Tag: Doubt

11Apr

Birds of the Air, Hamsters of the Faith

When I wrote the following entry in my journal this morning, I was intending it just for me. I already had a blog post in the works, and I just wanted to get these thoughts off my chest first. However, when I caught myself writing that I need to stop apologizing for the way my mind works, I decided to stick it to shame and let you into my real Thursday morning headspace. Welcome.

~~~

I was listening to This American Life while straightening up the house and making my breakfast this morning when a short story by Shalom Auslander came on. In the story, two pet hamsters are starving to death and trying to make sense of why their owner is neglecting them. One of the hamsters says their owner has forgotten them, and he tries to forage for his own food with only limited success. The other hamster says it’s a test of faith; he sees signs of the owner’s care which, when successfully debunked by the unbelieving hamster, become additional tests of faith. He prays in thanks to the owner for starving him in order to show him his sin of ungratefulness. Finally, as the hamster is praying, the owner comes in the door. He’s with a woman, and as they fumble their way toward the bedroom, he turns off the lights.

I know that Shalom Auslander came from a severe Orthodox Jewish background that makes mine look almost liberal and that he has no shortage of bitterness toward God. I totally get it. And it’s because I totally get it that I felt sacrilegious and scared listening to the hamster allegory. The story didn’t denounce the existence of God or his roles as creator and provider; it simply made the argument that God doesn’t care about us, and that hits too close to my own doubts for comfort.

When times are hard, as these last two years in particular have been for us, we’re confronted with three possible perspectives. One is that the hardship proves that there is no God, that we’re utterly alone in this world. The second is that the hardship proves that God doesn’t care about us or that he will only help us if we prove our worthiness by pulling ourselves out of the hole. The third is that the hardship is part of a bigger plan for our own good and that God’s care for us is a constant we can cling to for comfort.

The first option doesn’t work for me because I do believe in God. I can’t help it. I’ve seen too much evidence of a divine force participating in our lives to doubt God’s existence. Choosing between the second two perspectives is tricky though. On one hand, hardship sucks. I know that if Natalie or Sophie were going through extreme financial and relational stress and I had the power to alleviate their burdens, I would do it in a heartbeat. That seems like the only loving option to me. But on the other hand, I know it’s ridiculously subjective to say that my displeasure with circumstances makes them categorically bad. I don’t know the bigger picture, and the idea is that God does, so we can trust that the ultimate outcome will be good… “good” in a philosophical sense only God can understand, that is. It’s never far from my mind that God’s idea of good could involve our destitution or death, and trying to call any pain that we experience “good” because God knows best makes me feel as pathetic and delusional as the praying hamster from Auslander’s story. Granted, we’re not destitute or dead right now, and I can’t go basing my view of God on other people’s circumstances that I only glimpse from the outside.

Obviously, I vacillate a lot between the two beliefs—God loves us, he loves us not. I prefer the loving option, but when all evidence seems to point to the contrary, I don’t know what to stake my trust on. I don’t have the kind of faith that can declare God good and caring no matter what happens to us. It does matter what happens to us! We matter! Our pain matters! When religious institutions try to placate people like me into blind faith with platitudes and Christianese and churchy aphorisms, it makes me want to abandon ship. We are not such spiritual beings that our physical realities don’t count. We have to have some kind of reason for our beliefs, and at least for me, faith comes from seeing a spiritual God interact with our physical world. Call me a weak Christian, but I can’t just glibly attribute both good and bad circumstances to God’s love. I can’t.

Some days, I take comfort from what Jesus said about God caring for us, meeting our daily needs, and answering our requests as a loving father would. Other days, I can’t stop considering that Jesus said these things shortly before he was tortured to death. Honestly, what am I supposed to take from that?

I feel like I should apologize to God or Jesus or the Pope or someone for putting that last paragraph into words, but I’m tired of apologizing for my mind. I’m tired of trying to silence questions and misgivings that don’t fit within church-approved mindsets. Censoring my doubts doesn’t make them go away; it just makes me live dishonestly, and how can I love God with all of my mind if I keep trying to lock parts of it in the basement? For better or worse, I’m stuck with this brain until death do us part. The tendency to overthink and question everything is hardwired into who I am, and apologizing for who I am is nothing less than deferring to shame.

So this is me, authentic and unapologetic, admitting that I can’t figure out this morning whether I’m one of the hamsters from Auslander’s story or one of the birds of the air from Jesus’s sermon. If I decide that God is indeed taking care of us no matter how life looks through the porthole of today, am I shutting down logic and deluding myself? Or if I decide that God has left us to fend for ourselves, am I discounting the many forms that grace takes in our lives?

This no man’s land between the two perspectives is not an ideal place to set up camp, but it’s not unfamiliar territory for me. In fact, I’ve often encountered God here in the breathing space between the opposing swirls of doctrine and rationale and emotional charge. Grace for now is accepting that my doubt-disposed brain is fearfully and wonderfully made and resting in the certainty that life does not depend on my perception of it. What’s more, God’s character does not depend on my understanding of it. Either we are being taken care of or we are not; my outlook changes nothing except how I feel… and what I feel right now is a blanket of peace wrapped around my questions, a gentle assurance that I don’t have to have God all figured out. This, more than anything else this morning, is helping me to navigate back toward the belief that whatever my reality right now, whatever my physical circumstances or spiritual uncertainties, he does care.

12Dec

Choosiness

My mind weighs more than it should today. I have to concentrate to hold it upright and centered above my shoulders instead of sinking a slow depression between them. The #adventwindow words have gotten me again. This time, it’s “choose”—a dare, a remonstrance, a permission ripe for the picking. I’ve been staring at it for three days now, this weighty word pasted to an otherwise empty page, and the only response I’ve conjured up is a question: How?

This year, more than just about any other in my memory, has been strung up like a commercial trawling line with others’ expectations for me. I would say I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve let down this year, but this isn’t the kind of thing easily forgotten. I can recall every email, every phone conversation, and every hard-staring face that has let me know I am not entitled to my own decisions.

As much as I value honest writing, this blog isn’t the right place for sharing these particular details, for rehashing every he-said-she-said and amassing indignation. Part of me would love to vent, get a flurry of “You’re clearly in the right!” sympathy comments, and then return to the mess of life in a protective aura of superiority. However, the other, wiser part of me knows that venting is a demolition tactic, not a restorative measure, and that it simply isn’t who I am.

Who-I-am is a relentless seeker of purpose and perspective, and that means digging past crumbled emotions to locate the foundation beneath. I have to confess though—I’m stumped when it comes to “choose.” So many decisions in my life right now seem armed to the teeth. In work, relationships, and even service opportunities, my path has already been chosen by others who are ill-prepared to hear me say “no.” These aren’t usually people I can just ignore or write out of my life, and their disappointment with me registers in the same sharp key as regret. The more firmly I try to plant my feet in the best decision for myself and my little family, the more I feel like a traitor… and the more I realize that the other party wants me to feel that way.

This scenario never fails to send my thoughts into a tailspin. Am I letting myself get bullied into a powerless version of my own life? Am I letting my soul get trampled in my quest not to disappoint anyone else? Or… is this just a normal part of living in community and loving others well? Is the regret I feel a healthy reaction to my own selfishness? Is it that I’m divvying up my “one wild and precious life” to the most insistent bidder, or is it that I’m clinging to my own minor wishes above the wellbeing of others? Is my people-pleasing guilt instructive or destructive?

I really don’t know. I rewind situations even as recent as this week and play back my words in slow, critical motion. How could I have held my ground instead of caving into pressure and agreeing to the other party’s terms? How could I have asserted my decision without sparking resentment? How could I have separated the codependent mesh of friendship and favors so that my “no” would only touch the latter?

As much as I might wish for obvious, quick-fix answers, I realize that isn’t how any relationship works, especially not the one between my mind and my heart.  This is the stuff of life and breath and plot-twist and resolution, all of us learning what it means to occupy planet earth together while growing ever more into ourselves. There are no perfect comebacks. I’m never ever ever going to know the right thing to say at the right time, and it’s probably best for my sanity not to figure it out later either.

But still… I really wouldn’t mind having all the hidden motivations and truths of each tense situation laid out in alphabetical order and paired with solutions. I want to have the power to choose how I allocate my time, energy, and resources no matter how anyone tells me I should. I would love the freedom to follow what I call heart-nudges (some people call it divine prompting) without the clamor of differing opinions pulling me off-track. I’d pay big bucks biscotti (hey, it’s what I’ve got) for the assurance that “no” is as valid a word as “yes” and is in fact part of a healthy decision diet.

However, the whole point of “choose” is choice—individual, intentional choice—and it becomes a different beast altogether when I read it as an invitation. Go ahead—choose! Choose choosiness. Choose the power to choose for yourself even when there are no assurances and choice sounds like a trick question and you won’t be able to make everyone or maybe even anyone elsehappy and no one has read you your rights and you know the other party will be grading your decision with a red marker. Choose anyway. You are cordially invited by your value as a human being to pick your own actions differently than other human beings might do on your behalf. No R.S.V.P. required.

I just have to hope that the “how” will come with time.

~~~

Do you ever feel like you have little power to decide certain aspects of your life for yourself? How do you navigate the line between selfishness and self-care when your decisions might disappoint others?

25Oct

Walleyed

Here’s the truth, if you care to know it—I am paralyzed by my own mind more often than not when it comes to this blog.

I might be spilling over with observations and realizations and hopes and stories, but when I make a move to sit down and transcribe them for you, I hit a wall so hard it leaves bruises. This is what I hear:

Are you kidding? YOU? You’re nobody! Why would you presume to have anything worth saying?

Or…

Seriously. You’ve already written 15000 variations on that theme; come back when you have something original.

Or…

If you can’t manage to post consistently, you might as well just give up. Leave the writing to the professionals.

Or, if I’m considering a gutsier topic (i.e. – anything in the category of religion, politics, cultural comparison, or Glee)…

Oh, yeah, this is gonna be good. I’m sure everyone’s just dying to hear your opinions on Controversial Hot Topic #3. Oh, and I’m equally sure you’ll handle the resulting criticism with confidence and stoic grace.

NOT.

See? Instant paralysis, which is a real bitch when you consider that my sanity hinges on writing. I can’t not write. I’ve tried, even for months at a time, but I keep coming back to the truth somewhere deep in my foundations that says giving up writing will mean killing off a part of myself, and I’m unwilling to put my loved ones through that. Soul-death vs. paralysis, rock vs. hard place. How does one summon the fortitude to plow through her own mental barriers? Why does creativity have to be both lifeblood and obstacle?

Feeling out the barriers like this, surveying their shapes, letting them know they’re not as invisible as they’d like to think… I want to believe that it helps because I want to be writing here again, often, even if what I have to say is nothing original or deep or safe. I’m trying to take steps toward self-care these days—eating well, easing my legs into a healthy rhythm, sitting a few minutes in the sun after lunch—and the best mental self-care I can imagine is to get past this bruising cynicism and start creating again.

So I’m going to try, and I use the word “try” with fear and trembling; it’s both promising the improbable and admitting to a staggering amount of weakness. Regardless, I’m going to try writing regularly here again, even if it means tunneling through the barriers Tom Sawyer-style with a spoon. In the meantime, would you mind leaving me a comment or shooting me an email about your own experience with self-paralysis? I could use a little community right now as I try to get this lifeblood coursing again.

27Apr

Dear Nearlywed

Dedicated to sister-friends M and B. I love you both.

~~~

To you, dear one, with the new ring catching light and the Pinterest folder of DIY centerpieces and the momentum of happily-ever-after already spinning you off your feet:

This July, I will have been married for nine years, and my mind is already clicking over, imagining our tenth anniversary with the same bewildered wonderment I always attribute to our future together. Marriage holds its own kind of time warp for me, I guess; our years together have flown by, but I can hardly remember a time when we weren’t each other’s flesh and blood. Even before I met my husband, all the way back to those starving junior high nights, I was fingering the edges of the soul connection that would one day be ours. His and mine, ‘til death do us part.

Only, engagement was the thing that almost did us part. We loved each other, no doubt. Shortly before getting engaged, we had to be in different parts of the country for three weeks, and I discovered just how unwilling I was to live without him. He had my “yes” long before he asked. But then doubt kicked in as if set to activate at the pinnacle of my happiness, and this is why I wanted to write to you today.

Nobody told me how to handle doubts about getting married. Premarital counseling seemed designed to scrutinize us for incompatibilities and then issue us a pass or a fail stamp for our upcoming nuptials, but compatibility wasn’t the problem in our case. My idea of marriage was. I’d always been taught that marriage was a permanent, divinely-sanctioned contract, and in my mind, the divine sanction aspect implied that God had tailor-made one person specifically for me. This idea had been reinforced by everything from church programs to fairy tales, and I didn’t realize until the diamond ring slid onto my finger just how terrified I was of accidentally marrying the wrong man.

It made me dizzy with unknowing. What if I hadn’t been home the day he came looking for my roommate? What if my roommate had been there? What if I had chosen to attend a different university altogether? What if I had gone with my impulse to travel for a few years first? Was the real Mr. Right waiting for me on one of the parallel paths I hadn’t taken? And what if it went back further? What if my father’s first real romance hadn’t ended in tragedy and I’d had a different mother? What if his father hadn’t gone through the same? How many threads of my divine narrative had already been tangled, snapped, or grafted onto divergent storylines? Or… was God really orchestrating every heart-wrenching moment just so I could land safely in the arms of my own personal Prince Charming? I had no idea.

Under the wind-whipped froth of doubts lurked my real fear: If I marry the wrong man, I will be doomed to the wrong storyline for the rest of my life.

I wanted desperately for someone to sit me down with a bullet point list and say “This is how to be sure you’re making the right decision.” Alternately, I would have taken a voice from heaven or a soundtrack every time we kissed or a glimpse of Cupid’s backside flitting away, some kind of unmistakable confirmation of our love. I had no justifiable reason for breaking off our engagement, but I came to the brink several times, my voice shaking as much with the fear of losing him and with the fear of a mistaken marriage. The happiness of planning our life together was offset by the heavy clamor in my mind. What if? What if? What if?

Our wedding day came as a relief in more ways than one. Once I’d pledged my vows and been pronounced wife, my burden of indecision lifted; I was committed now, for better or for worse. That sounds theatrical and bleak, I know, but the sense of finality I experienced was nothing like the heavy cloak of doom I’d expected. It was actually incredibly freeing to stand beside the man I loved and know that I had the universe’s permission to love him and to continue loving him over the course of our lives. I had never been so happy.

However, my doubts didn’t evaporate along with my indecision. Though I was happy, I wasn’t sure if I should be, and every newlywed misunderstanding brought my questions into sharp focus. If he were The One, we wouldn’t be struggling to communicate, right? If he were The One, I wouldn’t dream about old boyfriends or swoon over chick flicks… right? I didn’t feel like I could share my concerns with anyone; I didn’t want to hurt my new husband, disillusion our friends, or invite criticism over my failings as a wife. I didn’t really know what I wanted beyond peace of mind.

Dear one, I’m writing this letter today because I wish someone had written it to me nine years ago. Your story is uniquely yours, and I don’t presume to know what you are going through just because we’ve both been a fiancée. However, I don’t think I was nearly as alone in my doubts as I felt at the time. I don’t think I’m the only woman to have experienced a centrifuge of turmoil beneath her bridal glow or the only one to have woken up beside her new husband wondering if he was the man meant to share her bed, and I want to offer you this assurance:

You are not alone. You are not defective. Your marriage is not doomed.

Here is what I’ve come to believe about marriage since that shaky “I do”:

Prince Charming is a fairy tale. Not to detract from the delicious moment when Cinderella is swept off her feet by her one true love, but Mr. Right is a fictional character born of wishful thinking and our perception of happy relationships. The key word there is fictional. As a girl who inhaled love stories by the dozens, I wanted Mr. Right to be true with all of my heart, but in retrospect, this damaged my own romance more than anything else. Over the years, I’ve started to realize just how unfulfilling it would be if my husband were custom made for me. I want him to have a life purpose outside of our marriage and a personality all his own (even when it clashes with mine… though please don’t tell him I said that). Beyond this, the element of choice is enormously important in keeping love alive and healthy over the long haul. When you remove destiny from the equation, everything hinges on choice; you choose each other, and you continue choosing each other, and nothing in those fairy tales comes close to the romantic depth of being chosen again and again by the person who knows you best.

Conflict is not spelled D-O-O-M. I’ve watched a heartbreaking number of friends go through divorce within their first decade of marriage, but I’ve also seen the alternative—couples who have stuck together through betrayals, affairs, and seemingly irreconcilable differences and forged an intense love for each other that they would never have dreamed of in the beginning. I know you’ve already heard plenty about marriage taking work; before our wedding, it seemed like people were falling over each other to dampen our happiness with warnings of the hard, hard effort to come. Now, though, I see the idea of marriage taking work as brim-full of hope. It means that conflict is something to navigated through, not something to be feared. It takes the power away from circumstance and puts it into our own hands. You can’t live with the same person for years in close quarters without running into relational problems—it simply isn’t possible—but it helps to see those problems as a bridge to cross with your spouse rather than a roadblock to your marriage.

There is no manual for choosing the right partner, but… well, as they say, bullet points are an indecisive girl’s best friend:

  • Do you like each other? I’m not talking about fluttery feelings here (I assume you already have plenty of those). What I mean is, are you friends? Do you genuinely enjoy spending time together?
  • Do you share a direction in life? Do your own, individual, heart-felt goals get along with each other? Plans will change plenty of times over the course of your lives, but it helps tremendously if you start off facing in the same direction.
  • Are the loved ones in your life behind your relationship? I don’t believe that anyone but you should have the final say on whether or not you get married, but the support of your community can make a huge difference… and it helps to have outside confirmation of your relationship when you’re feeling uncertain.
  • Okay, this is probably a no-brainer, but I’ll ask it anyway: Are you attracted to each other? Yes, in that way? (Don’t worry, I’ll stop there.)

If you get along well and can talk excitedly about your dreams together and have the support of your friends and can’t wait to jump each other’s bones and have made your decision with careful thought (and prayer?), then you, dear one, can be unequivocally happy. You’ve chosen well, and the inevitable rough patches of marriage will be all the easier to work through because you’ll have not only a lover but a friend by your side.

Now comes the part where I tell you how wonderful marriage is and you roll your eyes because I’ve just spent 1,600 words talking about disillusion and difficulty and telling you that your beloved is not, in fact, Mr. Right… but my point is that he doesn’t have to be. The two of you will experience priceless companionship, passion, and loyalty together. In working through hard times, you will knit forgiveness and redemption into your story. You will be given the honor of choice as long as you are together, and you will feel the soul-swelling gift of being chosen by your spouse even after you’ve seen the worst of each other. Marriage is absolutely worth it.

So my last advice to you, dear one, with the Operation Wedding diet plan and the girlhood mementos sorted into boxes and the whispers of uncertainty coming at you from every side of this great new unknown, is this:

Don’t be afraid.

25May

Untethered

I don’t know where to start writing about this, even just for myself. It’s too big for me, too heavy, and my soul just wants to stretch out on a beach chair in some blissfully deserted part of the world and fall asleep to the sound of waves. How do I write through where I am now without coming across as fickle or, as more than one person has suggested, deluded?

It’s true—my perspective was warped by years of religious brainwashing and abuse in God’s name—but if nothing else, growing up with people who swallowed someone else’s ideology taught me not to do the same. I refuse to adopt a belief system just because others tell me to, and that applies to Christianity as well. Have I ever believed in God because my own story and experiences led me there? Have I ever even had that option?

I once thought that every good thing that happened to me was an act of divine benevolence. Scholarships, job offers, relationships, fast recoveries, relationships—each a personalized stamp of God’s approval and generosity.  What does that mean for my friends who had to work their way through college though? What of my friends living off of unemployment? What of those who didn’t meet Mr. Right or never recovered or had their homes destroyed by a natural disaster or went bankrupt or lost a child? Where I used to see God’s puppet strings, I now see coincidence because I can’t deal with the implications of an all-powerful benefactor playing favorites.

It doesn’t mean God isn’t good. Rachel Held Evans wrote about the same internal debate, and I’m relieved to know that the struggle isn’t confined to my own head and that others have found other ways of measuring God’s goodness. In nature, for instance, I can’t help seeing the beauty of its blueprint… but I don’t see perfection, and I don’t see personal intention. Whether the sky cooperates for someone’s outdoor wedding or a hurricane devastates thousands of families, I simply see a flawed universe set to random.

And I understand now more than ever why some Christians I know cling to their beliefs at the expense of everything else in their lives, even peace of mind. Coming untethered from a doctrinal picket line is a frightening experience, and there is only a hairline difference between feeling liberated and feeling lost (I tend to vacillate between the two). I can’t turn off my questions any more than I can turn off my instinct to breathe, but I wish I could. Some days, I am absolutely certain I would choose unthinking acceptance over this mind that tracks down holes more easily than it does happiness.

I have problems with a lot of people who claim to take their marching orders directly from God, and this casts doubt on the whole notion of a converted life (at least a life converted from assholery). I have even bigger problems with the Bible, questions that I fear have no answers aside from churchy platitudes, and as much as I might want to, I cannot sincerely subscribe to the whole traditional Christianity package. I cannot accept that a loving God created people for heaven and then set their defaults to hell. I cannot believe that a Jesus who taught turning the other cheek represents the same deity who went around wiping out heathen nations in the Old Testament. I cannot see my way past the violence or the inconsistencies or the staggering injustice of what some call the “Good News.” I just can’t.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this leaves me. I’m not rejecting faith, but I can’t flash a denominational membership card either, and even the space just beyond the old tether’s radius is unfamiliar territory. My biggest hope is that God isn’t tied to the picket line either and that my uncertain journey forward will bring us face to face, maybe in an open-air café without closing hours where he can answer every question I’ve ever penned in my journal or posed to uncomprehending pastors or sensed without being able to articulate. More than anything, I want God to be real and different than I was always told, and I think this longing counts as faith for me right now. And if I am simply deluded, I  pray I’ll eventually stumble across that beach chair.

 

5May

Eucharift

Our church doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas. I’ve heard of other churches that choose not to as well, most citing pagan or consumerist holiday origins as the reason, but ours shies away from it for the opposite reason: it’s too religious. More specifically, it’s too Catholic.

I sympathize with their need to differentiate themselves from the national religion. Here in Italy, the Pope is held up as truth incarnate, and the small Brethren congregation with which we share Sunday mornings is anxious to dispel the notion of religious royalty. In fact, we don’t even have a paid pastor. All church members are seen as equal participants among each other and with God, and the inclusive environment is incredibly welcome for those like me who run screaming from the word “orthodoxy.”

I’m not sure how welcome a Catholic visitor would feel though. While it isn’t often said aloud, the general consensus seems to be that Catholics do not know the real God; they base their lives on superstition, worship idols, and enslave themselves to greed (the clergy) or fear (the parishioners). They need to be saved just as badly as Buddhists or even Wiccans do.

However, I simply can’t make the stereotype match up with the Catholics I personally know. It’s easy enough to say a certain denomination (or religion, depending on your viewpoint) has it all wrong, but can I honestly make that verdict about my Catholic friend who prays regularly for me and launches heart-to-hearts about our life’s passions? What about my ex-fundamentalist friend who finds solace from her oppressive past at Mass every week? What about the devout family friends who uprooted their lives to keep a mentally disabled relative from losing her inheritance?

How can I say that I, with my ever-evolving doubts and struggles, have exclusive rights to the God we all seek?

I twice attended Mass when I was living in the States, and both times, I stayed conspicuously in my seat while the rest of the church filed to the front for the Eucharist. I reasoned that I was merely an onlooker of a foreign religious ritual and that participating would be on par with apostasy. (Never mind that my own church’s monthly communion service was essentially the same thing, give or take a priest.) If I were to go back now, though, it wouldn’t be as a tourist. Rather, I’d go as a fellow believer, doubter, stumbler, and seeker. And while I probably wouldn’t agree on a lot of doctrinal points, and while the reverent liturgy of the service might chafe my nonconformist sensibilities, and while my current church could have some strong opinions over it (thankfully, we don’t do excommunication), the slot vacated by my superiority complex would be just about the right size for a concept called loving my neighbors… and maybe even learning from them too.

Rally to Restore Unity

[Joining the Rally to Restore Unity going on this week on Rachel Held Evans’ blog. Want to play along?]

3May

Liturgy

The storm hits, and I have been too distracted to notice the boiling clouds or cobble together a shelter until it’s too late. I am drenched in a fury outside of anyone’s control, at the mercy of merciless elements. Unwelcome memories soak me to the bone. Doubts thunder, and anger illuminates my universe in stark flashes. It is simply too much. My feet give out from under me, and I let the torrent sweep me away.

In these times, I don’t know which way is up, much less whether or not God exists. All I can see is the pounding blackness of my immediate reality, and I start to think that disavowing religion altogether might keep the storms at bay.

But my soul doesn’t actually want a retreat; it wants a fight. It wants a shouting match with someone who can stand up in the force of all my turmoil. It wants a defense from the one I sometimes believe orchestrates the storms, and it wants to be convinced that I’m blaming the wrong things. It wants answers for now and answers for then and answers tucked into the pockets of my future. It wants a way of belief that validates my logic and my experiences, my ever-racing mind and my ever-tired heart.

Above all, it wants peace… and here in the darkness of cloud cover, the anchorless tumult, and the weary absence of intention, I catch an unexpected glimpse of it:

“May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.”
(from Common Prayer)


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