Saturday, June 30, 2007

Time Out

Today has been a good day. I am tired, but it's a good tired. The kind of tired that comes from spending a day with people you love, doing things that are fun for their wonderful simplicity. It has been a very long time since I've had day like that is fun, pressure-free, stress-free, and purely enjoyable.

I spent the day with two of the most wonderful guys that I know. We went to Mackinaw City, enjoying the tacky gift shops, followed by pizza at Mama Mia's. We crossed the bridge and went to da U.P., eh, and followed to road until we ended up at a fine arts festival. The festival was artistic, but hardly fine. A drunken singer provided the entertainment. I am fairly certain he was not drunk when they hired him, but he was decidedly inebriated by the time we arrived. His rendition of "American Pie" was nothing less than ugh-inspiring.

We talked of many things..."God Stuff", Jack Kerouac, tacky gifts in the tourist-trap shops, and taking road trips in egg-shaped travel trailers. We talked about Monday, and what news it might bring. I told Craig that if my enlarged lymph nodes mean I have cancer, and I need to get chemo or radiation, I am taking a serious road trip when it is all over. Life is too short and uncertain to wait for "someday" to come.

We stopped at a beach and went wading in the water. Well, Seth went swimming...The day was perfect for enjoying the water in whatever capacity.

We laughed. I have not laughed so hard in months.

We crossed the Mighty Mac again, and had Kilwin's ice cream on this side of the bridge. Excellent ice cream. Craig had to finish mine, because I could only eat about 1/4 of it.

The weather could not have been more ideal for a day such as today. The beauty of the north reminded me of God's eye for every detail, and that my own life does not go beyond His notice. Whatever Monday and everyday thereafter brings, my life is in His hands.

I am blessed. I am tired and in pain. A good tired. And the pain...well, it is there. Monday will bring some answers. I am blessed with wonderful people who will stick with me, no matter what comes.

Today, I experienced a "time out" from the uncertainty of what looms before me. For today, life seemed normal again, and I wasn't burdened (too much) by what I may be facing. For today, I could breathe.

Thank you, Craig and Seth, for a wonderful day.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Things just keep getting better...

I got a call this morning to confirm a doctor's appointment I did not even know I had. Apparently, the doctor who removed my kidney found something on my ct scan from a week or so ago, and he wants to see me right away. I am going in first thing Monday morning. I asked the receptionist if it was urgent, as I had plans to be out of town until Monday evening. She said it couldn't wait and I needed to come in.

I am scared. I am also worn out. So very tired...

Thursday, June 28, 2007


It is 6:19 a.m. as I write this. Sleep evaded me throughout the night, and now morning has broken and I have a relatively full day ahead of me. It was about 4:30 a.m. that I finally gave up the ghost and decided that sleep would not come to me. I took a shower, got dressed, fixed my hair and put on makeup, and started the day. I am now waiting for my sister to finish her morning routine so we can go pick up my niece from her dad's house. I am finally tired, but can't go to sleep. This is going to be a heck of a day, I can tell.

Last night was the third night of its kind this week. I am worn out, in every sense.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When you've been broken

I was reading the profile of one of my friend's, and his expression of pain and frustration seemed very like my own lately. Lately, as in, for the last several years.

I have felt frustrated of late. So much of once was has been lost, and while I do understand that there are reasons for everything, and I will see this unfold into something wonderful beyond what I can imagine right now, this season is not without its frustrations.

I have fallen into the pattern of getting through the day to day of life. Once upon a time, I was inspired. Life was full of possibilities. Life seemed to be simple. I was not concerned with career objectives or lack thereof, I was not concerned with whether or not I would someday be able to be in a home of my own, living this ridiculous notion of "The American Dream". I was not overwhelmingly concerned with paying bills, despite the bills that were coming in. Stress did not rule my life. Necessity did not rule my life. Life was simple, and somehow or other, I kept it simple. My primary concerns were how the ideas for story and poetry and incredibly creative verse would play out on paper. I did not fear the blank page.

And what changed this? I suppose that I always knew this would change eventually, but I thought that day would come after I settled down and had 2.5 children and did not have time for such things as writing and painting and other creative expression anymore. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this stifled creativity came despite my lack of the things I thought would surely kill such expression.

I feel worn out. It seems that I am going through a time of realizing how very much of myself I have given away since those days when each morning brought new vistas of inspiration. Somehow, I became someone who could easily be bent to another's will, sacrificing my inner most self a piece at a time. Rather, I was always someone who could easily be bent to another's will, only such compromises became more sinister as I got older. In all of the efforts to be one who is loving and supportive and always cheering for the underdog, I became someone whose own identity became lost in the chaos. I became someone who would be easily manipulated by men with sad stories and sweet words, easily intimidated by women who were emotionally brutal but shrewdly kind, allowing people to strip my soul away. Each day became a day not filled with inspiration so much as sheer determination to get up one more time and get through. Not entirely unlike the bloody, battle weary soldier who pulls herself up to fight on through just one more battle...then one more...then one more...with a faint but assured belief (or vague hope) that she will eventually come out the victor.

So, here I am. And who am I? It seems that I have been stripped of the things which have always held my identity. I once found my identity in my creativity. I was the writer. A painter, too, but mostly a writer. Then, I was the girl with all the problems. The mental patient. The recovered mental patient. The girl you would never know was once a mental patient unless she told you. The strong girl who overcame adversities most will never know, in order to do things that were fundamentally easy for so many others. The girl who was living the life she wanted, a life that was not glamourous but very fulfilling. The girl whose life was turned upside down by unforeseen circumstances. The girl who is learning to put it back together. The girl who is a shell of a girl. Not a girl at all, but a woman. A shell of a woman at that.

There is a lot of pain in losing yourself. I suppose there is some freedom in that, too. Maybe it's only when you lose yourself...your false self, the self you thought you were but never really were...then you can find yourself as you really are. As you always were, but never realized. Stripping away the contaminents to get to the purity of what lies within. Getting down to the real deal, the "me" that remains constant regardless of the circumstances.

Against all reason, I do maintain a shred of optimism. I look at this season of loss, and loss, and more loss, and realize that this, too, shall pass. Some of the loss has been wonderfully liberating, and not a loss at all. Other elements of loss, though, are very painful. There is no getting around that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

NOOMA - Rich

This really puts things in perspective. I have a car. I have clean water to drink. I have more than a dollar a day to live on, even though I complain about my money being tight. I spent more than a dollar on ice cream alone yesterday.

Not another day like this...

So for the last few days, I've been experiencing some pain and pressure on my right side. Specifically, right under my last rib. I was waiting for the ct results from last week before making too big a deal about it, because it didn't hurt that badly. I was going to just ride it out until the doctors had some idea of what my insides looked like.

Then, it happened. Last night, I sneezed. I knew it would hurt, so I did all I could to brace myself. To no avail. I felt things pop and shift inside, and the next thing I knew, I was in significantly more pain. I am happy to say that the pain under my rib is gone, but I have a whole new kinda pain that leaves me unable to walk without tremendous difficulty and very sharp pain. So, I am heading to the ER as soon as my mom can take me.

We'll see what happens. I am packing a bag, just in case.


Okay, so my surgeon's office finally got back to me, and it would appear that a trip to the ER is not necessary. Apparently this sort of horrible pain is...normal??? Anyway, all is well. Relatively speaking.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So I Stay Near the Door

One of my instructors from Bible college gave this poem to me, saying it reminded him of me. You see, when I was in Bible college, I was actually rather shy. So, the way I would meet new people was to hold the door open for them as they went into the academics hall. I would stand there, every afternoon, and hold the door for everyone going into the building for the first afternoon classes. It was a fantastic way to meet people, and a very enjoyable act of service.

As I read this poem, I realized it also perfectly stated my own position within the body of Christ. I have never felt like I was part of the religious crowd, and never really wanted to be. Even in Bible college, I felt as though I was very much on the outer fringes of whatever was happening there. And that's okay. :)


By the Reverend Canon Samuel Moor Shoemaker, Jr., D.D., S.T.D.

I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world–
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.

They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it - - -
So I stay near the door.
The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door–the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch–the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.

Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter–
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it–because they have found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him - - -
So I stay near the door.

Go in, great saints, go all the way in–
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics–
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, or sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms,
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture a little farther;
But my place seems closer to the opening - - -
So I stay near the door.

There is another reason why I stay there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great, and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia.
And want to get out. "Let me out!" they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled
For the old life, they have seen too much;
Once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.

Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving–preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stay near the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply, and stay too long,
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there, too.

Where? Outside the door–
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But–more important for me–
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
For those I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

"I had rather be a door-keeper . . . "
So I stay near the door

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ah, what might have been...

If we had lasted, tomorrow would be the four month anniversary for myself and my formerly significant other. If we had lasted. If I had not broken his heart. If I had not had the realization that I wanted something other, something different, something better suited for myself and my life. It is a mercy for both of us that I finally just put an end to the incessant struggling to find reasons for us to be us, when we should never have been to begin with.

I am grateful for all the lousy relationships I have had, really. It is these lousy relationships that have helped me learn the hard lessons that will be such a great help to me when I finally meet the right guy. I am glad that the men in my life, for whom I suffered, were all wrong for me, because it has given me a better idea of what I want and need in the guy who is all right for me.

I know, this sounds so harsh. But is it really? I have come to believe that life is way too short to be skirting around the matters of the heart. Love always comes with its share of trials, simply by virtue of two human beings attempting to mesh their lives together in a way that brings a measure of harmony and happiness to both. Love does not need the further complications of trying to find reasons why a dating couple should continue dating, particularly when both parties have expressed their share of doubts, questions, and a lingering desire to bail out and move on. Life is too short to give yourself to someone who does not love you, respect you, appreciate you, cherish you, keep up with you, encourage you, support you, push you to reach a little further, yet does not try to change who you are as a person...Life is too stinking short to waste time on being with someone you do not love and cannot see yourself spending your life with. I am not sure why we dance around this, and why we consider each other insensitive and uncaring when we speak a truth that is liberating to both parties.

There is greater grace in telling your once beloved (infatuated with) significant other that you do not and will not love them as they desire to be loved, then to string them along by faking an emotion, a state of being, that is not there. It is too taxing on you to do it, and their heartache will ultimately be greater.

My heartache would ultimately have been greater. My physical healing from my surgery did not really begin to happen until I finally spoke the truth, and stopped forcing an emotional and mental state of being that was not there. My physical and emotional recovery is coming right along now, and I know without any doubt that there are better and brighter days ahead. I do not feel the burden of an inevitably doomed future anymore, and that is a tremendous burden lifted.

The truth shall set you free...And so it has.

Monday, June 11, 2007

To know and be known

I have been in a "deep thoughts" mode all day. Not the Jack Handy kind, though I do love his deep thoughts. Rather, I have been keeping with the mode I have been in for the last week or so, thinking about the human condition, where we all fit into the grander scheme of things, and what God is saying to me in all of it.

A little while ago, I was reading an article about Baby Jessica. As you will likely recall, "Baby Jessica" was an 18 month old baby who fell into a well, and remained there for two and a half days as a team of rescue workers raced against time to pull her safely out of the well. I remember all the media coverage surrounding Baby Jessica's story. I remember there were prayer vigils held, asking God to keep her safe while she was in the well, and to allow for a safe rescue. I remember seeing footage of the many, many supporters who rallied around Baby Jessica's family, keeping watch with them as they waited...sometimes very anxiously...for their baby girl to be pulled from her darkened tomb 22 inches below ground. I remember hearing reports about Baby Jessica's medical condition as the minutes and hours ticked by, and the collective sighs of relief as the reports came back that, despite everything, Baby Jessica seemed to be alright. Baby Jessica belonged to the world. She was everyone's baby.

Baby Jessica is now 21 years old, and a lot has happened in the world since she fell into the well and was subsequently rescued after the heroic efforts of a team of very dedicated people. Still, it seems to be a story that is timeless. It is still moving to hear about a group of people banding together to save the life of one little girl, and there is some wonder in knowing that an entire world watched, keeping vigil for that little one's safety.

You have to wonder...why did we care so much? Why is the life of one person among important? What makes people take risks to save the life of another, especially when the risks may outweigh the benefits? Why?

If you ask the woman still known as Baby Jessica, she would tell you that it is because we all want to believe that, if we were in that same condition...helpless, frightened, without any hope of rescuing ourselves by our own efforts...then others would rally to help us, just as they did for her. We want to believe that someone would make the valiant effort to do what seems impossible, and pull us out of our respective wells and lead us to safety.

Hmm. I think she is on to something. I think we all have an innate desire to know others, and be known. We all want to believe that, even in this vast, endless universe, we are important. Not in the sense of a collective importance, but we are each uniquely treasured, uniquely valuable, uniquely important to someone. Important enough that someone would risk their life, even lay it down, for us.

As a Christian, I have grown up with the belief that I am important to God just because God loves humans collectively. My church upbringing taught me that if God has something for me to do and I am reluctant to do it, He will just find someone else to do the job, because He can work through anyone. There is some truth in that, but the taste it left in my mouth was bitter. The message was, "You are not really all that important to God's plan. He can just find someone else to fill your shoes. He didn't make you all that special." I grew up with the sense that Christians had a "We are Borg" way of thinking. As soon as one becomes a Christian, they must assimilate to the un-uniqueness of their new found faith, and accept that...despite all their desire for the contrary...they are not unique, specially gifted, or even necessary to God's plan.

I disagree.

As I grow in my faith and in my understanding of God, I am learning that God is so big, so vastly beyond all we can know and understand on this side of eternity, that His expression of Himself through us is equally vast and varying. When God created man, He made us in His image. If God is vast and mysterious and reveals Himself in different ways, small pieces at a time, it would only make sense that the way to do that is through us...Humans made in His image, to reflect Him in all His glory. To reflect such a vast and mysterious God, He would need a vast and multifarious expression.

I am learning a lot about meeting people right where they are, and celebrating all of our humanness. We are all struggling with something. We all have our hang ups and our baggage and our moods and our bad habits and our stuff. We all have stuff, and God uses us even with our stuff. I am learning that to be fully surrendered to Christ does not mean I have to deny my humanness, rather it means I make my humanness available to God, and as I do so, I become more like the human He meant for me to be before all the junk of this world got in the way.
I also believe that we are special, uniquely gifted, and each of us are necessary for God's plan. Sure, God can fulfill His plan in other ways if we refuse to do our part, but it will not be fulfilled in the way He wanted to do it through us. Through me. Through you.

And who am I? Who are you? That is another undercurrent that is coursing through each of us...the desire to know who we are, and then to be known as fully and deeply as we can be. This is one of the beautiful parts about the way God made us...He made us in His image to express Himself through us. He also made us with this desire to know we are important, to know that we matter. He also made us with a desire to be known deeply and completely. And...He also made us utterly incapable of doing those things for each other. In our quest for significance and knowing, we are directed back to the Creator, who is the only one who can fulfill those needs completely. He knows we are significant enough that He would die for us. He knows us deeply and intimately, and wants to reveal Himself to us in that same way.

In celebrating our humanness, we also see how very limited our capacities are for meeting our deepest needs. That in itself is something to celebrate. Through Jesus, we are rescued from the well of purposeless lives, lives that fall short of what we were made for. Lives that leave us empty. Yes, He came to die so we could be forgiven of our sins, reconciled to God, and we will eventually be in heaven and live out the rest of our eternity with Him. But after the forgiveness, then what?

I am learning about the "then what".

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thoughts on the emerging church

Not long ago, I had a conversation with someone who said they had problems with the idea of the emergent church. They did not really say why they felt this way, but stated they just had a problem with the idea.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what he meant by "emergent church", so I didn't pursue it. I have been curious, though, regarding how exactly this emergent church is defined. So, I did what any sensible person would do, and I Googled it.

Here is how Wikipedia defines the emergent (or emerging) church:

The emerging church is a controversial[1] 21st-century Protestant Christian movement whose participants seek to engage postmodern people, especially the unchurched and post-churched. To accomplish this, "emerging Christians" or "emergents" seek to deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods to fit in the postmodern mold. Proponents of this movement call it a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature. The predominantly young participants in this movement prefer narrative presentations drawn from their own experiences and biblical narratives over propositional, Bible exposition. Emergent methodology includes frequent use of new technologies such as multimedia and the Internet. Their acceptance of diversity and reliance on open dialogue rather than the dogmatic proclamation found in historic Christianity leads emergents to diverse beliefs and morality.

In reading this definition, I decided that, without realizing it, I was part of the emerging church. I had long ago stopped believing that the church as we've known it up to this point serves any relevant purpose in reaching the unchurched and post-churched in the world we live in. The old formulas do not seem to be very fruitful. In fact, the overall message of the church as I've known it seems to be, "Jesus came to earth to die so He could forgive your sins, and someday you can go to heaven and be with Him for all eternity. In the meantime, keep in mind that you are still a pretty lousy person, but if you do all the things that you need to do since you're a Christian now, you might be able to experience the grace of God in your life once in awhile, and make it into heaven by the skin of your teeth. Doesn't that sound wonderful?"

Certainly, there are variations of this message that offer more appeal, but the crux of the message has been the same. If I'm not mistaken, people over the years have become increasingly more hostile to this message, and it is not because the world is waning and we are in the end times, and this is to be expected. It is because the church as we've known it has stopped being relevant in the world we live in. The church has become the essence of an old, dried up windbag, or a political platform by which those who do not agree with us are assumed to be going to hell if they do not come to the light and align themselves with right wing (or extreme right wing) political views. After all, how can one be a true Christian if they can see the beauty in the soul of a homosexual, and celebrate that beauty??

I have for quite some time considered myself more liberal than conservative in my thinking. Oh yes, once upon a time, I was very conservative. I thought God lived in a very small box, and if we could not fit our thinking, our lifestyles, our very selves into that box, then there was no help for us and we might as well strike a deal with the devil so we might at least get one of the nicer rooms in hell. Over time, though, as I have grown in my faith and experienced God's unmistakable hand moving in my life, I have realized that not only does God not live in a very small box, but He does not live in a box at all. We cannot begin to comprehend the mysteries of the God we serve, and we cannot begin to limit the vast reaches of His love for humanity.

I often think back to my more conservative days, and how many people I may have momentarily soured to Christ and the church because I could not see God beyond the limitations I had put on Him. I think the emerging church is relevant. I think it is an indicator that people are starting to "get it". In living a life of faith, we are dealing with a mystery far beyond our comprhension, and who are we to limit it, or say who may or may not partake of it? People the world over have been severely wounded by the church that asks them to tow the conservative line, to fit into the mold of what a good Christian ought to be, and for being labeled without mercy when they express their humanness.

God does not ask us to deny our humanness to serve Him. He merely asks us to make our humanness available for His use, so He may express His glory through our humanness as He would like to. We are all wonderfully weird, quirky, flawed people, who don't always get things right. And the God I serve says that, despite all of that, I am still holy, blameless, irreproachable, and I have Christ in me, the hope of glory. Right now, just as I am. Flawed, human Stephanie.

I think this is a message that the world we live in is dying to hear.

Emerging Church readings:

"Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell...phenomenal book, busts the God box wide open

"Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller...a book that stretched my beliefs in all the right ways

" The Rest of the Gospel" by Dan Stone and David Gregory...What does it mean to have Christ living in you, through you, and as you?

That's my two cents :)

Love Stinks

I hate the horrible residual effects of having once known someone to be wonderful, sweet, and so forth, and then to see other things about them that, while not horrible, are not exactly what you thought you would find if you were to dig deeper into the wonderful, sweet, and so forth person you thought you knew. And what stinks is that you sometimes remember the person you thought they were...the person they never were, really...and you wish that you could know that person again. Or, at the very least, not be absolutely consumed with anger and disgust when you think of the person you came to know after the blinders came off.

I hate that I cannot see some people beyond the pain that knowing them brought into my life. Oh, to return to the days of innocence...

When I think of love lost, I never find myself thinking, "I wish that person was part of my life again." Not at all. But I do often find myself thinking, " I wish I could think of that person and remember the good things about them and truly desire good things for their life, and not be consumed with insidious thoughts about them merely at the mention of their name."

I know from experience that, as time goes on, I will be able to remember my love-gone-wrong with some measure of fondness, and distance from the train wreck of our relationship will help me to see the good in who he is. I know it's there. Right now, it's hard to see that, though, and that in itself is a burden.

Why do we do what we do to each other? This whole dating thing is pretty tempestuous, when you think about it. Our hearts were never intended to be bonded then torn away from one person after another, until you finally meet that one person your poor bruised and battered heart was meant for all along. Whose idea was this, anyway?

I think it's kinda funny when people make comments regarding people bringing baggage into relationships, indicating that those who desire to be married have to leave the baggage behind. Give me a break. For the modern single, we have been told since the beginning of time that the way to find the right person is to bond yourself to a bunch of wrong people first, and then...tada! will finally meet the right one, and live happily ever after in your baggage-free world, because you will somehow suddenly let go of every hurt, every wound, every mark left on your soul by bonding yourself to all the wrong people on your way to the right one.

You know what? I've got baggage. And sometimes, it seems like I have a lot of it. I am by nature a very intensely emotional person, and I do tend to analyze things to death before I finally lay them down. I'm telling you, there are relationships in my life that ended years ago, which I still think about from time to time, and think, "Wow! I never realized that before...". I suspect that this baggage I have will diminish over time, and rather than moving forward with a five piece luggage set, I will eventually have just an overnight bag or a cosmetics trunk...But baggage free? Come on...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Had a bad day...

I woke up feeling sad today. I had no reason to wake up feeling so sad. I had no sad dreams just before waking up. I have had nothing horribly sad happen in the last couple of days that would leave me feeling so sad. Still, I woke up sad.

It did not take me long to attach reasons to why I am feeling so sad. I feel sad because my life is nothing like I want it to be. I think I have failed...again. I think that, no matter I do or how hard I try, failure is part of my destiny. My style, if you will.

I feel sad because I cannot seem to do even the most basic things that adults do to live independently. I think about others I know who are my age, or even younger, and they seem to land on their feet every time. Every time I attempt to do what adults do...find a decent job, move out of my parents house, maintain a place of my own, and so forth...I seem to fail, miserably. Whether it is due to my own actions, or circumstances beyond my control, failure seems to find me. Before too long, I am living with my family again, because I could not make it on my own. I am tired of feeling like the perpetually lost sheep.

I feel sad because I want to work, and I am not physically able to do that yet. I want to earn money so I can go out and go to a movie without feeling like I am slowly draining the life out of what little money I have in reserve. I am still in a lot of pain, I still feel very tired most of the time, I still feel nauseated a lot of the time, I still feel like exactly what I am...not healthy enough yet to go back to work. I have been sick for about two months solid now, and it has cost me dearly. I am tired.

I found myself thinking today that if only I was smarter, gifted, more talented, more whatever people need to be in order to be successful or at least not needy and dependent...if only I were more of those things, maybe then I wouldn't feel like such a loser most of the time. If only I were more of those things, my life would be more together, and I would be somebody God could really use to do something that matters.

Of course, I recognize that these are just feelings, and they do not reflect truth or reality. I recognize that, in the only reality that matters, I am complete, I am perfect, I am exactly where God needs me to be right now, exactly as He wants me to be right now. I will not become somebody God can use someday, when I get my act together and can live the life I want. I am somebody God can use right now, living the life I live right now. Even if my life never changed (which it will, someday, but even if it didn't...), God sees me as whole, holy, complete, irreproachable, blameless...right now. I am already all of those things in my spirit, because my spirit is united with Christ's. The experience of my soul, which lives in this temporal world, is in becoming all of those things. I know all of that.

But this still really stinks. To add insult to injury, this is the second time I've written all of this out, as it got erased the first time. Man, today is just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In other news...sort of

I am tired of writing about relationships and forgiveness and other related items. At least for the moment. Such things are part of a larger process, a greater work being done in me, and it all comes in waves. I'm sure I will have more to write about as new waves of understanding wash over me, but at this moment...I just want to be done with it. I am sick to death of talking about it, thinking about it, processing it, and yearning for it to be truly part of my past.

It is all the more aggrevating because these experiences came to me in the midst of other very trying experiences. In every respect, this experience of loving and losing had become peripheral to more important things happening in my life, and the entire thing was just an aggrevation. I think it is a good indicator of where you are with a relationship when it feels more like an obligation or a chore than a joy. I am sure that marriage can feel like that sometimes, but the early dating relationship, the time when you should be feeling awash with love and affection, should never feel like drudgery. If it does...RED FLAG!!

And there I go talking about relationships again. Sheesh. I might as well just run with this for awhile.

I think that, when a breakup happens, it is easy to become consumed with analyzing it. I do think it is wise to look at it, see where you made mistakes, see your own role in the pain you are experiencing, and see where you can do better in your next relationship. I think it is far too easy, though, especially for Christian singles who have been told that their single greatest task in this world is to find a mate, get married, and have babies...I think it's easy to become swallowed by the analysis, consumed with trying to figure out why you didn't end up marrying that person. Sure, there may be some huge things that you chose to ignore along the way, causing you to stay with that person longer than you should have, but the simple fact is that it didn't work out because the two of you just weren't meant for each other. It sounds simple, because it is simple.

I was talking with a friend of mine last night about the daunting task of processing the emotions that come with a breakup. There is sadness as you let go of any dreams you once had with that person. There are the feelings of disappointment in that person as you look at who they turned out to be, as opposed to who you thought they were. There are the feelings of anger that come with those realizations, feelings of being manipulated into harboring such hopes to begin with, and so on. A whole laundry list of emotions that come with the ending of a relationship.

So, as I'm talking this out, my friend presented a novel idea...Rather than putting so much energy into nursing the negative feelings toward the person and the memory of the relationship, why not thank God that you saw those things and were spared a lifetime with someone who was not right for you? Hmmm...Of course, I know this. But to really allow the shift in focus from anger to gratitude is really something. Instead of saying mulling over the things I saw in him that disappointed me, hurt me, left me baffled, I can say, "Thank God I saw them when I did, instead of being with him another three months, six months, ten years, and then seeing them. Thank You, God, for letting me see this now, and sparing me the greater pain that would have come if I had made a greater commitment to him."

I do think that Christian singles, probably more than those who did not grow up in the church or are not so influenced by it, do feel a greater pressure to make our relationships work. In Christian circles, when people see a couple start dating, the wedding bells start to ring. Their chime is faint, but certain. I think there is a slow but certain shift to the understanding that it's okay for relationships not to work out, and that does not have to be a devastating tragedy. I think this is slow in coming, though, and it is such a new idea in Christendom that it is difficult to find support in the, "It didn't work out, that's okay. Learn from it, and move forward" type of thinking.

I am not a 31 year old single Christian woman in 1952, who has been already written off as an old maid well past her prime. I am a 31 year old single Christian woman in 2007 who is learning and growing every day, becoming more fabulous with every life experience, and who is going to be a heck of a catch for the right man. The right man...not the man I just settle for because I do not want to be single anymore. On my wedding day, I want my tears to be tears of joy because I get to spend the rest of my life with the most wonderful man to come into my life, and I know without any doubt that he is for me...not tears of sadness because I am marrying the man I settled for because I did not think I could find anything better, so he'll do.

I think it's awesome that we can grow with all of these experiences. I love the richness and depth that the road of suffering can bring to one's life. As I look back on my life, I can certainly see that my journey has been marked with a lot of pain, a lot of heartache. I used to think, "Why me?". Over the last couple of years, though, I have adopted a, "Why not me?" perspective. I am grateful for the journey I have had, and I would not change any of it. I am grateful that God has used all of it to make me who I am, and that He has used these things in my life to reach other people who go through times of suffering in their lives. That makes it all worth it.

Okay, for the other news...

I have been in significant pain over the last week or so. Much more pain than I should be experiencing this far out from surgery. My doctor is ordering a ct scan to see if there is any fluid buildup where my kidney used to be. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Further thoughts on forgiveness

Okay, so as I consider the relationship, and I think about the things that just absolutely irritated me, and the things that now leave me feeling so angry sometimes, I have to face the reality that, more likely than not, very few if any of those things were done to me with the conscious intent to cause harm to me or to our relationship. Perhaps there were underlying intents, motives veiled even to his own heart...but nothing done with the conscious thought, "I'm going to do this, or say that, because I know it will hurt Stephanie."

I think this is a common thing. Except in situations where the person has clearly gone out of their way to harm you, and their actions or words are clearly marked with malice, I think it is often safe to believe that the injury was not intentional. It does not absolve the injurer of their culpability, but does create an affirmative defense for their actions.

Now, the injurer's tendency to injure without thought is a good indicator that perhaps they are not a safe person for you to be around, but in the matter of forgiveness, that seems to be a totally seperate issue.

As I consider the relationship, and my choice to forgive, I think of this...What am I really forgiving? Was anything done to me that was so injurious that I need to forgive that specific action? Perhaps...but overall, I would have to be honest with myself and say that the thing I really need to forgive is that he did not fulfill my expectations of what I wanted and needed in a man, and that in itself caused more of an offense than an injury. I think this is often the case with couples who breakup. Where no specific act of injury has been committed, and there are just a hundred little injuries caused by each other's essential selfishness, I think the thing we feel the need to "forgive" often comes down to this: "I forgive you for not being the man/woman I expected you to be when I agreed to have this relationship with you. I forgive you for not being molded into all I hoped you would become as time progressed. I forgive you for feeding my infatuation when we first met, allowing me to build you into an ideal, only to have the reality of your true self come in and dash my expectations of you to pieces. I forgive you for trying to sweep me off my feet by acting as my prince/damsel, only for me to find out later that you're just an average person with hang-ups, just like me. I forgive you for not having hang-ups I can deal with."

Those are broad terms, of course, and we can all find flaws with our exes that we can point to and say, "See that! If they were who they pretended to be when I met them, they would not have had that thing hidden in the background! How could they do that to me??" Certainly, some of our relationships were marked with more downs than ups, and some of those we shared our hearts with did not treat them with as much tenderness as we would have liked. Speaking of this relationship specifically, however, the primary injury I am working to get past is that, in essence, he was not what I was looking for, and I had made an emotional investment into something that just did not work out. And to this end, I must also be honest and say, "Get over it and move forward to the guy that God DOES have for you."

I think this is a great argument for giving relationships time to grow on their own steam, not trying to make them into something just because emotions are running high, and, hey, wouldn't it be great if we could run right past this "just friends" thing and get to the good stuff of being a couple? Some relationships naturally grow quickly, and they are solid from the beginning. Many relationships do not grow as quickly, though, and become solidified over time, as the pretense of first impressions falls away and the relationship still stands strong.

And this is what is frustrating to me...I am 31, I want to get married, and I do not want to go through the whole "getting to know each other" process. Man, that stinks. A catch 22, of the most cruel kind.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Learning to Walk

I think another not so great thing about breaking up is the process of forgiving the other person. It is easy to say, "I have forgiven him." Much harder to walk in that forgiveness. I think about something that he said or that he did, and I feel angry, manipulated, hurt, and I feel a quiet rage rising up in me, demanding a vague something that would make everything in me feel at peace. (Knowing full well that there would be no peace, only a thirst for more "justice".) So, I make the choice, sometimes moment by moment, to say, " I forgive him. I extend to him the same grace and mercy that has been shown to me, and he owes me nothing."

It is so hard when you feel you have been wronged to truly accept that there is nothing you can do to change how the other person perceives what happened between the two of you. If they believe they have done no wrong, there is nothing that you can say or do to change that. I cannot change how he perceives our relationship, his role in it, or my role in it. All I know is what I see with my own eyes, how I interpret it, and the hurts that I carry in my heart because of countless little injuries over the last few months...Nameless things that only became clear to me after I stood at a far enough distance to take in the whole picture. I cannot make him see that, and at this point, I do not care to make him see it. There would be no point in bringing such things to light, as the relationship is over and I am moving on.

Still, the choice to forgive is one that must be walked out, moment by moment, until the experience of the soul matches the knowledge of the spirit. It is through God's grace that I extend grace, and wait for healing.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

On loving and losing

I think one of the worst parts of breaking up is when you start to remember all the things about that person that drew you to them in the first place, and you realize that you have to give up those things, too. Beyond all that, though, you start to realize that while you may be losing someone who perhaps wasn't the greatest boyfriend or girlfriend, you are also losing someone who was a great friend to you, once upon a time. It really stinks how introducing "dating" into the relationship can compromise so many things, and take such a heavy toll.

I have several male friends, and once in awhile, somebody will ask why don't I date this one, or that one. Once in a great while, I will reply with, "We have such a great friendship. Why would we mess it up by dating?" And while I ask the question in jest, the truth is, dating someone changes everything, and when you stop dating them, things are never the matter how much you would like to kid yourself and think that they will be.

And so I consider Harold, and realize that I am blessed to have known him, that he has been a wonderful friend, and that I so much wish we had not tried to hurry past what we had in each other as friends. Because now that we've done that, and I concluded it was not something I wanted...things can never be the same. It's just a reality of living this side of eternity...people hurt people, and in doing so, the dynamics of how we relate to each other changes. We cannot undo the choices that were made, and live as though relationship threshholds were never crossed. Wouldn't life be great if we could just undo every choice that didn't turn out the way we wanted it to??

I suppose it's a learning experience, as all of life is. And I also suppose that, along the path to the one you're supposed to marry, it is to be expected that some relationships will change, and the change may mean that relationship is no longer part of your life at all, once all is said and done. And, I suppose I've been through this before, and survived the hurt and moved on just fine. I will survive this, and move on with my life, and all will eventually be well. Right at this moment, though, I am remembering the friendship that once was there, and all the things that lead to its demise, and I'm just thinking....What the heck was I thinking???

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