Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3 NIV
For those of you who enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles, imagine working for weeks on a complicated puzzle only to sit down one day to work on the last few pieces and find that much of what you had thought fit together simply did not make sense. This is where I find myself these days. Not literally, but figuratively. I feel like I’m looking at pieces of my life and seeing that what I thought made sense before, now doesn’t necessarily fit into my idea of what I thought was going on. It’s unsettling. It’s somewhat scary. It has shaken me into a silent but compulsive analysis of the details. I thought for a while that I had figured something out, but now I’m back to being a little confused.
I’ve always been the kind of person who had about a million things going at any given time. Now, I’m down to about five….total. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. Is it that I’ve matured and shed some of my overly compulsive tendencies or is it that I’ve simply given up on my dreams of making a difference. Recently, I’ve taken to turning off my brain after I finish work at my day job and basically ignoring everything that I had once planned to do in my spare time. I spend most nights watching TV and joking around with my daughter and sister, grabbing dinner somewhere so that we can pick on some poor, unsuspecting waiter or waitress, and then coming back home to scroll through social media to make sure everyone seems to be alive and well in their own little world. Lest you think I’m a jerk, I need to clarify that we don’t pick on waiters or waitresses to be mean. We like to make them laugh so that at least part of their shift is enjoyable.
My nights used to be filled with writing, posting on social media to promote my books or the books I publish under Higher Ground Books & Media, doing editing for other writers, or working on ideas for support groups and programs for Higher Ground for Life. Over the past few years, however, it became clear that the work I had been doing wasn’t really effective. At least some of the time I’d been spending on trying to build the ministry was not worth the effort. I was getting nowhere and nobody seemed to be interested in what I had to say. So, I stopped writing. I stopped taking editing jobs. I stopped trying to put together programs for the ministry. I stopped going to church. I stopped talking to my friends. I stopped trying to hear anything else that had to do with the life I had been living. I didn’t really replace it with anything. I just stopped.
What happened? Well, lots of things. I had been through several years of very stressful custody-related arguments with my ex-husband. I had watched my daughter struggle with anxiety and depression. I had watched my mother’s health deteriorate as she dealt with the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I watched my sister’s marriage fall apart and her subsequent struggle to get back on her feet. And finally, I watched my dad get sicker and sicker until finally being diagnosed with an unspecified cancer. While most of the problems I witnessed weren’t my own, it was very difficult to watch the people I love go through the pain and suffering that they have gone through. It is very draining to realize that you can do nothing to help them or that what little you can do won’t take away the hurt and frustration they are feeling.
On top of it all, my relationship with certain members of my family underwent a significantly negative shift. Relationships that I thought we had long-since repaired, seemed to buckle under the weight of other, less significant conflicts such as political differences and conflicting viewpoints about proper treatment. And so, all of the work that had gone into fixing what had been broken previously seemed to have been for nothing. And at a time when we should be getting closer, we were drifting farther apart. Not knowing another way to deal with the pain of this rift, I began to detach from all of it. I am tired.
So, while I want nothing more than for everyone I love to be okay, it may be that there is just no way for me to be anything more than an onlooker in some of this. I think some of the stuff is under control now, but there are big pieces of the puzzle that no longer form the picture I could once see very clearly. The shape of it has changed and it no longer makes sense to keep trying to make the pieces fit. I don’t like to give up on people and I generally don’t. But there are a few people who have repeatedly broken my heart over the years. My only recourse has been to shut them out as completely as I can without making them feel as though I hate them. I don’t hate them, but I do hate feeling used and abused. I hate feeling like I’m an imposition where I was once welcome. I hate feeling as though I’m never going to be enough for someone. These are the things I hate. Even though someone may put me through hell, with the very rare exception of one or two, I most likely still love them at least a little.
I have to be honest, I am also starting to hate this season of my life. There is so much that I am thankful for and so much that I wouldn’t change, but there are a few big things that I just don’t want to face. And it doesn’t appear that I have much choice but to face them. It stinks to be stuck in a place where you are simply waiting for the other shoe to drop. I spent years in this very place and I never wanted to find myself in this situation again. Faith should have cured this…shouldn’t it? Well, not really. Faith isn’t meant to be a cure-all. Faith is meant to bring us to the understanding that no matter what we face, God will help us through it. Faith is meant to help us declare that we know we are not alone in whatever battles we fight.
As I sit here today, I’ve been thinking that there are so many things I need to say. I’ve written a few versions of my autobiography; each capturing snippets of different periods in my life. It may well be time to put it all together and fill in the blanks. It’s a story that needs to be told. A story that may resonate with those who have been hurt and abused. It may help someone see that they are not alone. It may help restore someone’s faith where it is starting to falter. For now, though, I’m resting. I’m still thinking, still pondering…but for now, I’m taking my time. This is going to be rough and I don’t want to jump into this arena without making sure I won’t collapse under the weight of the next season of my life. I will share some of the details of this journey with you as I begin to compile them. If it helps you in some way, then it will be worth it after all.
I’ll be back soon.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
Psalm 89:2 NIV