Sunday, March 2, 2014

Celebrating Life

For the past 2 1/2 years I have done little but work and recover from major wounds and trauma that occurred over a three month period beginning in November 2011.  Physical degeneration and excruciating pain led to neurosurgery.  An unexpected layoff led to unemployment.  Financial insecurity led to fear.  Securing a new job led to the inevitable stress of fitting into a new (and vastly different) work culture.  The fire that almost killed me destroyed far more than material possessions and led to months of severe shock and depression.  Moving home after my apartment was remodeled led to frequent bouts of insomnia as I paced the floors convinced I smelled smoke.  Battling the demons of so many major, traumatic and painful life events in such a short period of time led to physical decline.  I worked too much, ate too much, exercised too little, slept too little and usually curled up into a ball to watch television when I arrived home at the end of the day. 
I've spent many hours contemplating how I survived it all without ending up in a straight jacket or worse.  Obviously the strength and love of others helped, and my faith carried me through the deepest valleys, but can I just admit that I'm tired?  Still?  Sometimes I feel guilty for not rebuilding faster and for not responding better, but surviving and recovering are both hard work and I was incapable of doing more than I did.
So this weekend, instead of celebrating life with a big party or fancy dinner, I chose to celebrate by enjoying the mundane and ordinary events that mark a normal life. 
No drama and no trauma were my motto.
I tried something new and played BINGO with my boss and some co-workers.  I talked to one of my favorite people for a few hours.  I took my friend's 9-year-old son to his basketball award’s ceremony (his parents had a fund raiser to attend).  I took my beloved dog Zeus for an extra-long walk and hugged him a little tighter as I remembered how he gently woke me up as smoke engulfed our home.  I reveled in a big hug from my Godson and stayed to play a little longer because he asked me to.  I ate a little better, laughed a little harder and loved a little deeper.   I read the Sermon on the Mount and understood it a little better, and chose to thank God for his mercy, even though it has often been disguised as trauma. 
No one gets through this life without pain, but all of us get the chance to learn from it.  I want to celebrate by growing into a kinder, gentler and more serene woman.  To live in humility and grace, cherishing every second with the people who mysteriously find a way to love me despite my quirks and insecurities.  I want to boldly engage even when I'm terrified or have already been hurt.  I want to forgive freely and remember less the wounds that have been inflicted; to love more and give vulnerably and completely to those I love.  I want to celebrate by really living and loving, knowing that those efforts are never wasted.
Then I'll have a real party and I may even DANCE!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Holy Ache

Hope is fickle.  There are days when it is so easy to embrace.  I feel all warm and fuzzy.  Peace envelopes me.  Sunshine and roses are abundant.  All is right in the world.  Maybe things will get a little easier.  Maybe things will fall into place and I won't have to try so hard.  Maybe, just maybe. 
Then I wake up in reality.  Try as I might I cannot divorce myself from it.  Reality is a cruel world often devoid of peace.  It's not pretty.  It's exhausting.  It's cloudy and dark.  All the flowers have long since withered and died.  There are a lot of tears.  Everything is ten times harder that it should be. Everything that is wrong with the world weighs on me. Everything that is wrong with my life crushes me.  Every failure haunts me.  And I sigh.
Reality is a fight to find my faith.  Reality is where I claw my way out of myself and into the embrace of my Savior.  It's the place of my deepest wounds and my deepest comfort.  It's the place where my life becomes less about me and more about Him.  Reality is where everything comes full circle.  Where wounds collide with faith into a beautiful explosion of HOPE.
I'm pretty sure I can't have hope without a healthy dose of reality.  Living in the tension between hope and reality causes a holy ache.  I am soothed as I dive deeper into the illogical, and frankly sometimes bizarre faith that sustains me.  It doesn't make sense.  It seems hokey.  Old-fashioned.  Weird.  Foolish.  And without those things it wouldn't be faith.
Sometimes I get answers I like.  Sometimes I get answers I hate.  Sometimes I don't get answers.  Sometimes all of those things cause me to ask more questions.  I'm okay with that.  I have faith that God knows more than I do.  God loves perfectly.  God's grace is endless.  God IS.  I am because of HIM and no other reason.  It doesn't make sense.  It just is. 
Living between hope and reality is challenging but it's good.  It's often painful.  It's often joyful.  It's a conundrum.  It takes faith but faith is life to me so I do it knowing that life is a holy ache.

"In him we live and move and have our being."
Acts 17:28