Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Courage, Dear Heart

I'm writing this on my very, very badly cracked phone screen. In all my years of having cell phones, I've never cracked a screen. I feel lesser, somehow. Like I've lost a piece of my pride. And while you'd probably think it would be more sensible to type on my computer or even my iPad, my spoiled millennial thumbs can only handle an iPhone screen now, cracked or no. 

This blog is going to be a hodge podge of my thoughts. Believe it or not, I've been physically writing in a journal occasionally over the last few months. All of these thoughts are to do with my most recent "disconnect" which I've written about before. It's a bad one. A long and dark one. And I've brought it on myself, but by naming it and accepting it, I'm hoping to finally force myself out of it. Bear with me as I try to string together what may seem like a long line of non-cohesive thoughts. (Apparently, incohesive and uncohesive are not words? I must have made that up.)

April 1, 2016
Atleigh is lying next to me in bed, while Jeremy is working late. I just realized she sleeps exactly the same way I do: one knee drawn up to her chest, her other leg kicked out behind her. The fan is making her hair sway, ever so slightly. I should not be letting her sleep here tonight. And yet I am, because I'm depressed and lonely. 

It's a frightful juxtaposition, this loneliness. A cosmic April Fool's joke. I fall into these disconnects and I want nothing more than to be alone; yet I crave the human interaction even as I crave the solitude. Grasp and grapple. Catch and release. 

I read somewhere once, on a Myers-Briggs test, that Jesus was an INFP, like I am. I don't know how accurate that is; as far as I know, Jesus never took the Myers-Briggs test. But I can't help but feel that He probably often felt the way I feel now. Wrestling with His need for solitude, reconciling it with His human nature that needs other humans. How exhausted He must have constantly been! It's no wonder He disappeared into the desert, climbed hills and hid out in ships' holds. And yet, He chose people. He chose interaction.
Did he really need the disciples to help Him with His work? Surely the Son of God, the one who raised the dead, could have managed to the spread the word and feed the crowds on His own heavenly strength.  But He didn't. He chose interdependent relationships. Tiresome, hurtful, confusing, disappointing. He chose that, to live out His father's words of, "It's not good for man to be alone."

It's not good.

Not, "it's not possible" or "it's wrong", or "it's not healthy". 

It's not good. It's not God's intended best. 

I can choose isolation, absolutely. God knows lately I've wanted to. When relationships that I've poured my heart and soul into begin to feel like a barren wasteland, and I'm futilely watering parched earth at my own expense, I want to give up. 
When I've spent week after week interacting with strangers, attempting to make the small talk that I am so woefully inept at, I want to hide. 
When I'm battling it out with my kids day after day, never a moment's peace or solitude, I want to retreat. 

People are hard work. 
Relationships, the care and cultivation of them, are hard work. But it doesn't mean they aren't worth it. And it's not good for me to be alone. 

Tonight, after a long few days of struggling with a heavy weight of feeling discouraged and unmotivated, I took myself to the beach. As soon as my mother in law came to take the girls to church, I gathered my things, put on my oversized beach hat, and made my way to the bay. And I wrote. 

I'm sitting out at the beach and the wind is blowing hard in my ears. It smells salty and feels sticky and sounds louder than I thought it would, with the cries of the gulls and the shrieks of all the high school kids celebrating the end of another school year. All in all, it's making me smile more genuinely than anything has in months, it seems. 
There's a girl with hip tattoos that I feel sure she'll regret, and a couple of young children who just came close to me and pretended to be stuck in the sand. 
And I'm sitting here on the low concrete wall, pausing every so often to look around me, to see my shadow stretching out long and lean in front of me as the sun sets at my back. 

And I'm crying. 

I'm wondering how I've gotten into this place of isolation again. A few weeks off- that's what I wanted. What I'm sure I needed. But at some point it shifted into what it is right now, a heaviness and a weakness to move. 

And I think of the joy I had wrested- seemingly from the hands of the enemy himself- this past year. 
I think of the roots I have planted, willingly and unwillingly. 
I think of the niches I have carved for myself, knowingly and unknowingly.
And even just thinking of it, writing it, makes me tired. I've let myself lose the ground I fought so hard to gain. I've slid down into a valley, and looking up to where I was is daunting. 
I am not brave. 
I am tired. 

But right now I'm thinking of Narnia. And I'm thinking of how every time I read those books, no matter how old I am, something new speaks to me. Bravery in danger. Hope in hopelessness. Adventure in unknown. I'm reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader right now, and I just sailed with the Narnians out of the Dark Island. I'm thinking of their terror in the darkness- that fear that they would never get out. That lost and hopeless feeling. 
And Lucy did all she could when she "leant her head on the edge of the fighting top and whispered, 'Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.'
"The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little- a very, very little- better. 'After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,' she thought."

Their fear wasn't even anything tangible. It was unexplainable, untouchable, unable to be argued against for its very vagueness. Just nameless darkness. In that moment of terror, all Lucy could do was cry out to the only One who could help her- she feared even her brother and her friends in that moment. And even when she called His name, the darkness did not grow less. She only felt a very little better.
Yet it was a step. A tiny step, an arguably pointless step. But it was only after she called that help came. The whisper of, "Courage, dear heart," meant only for her ears, came when she named her fear and spoke over it. 

So this is me. Speaking from my tired, dark place. Naming my darkness and calling for help. Hearing and accepting that whisper of 

Courage, Dear Heart. 

I'm leaving that Dark Island behind. If you've been living there, too- trapped in a nameless, wordless place, if you need some courage, come with me. There's plenty to go around. Let's do this together. After all, it's not good for us to be alone. 


  1. I am not sure if the first comment got posted or not so here goes a second try.

    Well written and very inspirational! You were very courageous to put it up here with transparency. I think you are braver than you realize. The Greatest Courage is living inside of you. (A daughter of The Lion is a lion.) I love watching you roar and take your regal place in the niche God has created for you to stride in.

    Take heart, Dear one. Take heart, Courageous.