Friday, December 27, 2013

No end to the valley....

You'd think, eventually, this one event would stop coming back to haunt me. That after four years, my life would move on and resemble something close to normal. In some ways, I suppose it does. I know how to smile. I know how to laugh, and I laugh often. I know how to take pleasure in beautiful everyday things. I know how to sit silently and allow myself to seep into a moment, to expand that silence until I lose the center of myself, and I feel a great overwhelming sense of fulfillment.

I know when to let people take priority, and when I must prioritize myself. I know that a broken heart can't heal the world. A tired mind can't cope with a new day's struggles. Grief becomes a constant process of opening and closing. Recovering and spreading out, accepting our new life, inviting friends into our hearts, relearning how to love...and then closing, cutting off, dissolving into ourselves, still trapped by those deep-seated mental structures of trauma and loss.

These days, I feel a great need to retreat from my life.

I am not healed. At times, I don't think I ever will be. I have stopped striving for it. Life continues to roll on, and grief rolls with it. Sometimes that grief is hardly noticeable. Sometimes it is a wonderful thing, rich in poetry and a solid sense of satisfaction, knowing the personal and spiritual growth that comes from it. Through years of struggle, I've come to know myself. At least where my soul is concerned, I stand on solid ground. And yet always, there is a backlash. That backward sliding motion. Yearly events trigger it. Stress at work, fights between friends, between family, small everyday details. And I realize I am far from healed. I wonder, sometimes, if I am worse off than I was at the beginning.

How can I move on from grief when the loss of my parents continues to define my life? All of my stress comes from inheriting a house I was too young to care for. Navigating a harsh world with no safety net, no loving, nurturing arms to enfold me. Working too many jobs, losing out on those soul-searching years of our twenties when we're allowed to make mistakes. I cannot choose to give up, to take a break, to redirect or reorient myself to this life. A bad decision can cost me my home, my livelihood, my honor, my sense of self. I have too much to lose. Too much I am trying to hold onto. In this sense, God grants me no reprieve. I must carry on, nose to the grindstone, rolling through this world as grief rolls through me.

If I had one parent left, it would change everything. "Well, I may not have my mother, but at least I can turn to my father. At least I can spent Christmas with him. If I am upset, I can call him on the phone." But I don't even have that. And I am still so young. Twenty-five. And four years now, this same situation has defined my life, my struggles, my achievements. I can't move on when the problem is still in the present.

Now, today, it is hard to make a decision. Any decision. I can't even finish a thought. It is difficult to entertain the future. Too many possibilities. I cannot plan, or reply, or explain. I want to shut the door on the world. I need to block it all out. Every thought splits in many directions, chains of words, rivers of logic, and the mind cannot resolve them. I fumble for threads, but can't tie it all together.

God knows how often we fall. God knows our struggles and our failures. And today, in the face of grief, I am falling. Failing. Dear reader, I promised never to lie to you. This season has been a hard one. Four years into this struggle, and I thought it would be over by now, but a cold thought arises--perhaps it will always be there. Perhaps this valley is much larger, much deeper and wider, than I ever imagined.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the brink of a New Year....

And always, I forget.

So close they come, and yet they still don't know.

A dear friend said to me, "That is why those who know the divine spirit are always smiling. They know something you don't know. That's why they're always laughing. They know the divine joke of life."

And I wanted to explain myself so badly in that moment. I wanted to say everything, but I couldn't. And so they indirectly ask me--why am I always smiling? Why am I always laughing? They ask in the late night, after a Christmas party, as I'm dropping them off at the curb. They ask me, but I cannot answer.

Because those who know the divine secret know the joke of life....We know the peace and joy of God. We have made peace. We know the great presence of the spirit in the world around us.

And that secret, you know...that secret stays between me and god....

It is like they almost see it. They see a shadow in the corner of their eye. Almost, when they look at me....

But if I told them the truth, why would they believe me? Would telling my story change them? Would explaining my beliefs make faith any more accessible?

And then I realize--that is why. That is why all the great teachers are so difficult to quote. That is why they contradict themselves. Because the story changes. Because we are preachers, not mathemeticians. Everyone is in a different place, starting from a unique point toward that same, central whole. Everyone knows God differently, and so the story must change, to reach each individual soul.

And so my message changes, depending on the listener.

And so my wisdom, at times, is hidden, because I know a listener is not ready.

And so I hold my tongue, because people need to be free to speak of their souls, to rejoice in their own spiritual self. By asserting my theology, I am stifling them. People need to know it's safe. No, it is not a weak or shameful thing to reach for God. It is, in fact, the most important stretch of your life. Reach, in those early stages. Just reach.

And then I realize, I am in service, no matter my doctrine. I draw those listeners into a delicate web. I am listening with my heart, trying to mentor, trying to love, trying to say the right words that will uplift the soul to God, not tear it down.

A single perfect word can awaken the soul.

And who cares of the right way? The first step is what they need. There are so many paths available. They need that one step, that nudge in the right direction.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Truth is simple.

Honestly, I just want to bring joy to the world.

And that is where I will begin.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I need to walk closer to God. I need to keep my channels open. I need to listen.

It's amazing how when I am most in need, those who walk close to God, or who listen very clearly in their hearts, will reach out to me. I don't see it as a coincidence.

There are people in my life who I love fiercely and blindly. People who I care for and want to protect. I extend myself to these people as much as I can, but when I see others of faith reaching back to me, it makes me wonder if I am really listening. Not just to the people I love and care about, but to that Spirit that lives inside of us. Am I listening to that still, small voice? Am I truly hearing the plights of others, or am I simply responding to what I see in the world around me?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Confessions VI

God blows on His hand, and says, Now.

And a fine wind moves across the valley, circling and spinning, picking up pollen, thrusting through flowers....

And inevitably, a seed is sparked....

And we have a sense, looking back, that everything was heading to something, and we might just be in that place now, that hidden knell, where we are supposed to be--and it all might be simpler than we think. The first step was the hardest--walking with uncertainty--yet the second seems to follow....

Is it time?

And God says, Heed me now, for you are young, but your desires are great. The greater your desires, the greater your failure; so by all means young one, fail, because in that you will find weakness, humility, strength of character. You will become detached from the world, solid on your own two feet....

And I say, that in all ways I am stubborn. You know my rebellious nature. I will continue this path for my lifetime, and if it leads to naught, then I was not what you asked of me. And if I fail, I will suffer for it, and bear that suffering gladly. For I knew from the start I was not worthy. I followed the sanction of my heart, and resided where I was most at peace, and if this is not Your way, then I am a failure, and I was never meant to be your child.

Dear God, you know I can do better.

And I know you can make use of me as I am.

It is healthy not to have too much success in your early career.

Because, in the years to come, you will simply strive harder, become better, improve improve improve....

And by the time you reach that success, you will be well worthy of it, having mastered all sorts of personal failures. And those who had success handed to them by extraneous means will never quite realize their full potential.

Premature success breeds laziness. Be thankful for the struggle.

And if you don't reach that public success, you will still have the personal success of realizing your full skill and talent. God sees it. A life of hardship and struggle is not a waste. It brings so much more to the soul--experience, patience, wisdom and true knowledge of the craft.

Keep going. You will succeed.

After the Valley

It is strange, looking back after walking the valley. I feel fearless. Undaunted by anything that life can throw at me.

Since passing through the valley of grief, my spiritual path has quieted.... The true challenge now is finding God in everyday tasks. The house cleaning, cooking, day-job and relationships. Without a great trial at hand, it is easy to lose track of God--easy to stray from one's purpose. (But the sense of God's purpose always remains. I feel like I am digging for the path. Perhaps procrastinating--a strange guilt of putting something off--and yet I know I am not ready to tackle anything greater than what I am already doing. My sense of direction remains.)

I am in a place now that is whole. I don't know how else to describe it. I am so much older now--though perhaps only a year has passed, here I am, a new person, navigating this strange new life. There is a sense of duality, as though this path is still a dream, a shock to my body. There is another reality out there somewhere, where my old self lives as though my parents never died, making the same ridiculous choices that spoiled youth make. That parallel road lives inside of me, even if it cannot come to pass; it is a phantom of the mind.

Who am I, now? Who is this person who waits, who contemplates, who decides? Who works responsibly? Who is able to see what others are doing and intending? I can read people so much more easily than I used to. I know God so much better than I used to. And God's ways have become like a deep pool within myself, a natural wellspring of thought, without so much doctrine and studying and reading. What truths I have learned, have become me. There is no need to profess anymore. My person speaks of where I've been, who I was and what I've become.

I am reminded of this short post from Monday, July 4th, 2011.

And I must say now, that what was hard then is now easy.
What was unnatural then has become my nature.
What was impermanent has changed, and has left me a new person.

And this new part of myself... this strength, this kinship with God, this wisdom of the world and innate knowledge of truth--it has become the very root of myself. What God plucked from the earth, he has replanted and pruned. It is now time to continue growing--and perhaps, to bear fruit.

Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. ~1 Chronicles 28:20 ESV

Pursuing Your Heart

I think it takes a great amount of personal strength to pursue our dreams.

And I don't think pursuing our dreams is selfish, not if we keep God in our hearts. When we walk close to God, our desires become like His. It would only make sense that He plants our dreams as well. And I think that, beyond serving Him, God wants us to be happy and fulfilled by what we do.

I have had this dream since I was very young, and feel that it is God's path and calling, though I do not yet see how it serves Him. I have been conflicted with my faith because I feel that my deeds serve myself more than others. I would like to know that I am greatly effecting the world for the better, but instead, I can only guess. I can only assume that, if this is my dream, God will use it to glorify Him, even if I am just beginning and do not yet see the connection. I am working blindly by faith, trusting that He will take me there.

It is easy to become downtrodden, especially when we choose a less-than-conventional path or career. It is easy to feel the negativity of others--bad responses, unsatisfied consumers or clients--and feel like we are failing

I face my fear of failure every day. I think that a single bad response feeds into that fear, and amplifies it by a thousand fold. So we might have a hundred people encouraging us, but just one voice can tear us down. We need God's voice--and our desires for Him--to be stronger than that.

To face the negativity, to overcome my sensitive heart, I MUST remind myself that it is not the majority who are negative. It is not the majority who are unsatified. We can't control the preferences or qualities of others, and if our work is not enough for one person, then we must let it go. We must keep our eyes on our dream--on our path--on what brings us fulfillment in life.

It is hard to do, I will admit. It is so easy to bury something when we feel a lack of approval. And yet to bury this dream--this desire in my heart--would be to undo me. I cannot give up. I don't care if I fail a thousand times--if the entire world hates what I do--I know it is my purpose. I know it is the path that God has brought to me, given my talents and personal strengths. I know this is where I fit. I cannot let the words of others unsettle me.

God, be my strength. Be my compassion. Be my true fulfillment. Knowing that I am walking with You should be enough. Remind my heart that when I feel unappreciated, You are always gazing upon me with love. That my work is Our work. That you approve, even when others do not.

And please strengthen my faith in the future--that I will become better--that my words can reach the world.

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you."
Job 22:21 ESV