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Coming Up for Air

The NSCO and I have been talking a lot lately about how to find Jesus in the middle of everything going on right now. I admit, it’s tough. It’s tough when you feel lost, abandoned, and betrayed. It’s tough when there are no answers and the questions pile on. It’s tough when the months pass and nothing seems to get any better.

So I say that Jesus and I have been fighting it out, but really it’s more about me weeping and yelling and wondering when the kids and me are going to be rescued. Where is our safety? Where is our solace? Will we ever have that again, or will it always hurt as much as it hurts now? I don’t know, and I don’t know that I’m going to get any answers.

NSCO and I talked about how I’ve walked with Jesus through deep darkness before, and that’s true. But then it was different. It was stuff from my childhood, and my strong anchor was the knowing that, no matter what,  I had survived. These days I have no such security. I don’t know that this isn’t going to kill me. I don’t know for sure that I’m going to make it through this bodily even, much less with my sanity intact. It is testing every bit of who I think I am and what I believe about life and God Himself. I’m failing every single day with letting my emotions take over, with my poor, precious children who deserve so much better, with trying to “live in the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Yesterday on the way to my midwife appointment (did I mention I’m 39 weeks pregnant?!), I was asking Jesus how to know I’ll live through this, or if there is even a way to know. And I heard, “It is finished.” In the heavenlies, this script is fully written and played out. I don’t have to write a word, make any plot line fit, or edit with my fat red pen. I’ve been asking where my rescue is, why I’ve waited so long for the redemption that I thought would come, but Jesus nudged, “To know that, you must first go back to Who I Am.” Indeed. I’ve hurt and wept and become mired in the pain and tragedy that is my life right now. And really, things are as bad as all that. I wish I were just being dramatic.

I spent the rest of my drive thinking about Who He is. He is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17), He is alive (2 Corinthians 6:16), He is waiting for me to come to Him, truly come to Him (Revelation 3:20). Did I think that He wasn’t still waiting for me even after I invited Him in seven years ago? Did I think He wasn’t still beckoning?

I don’t know where that leaves me at the end of the day. I do know that I need to travel back, far back, swim through the questions that I’d rather not peer too deeply into. Questions like, “How are You going to make beauty from this, here on Earth? And how will You show me that the Cross was enough, even for this?” At this point I don’t know the answers, but I’m finding the courage to ask the questions.

And that’s where we are. Soon, I’ll have another little princess to love on and imagine that I’ll have more solid direction for my life by the end of the calendar year. Until then, I just have to keep holding on.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

Ps 61:2-3

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Piecemeal

It seems that heartbreak isn’t what I thought it would be. I assumed that I’d one day buckle under the weight of something far too heavy for my fragile heart to handle, and I’d know, I’d simply know, that it was broken. Instead, it seems that heartbreak, at least of this variety, is piecemeal. One slow, agonizing realization after another comes, each wave breaking hard over me.

Failed marriage

Kids growing up in a broken home

My dreams set aside yet again to do what must be done

Loss of the life I’d planned for myself, my family

Moving out of my home

Doing work I hate to provide, because they’re worth providing for

Being so loathed and damaged by the one who promised to love and protect

 

And this is the work of grief.

Being separated for almost a month now has been insightful. I see there are things that I fight for that just aren’t worth it. Some things are just preferences and don’t need to be enforced because they’re the way I’ve always done them. But there are other things. Things like marital faithfulness. Things like not being blamed for every one of the other person’s failures. Things like paying bills before utilities are turned off. These are hills I’m willing to die on. The separation is distilling the problems, making them more focused, more clear.

Another aspect of being apart is the support I’ve received from people who love me and my kids. I won’t say this has been easy, especially given that I’m five months pregnant, but I’m surviving. Emotions shoved away for decades are surfacing, often at really inappropriate times. I’m trying to be gentle with myself, keep to myself for the most part, and process when I’m able.

It’s been a challenge to have some people know what’s going on and not feel like they pity me, or are gossiping about me and my family. There are people whose hearts are for us, and there are people who just want to know what’s going on, and it’s not always easy to know who’s who. I guess that’s another part of this learning process.

Lots of learning. Lots of praying. Lots of leaning. Lots of grieving.

 

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Honesty

I’ve been thinking a great deal about honesty as this Year of Truth comes to a close, and I think something is finally real and apparent to me. There are people in my life who say, “I’m just honest” or “I have to call it like I see it,” in one iteration or another, and then take that preface as license to say really hurtful things.

(Sidebar: I’ve actually called a couple of them on it the last few weeks, let them know that the things they’ve said aren’t OK, that they’ve hurt my feelings, etc. One of them actually tried to talk me out of my own feelings. I mean seriously. After working this hard to be honest and authentic about how things make me feel, you’re going to try to tell me that I’m wrong? Don’t think so, buddy.)

But I think what I realized today is this: people who say such hurtful things couched as truth are cowards. They inflict hurt without caring about its implications because it forces people away from them. Once the other person has labeled them emotionally unsafe, no one comes close enough to get to the heart of the mean one. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” and all.

When I think about the people in my life whose opinions matter, really matter, I realize that they all have one common thread. They know themselves. They’ve faced their own demons, and they’re honest about their fallibility. None of them will say something unkind to me that isn’t based on absolute love of Jesus as the Truth and love for me. Likewise, the least kind people in my circles are those who work hard to keep people at great distance, but deem themselves the “honest” ones. Wow.

I suppose the challenge for me, then, is to be able to trust what Jesus says about me when an “honest” “friend” says something unkind. Also I need to pray that Jesus will come after them with every ounce of His love, because nothing else on earth will tame a tongue with the power of death in it.

I think that’s a pretty cool revelation for the last day of the year. I can’t wait until the Year of Vision starts tomorrow!

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For Reina

This post is for you, my friend! I hadn’t forgotten that I have a blog, just don’t feel like I have much to say these days. But since you asked, here’s a post!

You, wow. You are precious to me. And while I can’t imagine what it will be like to not have you in my everyday experience of life, I know that you are my friend for as long as this life lasts, and longer. That is a testament to your faithfulness! I love you, and I can’t wait to see what adventure awaits you in 2012!

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This poem about child sexual abuse split me in two today, and I thought it was worth a read.

Ghost Story
by Matthew Dickman
for matthew z and matthew r

I remember telling the joke
about child molestation and seeing
the face of the young man
I didn’t know well enough
turn from something with light
inside of it into something like
an animal that’s had its brain
bashed in, something like that, some
sky inside him breaking
all over the table and the beers.
It’s amazing, finding out
my thoughtlessness has no bounds,
is no match for any barbarian,
that it runs wild and hard
like the Mississippi. No, the Rio Grande.
No, the Columbia. A great river
of thorns and when this stranger
stood up and muttered
something about a cigarette,
the Hazmat team
in my chest begins to cordon
off my heart, glowing
a toxic yellow,
and all I could think about
was the punch line “sexy kids,”
that was it, “sexy kids,” and all the children
I’ve cared for, wiping
their noses, rocking them to sleep,
all the nieces and nephews I love,
and how no one ever
opened me up like can of soup
in the second grade, the man
now standing on the sidewalk, smoke smothering
his body, a ghost unable
to hold his wrists down
or make a sound like a large knee in between
two small knees, but terrifying and horrible all the same.

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My high school band director used to call me SOC, meaning stream of consciousness. These days I prefer something I saw on Pinterest: “I’m not random, you just don’t think as fast as me.” 🙂 Here’s a series of random thoughts over the last few days.

Last session, the Not-So-Casual Observer and I talked about my fear of/issues with laziness. After a crazy week with far too little rest, the Music Man insisted that I take a nap this afternoon. I was prematurely awakened by a crying child but kept willing myself to get up and not waste the day. Then I dozed. I thought I heard MM coming up the stairs, and I realized that I was trying to appear awake even though I had indeed been sleeping, not wanting to be unprepared.

Sooo…apparently I need to work on that issue. My Facebook status update said something like, “Hate it when something your therapist has been trying to tell you just smacks you in the face in the middle of your Sunday afternoon.”

 

In other news, we take communion almost every Sunday at my church. At our old church we only took once a month, and I’m surprised that how much it’s come to mean to me to be able to do it weekly. Yesterday, my communion cracker stuck in my throat. And I thought about this thing, how the Gospel is just so darn hard to swallow sometimes. I mean, is it just me?

 

I think the Music Man’s job is getting to me. I realized this morning that he’s home to see the children a maximum of 12 hours per week. That’s madness in my book. That means in the four months marching band season lasts, he’ll see the children for a total of about eight days. So in a third of the year, he’ll spend less than 7% of it with the brood. I am not dealing with this well. At all.

Aaannnd, there’s your random update. I’m getting dressed to go to the gym in an effort to mange some of the stress. Well, and to be “off duty” for two hours because it’s the last time I’ll have until Wednesday night. Details.

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Show Yourselves!

OK, I’ve been looking at my site stats, and I’ve realized that way more of you read than I know in real life. Or as I like it call it, “in my neighborhood,” because I think we can all agree that the interwebs is a major part of all our real lives at this point.

So who are you? How long have you been reading? How do we know each other? What do you love about ye olde blogge? What do you hate? And for goodness sakes, list your blog so I can add it to my Google reader if you’re not in there already. I want to hear from you!

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