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Sometimes Honesty’s Hard

Today is one of those days when it’s a challenge to be honest. When you feel like, “If I say this out loud, people are going to think that I’m wallowing in self-pity, or I’m a danger to myself or others, or they’ll think I’m just flat crazy.” But it is what it is, and I can’t control what anyone else thinks.

I’m tired in that bone-weary way. In a way that doesn’t feel like this nightmare schedule is ever going to end. In a way that makes me wish I could go hibernate and just never have to wake up.

Now, I know that sounds scary, like I’m deeply depressed, and maybe I am depressed. Heaven knows I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I truly don’t see anything lovely waiting at the end of this road. All I think is, “I just want something in my life to change.”

Never in my life have I felt so rock-bottom exhausted. I don’t have an ounce left to give to anyone, even my family. I’ve spent the last week hiding from my kids for the better part of the day, immersed in the cleaning, the laundry, the work (sigh, I’m so tired of thinking about work).

If this is what grieving is supposed to be like (and I don’t know if it is, actually. Will mention to the NSCO next time I see her), then I can’t see that it’s worth it. I can’t imagine any joy on the other side that would be worth this.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last week or two. Trying to hang on and keep all the necessary plates of child rearing and homeschooling spinning. Trying to be with Jesus enough to make each day bearable. Trying not to get sucked into a dark vacuum.

But I’m not hopeless, not reckless, and definitely not suicidal. I’ve also got a pretty sweet support system in place. And music, I’ve got music. And lots of Jesus, so we’ll count it doable.

Ghost Story

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.

Resurrection

I am still surprised by every silence
How each twist of anxiety makes my breath catch
How every swelling tear forces my hard swallow
How every heartache makes me tilt my head in wonder

This is feeling

This is what I begged to have
Oh, double-edged sword that you are
When you were elusive, I sensed only the dull ache
of a barren heart

As you return and threaten to spill over the narrow banks
that contain your shallow bottom,
I am overcome

But buried on the silty floor just below the squish
is a joy
A joy that says but one thing of all the pain:
Worth it.

Refreshing

I’ve been spending some time in this desert place, and Jesus has showed me some neat things, calmed some fears, and encouraged me to press on. In fact, the Not-So-Casual Observer and I talked at length about what this feels like, some dangers along the way, and what to do when I feel like it’s never going to end. As amazing and eye-opening as our sessions are, Jesus has been showing me some stuff that’s even better.

The first beautiful part of the desert has been what I’ve noticed about myself. I realized that when I slow down, stop working, and just sit awhile, I hurt. I hurt in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. I hurt down deep, such that I feel tears prick behind my eyes for no discernible reason. I hurt enough to press both hands to my chest, hoping to quell the bursting in my heart. I can safely say that this is pain, and I’m in it.

Why is that beautiful? Well, because I don’t have to actually DO anything. Could it be that my healing here has nothing to do with my activity, but everything to do with my rest and surrender? Is the mystery really that I don’t have to perform any action, rather simply make a place for pain in my life and let it find its own place to pour out? I think I love this. And if you know what a performance-oriented person I have been known to be, that alone should evidence the massive change in my last few months.

This morning I felt like I should read the account of the Israelites’ time in the desert, and wow do I have some amazing things to look forward to. While they simply moved from place to place at God’s behest, He did amazing things even for this grumbling and unfaithful people. If my desert experience looks anything like theirs, it’ll be an awesome adventure.

Sandals that never wear out to keep my feet from burning
Fresh food each morning delivered to wherever I am in the journey
The impossible–the sea parts as I pass through, washing away all that seeks to harm me once I’m safely on the other shore

Sabbath
Consecration
Feasting
Teaching
Sacrifice

A visible covenant
My face shining after time with Him
The glory of the Lord
An established rule and reign
Authority

A cloud for direction
Rebuke and pardon
Restoration

Healing through obedience
Prophecy
Zeal

Cities of refuge
Songs and blessings

This is going to be amazing.

Touchstone

I am a lover of symbols. When I’m going through a season, I like to have a reminder of it. It also serves as a way of having stories to tell when my children ask about a particular piece.

In this desert season, I’ve been particularly interested in what it means to grieve. I looked at some Victorian mourning jewelry, but that didn’t seem exactly my style. Then I found a neat website that lists symbols of grief. It may seem a bit macabre, but I find it comforting that there are established symbols for this sort of thing. In any case, I decided that the knot would be my personal symbol for this season because it represents resurrection.

Now I needed to decide what sort of jewelry. For some reason, the thought of a necklace and a bracelet felt too much like being shackled to grieving, and I didn’t want that. I decided on a ring, a ring with a knot. Sounds complicated, I know, but I guess that’s why I love Etsy so much. I found a neat ring and ordered it, but the artist was delayed due to Hurricane Irene (totally understandable).

My ring came yesterday. Actually, she sent two because of the delay, which I thought was awfully kind. I find it interesting that yesterday Jesus asked me to take a step into the desert, and yesterday this symbol of grieving came to my house. Coincidence? I think  (k)not.

The Road to Perdition

Last night at girls’ group, we had a super brief discussion on Luke 9:62,”But Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I fancy myself a bit of a theologue and, as such, have spent time studying over the years what exactly I believe and why. Why this verse in this place? Wanting to consider the positions I heard last night, I decided to turn to a couple of commentaries I trust. This is the one that struck me:

Those who begin with the work of God, must resolve to go on, or they will make nothing of it. Looking back, leads to drawing back, and drawing back is to perdition. He only that endures to the end shall be saved.  –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

I love how God honors my desire to know Him more and confirms His rhema word with His logos. Just this morning we were talking about the desert valley of pain, this place both the Not-So-Casual Observer and I feel Jesus is calling me. This morning, I asked Jesus what He would have me do to walk this out, and He said,

“I want you to step onto the scorched earth. I want you to notice the grit of sand as it fills every empty space between your toes and rubs your flesh smooth. I want you to feel your lips go dry and your throat parch, how one step into this and you’re already thirsty. I want you to gaze down into this valley and see how far it is and wonder where the midpoint is, when you’ll begin your ascent, where the top is. What do I want you to do? Walk.  Look back at the lovely meadow you’ve spent the last few months in, then look at the colorless expanse before you, and choose this anyway.”

If I walk away from this, the work He’s doing in me is for naught. And since I believe that He will bring His good work to completion, and that His word will not return void, then this is what I must do. Choose this anyway.  Let it hurt anyway. Feel the pain anyway. Walk through the desert anyway. One step at a time.

A Celebration

Today, my son, you are five. Five sounds like a big kid number, not a little kid number. We will celebrate you a bit more today than we do every other day. There will be cake and presents and the wild cacophony of Chuck E. Cheese.

You are kind; the kindest, tenderest boy I know. The way you love your sisters amazes me. You help them, plot with them, question them, soothe them. You act as peacemaker. You defer to them. Watching you with them shows me the sort of husband and father you’ll be: patient, kind, warm, loving, funny, sweet. You are amazing.

As you grow, I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses your strengths of compassion and mercy to make you more like Jesus. I love how hard you love, and with such gusto. I love  how you care about being close to your girls.

I love to watch you conquer things, how brave you are. You potty trained yourself when you were a brand-new two. You learned to read at four with only your sister’s help. You play Wii like your life depends on it. Last night when you split your lip, you weighed the cost of the shot and stitches and decided you’d go through with it if I thought you should. That’s courage, my son, that is faith.

I’ve never met a grownup who didn’t love your sweet charm. Keep your heart pure, dear boy, and that will be an irresistible draw to the heart of God for others in your life. You are a mighty warrior, beloved of God, beloved of us, precious and wonderful. Happy five, my boy. You are our treasure.