A Side Trip…

Today I sat looking at unemployment papers, wondered how much longer I would own my home, with a husband who has abandoned his faith, and where in the hell God is through all of this mess. Things are looking darker than they ever have before and my God is absent through it all. I have such small dreams – I want a nice home, a stable job, the ability to save some money, and some extra so my kids can do some fun things like ballet, piano lessons, or karate. I’m not asking for much, or dreaming world-changing dreams. I want to touch people’s lives through nursing, and have a meaningful relationship with my husband. At this moment neither my husband nor I have a job, or any income, my mortgage is two months behind, and I am not entirely sure that I can buy groceries in two weeks, let alone a month from now. I feel alone, and totally betrayed.

You see, I have always believed that if I was a good girl and followed the rules, took responsibility for my mistakes, and loved God, well then, everything would eventually work out and my dreams would come to fruition. I love formulas; you know, if you do A, B, and C, you will end up with D. Chaos is the enemy, uncertainty is soul death, and stability is the ultimate goal. I figured that this plan is God’s path and if I did the best I could, it would get me where I needed to go.

I finished reading “Me, Myself, and Bob” by Phil Vischer (founder of VeggieTales). Ironically enough my husband snagged it at the library the other day as an oddity, and I thought why not? So I checked it out and read it in the last two days. Well, dang! It really isn’t a book about hope, and God moving mountains in our lives – it really comes down to God watching us fall down the freaking stairs and doing NOTHING about it. My life is falling down around my ears and my heart is crying out at the hurt and unfairness of a loving God who is doing not one single thing to stop the fall; and I am angry, hurt, and severely disappointed at the whole situation – at God. Afterall I have kept up my end of the bargain. Haven’t I? What the hell is going on? My biological father jumped ship a long time ago and I am still searching for a father in my life – and don’t we call God our heavenly father? Well, am I not good enough for Him to step into that role? Well, the snarky little voice in my head says “isn’t it better to be a doorman in the kingdom of heaven than a prince in the courts of hell?” Hmmm, I’ve been okay being a menial laborer in God’s camp for a while now, and it just isn’t the heck enough. I want more. If He says I’m his daughter, then I shouldn’t have to sweep the floors, or wash the toilet (spiritually speaking). I want Him, and I want to experience what relationship with Him is all about – but what does that even freaking mean? How can you have a relationship with someone who has no voice, no face, no body? My friends are my friends because they talk to me, they hug me, and they look me in the eye – they are present in my life. How is one supposed to manage that with a God that is only an invisible spirit and who makes Himself scare when everything goes to shit?

So, I’m reading the last chapter of this book and God is peeking around the corner of the book covers. As I sit on my front porch (that may not be my front porch much longer) smoking a cigarette, I come upon a few paragraphs that crack my heart right open and make tears roll down my face (and I am mad as a hornet for feeling so damn vulnerable and pathetic).

“God doesn’t love me because of what I can do for him. He just loves me – even when I’ve done nothing at all.” (pg 247) Really??? Oh, really? I don’t think so!

“First, God loves you. Not because of what you can do, or even because of what you can become if you work really, really hard. He loves you because he made you. He loves you just the way you are. He loves you even when you aren’t doing anything at all. We really shouldn’t attempt to do anything for God until we have learned to find our worth in him alone.”  (pg 250) This really sucks for people like me – cause I am really, really good at working really, really hard. In fact, in my inner-most thoughts, it is about the only good thing I can say about my character. I tend to have low motivation levels, and I am not overly ambitious. I am not particularly disciplined, as evidenced by the state of my home (pile of clean clothes on my bedroom floor, a bathroom that has had only minor cleaning in the past three months, a half painted wall in my son’s room, and a half a dozen other examples you probably don’t want to hear about).Oh, and I am clinically depressed.  But, I am so good at sticking to something, and working my ass off. I can be persistent as all get out. So if God doesn’t love me for what I can become if I work hard, then what is the point – where is my worth? How can I figure out what my worth is? If my worth has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God, then I honestly don’t know how to fit those puzzle pieces together.

“Second, when it is time to do something for God, don’t worry about the outcome…Your responsibility is simply to do what he asks.” (pg 250) HUH?

“Finally, and I am very serious when I say this, beware of your dreams, for dreams make dangerous friends. We all have them – longings for a better life, a healthy child, a happy marriage, rewarding work. But dreams are, I have come to believe, misplaced longings. False lovers. Why? Because God is enough. Just God. And he isn’t ‘enough’ because he can make our dreams come true – no, you’ve got him confused with Santa, or Merlin, or Oprah. The God who created the universe is enough for us – even without our dreams. Without the better life, the healthy child, the happy marriage, the rewarding work. God was enough for the martyrs facing lions and fire – even when the lions and the fire won. And God is enough for you. But you can’t discover the truth of that statement while you’re clutching at your dreams. You need to let them go. Let yourself fall. Give up. As terrifying as it sounds, you’ll discover that falling feels a lot like floating. ”  (pg 251) If I am real honest here, I do not know how to do this “letting go” which is why I wonder if my life is currently in shambles – maybe it is exactly what God needed to let happen so I can learn how to let go. As terrible as it sounds, maybe I need to fall down the stairs so I can let go of all the effort I have spent trying to control the chaos in this world and in my life. Maybe God is being silent, so I can finally learn to really listen – which I totally suck at by the way.

I am absolutely NOT saying that all the bad things in our lives are to help us “grow” or to “teach us lessons” – I think that is a Christian cop-out, a way of letting God off the hook of our disappointment.  We can’t be good little Christians if, in our hearts, we believe that God has totally let us down – if he has failed all our expectations of what being a child of God means. Cause, when I look in the Bible there were plenty of people who got screwed over in this life, and God never “fixed” it – or people whose dreams were so twisted out of true, or flat-out replaced by what God required of them, and they never got what their hearts desired. But what I do think they got was a real relationship with the big-G God, a knowing of Him, and that’s what I am reaching for. That is what I am hungering after – even if my life never comes back together again; because the death of my dreams and hopes seems an okay price to pay for actually experiencing God. I sure hope that I don’t have to wait long, because things really suck right now.

Here’s a link to the book by Vischer, and another book that I have been slowly making my way through that has a remarkably similar impact and message.
<a href=”Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables” title=”Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables” target=”_blank”>
<a href=”Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy (See all Christian Discipleship Books)” title=”Shattered Dreams”>

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Attribute #2

Children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.

Apparently we (ACoA’s) belive that we are prime procrastonators, but that is not an accurate way to describe us. I do better in a “crisis” situation than one where I need to plan a long-term project. Turns out that due to our chaotic childhoods, we don’t know how to complete long-term projects, because it is a learned behavior and requires being taught the steps. When you live in utter chaos, the focus in on survival – not on planning and learning how to plan. The goal is to get through the day as emotionally intact as possible – which is unfortunately harder than it sounds.

I always used to dread science projects at school; or the long-term papers in college because I do NOT know how to put together a plan that will get me from point A to point B. This isn’t as much of  a problem now that I am an adult and working as a nurse. In fact, it gives me a distinct advantage because I can perform under pressure very naturally. It does, however, cause me great difficulty in managing my family’s finances. I can do paycheck to paycheck just fine, but for stuff like establishing a savings account, or setting up retirement, I am effectively stymied. These difficulties, of course, feel like massive failures, which then starts the emotional battering I give myself any time I fail. It is a terrible cycle that repeats itself, even though I know better by now.

The other issue here is that of the constant broken promises. Dad always had magnificent ideas, and plans and they very nearly never got done – but credit and praise were both expected for the “thought”. The problem is that it isn’t the thought that counts – it is the action. It is very difficult to develop skills for completing projects when you are taught as a child that it is the thought that counts. I am so very, very sensitive to this in my own life. I take great pains to not commit to my children something that I think I might not be able to complete. Of course, this makes for plenty of missed opportunities with my family, which leads again to feelings of failure, which starts that whole internal flogging cycle again. A perfect example is the 2/3 completed paint job of my son’s room! I haven’t even started the girl’s rooms because of the track record from my son’s room. I  hate that I am unable to do more for my kids, because in some ways I am crippled by my inability to plan a project from beginning to end and stick with the plan.