sometimes. It’s that strong of a hold when you lock yourself away. But I needed to take some photos, capture some images of sacred places before they are totally destroyed (as they are already destroyed a bit by urban development). So I loaded my big dog, Kiira, in the car, and we went hiking through the woods. For nearly half an hour. I wasn’t scared or grossed out, and I didn’t want to come home. And I didn’t feel sick in the woods like I have in this house for the past few days. Other stuff, I accomplished, too.

I’m waiting for God to move in my life. I want Him to move and bring about the glory that will come to Him through me. I want a job. I want a husband. I want a family. I want friends. And I’m willing to do whatever God requires to get that. I’ve even been thinking very seriously lately about moving. In my head, I narrowed it down to Oregon or South Carolina – places with good weather. But I also was told about a possible opportunity last week in Colorado. So you just never know.

I used to see myself staying here forever. Growing up and staying the same and just settling in for the familiar life. That seemed beautiful to me. It doesn’t any more. The only thing that seems beautiful is to get what God is giving, to take what He offers. And to embrace my freedom, gather my strength, and do more than just live another day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Heart and the Center of Peace

I need to get a couple of things off my heart, if that’s ok.

First, it seems to me that some people tend to get mired in the past. That’s ok, but it just doesn’t work for me. Because the problem is – they are not mired in their past, but in mine. Yes, for several years, I struggled with illness that limited me in many ways. But those days are mostly gone. With the right diagnosis and the right treatment, life has been slowly getting back to normal. And today’s reality is this: seldom does health prevent me any more from doing what I need or want to do. Sure, there are days when allergies get the best of me or fatigue sets in, but doesn’t EVERYONE have those days? I think they do. So you can understand why it pains me so much to miss out on something due to allergies or a simple case of bronchitis (which I’ve gotten twice a year almost my whole life) or something similar, piddly, and normal…only to have someone look at me and say, “Yeah, but you’re always sick.” Seriously? Have these people not been paying attention? I’m NOT always sick. I am always BLESSED. And it is ok for me to come down with a seasonal something and not have it marred by the past. It just seems the equivalent of you accidentally peeing your pants caught in a traffic jam (which could be normal, depending on who you are) and someone you knew in preschool happens to see you and declares, loudly and publicly, “Yeah, but you always pee your pants.” Maybe you haven’t since you were 3, but for some reason, that is all they will ever know or expect from you. And that’s tough. It’s really tough when people look at you, get stuck in your past, and never expect anything better. Because then, despite how much better you are, despite days upon days and months upon months of success, they will never notice that. They will wait for the next time you pee your pants, then use that as evidence to support their point.

Please, my friends, acknowledge the healing power of God in my life and do not hold me to my past.

Second, I want to talk a little bit about calm, relating to the kind of peace that I have found. The storms here yesterday were rather impressive. For while, I had a deep and profound fear of storms that I couldn’t quite place my finger on (and honestly? I’m still not too fond of lightning). As the storms rolled through yesterday, I began in peace. That is because God has removed from me the spirit of fear as of the past many months, and most of the time, I can grasp the peace that He offers in its place. But as time drug on, I found anxiety trying to settle in. And it suddenly struck me what was going on! The anxiety came from a lack of a calm center. All I could see was the storm, all I knew was the raging winds and hammering rain and constant thunder. So I felt myself being tossed about, as if exposed. When I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and realized that everything around me and in me stayed firmly planted, that the bed did not move, the desk did not move, the floor and the ceiling and the walls did not move…it was then that I realized no matter the storm outside, the inside stayed stable. It had peace and firmness. And then, I wasn’t afraid any more. That is what the peace of God does to a person. It gives her a firm, stable place where she knows that nothing is moving, nothing is changing, and no matter how things outside of that peace may be tossed around, nothing inside moves. God plants Himself firmly in the heart, and it is from here that peace and calmness generate.

Finally, I love my new self. Not mired in the past. Free from the heavy burdens that for so long, I have carried. Unafraid to try, even though success is never a guarantee, since the only failure is never to try. And yeah, I have had deep, deep sadness here lately, but it is probably not as you think. From my position of healing, I’ve undertaken the project of writing my story, preparing my autobiography. So many stories out there will tell you all the bad things that can happen, but I want to go deeper and include the healing, as well. People need to know that no matter how bad it is, there is healing out there and it is available to all. God is available to all. As I go through my past, putting words to pain, the sadness does come. For the first time, my heart responds honestly to my own story, which is SO cool. But the sadness does not come alone. It is not the same kind of sadness that draws people to hit rock bottom, for beneath my sadness, there are no rocks. It lays on a bed of hope, strength, peace, and healing. So it is really a dichotomy of feeling – the very low lows of the honest heart, but not without the wonderful gifts and blessings of God to even it out. I’m just allowing myself to feel all of those things and not be afraid. It’s really cool.

That’s what is on my heart this morning. Thank you for letting me share.