The other day, In the midst of a pretty good funk, I received a tiny burst of affirmation from a stranger. I was walking at the park with my head phones up full throttle; ya know, the volume level you use when you are trying to pretend you are in a movie or somewhere else besides a park in Illinois surrounded by people wearing masks? A man ran by me and slowed down. He did a backward run and kept talking until I realized he was talking to me. I pulled my headphones out and he said, “Did you write a book?” I told him that yes I did and it was called Soul-Selfie and he could buy it on Amazon, because I just knew he needed all that extra information. 😏 He said, “ya, I thought I recognized you. I’ll check it out!”, and went on his way. I do have to wonder, though, how he saw me from behind and thought, “she looks like that girl who wrote that book I once saw”…maybe my behind looks like I do a lot of sitting and typing? (“That is an author’s butt if I ever saw one!”). Anyway….it was cool and it made my day.
The point was, he recognized me. This experience hit me hard because lately, I certainly I don’t. When I read my own book, I think, who is this girl? She seems to be making gallons, no, troughs, of lemonade with the lemons she has been given. And I have intel that the common reader doesn’t know of! I remember the pain, the heartache the betrayal, the cancer, the fear of the unknown future. The deep down dirt that I never share in blogs. These days, if I am honest, I’d rather use my lemons to make a margarita and pretend the world is happy and free and fun again. My attitude stinks and much of what I used to believe about suffering and God and choosing gratitude feels just out of reach. I really want to be a role model of faith and am embarrassed of my struggle and my lack of trust that, as the sign someone put in my yard says, “everything will be ok”. Everything is and will be different in so many ways that are “not OK” with me. I am having trouble accepting that.
I haven’t written in awhile because frankly, I don’t want anyone to know. Though some of you closer to me have experienced my rantings and expressions of anger and sadness and resentment at the current state of the city, the country and the world. Mostly about how it affects my family and my daughter who is missing all the milestones of her Sr. year in high school. Yes, she and we will recover and be stronger and all that-but these are times that are irretrievable and have been the oasis in the desert of 12 years of waiting. For Seniors, it’s like missing the Promised Land. It’s natural and also stupid and illogical, but God gets the brunt of my blame. Maybe because I feel powerless and I know he is the only one who can change things. Why won’t he just do what I want?
I guess, I know, that my solution is to find myself again if I am to have any peace or joy at all. In the not so distant past, I was in a place of terror and suffering and I chose to do something beautiful with it. I can do that again if I want to. But how do I fix my “want to”? It’s sort of like eating right and exercising; I want to “be there” but am not that interested in the “getting there” part. It’s a lot of hard work and takes a long time and I am having trouble with the motivation piece.
A sweet story that comes to mind as I am writing this, helps me with at least one part of the solution. Listen for a minute…
A woman was at a crossroads: to continue drinking or get herself to an AA meeting and start the sobriety journey, again. She made a decision. She would stop. Today was the beginning of a new life of freedom from addiction. She was ready, until her phone rang. A friend asked her to go out for a drink and she declined, telling them that she had quit drinking, starting today. They cajoled her, “Ok, that’s great! You can just drink beer.” So she went. As she sat at the bar, being overtaken by and powerless against alcohol, she loudly proclaimed her strong feelings about the worthlessness of AA. Soon, the bearded, burley, tattooed bartender/biker (the only kind of angel that God could have sent to her and got her attention) made his way down the row of customers. He politely but intentionally slapped down his sobriety coin right in front of her and gently invited her to look into an AA meeting. The next day, as she lay on the floor feeling defeated and desperate, she heard a quiet voice, that she believes was God, saying, “Get up and go to a meeting. I am whispering this now. Don’t make me yell.” So she did. After the meeting, they circled up for the closing prayer. As she grabbed the hand of the man next to her, she looked up and met eyes with the bartender. And here is where I make my point: He looked down at her and said, “Well, there you are.” She knew this was indeed a new beginning. She responded, “Here I am.”
I love this image so much. We are all “in there somewhere”, but sometimes it’s easier than others to peel back all the outside stuff that keeps us from our center. For me, it’s almost always my circumstances, or not getting what I want when I want it, that prevents me from being content. My friend not only needed to show up internally, she had to show up externally. Some days, the most we can do is get out of bed. At all. But if I want to be more of the person I know I can be, even in challenging times, I have to suit up and show up, even when I don’t see results right away. I have to keep praying even when my prayers feel hollow and insincere, or even, dare I say, offensive and mean. I have to keep reading God’s word and serving God’s people even when I don’t feel like it. I have to trust his timeline even when I doubt his plan and what he allows to happen in this world.
I will continue to do these things not because they are fun or easy or even fulfilling, at first. I am simply willing to continue until the peace and joy comes back. Until I can recognize myself again. Until I can say to myself, “Well, there you are.”