I am rather proud.
I hate limitations.
I carry around the burden of guilt.
I can be condescending. You don’t have to be perfect, but I am better than that, so I have to keep trying.
What is curious to me is how infrequently I notice these things about myself. Somehow, the PROBLEM is that I likely have a stress fracture in my foot, may have a vitamin D deficiency, am probably fighting off some sort of virus, and no matter how you cut it I need rest. I don’t see the PROBLEM in being that I have trouble admitting that I can’t just declare a list of things to do, and therefore accomplish it. I don’t see the PROBLEM in being that I feel guilty to rest, especially when “work” remains undone. I don’t see the PROBLEM in that I want to dot every “i” and cross every “t” in my schoolwork, even while I counsel other people that they shouldn’t be so hard on themselves.
I was thinking about it today, because today was a failure. I got up–well, sort of. I woke up miserable and not wanting to engage the world and feeling sickish and cold. So instead of eating my healthy, righteous oatmeal that I normally eat 5 days a week, I “bribed myself into existence” with candy-cereal. Today, I was supposed to finish a mid-term project, spear-head our team project, post to discussions, do chemistry homework, and do lots of assigned reading. Plus sweep the floor, and make bread.
Well, I made an attempt at the chemistry. I stared stupidly at review material, like it was written in ancient Greek with Egyptian hieroglyphics. I did not make it very far. I gave up on school work. I tried to clean my room, and got as far as dusting a book case. I attempted to work on music practice, but even the easy songs I had memorized didn’t seem to work. I attempted to make myself lunch. I stared at computer screen for a while, trying to think coherently about seeds for a garden.
I finally–finally!–“gave up.” I went upstairs to my bed, convinced our introverted cat she wanted to snuggle with me, and spent several hours in bed under the covers with a warm cat and a book that was totally unrelated to school work. And I said to myself, “Oh, well, today is a wash. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. I will be full of energy and my mind will be clear. And maybe my foot won’t hurt so much.”
But what made the day “fail”? My desire to be in control and all powerful and perfect, mostly and only. I didn’t get to do what I thought I was going to do. I didn’t get to be impervious to weakness. I had limitations I couldn’t push through. And I felt guilty that I couldn’t rise above it all–and do what I wanted to accomplish, and stop being mopey about a hurting foot, and never feel like my brain was full of static.
I defined my success wrong, and I defined my problems wrong, and I defined my day wrong.
Today I ate sweet chocolate-peanut butter breakfast. It was yummy. I sang a few songs in a way I never would have been able to a year ago before singing lessons. I looked at beautiful pictures of flowers, especially sweet peas. I snuggled for hours with a cat, who clearly has no guilt about resting, and wondered about cats and humans and God. I read a book that put a smile on my lips instead of a furrow in my brow. I was able to rest my foot, and consider about how resistant I am to resting that maybe God sent a broken bone to me to remind me to stop trying. And then I ate an awesome supper, surrounded by more people who love me fiercely than many people ever know in their whole lives.
I think maybe today wasn’t a wash. I think maybe today was a gift. I think maybe I should stop trying to value days by measuring what I “accomplished” in them, and I should start looking at two see the little presents snuggled in the corners.
It’s tempting to say, “It’s not like laying in bed with a cat and a book are more important than school work!” But who says? Do you know how life draining I have been finding my school work? And how reviving the cat and the book were? Maybe the point really is that I am much more valuable than what I “accomplish”. And maybe it doesn’t matter what I think is more valuable; maybe God is just plain old right in His assertion that the cat and blankets and book and rest were, truly, much more valuable than a doomed school team project, regardless of what I say. Maybe I need to stop pursuing telling God what is or was supposed to happen, and start valuing the things He says are supposed to happen. Like an un-snuggly cat snuggling for hours. Isn’t that a minor miracle right there?
And also like feet that hurt. I’m still not sure how to accept this as a gift, or accept it graciously, or plain old accept it. I want to fight it, throw it off by my own power. I don’t understand the reason why I’m limping, and I want it to STOP. But it was given to me. And I’m pretty sure it will be there tomorrow. What do broken feet say?
What do sleeping cats say?
What does chocolate peanut butter cereal say?
And what will waking up tomorrow at 6am say?
I am certain there are things being said. I just think I’m talking past God, the way some of my classmates tell me they agree with me and then in the same post state the exact opposite of what I just said. We’re both there, but the communication thing is not happening. I need help hearing; receiving; accepting; valuing; believing. There is more going on than I am aware of, and only sometimes do I glimpse that.