(69) enough

how will I know when I’m enough
when I’ve done enough
when I’ve accomplished enough
I’m living in a waiting room
and trying oh so hard
(as always)
to do that right thing
to be that right girl
and I see that this is my trance
but I don’t know how to live through it

and then I hear from the outside
“just do one more thing”
just one more good thing
and I try to think about what I could do
or how to fit it in
and I feel oh so full of one-more-things already
and yet so empty
some part of this is just not working for me
I think I’m doing everything I can
it doesn’t seem to make a difference anyway.
what if I can’t do “just one more thing”
what if I already am living in a to-do list as long as my body?

 

how does the rain know when it has rained enough?
who closes the floodgates
and tells the rain to pause
what is the link between “enough”
and longing?
do I long for intimacy, for hope, for healing, for things-made-new
because there isn’t already enough of all that
or because I’ve tasted just enough to make me long for more?

 

and what does it mean when we say
that Christ is already enough
and when He says that his burden
is easy
easy!

I do not know what this means
or really how to live it out
although I have seen some examples
but I don’t know how they do it
and sometimes I am ready to give up.
which, of course, I won’t.
give up, that is
and I am sure that this is all part of
learning to live in the gray space
which, I’ve been told, is part of my current life work
but the gray space feels very unsafe
when dealing with big stuff like
salvation and eternity and
Living Life Really Well

 

 

Heavy Downpour --- Image by © Anthony Redpath/Corbis

Heavy Downpour — Image by © Anthony Redpath/Corbis

this is not easy for me
I feel unsteady and tired and
not-enough
but maybe it will help me to remember the rain
it knows when to start and stop
it understands enough
it understands that enough is sometimes
a flood
or a drought
but that is still enough
which doesn’t make sense
but still might be true

and maybe since the rain and I share
the same Maker
I also know more about
when to start
when to stop
and being enough
than I think I do.

 

I don’t know.
It’s just an idea.

 

 

(I decided to turn off comments for this post, but feel free to contact me personally with your thoughts or responses. thanks for reading/walking with me.)

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(60) longing for wholeness

I think at times when I feel too much longing, I stop writing for a while.

This doesn’t make sense, really.

Maybe I’ve postponed writing because of all the time I’ve spent in front of a computer screen, typing for others, hoping to rack up enough lines to make a decent income, propping sore wrists in a supportive manner, escaping from the computer to the garden, only to come back for an episode of Friends or Battlestar Galactica.

Or maybe I just stop writing because I do that sometimes when I feel too much longing.

Life feels deep. Complex. Painful. Sweet. Textured and multidimensional. Rhythmic. Cyclical. About as difficult as a 1,000-feet-of-altitude-gain-per-mile hike. About as simple as the toothlessly charming, slightly askew, wordlessly eloquent grin of a wee baby girl.

Sometimes I feel I cannot bear another moment of this bittersweetness.

And yet the moments tumble on, one after another. So much routine, so many unanswerable questions, so much silence, so many words, such delight, such sorrow. And I am hardly keeping up, barely aware of who I might be while carried in this torrent.

And I ache with longing.

This C. S. Lewis quote resurfaced for me tonight as she and I talked about what a loss it is to only be in a single place at once. I’ve only lived a few years longer than she, but I tell her what I’ve noticed so far: With the sweet, comes the bitter. With the hello, a goodbye. With the yes, a no. To me, this rhythm has been inescapable. The foremost example right now is deeply personal: I’m given the precious gift of closeness with her, with her family, at the extraordinary cost of living far away from him, that sweet man who I love so dearly.

I realize that maybe this is a common thread through the wonderings and conversations and silence of the past days, weeks. I long for restoration in fractured relationships. I long for wholeness and freedom and space — open space even bigger than Texas — in my heart, in my mind. I long for oneness and a knitting-together of soul in marriage. I long for healing and justice and hope and laughter.

Maybe all of this simply points to another place, the place where my heart is truly at home.

I feel that one of the big questions in the show Battlestar Galactica is exploring what it means to be truly human. And maybe these longings I stumble over and by turns embrace and ignore are part of the answer to that question. Maybe to be human is to long for wholeness. Maybe my heart remembers the truth I cannot see, “that I was made for another world.”

(47) hollow

He called me at 5 a.m. my time after he had checked in at the airport and before he went through security. He asked how our dinner went last night and how was the house blessing (the priest and his family had come to bless the house and for dinner) and I sleepily recalled how it had gone. The priest’s 3-year-old son must have asked my brother-in-law about the picture of Zack and I at our wedding that was in the living room because he padded into the kitchen in his footed pajamas to ask loudly about a man he’s never met, something like, “Where’s Zack? Why isn’t he here?” My thoughts exactly, dear one.

I wish you could meet these people, I tell him in the early morning darkness. I wish you could be here. I want them to know you, too. Maybe that’s why I have half a dozen pictures of him and I framed around this basement room that is now my home. Maybe I’m a little afraid I’ll forget the sweetness of his face. Mostly I just want anyone who comes down here to remember that I’m not just a me, that there is an “us.”

Neither of us really want to say goodbye, but he has to go through security and I kind of want to go back to sleep. So he just says he’ll call me again before he gets on the plane. I fall back to sleep, but sleep fitfully and dream.

He calls again at about 7 a.m. He’s had breakfast. He spilled his coffee before he had a chance to drink much and I feel sorry about this, although it’s a small thing. They’re about to start boarding the plane. “I’ll try to find WiFi when I get to Japan,” he says, “And send you a message somehow.” And then we really have to say goodbye. Being an hour and a handful of states away feels so much more manageable than being a day and half the world apart.

When I wake up again a little while later, I feel so empty. Hollow.

 

I know a lot of good things. That there is hope. That I’m sure I’ll hear from him soon. We have the Internet, for God’s sake. Many, many people are separated from those they love most and many of these are in far more dire circumstances than he and I. Don’t lose perspective, I tell myself. Don’t wax melodramatic and lose hold of Truth.

 

Yes.

But.

Maybe it is okay, even good, to embrace the emptiness, the grief and loss. Maybe God will honor my tears as prayers. Maybe if I live with grief for a while, I’ll grow up in compassion. And maybe we will meet God together from a world apart.

(31) grumpy pants

I guess I wore my grumpy pants to work tonight. Oops. Except I was wearing a skirt…so maybe I accidentally put on my mean-girl panties today.

I literally got off the phone with a customer and slammed the phone back into its cradle with so much force that, after I had retreated from the desk to pout for a minute, I returned to make sure the phone still worked. That woulda been a bummer, eh?

And then my friend and co-worker was trying to read a business-related Facebook post over my shoulder and I was scrolling too fast and then she asked me to slow down and I snapped at her, something mean that I (truthfully) don’t remember. But then I felt bad about 2 seconds later, sought her out and apologized. Double oops.

What happened, Anna? At this moment, while writing this post, I am thinking, Yeah, what did happen, Anna, and why the heck are you going to post about it on the Internet, this unresolved, messy little piece of you-kn0w-what?

I’m impatient, you know. I don’t want to walk across the parking lot in the rain to figure out why you can’t connect to the WiFi. I don’t want to wait around while you restart your computer; and did you know that googling the random error code your computer is producing is definitely not in my job description? No, I don’t want to wait on hold while you talk things over with your (fill in the blank). And did you know, Mr. Call Center Representative, that I already entered that identifying information into your phone system before it transferred me 7 times? And by the way, when I leave a note on our employee communication board that certain tasks need to be done this weekend, that means I figure they’ll be done when I get back to work a couple days later, seriously people.

It’s astonishing, embarrassing. I’m getting paid by the hour to do stuff just like this, help customers, make business-related phone calls…yet I’m impatient, as if there are more important things I could be doing. More important stuff like what? The social media marketing your boss wants you to do, but you so strongly dislike? Clipping coupons from the grocery ads? Surfing Facebook?

I just couldn’t talk myself out of that bad attitude tonight. My co-workers don’t know Jesus like I do, so I am conscious of wanting to, you know, be a good example. I am thankful to have a job and a paycheck. Lots of people want a job and can’t get one, right? Or at least I can say I’m thankful. But no matter what I said, it didn’t make a difference. It’s now that I’ve been home for an hour and had the chocolate and wine I was craving that I see the ridiculousness a bit more clearly. I guess I should have brought a change of nice-girl panties.

 

(21) him

I crawl into bed beside him and the wave of emotion comes rushing back with the choking tearful feeling rising in my esophagus. I thought I’d worked through this already tonight, goodness.

He has my heart, I guess. Those expressive eyes (which I just realized are brown like mine…how had I not noted this detail?), the hands that shake when he’s hungry, the attentiveness with which he tackles a game or a project or a conversation, the sweetness of his listening, listening, listening to the analyzing, the ramblings, of his wife.

What will it feel like to not touch him, to not be with him in person, for months and months on end? I know military families do this all the time. This might be the only time we face it, I must count my blessings.

I worry too much, I am sure. But when I can miss his presence, the opportunity of deeper conversation, the simple intimacy of a hug, of two hands holding after just a day or two without it, a year apart feels unbelievable, unbearable.

His breathing is steady, even, with a little whistle on the inhale. I like his company, even when he’s just sleeping. I’ll miss you, baby. Tonight I miss you already.

(18) home alone

Home alone for a week. Less than that really, since I’m going to visit family this weekend. I can’t stop thinking about next year though: Away from him for a whole year. My soul trembles at the thought. And yet I can’t stop thinking about it.

There are benefits, of course. I play my music loudly, whirl around the house in a frenzy of cleaning, I eat when I want, no need to consider another’s needs. I crawl into bed (alone) when I am tired and I know I’ll sleep alone, so I don’t try to wait up, awake. I can do whatever I want.

That is the liberty that I traded in for marriage. And I have grown warm and comfortable and feel safe inside of this marriage, despite the challenges. The liberty to just be me is fun, but the thought keeps flickering through my mind: What will next year feel like? However will we cultivate marriage oceans apart?

One day at a time right? I’m going home tomorrow, to my parents’ home, and Tuesday night we’ll be back together again, in this home where we have laid the first bricks of our marriage. Then we still have a few months together before the year begins. And all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well (Julian of Norwich).

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(15) intentional self neglect.

I am afraid I will come out of this summer, arriving at the long-awaited completion date of September 14th, and realize that I actually went about this poorly. When I take the time to think about it, I am pretty sure that all of life will continue to be fraught with busyness, with big projects, with powerful emotions, with intense deadlines. I have handled all of that one way this summer, but I probably would do well to l learn another way for the future. Like the future…as in tomorrow, the next day, next week, etc.

Intentional self-neglect. I know better than this. I know how to care for myself. At least, most of the time, I know how to care for my self, my soul. Sometimes my powerful internal unrest eludes even my own fragile attempts at self-caring, though. Add to that powerful internal unrest the crushing deadline of this labor-intensive online course, the threat of yet another financial expense (to extend my deadline to finish the course), not to mention the ongoing stress of personal/marital finances…and I simply chose to neglect my self, my soul, in the interest of simply finishing. the. (damn). course.

All that remains is the final, which I will grind out today and tomorrow. Then the waiting, breathless hoping that I will pass it the first time (please God).

And yesterday I sat on the kitchen floor with tears in my eyes, overwhelming chaos of emotion threatening to spill over the carefully-built dam that has kept me functioning all summer long. August has been the worst. At least in June and July, I was still journaling a bit, still blogging a bit, still feeding myself somewhat regularly. In August, I worked on my class. When my sister came to visit mid-month, a tiny incident sparked a flood of tears and a frightening wave of questions, doubts, terrifying emotions. We had a good conversation, then I put it all away to continue working. I told my friends I would hang out again in September. I postponed dates with my husband until after September 14th. I told a friend I would do a slideshow for her wedding and I finished it the day before her wedding, managing to put aside my own conflicted inner life to celebrate with her for a weekend. I lost 7 pounds, I think just because I wasn’t taking the time to feed myself regularly.

How is one supposed to manage and experience the life of one’s soul within the context of everyday chaos and busyness? I’m almost done with this class, thank God. But what about when life gets busy again? Will I shut my heart up into a tiny icebox every time I’m assaulted with overwhelming life events and situations? Not only does that sound unhealthy, but I’m realizing that I will now need to face the aftermath of that decision. At some point in the near future, I will probably fall to pieces and tears, feeling all the unfelt emotions of the last month plus some.

I am not really sure how to do this better today, tomorrow, next week. But I hope I figure out alternatives to this path of self-neglect again. And now for the hard work (also not sure how this will take shape) of nurturing my soul and processing this summer as I enter this new season of fall.