Struggling

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh geez louise.  If there is a mistake to be made lately, I am making it.  The struggles are real.  I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself, ‘this too shall pass’, ‘in everything there is a lesson to be learned’, ‘find the value’ and ‘God’s got me’.  Truthfully…I wonder if these things are true.  What if this is as good as it gets and nothing is going to ‘pass’?  How come I keep getting the same lessons, what am I missing?  Am I figuring out who I have always been or am I living out the years I never got to live out (adolescence)?

I bet parenting me is much like parenting a wild 17 year old who is determined to find her own way without undertaking any advisement.  So be it, I guess.  It’s where I am and I am so entirely sick of fighting with myself that I’m trying to just be.  Be me.  The challenge…I’m not entirely sure who I am.  One day I’m full of maturity, light and goodness…the next day I am determined to be as naughty as can be, wanting nothing or no one to constrain my freedom.  But you see…I’m not even sure what freedom means to me.

Forgive my scatteredness, and be thankful I took time to write in my journal before this post in order to ‘sort’ my everrunning thoughts. 

I spent time with a fabulous new friend last night, who happens among other several things to be an atheist.   I am very much a lover of Jesus and a hater of rules, and I greatly enjoy discussions with those of different belief systems.  As long as we can agree to disagree, I find great value in hearing another’s perspective and in sharing mine.  I am open to both their story and to telling mine.   We are all connected, there is value in each of our stories.  This is why I have difficulty when someone is closed to these interactions.  Like…what’ so scary about hearing another person’s view?   There’s no need to have a change of heart or mind just because there is a different perspective and if a change results…whatever.

I also have a dear, dear friend who happens to be more devoted to his Catholicism than anyone Catholic person I’ve ever known.  We have strikingly different views and we’ve had some terrifically difficult conversations.  That said, I have the utmost respect for his beliefs and I feel valued when I share with him.  I am thankful for that give and take. 

On the same token, another one of my dearest friends is an atheist.  It’s the same kind of give and take in our relationship and we actually learn a lot from our open heartedness toward each other. We ask each other super tough questions and continue to challenge one another to grow through these fittings together of our puzzles.  I guess I can surmise from this that when a person is valued over the need to be right, a very different relationship emerges.

Furthermore, I have many friends who don’t fall into an extreme end of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle.  They might be sure of their faith, they may be doubting and searching or they might just be numb and oblivious.  There isn’t one of them that doesn’t offer value to my life with where they are and I hope I do the same for them.

So…back to last night with my new friend….  I was very curious about their reasons they hold so tight to their beliefs.  They shared  and so much of it made  complete logical sense to me.  During our conversation, I tried to share just the little bit that I could about my faith.  It was hard.  I am deeply searching and trying to understand the foundations of my beliefs.  The faith part is so much easier for me to share.  Just like my own life, I’m so much more assured of how to share my feelings than my thoughts, and as a Christian, my feelings are more cemented and easier to share than my logic.

I explained that it was exceptionally difficult for me to understand how I was alive.  I made it through an open heart surgery at 9 months of age that was supposed to be done in two parts.  As I understand it, they came out in the middle of my first surgery and told my parents that they had to do the rest then or I would ‘be a vegetable’.  My Momma tells me that this was the first time she really knew she had faith because she never doubted that I wouldn’t be just fine. 

To give a little picture of the weight of the circumstances, I was more tubes than baby, and was one of the youngest babies to ever have this complete correction at such a young age.  It was a significant deal.  The doctors told my family it was a 50/50 chance of success but not doing it would mean bad things.  They did it and I’m obviously here to tell about it.  So, why, oh why are there babies with a lesser degree of the same defect that die today still?  Why am I alive?  Why doesn’t everyone get their miracle?

Then…a pretty healthy life.  Fast forward to that big ole stroke when I was 37.  That one that ‘should’ve killed me’ and that one where I had to learn to walk again…like an infant.  Again…why am I here?  So many are not.

So…my new friend asks me what kind of God would let little bitty babies die and me live?  An extremely fair question and one I have often wrestled with.  Tonight, I wrestle extra hard because the best answer I have is that I’m not God and I have to trust that He has a panoramic view and I have a snapshot.  Sometimes I believe this a thousand times over, other times, I doubt everything.  

I sure don’t know why God has me here and I’m really wondering how my life is one he’d be proud of right now.  I mess up.  Alot and quite intentionally.  I can be obstinate and determined to create my own path, hurting others along the way of my learning.  I can be unfocused and lackadaisical.  I am a bundle of pure messiness.  It is what it is. I am so deeply grateful for every moment.

A bit weary and overwhelmed, I am searching too often in others and not often enough in my own heart. It’s all okay. I’ve finally found peace with trusting that God not only accepts my doubts, He welcomes them.  For when I doubt, I am searching for his majesty when I am so small.  I am searching for His peace amidst my chaos.  

I am struggling, 100% with the dawning of these new lights…and that’s perfectly okay.

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Hauntings that Heal

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

A friend and I were recently discussing Kahlil Gibran’s book, “The Prophet“, which I remembered I had a copy of in the shed.  The above poem was I cherished by me and still is; it was a reading at my wedding so many moons ago. I never would’ve chosen it for a wedding reading for us if I’d known then what I know now.  The words spoke of a kept promise and a naive idealism;  written by one who had not experienced marriage.  I think it might be more appropriate for a second wedding, than a first (which most people probably aren’t hoping for).

In an instant,  I am transported to the day I looked into my then husband’s eyes.  My feelings of joy and elation took were mellowed by feelings of trepidation and fear.  I never was quite sure that I was wholly loved.  A portion of this was due to issues between he and I; a bigger part was caused by my own history and doubt.

This transportation is quickly followed by stomach churning waves of grief and anxiety, accompanied by a mind that wanders to the past arrive again, without invitation.  Her weary soul sounds the alarm bells.

“That’s unfortunate, it’s been a really great day”, she thinks to herself.  Rather than running from the feelings, she decides to utilize a tool that a dear friend and counselor taught her years ago.  Good music; ear buds to drown out the distractions; a pen and paper, this is all that is needed.  Oh…and set the alarm for 15 minutes.  She begins to write whatever comes, without pause and certainly without thought.  Unaware of  her tears until they splashed hot water stains onto the paper and the familiar salty taste ran across her lips. She continued to ferociously surrender to this process.   The alarm dings, it is time to stop.  Now take a breath and read when ready…then destroy for these are the most private thoughts.  They belong only to she and her soul.

In countless ways, she has always been an old soul.  In contradiction, lately, thereare ways that she is more akin to an 18 year old young lady than to the 45 year old woman she truly is.

She attempts to collect herself and ask her heart exactly what it’s feeling right now.  She comes up with a list.

Her 10 ponderings:

1)  She is incredibly self-aware, perhaps too much so at times.  Thus, she knows that she thrives on being needed.  As much as she resists it, her validation comes too often from this need to be needed.  Recently, there has been a switch in the status quo.  The lesson has been that simply because someone ‘needs’ her does not mean that she needs them.

2)  She has a long way to go as far as learning to surrender to what is.  She has often stated that her favorite game with God is to release her problems to Him, making it tangible by opening her palms and visualizing handing her burden to Him.  Just as quickly, she grabs that burden back and squeezes it tight in her fisted hand.  She is expert at this.  The illusion of control consistently comes back to wound her and she knows that she would benefit from relinquishing this terror.  She’s tried handing her problem to the universe, to others, to her journal…she always finds a way to get it back under her jurisdiction.

3)  No matter how hard one works, despite the entirety of heart, soul, prayer and effort put into a relationship, it does not always turn out as hoped for.  Also, no matter how big one’s faith may be, this is a hard one to field and might test every belief previously held.  Finally, it’s perfectly okay for these beliefs and faith to be tested, this is truth.

4)  Joy and pain can and do walk hand in hand.  This too, is okay.  It just is.

5)  Be the light, even when it’s dark.  When there is no energy left to be the light, seek the light…it’s there, even in the tiniest crack that you have to squint to see.  Squint and see darkness only? Reach your hand out, put one foot in front of the other and step.  Just keep seeking and for goodness sake, don’t freeze.

6)  I believe that nearly always, we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Concurrently, life’s all about choices.  Sometimes we make a sucky choice and sometimes others make a sucky choice.  Grace, love, forgiveness….and boundaries.  🙂

7)  Being gentle with herself doesn’t come easy.  She’s going to learn the art of doing so anyway.  This is wisdom.

8)  Rainy nights are healing for the soul, so are candles; bubble baths, snuggles (can be with people, a favorite blanket or comfort item or fur babies and I guess blow up dolls, but that’s not her preference).

9) Forgiveness is hugely, ginormously important.  Forgiveness does not mean a person belongs in your life.

10)  Real ghosts are the ones that leave echoing pain in a soul.  In this case, exorcisms (figuratively speaking) are worth serious consideration  If not willing to exorcise, contemplate excavating the heart.  However, if those hauntings are here to heal, let them.

She will leave you with this song that eloquently speaks to the hauntings in her heart…

“Ghosts That We Knew”

Listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXiq5ZO-rNE

You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart

But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We’ll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace
‘Cause you know my call
And we’ll share my all
And our children come and they will hear me roar

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals
But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals [Live and US versions say “And hold me still, bury my heart next to yours”]

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold on as long as you like [Live and US versions say “But I will hold on with all of my might”]
Just promise me we’ll be alright

[Live and US versions’ additional lines:
“But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life”]

And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life

Cheers.  Namaste.  Just be.