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.