Monthly Archives: February 2012

Present Tense

I recently realized that it is only by letting go of my vision for the future that I have been able to not only enjoy the present far more but also the let go of the past. When I’m not fixated on what I wanted my life to look like by now, it is much easier to forgive those who have disappointed me, including myself.  Intention is good and necessary on some level, but I think that too often I’ve placed my hope in an outcome, rather than in the Person who is truly all good and all love.

Take the perennial thorn in my side: relationships. (Just in time for Valentine’s Day, OF course.)  I’m going to commit a bit of heresy and say that the premium placed on marriage by certain cultures has perhaps limited my love ability (and loveability?) rather than nurtured it.  I think that I internalized “love” as a means to an end, something you hoard only for the one you deem “marriageable.” (And how the hell, I have ever asked, does one figure out who that is? No answer.)  Guard your heart and all that. I understand and believe some things need to be held sacred to the bond between husband and wife. But is it not possible to give of your affection to someone you will never marry, at least until you have found the person whom you will, out of simple generosity and pleasure? My life has always been characterized by withholding, saving, storing, but for what?  Ostensibly in reserve for future husband, but I wonder if stinginess has become such an emotional habit so that when I do find myself in a relationship, I have a constant eye on the “prize” rather than the person.  Might it not do me well to practice giving within my limits without a thought for what I want in return? (I think that until now I have never done so.)

Don’t misunderstand: I still want to be married and I am protecting my marriage as best as I know how. But for now I have set aside the expectation of marriage to take the pressure off myself.  I feel like transferring my perfectionistic tendencies onto relationships causes me to take it so much harder when things don’t work out.  But if I treat it all as a learning process (that I still enter very tentatively)–this is healthy, that is not; I am this way and not that way–then there really can be no failure, only chapters that end and eventually–yes, please!–one that begins and begins and begins.

Lighten Up

I just realized today that it is only when I have something to lose that the urge to clench–but also the vital need to hold lightly–is strongest. That would probably explain the quickening anxiety vortex, huh?  Good to know…

Unbelievably cool image by Heather@Noelley.net.

Future Perfect

About a month ago, Alex Beadon posted about where she wanted to be in five years. Before I could lose my nerve, I wrote one too but never got around to sharing. And in the last few weeks I have found just enough hope and joy to consider revisiting this exercise in a little more detail.  She wrote in third person, but I decided to totally freak myself out and write from the I.

I am almost thirty…who would believe it? I have come out of the tumultuous years of my twenties a woman of greater faith, hope, and love than I was before. I have learned to trust myself, others, and God through all circumstances. I have learned to be content without losing my ability to see the potential in any person or situation. I am a mentor to young women, and I still stay in touch with the Phenomenal Women in my life. My mother and I are friends, especially now that my husband and I are expecting our first child and I am preparing for a huge helping of karma if my child turns out to be a drama queen like me. Being married has taught me to sacrifice and receive and to hold lightly. My husband is my partner and best friend; we shoot together, cook together, read together, write together, dance together, and laugh like idiots as often as possible.  My days are spent capturing the beauty of people and nature and telling life’s amazing stories. We probably won’t travel as much once the baby arrives, but to be honest I am rather looking forward to tummy time, Mommy and Me yoga, and knitting stupid amounts of tiny clothing. For now and ever, I choose love.

Leave the Pieces

A week ago I got an e-mail from the principal of a school in Africa where I had been planning to teach two years ago. I had gotten as far as being accepted as a missionary candidate but my unresolved search for significance reared its ugly head and I decided that I would not be able (willing?) to handle such a big transition.  Of course, I wound up moving to another town anyway, and the anxiety, left unchecked, eventually spiraled into depression and a mild self-implosion.

The principal wrote to ask whether I would still consider short-term missions, as they had a need for a teacher to fill at least one semester of biology while the current teacher takes time off for French study. My initial reaction, which is perhaps more important than I sometimes give it credit for, was, “Ooh, that would be fun!” But hints of emotional PTSD from the last two years quickly gave me pause.

I want to believe that I am capable of being a good teacher again under different circumstances. It is probably a distortion to think that a “good” teacher would be able to teach anything and everything under any and all circumstances, right? And as I’ve had the chance in the last two months to interact with students in a healthier capacity, I am slowly coming back to trust myself around kids, and sometimes I remember that maybe it could be enough just to be a listening ear and affirming presence. (You were right, DH…don’t rub it in.)

Someone pointed out that if I were considering a return to the classroom, this would be a valuable experience to counter what happened this school year. And I would not be horrifically opposed to teaching part-time. But I’ve been trying very hard to get away from the “What’s in it for me?” mentality on multiple levels of my life, without losing an eye to what is truly compatible with my strengths, and I think that my initial reaction of excitement speaks to a healthier level of Presence in my thoughts and emotions that would help me if I went.

Reading John this morning, a few things stuck out:

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him “Do you want to get well?” -John 5:6

The man does not answer Jesus’ question, of course, but instead tries to explain why he has not been healed yet. Other people get in the way. I can’t get the help I need. Isn’t that the eternal danger for us all, especially for the ridiculously introspective like myself?  But I love how Jesus just ignores the man’s rationalizations and says, “Dude. Get up and walk. Seriously.”

But it gets better.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip,“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. -John 6:5-6

Again, Jesus is testing the believers’ faith, and Philip sees only the very logical but very limited human perspective. And Jesus acts regardless. How assuring that God doesn’t always wait for our OK to act for our own good!

And finally:

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” -John 6:12

Oof. Guess that answers the eternal question of my heart, “But what could you possibly want with this?”

Relentless God, indeed.