Have you ever had something on your mind that you don't put into words?
Sometimes it's just something unkind or unnecessary to say - I used to always train my kids by saying, "fat people know they're fat, ugly people know they're ugly, smelly people know they smell - there's no need to say it in front of them".
I also used to train my kids to not blurt out everything that comes to mind by saying, "we can discuss anything you want when it's just us but there are some things we can't say in front of other people". In the privacy of our car or at the dinner table (which we never really used - it was more of a dinner living room) any subject could be discussed (and with three boys, trust me, I've heard it all!) BUT NOT in the middle of the sanctuary in the middle of Sunday Morning Worship Service at All-Holy Saints Baptist Church (not a real church, but that really happened).
We all have skeletons in our closet. My closet is stacked to the ceiling and pushing against the door with stuff I would never discuss in public, on the internet or with any other human being. Ever. So don't ask. If you don't already know from having lived through it with me, we sure as heck ain't talkin' about it now. I've made some bad choices and lived through them and have, by the Grace of God, put the consequences in the rear view mirror.
As my back has progressively gotten worse and my mobility has decreased more and more, I've had to dig deeper and deeper to be positive and optimistic and grateful. Having been raised in the Bible Belt among a family of faith, my answer for every problem is the Almighty. Pollyanna Protestant, always knowing that God had a plan.
When my first husband got lost in alcoholism and stopped coming home and then eventually left.
When he avoided child support over and over again.
When my boss told me to choose between my children and my job and I walked out the door without another word.
When the man that I loved married someone else.
When I struggled with raising three kids alone in a double-wide trailer and never enough money.
When my youngest began showing symptoms and then was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
When the car quit working.
When I was in a wreck in my brand new car.
When Cody drove the recently repaired car into the house.
When our car was vandalized in our driveway. Twice.
When I fell in love again with someone who wanted to keep our relationship on the "down low".
When I met Prince Charming who turned out not to be.
When I moved three times chasing the "stability" he promised.
When I ended up neglected and abused and discouraged.
When I had to rebuild my life from the ground up, without a job or a home or even a bed to sleep in.
When I spent Christmas alone.
When I spent New Year's alone.
When I spent Valentine's Day alone.
When my son got out of control.
When I became smitten again. And again, things didn't work out.
When my house caught on fire and we had to move. Again.
When my back pain started. And continued. And got worse.
When I accepted the fact that I will probably always be single.
When the prognosis for my back was (is) discouraging.
When I lost my job.
When I again was about to be homeless.
When I had to leave my kid behind.
When I lost my health insurance.
And I can't say any of those statements without following up with the solution that God delivered. Always. Over and over again... cars got repaired, children fell into line, we always had a roof over our heads. Someone brought home grown tomatoes from their garden when I was facing a weekend without groceries. People were generous to me beyond what you could ever imagine and certainly beyond what I deserved. Sometimes the answer was no. Sometimes the answer was having peace in the midst of a storm.
But the unspoken whisper in my head for the past year has been, "what if He isn't real?" What if all these divine coincidences are just a glimpse of human kindness that has nothing to do with a Creator? What if the intelligent atheists I know are right? What if the foundation I built my life on - faith - crumbles, just like the spine that is supposed to hold me up and isn't.
And this has been an Unwritten Blog Entry because I'm SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE. As Christians we identify ourselves as "Believers". I'm not supposed to ever have doubt, right? I mean... if there is a hell, isn't that punching a one-way ticket there if you have even the slightest doubt ever?
There is evidence of answered prayer coloring every single step of my life. For every misstep and hardship, heartbreak and frustration, every. single. thing. was answered with a blessing. Even the things that were unchanged. Just in the past month I've had two friends that I have prayed for FOR YEARS that they would find a marriage partner because I knew that was the desire of their hearts... two friends found two spouses and married just in the past month! How does that happen? I see the evidence of a Force that is Greater all around me... even in the branch of wisteria that my mom brought in so that we could enjoy the aroma even when we don't feel like going out... in the sunsets and mountains and oceans... I've always felt a Power that is greater than anything man could do.
The thing is... pain is an island... even when you can see what's happening on the "Mainland" (thank you, internet)... you know that you don't have a boat sturdy enough to make it to shore. My heart overflows with joy looking at the celebrations - the birthday parties and the prom pictures and the wedding pictures and the vacation pictures and the blog entries and the facebook updates - they mean the world to me! But when I leave my island, I sink to the bottom like there is an anchor around my neck. The hours at work get shorter, the reasons for leaving the house get fewer, the ability to do things diminishes and even going out to eat - something I've always LOVED to do - becomes too painful to enjoy. The places where I've always FELT the presence of God - nature, church, bible study, in the presence of cherished friends and loved ones - those places are far too often beyond my reach.
And to be honest, I feel an enormous amount of guilt for not having the intestinal fortitude to "gut it out" and go to church, even when it hurts. There are martyrs all over the world who do anything it takes to be able to worship, people who risk their lives everyday for the Gospel of Christ. My sister-in-law tells a story about a woman in Kenya who for some reason was unable to walk and so she CRAWLED several miles to get to church, wearing those cheap one dollar Old Navy flipflops (not sure they were Old Navy, but you get the picture) on her hands to protect them. I mean, what is my pain relative to that?
The truth is that when I do "gut it out" whether it be by going out to eat or going to work or going to the grocery store or whatever, I am so distracted by the pain that I am not me. In other words, the person who leaves the island is not the same person who used to walk among you. I feel like my IQ drops off by fifty points (making me average... LOL!). Every smile feels forced. Every statement of faith feels hollow. I may still believe that God has a plan but let me tell you, I'm not a fan of the plan.
The isolation of this Island of Pain means that other than via the internet, my interaction with others is greatly diminished and just like there are friends that I haven't seen in a long time, at times it's hard to feel the presence of God on this island. And then, like yesterday, I have that yearning for His presence and I hear a song on the radio that reminds me that He is always with us and never leaves us and no matter what we are going through. He. Is. Here.
And so, although my Evangelical Christian upbringing makes me want to never, ever, ever, say anything at all about doubting that God exists, doubting His presence, doubting His goodness or mercy or grace, I know that there is somebody out there who feels this too... In my mind, my greatest character trait is transparency. (Not to be confused with complete disclosure because those skeletons are staying put!) I know this because in the times that I write these brutally honest posts, I get a dozen "me too's" from y'all. I just know that there's someone out there afraid to say that they are not Job and they don't understand why they're suffering and if this is what He has to offer, they aren't interesting in joining the club.
Because *if* there's a God, how could He allow things to happen like what happened yesterday in Boston?
And *if* there's a God, how could He allow ME, His child, who has believed in Him all of her life, to hurt this bad and lose so much and be here alone on this Island of Pain?
Because I'm not alone.
I look around from time to time and realize that I'm not alone on this island. There are a lot of people in similar/worse circumstances who have the same unspoken questions and who need reassurance that He is here with us. I am the spokesperson for this Island. And He is strong enough to allow us to ask those questions. His love is greater than our doubts. When you seek Him, you will find Him. Here.
And so the unwritten blog post is written.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Have you ever had something on your mind that you don't put into words?
Posted by Heather at 10:54 AM