Blessedness

Today is a gift for me to receive, not a burden for me to bear.

I kept telling myself this as I got ready to leave the house, because, naturally, the whole day feels like a burden. I thought maybe I had convinced myself of the truth of the statement, but nearly feel into tears twice during casual conversation while talking about the things I needed to accomplish in the next two weeks.

I know I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I know that’s a big part of it. And I know I’m primed now to catastrophsize at the slightest provocation. But I also know that part of the problem is that I truly have not learned the truth of what I’m repeating to myself.

Today is a gift. For me to receive. NOT a burden for me to bear.

I don’t like it when I start getting frustrated or worried about the future or counting off the things to do, and people tell me, “But you’re here right now, and it’s a gorgeous day, and. . .” Don’t minimize to me what I’m going through, people! It feels patronizing. This new “mantra” feels different to me, because it doesn’t argue with any of the things I’m saying. It says, “regardless of how uncomfortable or unpleasant this may feel, it really is a gift. And you would do well to consider why the One who loves you saw fit to give it to you. And if the only thing that is unpleasant right now is all that you have to do, you should remember you’re trying to lift a load that someone else is already carrying.”

There are a lot of things of nearly every moment of the day that are privileges. Some people like to list them, but I don’t. Count your blessings, they say. But that makes it seem like they’re finite, and CAN be counted. Express your gratitude! they say. But that makes it sound like we really have any idea what is good for us, what we should be grateful for. We’re like two-year-old children throwing fits because we can’t drink windshield-washer fluid. We grateful for being able to eat the unripe fruit that will only make our stomach hurt, and would have been so much better if we’d just waited, just a little. We resent rebuke, chastisement, and the challenge and correction that makes us grow. How can any “counting” make things better? Sometimes, you look and you look and you look, and it all just looks like CRAP.

I don’t think looking or counting or saying the right words is what it really takes. I think what it really takes is faith. That EVEN THOUGH everything looks like crap, it isn’t. That EVEN THOUGH it might look like dreams are crushed or hopes are dashed, God is good. That EVEN THOUGH grief and suffering at times become suffocating, God does love our own particular self. That EVEN THOUGH the blessings just don’t seem to be there, they are, because God never stops giving good gifts, even when we can’t recognize them..

We’re not fit to weigh our existence in the balance. Our balance is exceedingly far out of collaboration and has “NOT FOR LEGAL TRADE!!!” all over it in red letters. Only God actually has the capability, the “equipment,” to take the real weight of anything, the real sum of any whole.

Sometimes, we think about our own self worth. We know we aren’t to overvalue ourselves. But we forgot that we’re just as wrong to under-value ourselves. Sometimes it feels like every accusation is true and that we’re right to blame ourselves, and that we do only make every thing worse, and we deserve nothing better. And it’s hard to stop these lines of thoughts, because we know that we aren’t like God.

Only, in a way, we are. Because on God’s scale, on God’s balance, on the sum of our whole, is the blood of Jesus, the holy and righteous and sufficient sacrifice. And to do away with ourselves is drastically undervalue the redeeming work of the only Son of God. And to stop to consider what Christ accomplished is to realize that He is on those scales with us. So how can we not be loved?

In the darkness and the suffering and the grief and the complete pointlessness of it all, Jesus our Lord is with us. Are we not filling up His sufferings and grief until the times are full? It is a cursed world. But He is with us.

In our frustration and our hurt and our fears — things we can’t find any way to count as blessings — He is with us. And for that reason, and that reason alone, we are blessed.

Mapless

I met a friend for dinner tonight, and it was a little bittersweet. The last time I saw her was 18 months ago. She was living in her mom’s basement, and her husband was unable to join her for another three months. All she wanted was to get her own house and have a baby.

Now, 18 months later? She has the husband. And the house. And the baby.

Me? Still doing school. My big life update is that I got terribly sick for three months, and now I’m getting better.

And while I was happy for my friend and her appearance of relative calm and contentment, it also left me feeling a little hollow. She knew what she wanted, and she got it. I don’t really know what I want, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get it. That part was a little hollow; I guess in some ways, we paint in our minds what it looks like to be “grown up” and when that painting never materializes, it’s hard to feel like we’re making any progress or hitting any milestones.

But it also makes me think of, well, for lack of a better word, what it takes to satisfy people. I have multiple people in my “social circle” who are hitting those milestones of getting married, getting houses, having kids. In fact, this friend and I were recounting how many people in our class were hitting those milestones. Do I want to get married, have kids, get a house? Sure. Lots. But at the same time, I can’t say I really feel jealous of someone else’s life, because each one is doing it differently than I would.

Sometimes I feel frustrated and how simply contented other people appear to be. Don’t get me wrong; they still have health problems; car problems; money problems; broken or damaged relationships; bad days. It’s not like I think their lives are all sunshine and butterflies. But seeing their quintessential little families makes me realize how much that’s not enough for me. Not for lack of wanting that, but also for wanting more.

I thought I didn’t need a college degree. I thought I would lead a simple life, with simple needs, and a simple income and a simple lifestyle, and that I didn’t need to embrace what the world said was important. Tried that for a while. Found it deeply unsatisfying and frustrating. Got a two-year college degree, because I was going to lead a simple life, with simple needs, and a simple income, because I didn’t need to embrace what the world said was important.

Well, then I got a 4-year degree, because guess what? The job I got with the two-year degree wasn’t cutting it. (It was more than that — much more than that — but stick with the thematic story telling, here.) So much for simple. I went whole-hog for for the million-year degree I’m still grinding away at, with dread resolution that, unfortunately, I’m not a simple person with simple needs. I’m a complex person, with nearly insatiable curiosity that gets me in over my head all the time and a burning passion that tends to leave me burnt out and a resilient idealism that withstands the onslaughts of my cynicism.

I would say I “just” want a husband and children and home. But then you just watch. I would be like: Let’s get a dog!. . . Let’s train it to be a therapy dog! . . . Let’s go visit nursing homes! . . .Let’s go visit prisons!. . .wait, prisons? Can you even do that? How do you do that? I know nothing of prison culture. Crud, I’m in way over my head, AGAIN.

I don’t do halfsies. I do all in. I do multiple fires on multiple fronts. Sometimes, I feel like this isn’t true, because I’m an introvert, and when everyone else is off “doing things” I go take long walks by myself. This need for quiet and stillness fools me into thinking I’m the simple (not easy, just not complicated) person I want to be. But the truth is, I’m always antsy with the status quo. Always. I can barely sit still for 24 hours without thinking about what I’d like to change or do differently or improve.

I used to think everyone was like me, despite my family’s insistence I was crazy. Gradually, I’m starting to relent that I might be crazy and maybe most people aren’t like me. I still shirk at people applying grandiose words to me, like “charismatic” or “visionary” or “brilliant.” Don’t be dumb. At the very least, don’t flatter me under false pretenses. But I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe they aren’t false pretenses. Maybe they mean it. I consider it with the same kind of dread that I had when I realized maybe I had to go to graduate school.

I want it to stop being so complicated, darn it. I want things to be simple and to settle down, and for that to be Enough.

I was looking through house and home magazines and blogs the other day, and thinking incredulously, “who has time for this stuff? It’s like their full time job is just homemaking! Oh, wait. . .” It’s not that I have any problems with staying at home and making a home. I just realized in that moment that while doing full time “linen freshening” would amuse me terribly for about a week or two, I would rapidly get impatient. All fine and well, I’m sure, but probably I don’t have to dust or vacuum today or next week or possibly for a good deal longer, and I can go dabble and splash around in other things. Did you know that they make whole books devoted to crafts you can make for charitable causes? Isn’t that cool? Also, I need to get back into photography. If you road a train and camped, how much money would it cost to tour the US of A in a summer? You know, national park to national park? Or not national park. Also, I think my grandmother could really use some help, if only someone would volunteer.

Before you know it, my housemaking would be languishing, and you would just have to take to naming the dust bunnies and signing your name on the furniture tops, because frankly, that’s just too darn boring.

I don’t have anything at all against housemaking. I suspect at times I would pursue it with a terrible fury. I also don’t have anything against raising kids. On the contrary, it would be an honor and a pleasure. It’s just I think it would wind up looking like dirty placemats and a sink full of dishes while I took my kids off to to see something more interesting and exciting, like, oh, I don’t know, a rail-way being laid down. Or running a homemade ice-cream stand. Which is ludicrous. And I want to.

To be the crazy ones, the weird ones, the eccentric ones that everyone wishes a little to emulate but are unwilling to be that straight-up crazy. I will never really be the quintessential, photogenic, neat, little family that pretty knew what they wanted and go it.

The thing is, the fact that I can’t say I want a neat little package and that I’ll always be exploring for more, also makes me wonder if I’ll ever have anything resembling contentment. Maybe what I want is too lofty. Maybe there’s no one crazy enough to want to join me in my being crazy. Maybe I’m too demanding. Maybe it’s a sign of mental illness to be concurrently terrified of my desires to be eccentric and crazy going unfulfilled and simultaneously lamenting the fact that I’ll never be satisfied with a boring (tipping my bias) life.

I just wish I could have some kind of plan. At the very least, so it smarts less when I talk to friends and relatives who seem to have plans and who seem to be making jolly good progress on them. I’m sure they don’t think they’re looking down on me, but it makes one feel inferior, anyhow.

Who We Are

I’ve always been interested in costuming and clothes design, because I think clothes are an “unspoken language.” It’s fascinating to see how clothes can be used to conjure up moods, values, lifestyles. I’ve always thought I’ve wanted to upgrade my wardrobe, but as my time out of state is coming to a close, I realize it’s more than that. I always wanted to try on a different lifestyle.

The kind that always wears long skirts and sandals in the summer, and buys all their vegetables from the farmer’s market. They kind that wear those really cool riding boots in the fall, with chunky knit accessories (like fingerless gloves), and goes apple picking in the orchard and goes for long walks in the foggy mornings with their well-behaved dog. The kind who wears wool winter coats that aren’t black, and drinks hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows in trendy little coffee shops. The kind who greets spring with a whimsical umbrella and rubber boots, splashing in the rain and laughing like a child. The kind who is always in shape, always classy, always doing something fun and adventurous, and apparently is never, ever stressed or runs out of laundry.

Clearly, by the time we get to “never runs out of laundry,” we all know I’m dealing with complete fiction. But I still had plenty of ideological conceptions of things I’d try while I was living here. Some were small things; some were big things. I didn’t do them all, not even a fraction, of course. But I met people who did. And upon reflection, I am surprised to find that they repulsed me.

Not in the sense of greatly disgusted; in the sense of “invisible forces pushing us apart.” We didn’t value the same things at all, and in order to have “that kind of life” you had to have “those kinds of values.” I wanted the life without budging on my values. Because I don’t have a problem with my values, thank you very much (well, most of them). I just didn’t realize they were so tied. I thought if I just “put myself in different experiences,” well, I’d experience them. What I found was that the decisions and actions you had to make in order to put yourself in the experiences were itself a limitation. In the most simple example, I have no interest in embracing consumerism; but how then am I supposed to get all those great clothes? I took one look at my limited budget, and invested in good food. I took one look at my time limits, and invested in sleeping in and quiet walks on the lake shore — not shopping. When I could have carefully powdered my face, I read webcomics.

And by one look, I mean — well, probably not even. The decisions seemed so “obvious” to me that I don’t think I even realized making them. Do we even really chose those things, or are they just part of us? I guess that’s why I found it so interesting. I wondered how much of what I did was based on my surroundings, and what would happen if you transplanted me to a different surrounding. What would I take to then? People say that often once they move away from the people they grew up with, they suddenly find a new “freedom of expression” and you see what appears to be a change in taste or lifestyle.

I’ve always liked the idea that I am independent enough in who I am that I wouldn’t be easily swayed by outside sources, but I always wondered if that was true, or if I was just blind to the sources I was swayed by. Out of state, I had plenty of room to be swayed by other people. In fact, I kind of wanted to. It’s very isolating not to belong, and it’s hard not to think that if you would just conform – even a little! – you wouldn’t be so alone. But I couldn’t do it. Not even a little. I don’t have a religious objection to painting my nails, but do you realize how long that takes? Good land. How many millions of minutes to ladies with polished nails flush away every year. And I do refuse to watch the popular shows, even though that cuts me out of a lot of small talk, because talk about a time-drain. Way too many other things that I value more. Sometimes I even tried to not be such a know-it-all in class, but it was boring and so much effort sitting around in the awkward silence, and I finally figured: oh, well. So I’m a know-it-all. I’m sorry. But I’m bored and frustrated, and no one here really likes me anyhow, so what have I got to lose?

I realize that’s one of the reasons why I want to be back where I came from. Not that people didn’t paint their nails there; they did. But I’m tired of people wearing “athletic tights” and calling them pants, and I’m tired of only-child syndrome, and all the beer talk. I’m tired of people living an up-scale life and calling themselves “poor college students.” Yeah, and also, right. Rather than successfully conforming to a new culture and way of life, I’ve concluded it’s not for me. I don’t want to be successful. I want to be weird. Not “trendy-weird.” I want to be “crazy-weird.” Crazy weird, like the kind of weird that actually somehow leaves a thumb-print of change on the world, not trendy-weird like being featured in publications and making a fancy paycheck.

And apparently, crazy-weird doesn’t wear the cool riding boots in the fall, or the floaty skirts in the summer. Crazy-weird is a good deal more ugly, and doesn’t photograph well. Well, I don’t know. Maybe some peoples’ crazy-weird does. But I keep trying to find a way to make my life photogenic, and I think I just wasn’t made that way. I don’t think I’m every going to do “photogenic.” I guess the question is, why did I ever want to in the first place?

I think because, to me, photogenic also implies a certain level of deliberateness. Things are this way because I meant them to be. But every time I meet someone photogenic, I feel that same repulsion of “honey, you’re trying way too hard.” I don’t want to be trying too hard. But I keep seeking a “somethingness” that says, “ok, you aren’t faking it anymore; this is who you meant to be.” I’m still waiting for a bench mark that says, “ok, you made it.”

Regardless of anything else, I’m certainly not going to find that by borrowing other peoples’ dreams or values or lifestyles. So the only thing I’ve really learned is that I need to be my own weird, unphotogenic self, and only try to do the things that I really do think are worth while. Which are words that everyone says, but then they bombarde you with other words, too, like “everyone should travel and see the world!”

But somehow, I still want to refine “be weird,” too. I want to, somehow, find and define my own aesthetic, but it seems to be so elusive. I guess I’m just not ready to give up on that yet, for better or for worse.

I am NOT losing my freaking mind

I’ve decided I’m not very good at describing my emotions or my situation. I think I am tired, yes (for good reasons, like: pushing myself in my physical rehabilitation). And I haven’t been creative in far too long, which is a bad thing, and shows up in strange ways, like feeling inhuman.

But I’m not actually losing my mind. And a casual reader might think, “Yeah, whatever. I knew that. Hyperbole.” But it does matter, because it matters to me. “Losing a freaking mind” is an actual state that actually can occur. Is that or is that not what is going on? Actually, it is not what is going on. Despite the sometimes rocky road, the truth is, I am a little better every day.

There’s a sign I read that says, “Be careful what you say, because you are listening.” We tend to think we’ll feel better if we vent, and maybe for a brief moment, we do. It’s a little visceral to yell, even if just in a metaphorical sense. But we are kind of listening. I’m losing my freaking mind becomes the title of the chapter we’re living.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that we change the chapter of the title and, voila!, life gets better. But I think we are responsible for being honest, even to ourselves. I’m not losing my freaking mind. I made it through the last three weeks. I will likely make it through the next three weeks. I’m not in acute danger. My mind is actually relatively at ease, which is why I can worry about the future 365 days in advance instead of the next 5 minutes of “how am I going to wash dishes/take a shower/remain upright?”

Being honest with yourself is hard, but that’s no reason to let yourself off the hook.

Someone told me over the weekend that I had anxiety. Not as in “the emotion that humans have” but as in a title, like “ADHD.” My first response was to get mad inside, just like the LAST time several years ago someone told me that. Because just because I’m anxious most of the time doesn’t mean I “have” anxiety, it means I’m in circumstances that would make anyone anxious, that’s all!

It didn’t help that the person who was suggesting I had a condition had just absolutely lost her bananas in anxious-land on account of getting a puppy she’s been wanting for years. Whereas I had been in a clearly more valid state of anxiety over unknown rehabilitating illness, uncertain future, uprooted vagrant with no clear path to even the next step.

See the self-justification, the defense, the condemnation of others? Maybe I do “have Anxiety,” I don’t know. What would that change, really? I just don’t want (pride) the stigma (and vanity) associated with being A Person With Anxiety. I’m not an anxious person. I got my stuff together. It’s just sometimes life gets hard, that’s all.

Well, maybe you don’t have your stuff together. How about that, hm? I wonder why it is so hard for me to accept that. I suppose, if you were one who believed we were shaped by our upbringing, it would be because I’m so often bailing everyone else out that some part of me feels like I have to be able to count on me, because who else can I count on?

But if you don’t like theories like that — I don’t; they make me feel uncomfortably lot like I am trying to blame anything but myself for my character short-comings — there’s the plain fact that, as usual, there’s a lack of trust in God and a defiance of being dependent on Him. Period.

I don’t like that answer either, because it seems to leave very little room for encouragement or grace. Your fault. Did it wrong again. Still not enough faith.FAIL. I guess the only thing I can really come up with is that the focus is still me, me, me; I, I, I. Maybe the point is, stop thinking about you. Your anxiety. And start thinking more about God, who, quite frankly, you ignore on a regular basis.

Paul says, “It is not troublesome for me to remind you again. . .” Maybe the point isn’t in learning new things, but in remembering the steady, constant things. God is good. God is near. God is faithful. God is in control. Maybe I need to just stop fixating on me, and consciously practice fixating on Him.

I am losing my freaking mind

Ugh. Between my car breaking down and my cousins stopping in to visit for a few days, I got totally, totally derailed. I have managed, barely, to hang on to diet and exercise, but sleep, mindfulness, writing and more have gone totally out the window. I struggle to find a balance between “the expectation is. . .” and “show yourself grace.”

Tonight, I’ve got a boatload of homework to do, and I’m trying to keep up with my social circle since my remaining time with them is rapidly shrinking. I’m tried, but my mind is racing too much to sleep. Everything is a disaster, and I can’t cope.

So I’m writing. Because it only makes sense to apply the treatment before attempting to function. But so much inside of me is screaming out, “I don’t have time for this right now! Can’t it wait until I’m at least back on an even keel?” But “waiting” until life is right just means we never do it. It’s time to drop the cortisol, and trust God that everything will be okay, because no matter how I cut it, it’s not going to be okay.

There’s this girl in our class who is determined to be very involved in our profession’s professional organization. Honestly, it makes me feel sad for her. She’s purchased the wardrobe, the plane tickets, you name it. She’s campaigned for a position, and raves about the networking, of constantly shaking hands. She posts pictures of herself standing next to people “high up” in the organization. She makes no bones that she came from a “disadvantaged” background (which to me, the fact that one “claims” that title is almost more meaningful than what background they did come from, as perspective is almost all it takes to change the title), and she appears like she has decided to make it her life mission to leave it behind.

But it makes me feel sad, because I feel like she’s alienating herself from the people in our class, and is defining herself by association with people with prestige and power. I don’t get the feeling that it’s genuine; that she genuinely wants to advocate for our profession. Just that it makes her feel very special to go to assemblies in fancy hotels, and she really wants to feel special. She says it’s great, but it’s hard for me to believe her. It seems like a life built around pretension.

I know that I don’t want that. I know that I really want authenticity in my own life, which first above all else requires that you stop lying to yourself. I saw a post on facebook, about someone I don’t know who, “coming out of the closet” and claiming God want him to most be himself, and someone else tearing him apart about how God wants us to die to ourselves. And there’s a part of me that feels like, wait a minute guys, you’re both getting it wrong. There is hedonism, which says “if it makes me happy, it must be right” and there’s honesty, which confesses even sins and doesn’t hide in the garden. You can’t put both of those things under the title of authenticity, when they mean such totally different things.

People nowadays are saying “you do you!” You know, stop giving in to peer pressure. Be in charge of yourself. But it makes me cringe every time. For me, authenticity is not about not giving a damn what anyone else thinks. It’s about being honest about who you are, not about being rude. It’s about not lying to yourself, not about flaunting everyone else’s protocols. It’s not about defiance, it’s about vulnerability. It’s not about being the center of your own little universe; it’s about seeing yourself, in all your flaws and glory, and not trying to shamefully deny either one. And for some of us, we’re as shy about our “glories” as we are our faults, and find it easier to be public in our self-humiliation than our God-given strengths.

This is a struggle for me, a very real one, because I want outside affirmation so very badly. Someone to tell me I made the right choice. Someone to tell me I did a good job. Or not even someone, just bars that I feel I have to clear in order to be ‘sufficient.’ And I know that’s stupid. I know it, because when I clear the bars and and when people say so, I still feel dissatisfied and uneasy. That’s what you say; why should I believe you? It must be because the course was so easy; if it were really, truly hard, I wouldn’t have done so well. Comparison dominates. Am I as smart, as kind, as personable, as brave, as hardworking, as. . . and then you pick whoever you know who is at the top of their field for each category, and of course you don’t measure up to your ideal of the perfect person, a composite of a thousand peoples’ strengths.

And it scares me, because it still seems to have power over me. I have to . . .I must. . .I couldn’t. . . Or even holding back parts of myself because I daren’t have them critiqued. So much of my writing and creative efforts, I hide as much as I can. Because it’s not good enough to clear bars. It’s not good enough to see the light of day. Even as I mourn my grandfather burning most of his paintings because he determined they weren’t worth keeping.

What can be said? There but the grace of God go I? I’m not sure that I’m not there, just in a more stealthy, insidious manner. What do I want to say? God, have mercy on me, and save me from my own darkness, the one that keeps trying to be enough. I am not enough. Only You are, and I can’t seem to keep my attention on you longer than a sneeze. Come rescue me.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts

I don’t write because I have extra, leftover time and resources to write. I write because I’m losing my freaking mind, and I’m trying to salvage a few pieces of it.

I have¬† a lot of thoughts. About what kind of clinician I want to be when I’m done with school, about what it means to take care of our bodies and why we should, about how to try to fix my as-of-yesterday dead car. But I feel like although some of those thoughts may be interesting thoughts, they aren’t relevant thoughts.

Relevant thoughts are like the one I stumbled upon this morning:that while my car is currently dead-in-the-water, my future is up in the air, my health issues remain a mystery, and I’m not the person I want to be. . .my biggest current stessor is still the desire to excel in school work. Not just show up. Not just pass. Cross my t’s and dot my i’s and feel like I did an excellent job at that student thing.

And I feel like that is what I’m being asked to lay on the altar. Yes, take a bike ride instead of do school work. Yes, visit with friends instead of school work. Yes, agree to “fail” at schoolwork. Will I really fail? I don’t know. I never have before. Somehow God always gives me ludicrously high scores when I am least prepared. But it seems like that’s what I’m supposed to do — stop trying.

That’s hard, though. It’s hard, because the to-do list is long, and there’s not a whole lot of room for pairing down. And the list of things I’d like to do is even longer. Going to bed on time, eating decent, exercising every day (but one), and writing for sanity’s sake seems to take up 80% of time not spent in the classroom. But there’s still eating and cleaning and grocery shopping and cars breaking down and school assignments to be completed outside of class, and friends you won’t get to see for much longer and family’s waiting for updates and stuff, nevermind the wants or the creative juices or the interesting thoughts.

What I want is, I want a break. Not a, “sit on the beach in the sand and do nothing” break. I want a break where I get to be me for a while. “Me” is not a sitting, stationary, passive kind of person, so it doesn’t look like a break for a lot of people. But I’m not asking to stop doing, I’m asking to stop stressing.

I was talking with a friend a while ago about how I am suspicious that we have a lot more freedom than we ever take advantage of. As I’ve been saying and saying to myself, we’re never told it’s our duty and responsibility to be stressed, and in fact are frequently told to knock it off. Yet we don’t want to give it up. Why?

I usually brush it off as lack of trust. I don’t trust God enough. Bad me. Guilty me. Heave a huge sigh, but maybe I never will have enough faith to stop stressing. But I’ve also been challenged lately to look at the other side of that card a little more. Maybe I want the stress more than I want God. We all get indignant, because what?! Who wants stress? That’s foolish talk.

But maybe we want our pride, and that leads to stress. Maybe we want control, and that leads to stress. Maybe we want vindication more than we want God, and that leads to stress. Maybe we want praise, and that leads to stress. Maybe we want to avoid experiencing the disappointment or displeasure that others demonstrate toward us, and that leads to stress.

It’s easy for us to say we want God, but it’s hard for us to let go of our “and, also”s. And, also, I want to to do every scrap of my school work. I want God, and, also, I want to get on top of my to-do list. I want God, and, also, I want my life to fit together neatly like carefully chosen Lego-blocks. I want God, and also, I want to be beautiful, or at least fit. Coordinated. Graceful. I want God, and also, I want to be the one to tell Him what He should look like and act and decree.

And there’s a crux there, or something. I mean, if I don’t pray to Him about fixing my car, who can I ask? But I feel like that statement ought to be absolute. I want God. More than my car, more than a place to stay, more than health, more than restored function, more than a sparkling transcript, more than passing the course or program, more than a license to practice, more than a family, more than a lifestyle, more than my own views of what life is supposed to be like.

In the abstract, this can be agreed upon. In practice, it’s hard to hold onto in the midst of this militant demands, right in front of our face. “You HAVE to figure out what to do with your car!” “You HAVE to figure out what to do about the doctor’s recommendations!” “You HAVE to do lab prep!” Oh, right! Right, right, right! I’m coming, hang on! Just let me–finish this thing here, and attend to that crisis, and–” and before we know it, we’ve practically forgotten about God.

I keep wondering what it means to walk with God. Because I don’t think it’s about check lists of reading the proper amount from the Bible every day and praying enough prayers every day. I do think it has to involve a radical shift of focus from what the world says is important to what God says important, but I don’t know how to do that while, you know, living in this world.

I think this is where people generally insert a pious platitude about “only by God’s spirit and grace!” and heave a huge sigh. A sigh which is supposed to be relief, but somehow usually seems be one of regret and shame that we’re not spirit-filled enough to do what we ought. And I don’t think regret and shame is a way to walk with God, either.

The thing is, of course, how to “walk with God” is not ever going to be summed in a few brilliant thoughts, or a best-selling book. Even our own personal “ah-ha!”s can’t really transform others, because we are all in our own unique tumble of gem-processing, and rarely connect on the same plane in all the same ways.

But He does say that those who seek Him will find Him. Which prompts an awful lot of us to say, What the heck, God? If this isn’t seeking, what is? When do we get to find You? If this is Hide and Go Seek, come out already.