Screw it…

I’m so out of sync with this blogging thing. I was trying so hard to, at least, have a record of each day, whether it was a single word, or in greater detail, but I lost track somehow, and it became a torturous need to ‘post every day’.  I need to see the entire forest, and not just focus on the trees. Note to self: remember the bloody name of your blog.

So, quick wrap-up of the last week (14/02/09 – 22/02/09): Mum’s 60th birthday; went away to the coast to celebrate, where it POURED and POURED, when it wasn’t bucketing-down; stayed in a beautiful resort; uncle arrived unexpectedly to surprise Mum (travelling 6 hours on a motorbike in the torrential rain); work sucked; work sucked; work sucked; fight with HL; made some awesome dinners and a very creditable attempt at a dish I tried at a café (banana coconut loaf, served with ricotta and honey); work sucked, but good humour amongst colleagues; excellent Thai to belatedly celebrate V. Day; Australia much better than expected (marketed v. poorly, in my opinion); Mum & Dad over for Sunday dinner…and that about brings it up to date.

I sez to myself, I sez…’Get over your ridiculous, and impossible ‘need’ for perfection. There is much joy in messy beauty, do not let yourself (myself) be inveigled into depression if unattainable standards are not attained.’ And I wish this would be the last time I would have to remind myself of that, but I fear that it is to be something I will struggle with till the end.

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‘Let every heart prepare him room’

‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come!’

Peace

“You will keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Under Control, Not In Control

I have a perfectionist streak. I think I get it from my dad, who has always wanted to do things ‘right’. It’s something I continually struggle with, the knowledge that perfection isn’t achievable this side of eternity, and, no matter how hard I wish for it, or plan for it, or work for it, or long for it, it ain’t happenin’.

We don’t entertain too much, partly due to my dissatisfaction with our house, our yard, our lack of hospital-grade cleanliness, and etc.; the contrast between the picture that I have in my mind of how it (and I) should be, and how reality (bites) actually displays itself, grates.

So, preparing for having people over is always more of a big deal than I know it should be. I always over-plan, over-provide, over-panic.

This Thanksgiving (which we celebrated yesterday) was a bit different. Yes, I planned a bit more efficiently, and, consequently, was able to paint our spare room and mow our big back yard in the last week, as well as working full-time and fitting in all the ahead-of-time baking and table-preparing and vacuuming and bathroom-cleaning and etc. But, that wasn’t really what was different.

The morning of the day we have people over always looks a bit similar – getting up at a moderately early time, thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m in pretty good shape, I can fit it all in.’, which morphs into ‘Ah…perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.’, which graduates into a slight panic attack about 4 hours before guests are due, which becomes a grumpy, resentful attack on HL when I feel he isn’t ‘steppin’ up to the plate’ and helping, which rises to a feeling of impending doom as the hands on the clock spin faster and faster, inexorably dragging me towards ‘Battle Stations, all hands on deck, take that to the garbage, move those shoes from the hallway, help me with this platter, make sure the cat litter’s scooped out, you know you have to carve the turkey, right?, ‘. Stupid, huh?

Yesterday morning was starting to look a bit like that. I felt a little panicky and out-of-control by about 10.30 (guests arriving at 1.30pm) as I had so much to do, and I said to God, ‘Please, stop this. Make time slow down a bit, or help me to feel like I can manage to get it all finished in time. I’m not in control here.’

About half an hour later I noticed that everything felt smoother, I felt calmer, and I mused to myself, and God, I guess, ‘I feel more in control, I can manage.’ A minute or so later, though, it occurred to me that I wasn’t, in any way, in control, I didn’t have anything in hand by myself, on my own, no matter how hard I tried. More truly, I was under control. When I stopped, for a moment, in my rising panic, and asked God to take the lead, I surrendered my feeble attempts at being in control.

The rest of the preparations, while still busy and a bit crazy, seemed to shrink into proper proportion. Not everything got done perfectly, but it didn’t matter: there was much turkey and wine and laughter and true joy.

Thanksgiving was awesome.

Christmas – bah humbug?

Christmas is coming.

Around this time last year I didn’t really want Christmas to come. Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year; the high point of the year’s arc. But, at this time last year, my life felt a bit crappy, and Christmas – the hoopla of it all – seemed so overwhelming.

I’d been working for the previous 3 years at a local software company, and, I say this with no exaggeration, it was the most demoralising, draining, hurtful, undermining, confidence-stealing, soul-destroying employment I have ever had. At the end of the 3 years I didn’t feel like myself; I wasn’t even sure of what my skills and gifts and abilities were anymore. My manager would tell me I ‘wasn’t as talented as I thought I was’, blame me for mistakes he made, set up staff against each other, play favourites, treat many hard-working, honest, loyal, clever, mature, wise, trustworthy, responsible, long-term employees as naughty, deceitful children – worst job I’d ever had.

I lost myself. Depression was always lurking, and frequently close to the surface. The problem was that I was so beaten down that I couldn’t see a way out, couldn’t believe that I would be able to find another job because, apparently, my skill set was so low (read: under-appreciated) that I should just be grateful to have a job.

Inertia was my enemy. I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for anything, particularly not finding a new job, and, Christmas? Who could be bothered to prepare anything? It was just all too much work. So, I didn’t. I just sat at my desk every day, sinking, and came home at the end of each day and sank into both my couch, and a depressive coma. I couldn’t be bothered to prepare meals, let alone write the annual Caradoc Christmas letter. Any Christmas planning was forced and joyless.

This from a freak who so completely ‘discovered’ her childlike Christmas glee while living in beautiful and Christmas-crazy Seattle, that she shipped back to Australia 4 huge boxes of affectionately-named ‘Christmas crap’, can’t walk past a store with ‘Christmas crap’ in the window without pressing her nose up to the window and sighing wistfully that she can’t own it all, and who normally begins planning ‘Christmas crap’ decorating sometime in October. So, I was dreading Christmas.

And then, a miracle. I was fired. There was a ‘restructuring of the business’ and almost my entire department (a dozen or so) were, ‘regrettably’, no longer required. It was a shock…but it wasn’t. It was scary…but it wasn’t. It was a ‘sucker punch’ to the gut…but it wasn’t. It was a relief…yep, pure relief. My situation had been changed for me, when I no longer had the capacity to change it for myself.

And, at that point, HL didn’t have a job either. So, there we were, heading to Christmas, neither of us working, and I was just so grateful. Christmas was a bit lean last year, but so much more joyful than I had expected it to be.

Both of us, also miraculously, ended up falling into work that is right and appropriate for each of us at this present moment (HL driving cabs, and me working at a school, which I love) and I’m planning for Christmas, joyfully.

Lost

You know what’s sad?

When it’s time for Bible Study and you can’t find your Bible because it’s been weeks since you even looked for it…

Broken in The Fall

I read this post from Stacy from Louisville recently, and I’ve been pondering on it since. I am in complete agreement that men have been given a raw deal, portrayed almost mercilessly as ignorant, bumbling, easily led, foolish buffoons.  We have a car dealership in our local area who ran a tv ad claiming that they would accept anything as a trade-in, and the final scene was a waiting room of sad, dejected, hung-head, rejected little men with signs around their necks, indicating that they’d been traded-in, and a cut to a grinning, in-control, gloating, little old lady, driving off in a cute red car. (Needless to say, I won’t ever buy a car from these people.)

And women are depicted as scheming, manipulating, in control, crafty organizers, who bamboozle with clever words, and lead and fool their husbands into doing what the women wish.

And they are both stereotypes. And I hate them.

But…something within me says that there is some amount of truth in these clichéd representations.

I can’t help but see something of Adam and Eve, of the first male/female relationship, the first marriage, the first sinful act, in the essence of these stereotypes. Both Adam and Eve failed to treat each other the way that was intended, and in so doing, undermined the structure of the balance that God created. Not that God created Eve to be a doormat, and Adam to throw his weight around, but there was an original equilibrium. But, things changed, and Eve wheedled and Adam caved.

I wonder, sometimes, how that happened. How Eve thought it would be a good idea to manipulate how things had always, for eternity, been, and jump into control, by causing Adam to question truth, history, himself, and their God. And how Adam shrugged off everything he had ever known to be reality, laid down meekly, and said ‘Yes, dear.’…

Something broke then. It wasn’t just the gut-wrenching, torn-asunderness that then characterised our relationship with God, it was our relationship with each other, particularly our partnership relationship. Something that had previously worked, fit together, and made stronger, ripped apart. And then riocheted through all of history.

My feeling, my gut feeling, is that it is these 2 things, these first sinful actions, that generally characterise broken male/female relationships now: male weakness and female manipulation.

Sittin’ in the theatre, readin’ the program, and waitin’…

I posted the poem ‘Effanineffable’ a little while ago, and in the last few days there have been lots of people coming here because of that post. Not quite sure why the sudden interest, maybe there’s an English class somewhere doing a unit on ‘The Poems of T.S. Elliot’, dunno…anyway, I started thinking about the first time I came in contact with Elliot’s ‘cat poems’.

Even though we grew up in a tiny little town, many, many hours away from ‘the big smoke’ my parents, and, in particular, my mum, wanted to make sure that we weren’t disadvantaged culturally. Not only did we go to every possible theatrical, educational, cultural or musical performance within 200 kilometres, we were also periodically taken on the 7 hour trip to Sydney to see the ‘big shows’ – ‘Les Mis.’, ‘Starlight Express’, ‘Cats’

Every production we went to see was amazing and cemented a love and appreciation of performance which is undertaken with high production values, and I could rhapsodise about any of them, but I’ll confine it to the relevant one.

I think I was about 10, and my brother 6-ish, when we went to see ‘Cats’. (Actually, I just checked the Wikipedia page, and, yes, I was 10.) There’s a moment, right before a performance begins, when you’re flipping through the program, thinking about the possible plot/music/action, looking at the photos of ‘the principals’, and slowly immersing yourself in the experience, when the possibilities seem uncontained, when you get little glimpses into what the next 3 or so hours could hold, and the anticipation builds.

The set of ‘Cats’ is somethin’ else. The immersion of the audience into the action  environment  world is instant, even as you’re clambering to your seats (in the nosebleeds for us 🙂 ). The rubbish dump that houses these ‘effanineffable’ cats is built to scale and encases the whole theatrical space. As humans play the cats in this colony of strays, all of the props are built to dwarf the humans, so the proportions of the empty cans of Coke and the rotting tires and the old newspapers are huge. And, not only is everything supersized, it doesn’t stay on the stage. All of the seats in the theatre are surrounded by piles of massive and intricate garbage, close enough to touch.

As we were ushered to our seats I was truly aware that there would be no wondering in that moment before the start of the production. It was so apparent that there would be no desire to curl up on the floor and fall asleep during this show. I sat, entranced, feeling engulfed by the elaborate stage dressing that had leaked from the stage into the audience. Even though the excitement and joy was immense during that time of waiting, it was not, in any way, to be compared to the excellence of being swept into the actual show itself.

I remember the delight, even as I was not really understanding the ‘plot’, as Webber’s music and Elliot’s strange and magical and detailed words created something. Something that was about an unknown and obscure, but complex, world, that contained depth and mystery and…completeness, I guess.

I might be overthinking, over-remembering, but I can feel myself – 23 years ago – feeling transported and overjoyed at this glimpse of a world.

I wonder if I forget sometimes that, in terms of eternity, I’m still just sitting in the audience, reading the program, anticipating the world to come. The set’s pretty elaborate, and reminds me that the bit to come – the ‘real’ production – is gonna be overwhelming, and all-encompassing, and characterised by high  perfect production values. Effanineffable…

Puddleglum, the Splendid Marshwiggle

I’ve recently been getting a lot of people coming here looking for ‘Puddleglum’. I mentioned him in this post but there was not a lot of information, just a mention in passing. So, here are some Puddleglum musings.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this bizarre marshwiggle when I first encountered him in ‘The Silver Chair’. He was so pessimistic and doleful and…well…glum (appropriately named I suppose). The ridiculousness of the assertion that he was considered flighty and irresponsible by other marshwiggles caused my 10 year old self to giggle at the thought of how staid and practical Puddleglum’s parents must be.

He was such a beautiful foil for his two travelling companions; Eustace, who was only just beginning to grasp the concept of responsibility; and Jill, who had barely ever exercised the virtues of trustworthiness and reliability. Puddleglum was sturdy and dependable, and the voice of reason, albeit a particularly gloomy one. (He reminded me a little of Samwise Gamgee – the real hero in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.)

*SPOILER ALERT*

When Eustace and Jill made error after silly error Puddleglum countered with wise and cautious words, but his most glorious moment was, most surely, in the house of The Lady of the Green Kirtle.

This Queen of the Underworld comes perilously close to irrevocably bewitching Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum, (and, by this stage, Rillian), with sweet and subtle and logical reasoning denying the possibility of Narnia’s existence, the sun’s existence and, most devastatingly, Aslan’s existence. The image (and the easily imagined smell) of this splendid marshwiggle stomping his flat and frog-like foot into the fire to destroy the entrancement is, for me, the apex of this Narnian chronicle.

Puddleglum’s indomitable words, “I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn’t any Narnia.” (The Silver Chair, Ch 12) in response to the Queen’s insidious cadence, “There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan. And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams.” (The Silver Chair, Ch 12) show such strength of character. Easy and smooth words that we know are false, no matter how palatable, should never go down easy, but should stick in our craw.

Puddleglum brings me great joy.

Puddleglum

Puddleglum

You are not me… *lightbulb*

Yesterday HL started work (driving a cab) at 7.30am and came back at 8am to take me to work. (We’ve recently become a 1 car family and it involves some tricky organisationing.) When he arrived he asked if I’d prefer to be dropped off at the car so I could have it after work and so he wouldn’t have to come and pick me up at the end of the day. That sounded like a good plan so – “Sure!”.

As we were driving we turned off the usual route to where the car usually is parked (quite close to work for me) and started heading out of town.

“Huh? Where are we going?”

“I’m parked at a different place today. You may have noticed I’m driving a different taxi than usual.”

“Oh, yeah…so you are. Well, how far is it? I don’t want to be late.”

“I don’t know, just up here a bit.”

“Oh…ok…it better not be too far out of town, or I’m gonna be late.”

I don’t know, ok?? Just up here a bit.”

*annoyed silence from me*, and then…

“Well, look, can you remember if it’s a long way out? It’s already quarter past 8 and I’m s’posed to be there in a few minutes and we haven’t even got to the car yet…You should have mentioned to me that the car was parked out of town before I decided. I would have said no, or we could have left earlier. I’m quite annoyed actually, ‘cos I’M the one that’s going to have to explain why I’m late, you’re already at work.”

“FINE…stop complaining, it’s too late now.”

“But I’m going to be late! Is it up here? What’s the road called?”

“Tait Road. I think it’s just around this corner, but we might have already passed it. ”

“Well, can you find a place to turn around please??”

“I WILL! I just want to be certain that it’s not still up ahead and then I’ll turn around. Just STOP TALKING PLEASE!”

And then clarity struck.

HL and I are not the same person.

My inner monologue tells me to keep pushing until I get a sign of contrition, a conciliatory gesture, and then forgiveness explodes and the bubbling anger trickles back down into the cracks of my personality. HL’s inner monologue tells him to protect himself, defend against anything that threatens to upset his balance, even when it’s a reasonable irritation at something frustrating. And that insight led to my burst of clarity.

HL finds my pushing scary.

It’s upsetting if I don’t let up and allow him to retain/regain his balance. Even if all I’m looking for is an apology or any signs of regret, my escalating irritation has the entirely opposite effect.

It’s not an easy thing to grasp, rather than just ‘know’, that you and your spouse are DIFFERENT. We’ve been married for almost 10 years and I’ve only, just now, ‘got’ that my anger/annoyance/irritation can be frightening and put HL on the back foot, urgently defending himself.

I guess I had never quite understood the power of that anger, and always saw HL’s increasingly defensive actions as giving me less and less power, rather than more. Which, in turn, meant that I often increased my level of irritation just to provoke him into an apology, which increased his defensiveness, which left me feeling more powerless, which led to…well…ultimately, hours of coldness with each other.

My marriage is my most important human relationship (Ephesians 5:31-32). I am so grateful for this small moment of insight. ‘Backing off’ will be much easier because of it.

(We found the car minutes later and I wasn’t really that late to work. 🙂 )

Pefect/Not Perfect

HL and I are currently living in the house that was my grandmother’s, when she was alive, and which now belongs to my parents. When a house belongs to a hoarding, infirm 90 year old it ends up deteriorating into a more and more dilapidated state. We are sloooowly dragging some order back in, but I’m still acutely aware of broken things, ugly things, dirty things, inefficient things, at every turn.

I have a bit of a perfectionist streak (I have also mastered the understatement), with which I constantly battle, as it’s terribly inhibiting. When one is holding off on having friends over because the house isn’t right yet, or the garden’s a mess; or when one is scared to dollop paint onto a canvas in case it’s ‘ruined’; or when one won’t post because the words just aren’t ‘smooth’…well…there’s something wrong. Life is waiting at a ‘Give Way’ sign.

One of the first things we did when we moved in here was to start painting. EVERY wall was a faded and dirty bluey-grey that was worse than hospital colours. Colour is incredibly important to me, so to be surrounded by drabness, dreariness, dullness, was too much to live with for very long.

We started in the loungeroom and hall with yellow – rich, buttery, sunflower yellow that glows in candlelight and morning sun and lamplight. I spent hours washing and spackling and sanding and taping off and cutting in so the paint job would be as pristine as I could possibly make it.

After much time spent up a ladder painstakingly adding coat after coat of sunshine I had a bit of a dawning epiphany. No matter how many coats of lovely fresh clean, joyful paint I slapped on, what was underneath was still the same. The stains from my grandmother’s dog, the scuffs and scrapes and foul colour were all still there, they were just underneath. When people came to the house they might see the new colour and be fooled, but I would always know that they were only seeing the cover-up.

I wanted to leave a window to remind myself that perfection is not something that can be achieved, even though we, as humans, love it and are drawn to it. I taped off a rectangle of the original colour and painted up to it. Inside the rectangle I painted these two things:

“To all perfection I see a limit” Psalm 119:96a and
“As for God, his way is perfect” Psalm 18:30a

Superficial things can look bright and shiny, but that doesn’t mean that they are beautiful to the core. My house is ugly and graceless at its heart, even though it’s much more liveable and ‘pretty’ now. Similarly, it’s easy to paint over our own crap so we look like we’ve got it together, but the crap’s still there, lurking.

Gratefully, thankfully, God is deeply unsatisfied with superficial. My life was/is ugly and graceless, but those kind of renovations, the internal and eternal kind, are of the ‘complete gut, overhaul and rebuild from the foundations up’ variety.

Perfection is something that eludes me, even as I chase it. I won’t have it while I’m alive. But it is there, waiting, round the corner.

Perfect/Not perfect

Perfect/Not perfect

(Edited to add: This post has been percolating for a while, but the motivating impetus was a comment made by Rodney)

The Joy of Silence

I’ve always been kind of a ‘wordy’ person, trying to understand things and how I felt about them through language. Sometimes just finding words can crystallise and clarify an emotion or thought. Sometimes, though, words can be clumsy and inadequate and awkward, and get in the way, rather than be helpful. Sometimes silence is the right and appropriate thing, allowing the situation to be fully experienced in and of itself.

Some years ago, when HL and I were getting ready to leave the US and come to Australia, there were things about my life that felt very overwhelming and difficult and unmanageable. I ran out of words. I would often hear this song on the radio when I was driving on I5, and it made me weep, and I felt the grace of God, right there in my little red Ford Probe.

The Elaboration Pt 2

This is the continuation of this post, and then this post.

I developed a deep and pure love for The Chronicles of Narnia when I was a child and my mum read the whole series to my brother Lucien and me. Lewis created a world that was more than captivating, that felt real. The stories felt deep and true, like real mythology.

I have a sense of something that I’ve never been fully able to grasp/explain/understand. I can see it in the distance but can’t get close enough to focus on the detail. It’s a sense of majesty and honour and depth and righteousness and beauty and rightness and glory and harmony and perfection… A sense of reality that is deeper than we can see, but that is implanted in us. It’s why we respond to to stirring scenes in movies, to stories about honour and sacrifice, to beauty in people and things. My understanding of all these concepts, and even the bigger thing behind them is due, in a large part, to the stories and world woven by Lewis. He seemed able to not only sense these ‘big’ things, but to show us glimpses of them.

There was a BBC version of four of the Narnia chronicles many years ago. It was lovely, and truly brought some of the most fun aspects of the series alive (in particular Tom Baker as Puddleglum) but it, quite naturally, could only work within a BBC budget and the technology constraints of its time, so, while it provided a taste, a visually-realised Narnia was not possible.

The current series is actually doing a remarkable job of presenting a beautiful and rich Narnian world that draws you in, and I have truly enjoyed the first two movies. HL and I went to see Prince Caspian a few days ago. It had been a long day at work for both of us and neither of us were really overly enthusiastic, but it was the final showing at the local cinema so…well, we dragged ourselves there.

The movie was as heart-lightening and engaging as I had hoped it would be, and we both were pleased that we’d gone. And this story could easily end there, but it doesn’t.

I have always found the concept of Jesus, being both fully man and fully God, difficult to grasp. I cope quite well with the the thought of a huge and mind-boggling Father God, but the complex interaction between the perfection of God and the humanness of Jesus I can’t quite fathom. It has always made me uncomfortable. I love Jesus deeply for his sacrificial love for me, and am so grateful, but I’ve always felt a bit distant. Songs and talk about our ‘friend’ Jesus have always left me a bit cold. And this has made me incredibly sad for many years, feeling such distance.

While I was watching Prince Caspian, however, Jesus tapped me on the shoulder. The depth and purity and complexity and joy of the relationship between Lucy and Aslan has always stirred such delight in me, and there was a scene in the movie where Lucy meets Aslan in a wooded glen that is alive with…I don’t know…’rightness’. Everything is working as it should be: trees step aside to let Lucy through; leaves dance in joy; sunlight dapples perfectly; the wood is one flawlessly interacting creation. And into Lucy’s experience with the wood steps Aslan.

She is beside herself with gladness to see him because he is her beloved friend. She has so much history with him, both joyful and dark, and that has made them very close. When he comes he brings righteousness and light and perspective and clarity and love. And it’s obviously apparent that he takes an equal delight in his friendship with her.

I felt my heart leap watching the two so happy to see each other, and at that moment Jesus told me that I didn’t have to grapple with the man-Godness of him, but that he would be Aslan to me. He would be was/is the being that I already understand through my long-term interaction with the kingdom of Narnia. Being able to recognise Jesus as ‘my own Aslan’ was a relief to my soul. If I can grasp the lion who ‘isn’t tame, but he’s good’, then I’ve already grasped the person of Jesus. Instead of feeling very distant he feels as though he’s never been far away. And I’m so grateful.

Grand-orphans

When HL and I first met we had 5 grandparents between us. He had a Grandma and Grandpa, and I had a Granny and Poppy and a Meerischen.

My Pop died of lung cancer just before I moved to America, Grandma died of lung cancer about 5 years later, Meerischen of heart issues shortly after, Grandpa of complications after a fall a couple of years ago and Granny a few months ago, when her body just got too old. HL and I have talked about how ‘orphan’ is the term for a person who has no parents left, but what is the term for those who have no grandparents? HL has suggested Grand-orphan.

Sometimes it will strike me out of nowhere that neither HL or I have any grandparents left alive and I will be reminded that we have been together since before all of those deaths. We were having lunch today and I said to HL “We have no grandparents left. They all died.”

I don’t know why I feel the need to point out when people are dead. I do it a lot. Almost any time we talk about someone who used to be alive and now is not, I am compelled to say “They’re dead now.” I think maybe it’s something to do with needing to be reminded that all is ephemeral, even people and things that seem to be steadfast.

We live on the edge of death, with it ineveitably looming, sometimes near, sometimes far, but always looming. I’m not afraid of death, as such. In fact, I’m not afraid of dying at all. I am afraid of grief. Especially sudden grief. Especially waking up the morning after, and the ‘thwack’ of sudden grief memory.

Death feels like a mistake. Like it can’t possibly be the case. Like there was life and then…not. Like this wasn’t the original plan. Some deaths feel better than others. Grandparent deaths at least often feel as though the timing was right, they were tired, sick, ready. But parent deaths and spouse deaths and children deaths… I s’pose as HL and I get older these some of these will seem more natural, but death will always feel, to me, like a mistake has been made.

Softened Heart

When I was in my teens I felt like my heart was hard, as though I wasn’t able to emotionally respond to things the way I thought I should, or the way I wanted to. It really bothered me, especially when I felt cold in response to things that I saw God doing in people around me, things that I knew were the hand of God on people’s lives.

“If my faith is an integral – the integral – part of my life,” I reasoned, “why do I have so little feeling towards it?” So I prayed. I told God that I felt distant and unresponsive, and that I wanted to break that, to soften my heart. I asked that any time I encountered something that was truly the work of God, something that revealed eternity, that I would be moved to tears.

This is a prayer that a part of me has regretted deeply over the years, not because God said no, but because he said ok. And so I cry sometimes. But, even though I’m very grateful to have a much more emotional reaction to important things I still tend to be someone who likes to keep it together in public.

I don’t like to disembowel my feelings to display them too openly, especially not when the exhibition engenders pity in others (as raw emotion often does), and since asking for this there have been countless times when the depth and beauty and faith of someone or some action has, indeed, brought physical tears to my eyes. And that happened today when I went to a blog that I visit regularly, and found this post.

So, my heart’s softened, and I’m grateful, and I wouldn’t change it…but I’m also a bit embarrassed sometimes. Which, I guess, is a good thing 🙂