it feels like fall here in the mornings. i understand from the locals that this is not how it usually feels, but waking up to 63 degrees and the sound of geese playing in the reservoir around the corner and the crackle of leaves that have dropped to our patio overnight does leave one to feel whatever one feels, now doesn’t it?
the problem with having a restless heart is that you get called repeatedly to rest, and sometimes the enforcement comes in ways you don’t expect and really don’t want to embrace. in my case, that anxiety i was talking about yesterday has resulted in an almost complete collapse of my physical systems. again.
i am not pleased to be having seizures and collapses again, but i know that these times when i have not been able to do as much as i want to do have been really rich in the past – on every level. pete says i’m not made for this world. i wish he wasn’t so right, because i like this world, quite frankly. i like the way the light falls down and the way the wind feels as it brushes my face, and i like the sounds of laughter and music and the sense of adventure you get when you stand on the shore looking out to sea. i want to live the height and breadth and depth of my life, and when my body breaks down, it feels harder to do than i want it to feel.
one thing is for sure – it’s going to force a reprioritization and put some limitations on my life that haven’t been there for a while, which is very discouraging – you don’t want to take breaks when you’re trying to be famous (i’m only half-joking there, sigh), but it’s also a bit of a relief to have a real, physical reason that needs no justification for saying “no” and doing the “walk” thing instead of the “run” thing.
and then there are the days where i don’t feel happy, not at all, when the anxiety takes over and caring for my people feels so overwhelming that i think i don’t exist myself anymore. i have never had issues with my being a “selfish” person. i always kinda figured that is who i am, and maybe it stems from a survival instinct that has taught me about setting boundaries so that i don’t completely disintegrate into the dust from which i am made. but now, i feel extra responsibility to care so much more about people, and while it’s a worthwhile thing, to try to be more loving to people in ways they understand, it doesn’t come naturally to me, and my heart isn’t in it the way it is when i am observing and making a place for them.
that probably doesn’t make much sense. all the details are missing. it’s just thoughts i have that i’m putting down, and the feeling that i don’t always want to feel so stretched, but i can’t keep up with even the normal things of life like deadlines without freaking out. i know He says to be anxious for nothing, but it’s not easy when it’s a physical, chemical trigger thing. i’m seriously considering therapy – i am having more trouble than usual sorting out my thoughts. but then, i have to find a good therapist, and then i have to pay for one, and this is really not easy to consider doing at this moment. it took me eight years to stabilize in charleston – i want things to feel more familiar, more stable here – and they just don’t. it’s hard not knowing where to go for the doing-life things, taking chances on calling people, opening myself up to being hurt and disappointed – or worse.
anxiety is a mess – on the one hand, it’s something you have acknowledge to deal with the reasons behind it; on the other hand, it is a huge guilt-inducer, because you’re not supposed to be anxious about anything if you know God, right? i don’t always know what to do with black and white when things go gray with real life and not-so-much spiritual. it makes me glad for Immanuel, because i know He gets it. He’s not just God up there telling us what to do and how to be without having lived in our skin and felt what we feel.
there’s a lot of hope in a God who understands you, a God who is on your side, a God who isn’t waiting to condemn you.
we have named our apartment “meriggiare,” which is italian for “sit out the noon.” it’s a shaded place, a hot-but-shaded place, and it is welcoming and restful and wonderful in the heat of this desert, and i love that the light reminds me of europe. it makes me happy.
i’ve been saying that a lot: “i am happy,” “i am so happy!” “i am really, really happy.” It feels like an experiment in joy, a “did God, would God, has He, is He” meeting my expectations and going far beyond what i could have imagined when all this started back in november last year.
we have margin, and a place to “sit out the noon” and invite people in and sit down and do some quiet living if we want to, in spite of the construction and remodeling around us here. i kind of don’t want to move very soon. i could see us doing christmas here, maybe a year or two until we have saved a little to put down on a house or something. it has its quirks, but we like it.
i keep thinking about life, about how it would have been dumb of God to make people and then give them a to-do list in regard to Him. we put our own spirituality onto our dust, almost like an eternal penance for eating the fruit in the garden – but we were made in His image as humans, spirit in dust, and i really do believe that He meant for us to praise Him by just being what he made us to be, with the added element of eternal life that allows us to know Him and eventually, to see Him as He is.
i don’t know how it all works together, living human and being His, but that’s what it is, a paradox that means i am in the world and not really of it, that says i am under grace which restores me to Him to simply *be.*
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
i figured out the thing that hit me hardest when i was at my parents’ a few weeks ago. i walked in feeling pretty healthy – exhausted as anything, but pretty healthy as a person – and needing some rest, only to be told that I am NOT healthy, that my kids were running me ragged, and that i would be facing consequences down the line from the decisions i am making now.
permit me a tiny rant, but um, that’s not okay. healthy people don’t do that to other people. i wouldn’t do that to my parents, regardless of what i think of their choices. i recognize that this is just part of life, but when i think about the way i have lived mine, i am proud of my choices. i am proud that i chose to make room for my feelings and keep living my life on a practical, realistic level. i am proud that i have learned how to stay and how to go and how to love and how to offer grace – to myself and to others. and i am proud that i am not living in shame because i can’t perform the way they raised me to perform.
i like being happy and having peace and real joy with God working in my life to care for me and for my people. my expectation is from Him, not from what i invest or don’t invest.
i can’t change the critical narrative with which i grew up, but i can damn well refuse to live it out. i *like* my life, i *like* my kids, and i *like* trusting God with the outcome when i can’t see five, ten, twenty-five years down the road. i want my kids to know Him, and i will do what i can to point them that direction and encourage them to be healthy and productive people, but i’m not meant to be the guardian of their every move, not meant to be the Person to provide their every need and desire. it is OKAY for me not to be what i often feel i have to be. it is OKAY for them to make choices and be strong people themselves.
chalk this one up to #thinksthatcometomewheniclean.
when the words come (not this morning, i think), they are simple words for intense feelings, but they are the right words. of course, i don’t have time to write them down or the ability to remember them later – i am a bit of a blur as my life moves on ahead of me, not caring if i am keeping up or not. i wait, believing that i can come back into it when i am ready, once i figure out how my skin feels on me in this new place.
i’m reading again, and i like it. i am exploring eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert, having read her big magic on the plane last weekend. i’m thinking about inspiration, wondering if it truly is alive the way she describes it, or if it is Him, seeking out open hearts. i’d like to think He’s got a bigger magic than i can comprehend – and i think it’s funny, that i have always thought of Him as magic. i wonder if He’s okay with that.
i do like writing, in spite of the limitations on my words right now. i keep thinking that i have a book in me, but it’s not for right now. i’m only remembering how to use words right now, only relearning my voice in the words that have retreated as i let the pictures speak for me for so long.
i landed in a place last weekend where i used to fit. while i wasn’t surprised to find that i didn’t fit there anymore, i was surprised to find that i didn’t want to fit there anymore. the experience triggered a restlessness in me. i felt both trapped and liberated – i don’t know what that means. these old spaces that i have been in aren’t comfortable. the memories were overwhelming – one moment thanking Him for the familiar, the next moment howling with grief over my losses. (i’ve rarely cried uncontrollably, that gut-level shrieking sob that seems to surface only in my most painful moments.)
something is happening in me. i don’t have the energy to fight or control or do – if i had to find a word for it, i think i would choose “receiving,” standing with my hands open as life does what it’s going to do, waiting to see how He will act on it – half-believing He won’t, but expecting that He will. it’s an odd paradox, standing in faith while holding so many doubts. i think i want Him to be real more than i want anything; i don’t believe i can call Him into existence like a fairy, by clapping my hands or squinting my eyes shut and calling Him down. The “magic” I ascribe to Him is in the reality of His being, and His somehow being for me, even as He is for Himself.
We finally bought that patio table I’ve been dreaming about, and I’ve found my spot in our new apartment where the light is white and I can hear the birds and feel the breezes in the morning and the evening. I think I knew before we came that I’d end up on the patio, that I would forgive the heat for the cool of the day when I would find a way to breathe.
Today I might be getting in the way of the construction workers, but they don’t seem to mind my being here, and I don’t really mind them – I understand about doing what needs to be done when you can do it. They’re on the roof, and there is a shadow falling across the wall of the patio, and the kids are coming in and out, and I feel a little bit alive again, being out in the life bits of the world. It makes me imagine what it might be like to live in a European village somewhere, where the laundry gets hung out the windows and there are always stories happening around you.
I can’t quite get this apartment to feel like home – I suppose that might be expected. We’re thinking about how long we’ll stay, how long can all three kids share a bedroom, how long we will live by halves until we think about owning a house again, how long it will be until we are truly Home. After thirty-some moves, I don’t really believe we get to have that on earth anymore.
But I figured out over the weekend that the thing I am looking for isn’t so much a forever home – it’s the ability to feel content wherever I am. I crave hygge, and the scent of fresh bread baking and bacon for breakfast and the light coming in, throwing sunbeams across the living room. It’s finding green outside my window, nurturing life where it might not otherwise exist, holding expectation in spaces where I question His ability and desire to provide the abundance He’s promised.
We’re in between here – and we know it. We didn’t know it before when we bought a house and made plans to stay in Charleston. I am re-learning how to make memories without having to have them again, trying to reorient myself in a time zone that comes after all the other time zones, trying not to feel as though I have been left behind as all my friends and people I know get up hours before I wake and go to bed hours before I am ready to sleep.
It feels good to write again. To record the narrative in my mind. It helps me clear my head a little. I want to hold these moments.
i need words
the words that say more
than pictures do,
words that script colors
black and white
words that tell
what happens next
words that express
feeling and sadness
courage and happiness
i need words that help
who i am
“Do you feel alive at all? Because I don’t feel like I know you right now.”
“If it’s any consolation, I don’t feel like I know me right now either. I feel dark inside. And very, very tired.”