Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Fear and Prayer

“Our struggle is--isn't it?--to achieve and retain faith on a lower level. To believe that there is a Listener at all. For as the situation grows more and more desperate, the grisly fears intrude. Are we only talking to ourselves in an empty universe? The silence is often so emphatic. And we have prayed so much already” 

In the struggle to repossess my relationship to God, I found myself without words before Him. Emptied of all that "worked" previously, I had nothing to say.

My doors had all closed to me. The ways I used to find Him are now just wardrobes filled with coats and paintings of seas and ships.  I was desperate, but could not figure out the way back to Narnia. 

With a mighty effort, I began to consider trying other doors. 

This considering went on for a while. 

For Christmas, Bill  bought me  A Year of Biblical Womanhood (which I had on the ol' wishlist, but was putting off buying and reading because I'm cheap, lazy and scared. Mostly scared.) . This is a marvelous book, and a peculiar thing stuck with me. It was her talking about a local church that had a woman on the teaching staff years ago and the problems/persecution they encountered because of this. 
It is wrong that a woman should be persecuted for speaking about Christ. I felt that very strongly, and I was all "Hey! I feel this very strongly! Hooray! Hey! I can do something about this! I can visit that church to show my support!" 

 One tiny little step, but lord, I was scared. Like edge of a cliff scared. Like what the heck will happen next scared. Swallowing my fears, excuses and judgments for about a month,  I finally visited. Taking that step has freed me to take a few others. There was no great revelation, no epiphany, just a quiet satisfaction that I was MOVING towards Him, even though this path is unknown to me and frightening.

If the old doors cease to work, there are always other doors. But one actually has to go up to them and knock or try the handle or push or pull or SOMETHING to get inside. 

One of the doors I am knocking on is prayer. Communication being key in virtually every relationship, and since I have no words of my own (still), and since my ears apparently aren't working anymore,  I decided that there is value in repeating the prayers of others.  This is humbling and gets me right down to the bottom of it. The simple basics. Saying prayers aloud. Repeating the same prayers. But not for any reason other than I must knock and keep on knocking. 

And each day, and with each prayer, 
I am reminded how closed I am, and how I can be open.
And how Big He is and how frail we are. 
And how scared I am.

But I believe He is worth all the bravery I can muster. 

“I hope I do not offend God by making my Communions in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand.” 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Full Disclosure

I work full time and my husband works long hours. 

My children are busy with activities. 

I spend a lot of mental energy wondering if they are too busy, or being pushed too hard, or being guided in the right direction. 

I spend emotional energy worrying about them, worrying about my husband, my marriage and my spiritual life.

To sum up,
  I essentially just spend my whole life driving around like a crazy woman and worrying.  

Sometimes we have a long weekend and we find a little time. 

Here's what that looks like in my house: 

Bo sits at his computer and edits edits edits and plots. This weekend it was the demo reel.  And calls me to look and give feedback. 

Emma puts on her dance clothes and dances. This weekend she choreographed to "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." (I haven't yet asked her why that particular song.) And calls me to look and give feedback. 

This goes on for hours. 

In between my main roles as "feedback giver" and "feeder, laundry doer and grocery shopper," I am trying to find some space to let my own creative monster out to play. If half my posts seem like thoughts that just didn't get followed all the way through, there's a valid reason for that and I apologize in advance. 

But there's something in me that is determined to follow this road that's hard to follow and document the process. There's something in me that wants to hear from women who struggle to do it all and yet be solid, thoughtful, creative christians who speak and write and share and MAKE KNOWN valuable things. 

If I believe that women like that are valuable, then I must have value as well. 

And that is the moment when the whole thing shatters. No, no, no. 
Can't post that. Can't believe that. Too self-centered. Time to go fold the laundry for crying out loud. Don't finish this. Don't think it through. The laundry is important work! 

Yes, the laundry is important. But so is this. I cannot encourage other women to speak out if I am afraid to do so myself. And I want to encourage women to be strong and brave!

And so, frail, tone deaf and quavering though it be, I will add my voice to the women singing a chorus of hallelujahs in the midst of our modern busy lives. 

NOW I will go fold the laundry and try to advise Bo on the purchase of a new (used) lens. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

How He Tells His Story

(Originally written on January 22, 2012)

Yesterday I took my daughter to the ballet. Not just any ballet. The American Ballet Theater. It was, at the risk of sounding high-faluting and hoity toity, transcendent. I was so taken in by the stories they were telling and the clean, pure performance, I was flabbergasted. I couldn't even think of how to describe it. I thought about it before sleeping and I wrote about it in my morning pages, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had to call my mom to tell her, I told my poor husband a couple of times, and couldn't figure out WHAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE FEELINGS I HAD ABOUT THE BALLET! It was driving me kinda crazy!

I read reviews online that outlined the mechanics of the ballet, and the performances, but no one was describing what I had felt while watching and after processing. No one was talking about the STORIES they told, and how you almost forgot you were watching dancers because you were so caught up in the tale. I thought, "Probably it's just me dramatizing the effects of seeing this ballet troupe I've longed to see all my life." Then on Julia Cameron's facebook page came the quote:

"Trust your perception." 

Ok. Thanks for giving me permission. I think I will. Now we have that out of the way, what next? I still don't know what to do with these thoughts!

So I went for a walk, because although I haven't read all the way through "Walking in the World" the bits I have read, I have taken to heart, and believe that I could get some clarity just from taking a long, itouch-less walk. 

You'll never guess what happened.

I did.

I was walking and thinking about this idea of the story telling. How the dancing was so good that you didn't even notice it anymore. ("The play is the thing, Amy!") How when you read a great book, you think "What a great book!" Your first thought is not, "What a great writer!" (Though that is often said, but usually as a result of talking about the story.) Shouldn't that be the aim of any artist? To be good enough at their craft to disappear and let the story do all the talking? And it dawned on me.

God is telling a story.

He is the perfect artist, with the very best story to tell, and if I will just listen to his story, I will find my way back to him. Self-promotion doesn't necessarily seem like an M.O for the Most High, so I'm thinking that he has something he really wants us to hear about. Something so great that the entire earth and its contents is a dance, a novel, a play, a puppet show, a painting of a glorious reality. But a God-breathed dance.

So I can listen, and I may find Him. And I was very happy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Search for God

I have a number of drafts in my queue from various attempts to put words to the place I've been spiritually for the last few years.  I realize that my tripping point has been in trying to lay a background so that the strangeness of the "Sarah the Skeptic"  might be as remarkable to you as it still is to me. In trying to do so, I get bogged down in the past, and think, "oh, there's just no way I can communicate all this!" It also made me horrifically aware of my own pride and self-centeredness. I have decided that it's more important to document this journey that I am currently on than to try to retrace the steps that led me here.

Am I afraid? Yes.

Does that matter so much? Not really.

Have I been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to find the courage to post this, knowing it will force me into a responsibility I don't really want?

You betcha.

Consider this my coffee stain on the blank canvas. A post to get me over the fear of starting wrong.

I will be brave.

God grant me courage and perseverance. And time.