For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Through Shaded Glasses

Alright. I have to confess. As I write this, I am laughing.

I am back on my computer for the first time in a few hours, and I have read through the responses to "The Truth about Why." And I am laughing.

Wow. The responses run from people applauding my honesty, to folks who are thankful for someone who understands them, to others who have found hope in seeing that I have no given up, to folks who think I am writing from my pain to others' pain and think maybe it isn't constructive that way. By the way, this was the question I have been asking the Lord today. Is this useful? If so, I'll keep writing. If not, I need to close the laptop. It is a valid question.

Well, my responses are:
For those applauding my honesty, thank you. I appreciate your encouragement.
For those who are thankful for someone who understands, I understand that you don't need answers as much as a safe place. You are welcome here.
For those who have found hope, THAT is worth it all right there. Thank you.
As for writing from my pain to others' pain, yes, I do, but one simple question reverberates through me: "If you don't, who will?" These are people who keep quiet because they have been told what so many others have been told--"You need to get healed, then you can be useful."

My friend John only partially jokes when he asks how I am, and before I can answer, he says, "Remember, Jerri, you're fine, and if you aren't fine, you better get fine if you plan to come here because this is the church, and we don't want you ruining our fine-ness."

Yeah. Some took offense at that. Some totally understood what he meant. I'm obviously writing for the latter group. LOL

Am I writing out of my pain? Yes. I'm also writing about what is causing my pain, and that is something few folks talk about, especially Christians talking about the pain inflicted by the church. The fact is it far easier to simply walk out, let the gossip commence under the guise of well-meaning concerned souls, and never look back. If you think it is hard to look at a person and confront their painful behavior, try confronting the church sometime.

What seems to escape people is that God and I are sincerely fine, and Jesus had no problem confronting the religious leaders who were so busy living religiously that they forgot how to love righteously. People told Him to be quiet, too. In fact, it was suggested that He might be mentally or emotionally off and not exactly socially acceptable. He kept hanging out with the drunks and whores, and God was okay with it. In fact, Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father do. THAT is something to ponder. Think about that for a moment. God choosing the dregs of society--the obvious sinners--over the religious folks. God Himself hanging out with the folks most church goers try to avoid. Hmmm.....

Believe me. I have been pondering this. It is deep stuff.

I called a friend of mine one day and said, "Jesus said the drunks and prostitutes were going into heaven before the religious leaders. I like being at the front of the line. Just saying."

She paused for a moment and said, "Can I just suggest you give it 48 hours before implementing that plan?"

I told her not to worry. I hate the taste of liquor, so I would only be in the middle of the line anyway.

I'll give you a second to get it.....back with me now? At least those of you who were not wholly offended and just deleted me? :-)

I know. Some of y'all are thinking comments like that will keep me out of heaven altogether. If it makes you feel any better, no they won't. God has so many far bigger things to choose from that comments like that are like the teeny tiny fine print on the bottom of the contract's 81st page.

Believe it or not, I have a point. My point is this, people are going to see me through their filters. There are still people who read my blog who have read the good stuff about Christmas, which was obviously completely forgotten in the shadow of my last post, and still think we must just be putting on a brave front. I know because I get emails from them, and they are sweet, sincere emails. I think it is kind of those folks to pray for us and let us know they are praying for us and are concerned because you know what? Not many folks do that. Whether their perception is right or wrong, their hearts are in the right place, and Lord knows we need more of that in the world.

And, I know a few folks who ask how I am and if  I tell them I am struggling, they sort of lump that in the category of trying to figure out what to fix for supper. They have such an amazing view of me that they see this warrior who can take any giant that comes her way, and sometimes I wish they would see a kid in a big armor scared to death, but no. They see someone who can take anything that comes at her, and when I waiver, they are the first ones to say, "But, Jerri, we know who you are. You are..." It gets on my nerves sometimes, BUT when I get over my own want for someone to come to my rescue and getting annoyed because they aren't doing it, I am thankful...and humbled. Everyone should have fans like that.

Then there are the sweet folks who ride the roller coaster and see me with my hands up, screaming with excitement one minute and tossing my cookies the next. Somehow they handle it all. They handle the screaming, the crying, the explosive joy. They handle the questions, the anger, the doubts, and the hallelujahs. These people have got to be hand-picked by God for my life right now, and thank the Lord in Heaven they are. I couldn't do this journey without them. I don't think I would want to walk out my front door without them. These amazing people see this gifted writer who has a voice and who makes a difference, and of course, I'm supposed to write a book about this, and of course, it is going to change lives, and of course, I need to be writing in the midst of the maelstrom because who knows what life preservers are being thrown out among what looks like debris. That is what they see. This is what they know to be true.

My point being people will see with their personal vision. Some will see a heretic. Some will see a broken and bloody mess. Some will see a warrior. Some will see hope. Some will see a person on the path God set out for her knowing even when it is ugly, it is of Him and has purpose, and they know even a warrior gets weary.

Again, people saw Jesus as all of the above. How they saw Him wasn't His concern. His concern was when they saw Him, they saw the Father.

Not everyone is going to see me the way I want them to, but I am learning not to let that be my concern. My concern has to be whether people see the Father.

And if people are seeing a place of hope, a place of encouragement, a place of strength, or a place of belonging, they are seeing Him, and even if it is wrapped in ugly truth, that is the best I have to give.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Truth about Why

In the last few hours since I posted that I will be removing my blog from public view, I have received texts and emails asking why.

As a writer, I have tried to keep one simple goal before me--to offer something positive and hopeful to the reader. I always wanted the reader to "leave" in a better state than when he or she arrived.

In the last year and a half I have often wondered if any such thing was being offered, and I was often humbled by how even in my pain, God gave something, usually a place to feel safe, to feel understood. And beautiful people left me messages and sent me emails and shared their hearts and humbled me with the honor of showing me the scars and wounds, the vulnerable places, the places raw from life's battering, and I tried to touch gently, to be a balm in those places that hurt beyond words, to speak word healing where healing seemed beyond fathoming, and I prayed to never inflict more pain or to dismiss a scar or a wound as superficial when it was heart deep.

God knows I understand heart deep pain.

But now I wonder what I really have to offer.

When I wanted to pull down my blogs before, the Lord told me they were His words for His glory, that His word would not return to Him void. When I told Him I felt I had nothing to say, He simply said, "Tell the truth."

But the truth is ugly.

The truth is I am hurt and angry about Rob's parents who acted like I was dead for 10 1/2 months suddenly calling Christmas as though all were good and fine, and then having the audacity to tell me they love me when they openly chose to embrace Rob's other life. A bit of a slap in the face, I think. I was having a great day until they called, and honestly, I wish they would go back to acting like I was dead, too.

But I am trying desperately to take the high road, whatever that is, and really, I just want to tell them to fall of the planet (how is that for a non-four-letter word euphemism?). However, very godly people have made it a point to tell me that is not what a Christian does. Christians forgive and love anyway.

Yeah...and long exhale...

The truth is I wish I had not seen the card from Rob's mom in the mail today. On one hand it is very thoughtful of her, and I confess I am impressed because I have sent no birthday cards this year. On the other hand, it is no secret in Rob's family that she has never liked me, and seeing her name only reminds me I didn't...don't...belong. I am acutely aware that I don't belong anywhere. I really didn't need that as an exclamation mark.

BUT, I'm a Christian. I should give thanks in all things, and besides it was a nice gesture on her part. I should just be thankful.

It feels like being grateful for someone pouring alcohol on a gaping wound.

And the truth is I have received more than one lecture about how ungodly my attitude is and how I need to repent for my anger before I go to hell, and I have tried to take those slaps with grace, but I don't have any more grace. I would just as soon shut down my blogs and my Facebook page and disappear.

The truth is I am tired of cyberhugs and "thinking of you" and "I'm here if you need me" from people who can't find time to ask how my day is on a regular basis.

I told you the truth is ugly.

The truth is several people have made it clear they either feel I need to be "past this", whatever 'this' is or they are tired of hearing it, and one thing Rob taught me is my needing people makes me a burden, and being a burden, makes people leave. I've seen enough people leave in the last 18 months. It's easier to just not need.

The truth is I know there are more hurting people out there than I can count. I know they need to be found, and I know I have been brought through all I have so I can find them. And I ask the Lord how to do that. How do I find them? How do I give them a belonging place? How do I walk into their bedrooms where they are lying in bed because the world is too heavy to face today? How do I sit with them and let them know they really can tell me the deep hurts, the ugly ones, the scary ones, the ones that make their heads hang? How do I tell them I don't think they are broken beyond recognition or stupid for hurting the way they do?

And I know there are people out there who feel that way. I know there are people who feel like they belong nowhere. I know there are people who don't want to get out of bed today because they feel pointless. They are trying desperately to feel excited or happy about something--ANYTHING--but they feel nothing, and at some point they simply become too tired to "do life" or continue to go through the motions. They are tired of being the strong ones and just wish someone else would be strong for them. They are tired of being the one making all the decisions, taking the first step, and reaching out and wish someone would simply decide to take them to dinner, take the step to their front door, and reach out to them in a truly helpful way. I know they want someone to find them. They want the cavalry. They want someone who says, "I'm not afraid of the ugly," and camps out right in the middle of it with them.

I know.

Because that is what I want.

I also know truth is too much for some people, and truth makes husbands leave and friends find other friends...and only emphasizes the fact that one does not belong...

And the truth is...I already know that well enough. Knowing it better does not help.

The truth is I am weary beyond words. I have tried to walk this road with grace and integrity. I have fallen often and hard, but I have tried to be an encouragement for others. I have tried to seek out and offer the light in the dark places and hold out hope in the hard spots. I honestly have tried. But the truth is I don't know how God can use any of this ugly for anything and simply putting my heart in words for people to read and then beat with a stick or stab with their righteous Sword isn't my idea of a good time. I don't know if I am courageous enough or strong enough or determined enough to withstand that onslaught anymore.

If God can use this ugly mess, it is His mess, and they are His words, and even if it is hard and even if it does hurt, I will write. But can He really use this ugliness? Does it really make a difference? In all these ugly, angry, dark questions is there really life to be found?

The truth is...I don't know.

When There is Nothing

Unless there is a clear "word from God" change in plans, I am pulling my blog down from public view January 1st. I have no idea how long it will be down, but when--if--the time comes for me to write again, I hope I will find you here then. If not, thank you for your love, concern, and prayers through this journey. You bless me deep.

With sincerest gratitude,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Joy of Christmas

This morning I was talking to a friend about Christmas, and she asked how we are doing. I told her how totally joyous and full I feel this year and how it is so happy around here, and she asked why. :-)

(Funny how when we are miserable people "understand" but when we are happy folks ask why?)

I didn't have an answer right then, but on my way home from delivering some cookies, I had a chance to think about it. What was the joy? What was THIS?

I confess to you, it is not what I usually associate with Christmas.

For me Christmas has been a holiday of knowing no matter how hard I try I make someone unhappy. If there had been three sets of us to be at different parents' homes, maybe, but then, I'm sure I would have grated on someone's nerves. That happens when folks don't like you, and yes, I am fully aware of how unliked I was.*

The hardest part, though, wasn't extended family. The hardest part was right here at home.

Most of my memories of Christmas with Rob include sadness from feeling disconnected and simply wishing I felt loved by him. I know. Folks who know us...him...can say, "But he did love you." I know. I can't explain it. All I can tell you is I never felt connected to him, and it hurt, and I spent nearly 20 Christmases being in a room of people feeling totally alone, feeling like I couldn't get "it" right, knowing I was not what was wanted...and not liking Christmas.

But this year is different.

This year smile wrinkles are coming to live under my eyes, and there are creases where my cheeks sit higher and my smile is trying to catch up. When I breathe deep, it isn't to stuff down the tears but to exhale the overflow of contentedness and joy inside me because if I don't let it out somewhere, I am sure I will explode.

This year...this year is CHRISTMAS.

The Christ-mass.

The celebration of the love gift reaching beyond the lines to relationship healing, holding, and creating.

It is the unmerited gift of loving and letting someone love back...the wild wonder of belonging...of being wanted...of that being enough.

But it really isn't about me. It's the life--the lives--surrounding me.

It's Christmas light looking with the kids.
Lunch with my friend Windi.
Checking in texts from Taylor.
Fabulous folks I enjoy at the Artisan when I volunteer.
A long family dinner at my Aunt Bobbie's.
Amelia hanging out in my kitchen while I bake 17 dozen cookies.
Tammy and Vicki sitting in my living room, chatting it up with the kids and me.
Time with Scott.
New friends made today that are just groovy as all get out.
My brother being here tomorrow.
Texts from my brother-in-law as he shopped for the kids and sent me pictures so I could feel the excitement and joy as though I were shopping with them.
Rae. 'Nuff said.
Kaylan's surprise visit before he heads to Afghanistan.
Sharilyn making aluminum hats to dance in the rain with my kids.
Blessed friends (Multiple Marys and Lisas, Leanna, Kenneth and Joy, Morgan, MaryKate, and the list even Santa can't rival) to smile and laugh with us...and cry sometimes too...

The gift isn't a day...the gift is the LIFE...and I am surrounded by AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, DEEP LIVES, and because of them, my life is amazing, beautiful, and deep.

THAT is Christmas.

When I have a life THAT full, how can it be anything  but fabulous.

Yep....I *LOVE* this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beyond Happy

I wish I had words to tell you about my happy right now, but I don't, so let me just wrap it in a bundle and say I am forever overwhelmed by the amazing people who love me and the depth of that love and forever left humbled by my Father God's attention to my smallest prayer or the ways He holds what is dear to me as the dearest thing to Him.

Tonight I am more than happy. I am...full...

Wondrously, divinely, perfectly...full.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When the Generation Gap isn't so Big

She sits in the glider rocker by the Christmas tree. I sit across from her, firmly holding down my spot of floor. Around us sit three generations, some mine growing older, most younger growing up. Voices chatter around us despite the laps filled with plates laden with food.

But I hear nothing...only the words she doesn't speak.

The matriarch of the family for years now, she has buried three younger brothers. The middle one is my dad. The oldest and youngest a year apart, not enough years ago, and I see it. I feel it. Despite the full house, it is painfully empty.

"Aunt Bobbie," I call through the hubbub, "thank you for letting us invade your house again."

Her eyes twinkle with a sincere smile. "Oh, Sis, I'm glad to. We like having everybody here."

"But the ones who aren't here are hard."

The voices go instantly quiet, and somehow the room disappears, and it is the two of us...a generation the same place.

I know all too well the ones who are here are a joy. The ones who aren't here...are hard.

She nods. "Yes. I was just thinking about..."

And she talks, and I listen.

And the silence lets us.

She tells me about things she misses and plans they had. Her voice trails, and I fight the mist blurring her and say simply, "And it wasn't supposed to be like this."

She looks at me. Found. And I force a smile.

"No, Sis, it wasn't supposed to be like this."

"And some moments are just really hard." I say for us both.

"Yes, some moments are really hard."

"I had a day this week when I felt like I cried all day." I invite her in...into my share her let our days and tears take her hand from across the room...from across the generation gap.

We really are not that far apart in this same place together.

She nods, and her eyes wander thoughtfully. "Yeah, I had a day like that this week. I don't remember what day it was, but I cried a lot, too."

"Some days are like that."

She breathes in deep and looks down and away, memories tender. "Yeah, some days are."

"I understand," I say softer so the crack in my voice isn't obvious.

Her eyes look into mine again...into me again..."I know you do, Sis. I know you do."

And there is no gap...just two women in this place of being thankful for what is...missing what is not...emotionally fumbling in the tension between the two...comforted to be here...together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Searching for Survivors

I don't recognize the name. Third one today. I open it and begin to read. Before I am done, tears are slipping down my face, and my heart wants to reach through the internet  and hug long.

For people who don't know what to say, they say much. They say they understand. They say they are alone too. They say their hearts seek to be found.

My heart seeks to find them.

These beautiful people who don't have hands to hold when they put up a tree with familiar ornaments...without familiar presence and familiar faces. These moms and dads navigating the waters of parenting alone. The women finding wholeness in self when more than half of them has been laid to rest.

The ties that bind have come undone. The never ending circle has ended.

The house is empty. The bed is large. The hole is engulfing. The weight is heavy...for hearts so full of full of need...need to be loved...need to be needed.

And they want to know...

"What now?"

And I look to the Father and ask, "What now?"

Surely He did not bring us through the wilderness that we should leave others to wander alone and possibly die there. Surely He did not break our hearts so hard and deep to be so callous to the pieces of others' hearts that litter the ground around us. Surely...Surely...

And I look to the Father and ask, "How?"

I leave the email open and close my eyes. I sit in the quiet, let myself soak in the pain, let my heart remember the darkest places...and know there are others in the dark, others surviving in the wilderness. How do we find them before they give up?

"How do I offer a refuge? How do I build the village in the wilderness that becomes the portal out of the desert? How do we find the survivors before they become the fatalities?"

I am listening....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Journal Uncensored--God's Silence

(Journal entries from late November 2011)

I am overwhelmed. I am staring at God wondering how He tolerates me..and completely overcome by His love for me.

"He is jealous for me.
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
O, how He loves us so
O, how He loves us
O, how He loves us so"
(How He Loves by David Crowder)

I have felt--abandoned.

There is a difference between feeling unloved and abandoned.

I don't doubt God loves me, but I confess I feel for whatever reason, He has left me to simply endure or learn some hard lesson or--I don't know. I only know He is silent, and silence when my pain rages and He has power to act only feels like abandonment.

I have begged for help with all the things where I feel overwhelmed, and I know He has given me answers about some of them, but I get so overwhelmed by everything else. I don't know how to deal with it all, and some days are so full of so much that I simply dread facing them.

This week, especially yesterday, I have been so angry. All these promises, and I am seeing nothing.

And I can do nothing else.

I feel like a failure across the board, and I can't find answers. Don't know where else to look.

But God has promised good things? So where are they?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Someone Special

"Jerri," he says in that way that means he hopes I grasp the truth in his words, "we are all looking for someone special. Everyone who is single is looking for someone special. You are not the only one who finds the holidays to be hard because you don't have someone special."

I listen.

His sincerity warms my heart...even though I know he is totally wrong.

The truth is most people are not looking for someone special. They are looking to BE special. Most people are not looking for someone they can value, encourage, or love. Most of us are looking for someone who values us, picks the right Christmas gift, remembers our birthday, knows those special things about us, encourages us when we are down, calls at just the right time, surprises us with a card, and all those great mushy gushy love things that tell us we are worth the effort, we are important, we are noticed and valued in this world.

THAT is what most people want.

Now, some folks do like spoiling others. They like being the caller, the one who picks up that little something, the one who makes the effort, and the one who lets the other person know their life makes a difference.

In my case, I get to be both.

No. I am not dating anyone. There are no whispers of "forever" or even suggestions of dinner Friday night. However, I am deeply loved, and I am blessed with very lovely people.

I have multiple friends who send me emails or texts to whisper heart deep that they believe my life makes a difference, that THEIR life is better because of mine. They remember my birthday, my special numbers, hard days. They notice when my Facebook account disappears or when I am quiet too long...or when they ask how I am and I answer without giving an answer at all...and that tells them all they need to know. They know I have no favorite color but do have favorite cookies...and they have the recipe. They know the priceless gifts that money can't buy. They know how to pack seashells and Birch bark so they don't break, and they are gifted at picking just the right music video to post to my Facebook wall.

These lovely people share their hearts, and I try to hear the pieces, the parts that make them who they are, their favorite colors, cookies, movies, and memories. I send CDs, rum cakes, and state shaped pasta, cards with inside jokes, links to make them laugh, and pictures of whatever that "reminded me of you." And there is the treasure--the thoughts of them, the knowing them, the privilege of being allowed in. Their priceless lives that make such a huge difference to mine, and the lives that are worth the effort, MY effort to convey just how priceless they are.

No wonder everyone wants it. Too bad so few realize how good it feels to give it.

Me? Like I said, I'm blessed enough to get both. And, yes, THAT is VERY special.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pressing On...and Forgetting What is Behind

Each day He gave it to me. Each day I read it. Each day it felt like sandpaper on the raw places, the sin places still dripping with shame.

Finally, I could stand it no longer.

"Lord, what am I supposed to get out of this? That I am forgiven. That You have forgotten. That..."

The words failed me.

With a presence so strong, I felt Him sit beside me and put His hand on my hunched back. He said simply, "Forgetting what is on..."

Forgetting what is behind...forgetting what is behind...

Forgetting the sin.
Forgetting the failures.
Forgetting the bodies.
Fogetting...what I had wanted.
Forgetting...want to mean to someone...and not.

I press on...
Press on to His promises.
Press on to the book He said to write.
Press on the to be the influence He promised I would be.
Press on to life and all its hope.

And I press on...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Journal Uncensored--Emotionally Unavailable

"I am emotionally damaged and emotionally unavailable."

His words roll around in my head like that annoying drippy faucet that can't be turned off. It's annoying and grates on my nerves...and is oddly comforting.

It is comforting to have a term, some kind of defined explanation. It is also wildly comforting in a mental/emotional "raft up" kind of way. Ironic how another emotionally unavailable person can release emotions of joyous contentment in my not being alone in this.

It also bothers me in deep ways I don't want to explain, in vulnerable ways that pull back the "all is fine" mask and reveals the all too raw places underneath.

Frankly, the whole thing makes me mad.

It makes me mad that I gave him power to do this. It makes me made that I still give him that power.

But how do I take it back?

Heather said she knows several women who think the way to get over one man is to get under another.

Just how much nameless sex does it take to stop feeling like your name is painfully easy to forget?

Or in some cases, before you stop feeling at all?

Since I seem to already be there, I think I can skip the whole sex debacle and be fairly confident I haven't missed anything.

I may not have all the answers, but one thing I do know, a man getting in my pants and a man getting behind my walls is not the same thing.

And ultimately, I want him behind my walls.

Ultimately, I want to trust again.

Ultimately, I want the wild ride of passion...about all of life...again.

Ultimately, I want to feel deeply, where right now I feel mostly numb.

Ultimately, I want to love fearlessly, knowing I can invest huge and watch it all walk away if someone decides I am not enough...or they aren't...

Ultimately, it isn't about a man finding his way behind my walls.
It's about my not wanting to be a prisoner inside them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Hope

The God who holds the promise of my future is more powerful
than the person who made the mistakes of my past.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From My Journal--Filling the Hole

At some point, you have to be willing to risk being you with all your gifts, all your potential, and all your passion.

Otherwise, you are choosing to create a hole that you should be filling.

My Journal Uncensored (Maybe You Can Relate)--Part 2

I started to write something on my blog about wanting to be a light for those needing a connection, hug, or some hope, but really this holiday season has left me with nothing to say, and maybe it would be better to see folks after the first of the year.

But then there are the emails and comments from people who found "a kindred spirit", hope, or inspiration in all the pain and ugly of the last 18 months. Whatever they found encouraged them to be brave, to believe for healing, to hope a bit longer.

I haven't the foggiest what it was.

To me it all just looks like a disaster scene from a nightmare. But I wonder, if something in that disaster scene inspired even one person, is there someone else being inspired? Is someone else finding hope?

I know what it is to be hopeless, begging for something--ANYthing--that gives a reason to believe there is healing, that it won't always hurt so much. I know the places God has placed those treasures for me, the places that make no sense to anyone else, the sentences and phrases that have no great truth but somehow mean everything. I understand the mystery of God that allows a fuzzy mold to become the life-saving antibiotic. Too many times I have wept with the relief of being known, of being found, because I saw the medicine when others only saw mold.

Who am I to decide if this mold has a greater purpose?

All I know is He said to write--even when it hurt deeply, even when it was ugly, even when it was more honest and transparent than I ever wanted to be...Even when I am the moldy one.

And so, the blog remains...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'd Love to Talk, but I'm Wrestling...

The post from earlier today and the next few days were written in my journal a week or so ago. I am not in the same place. Amazing to me how God finds me in my mental-encasing knot of "not working out the way I wanted", straightens the string, and transforms the picture so I see something totally new, but He does...and He did...

And I am fine...letting all the life-sucking ingredients go in, watching the life explosion come out.

But tonight, with my clock shining 11:11, I am contentedly wrestling, as though opening a giant present with a laughable amount of tape, knowing whatever I am wrestling to get to is good...because I'm not wrestling to hold on. I'm wrestling to take hold...

My Journal Uncensored (Maybe You Can Relate)--Part 1

(Journal date: November 27, 2011)

I spent a lot of the last two days in tears feeling...I don't know if "hopeless" is the word. I don't kno--stranded, like at sea, just floating, knowing I am getting closer to something but not sure what or when, just here.

I haven't been able to identify any real emotions other than sadness, and I wonder if I feel anything at all.

I have cried a lot.

Felt like just going to bed and not getting up until after my birthday. Then I realized that puts us six weeks from when Rob died. I cannot fathom.

And in the midst of feeling lost, I wrote the Christmas letter. I ended up taking out the part about me. I guess that isn't fair to the poeple who want to know about me, but there are some people I don't want to know anything about me. I think it is more than that, though. I think I never felt like I was "part of the group" with Rob and the kids, so why try to insert myself now.

In the letter, I wrote about Mom passing in 2010 and Rob's passing. I tried to be honoring to him, but I expect backlash. I expect someone to criticize it, tell me too much focus was put on Rob, need to be more honest, need to move on. Not sure what I am going to say if they do. I don't feel like explaining anything, not that I owe anyone an explanation, and who knows? Maybe if someone says anything, I will simply delete the message or hang up. I guess I will have to see.

I sent the notecard collage as a card. Pictures of Rob, the kids, them together, and one of me. I started not to put me in at all. However, for nine and a half months, it has been just the kids and me. It should be our family picture, but....But.

But, is it Rob's last year on the card, and it is hard beyond words. It is crazy surreal, and I find myself wandering through, trying to make sense of it, trying to find the truth, feeling like I failed, like it was all my fault. Maybe if I had done something different, maybe if I had understood...Maybe if I had understood who he really wanted to be and encouraged him there or supported him there, he would have been happy. Maybe he wouldn't have felt rejected. But then, I took him at his word, and there is really nowhere to go beyond that.

And it doesn't matter...except it does...because I failed before. How do I know I won't fail like that again?

I don't know, but then, the more I have read through the emails and texts from his computer and phone, the more I realize there is a lot I didn't know.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hard Questions Part 2

Hard Questions Part 1

"I've closed my Facebook accounts, and I'm pulling down my blogs. I don't think it is a good idea for me to write anymore."

She knew it wasn't a retreat or a step back or a temporary attempt to destress.

Writing isn't what I do. It's who I am. It's the core of me. It's breathing for my soul.

I wasn't walking out on writing. I was walking out on me.

She wanted to know why.

And I didn't want to tell her.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a writer. Before I could actually write letters, I took a pen, scribbled lines across a page, and "read" them into stories. I've written to work through my own trauma, to reveal others' trauma, to try to understand. I've written to offer truth...and find it for myself. I've written to release all I think and feel...and to hide in a world not this one because this world's thoughts were too dark and its feelings too painful...And I have desired, prayed...even begged...that my writing would offer hope, a way through...a view of God to people who desperately need to see Him.

I thought I knew what that meant...what it looked like...

I thought I knew what it meant being a "Christian writer", and that is what I have tried to be. I have tried to write with excellence--using the perfect starting sentence, checking it a dozen times to make sure the phraseology was just write, getting it within the acceptable word count. I have tried to use the right words, not be offensive, and let everyone feel good when they were done reading.

The problem is I don't write for perfection. I write out of Presence. I am not acceptable. I use the wrong topics, get too honest, and use the wrong words, and several Christians have made it a point to tell me how I offend them. Can't say I feel bad, though. Honestly, I find some Christians to be offensive, and I hope I knock their comfort zones sideways. Someone needs to, and no, that is not judgment. It is fact, and before anyone starts throwing rocks, read about Jesus' thoughts on white washed stones sometimes or religious rulers who were high on laws and lacking in love.

The fact is when it became obvious that marital separation was inevitable, I was sure I knew what it meant to be a Christian, and I really wanted a good relationship with God. After a year in hell, I can honestly say I have a solid relationship with God. It's the whole church defined "Christian" thing I am doubting.

What does a "Christian writer" do when she is no longer sure she can write "as a Christian"? When she is no longer sure what "being a Christian" is? When she no longer knows who she is?

Or maybe she does know, and she knows what it'll cost...

And she has to decide...does she walk away from who she is...or walk toward all she has asked to be...

Even if it leaves people not understanding and a lot of people asking why...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hard Questions Part 1

Her fingers slid into her hair just above and behind her ears, and the weight of her head rested on her palm, elbow on the table.

I know that look.

She paused. Her eyes penetrating. Her mouth did that...thing. In a flash she set up, pushed the dishes around, and said, "Let the chilli simmer. Get your coffee and sit down. We are going to talk about this."

Coffee in hand, I slid into the chair across from her. She leaned forward, elbows on the table, looked at me as though she could see right into my brain and read the electrical impulses shooting through it, and then she asked one question: