Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of my favorite bloggers posted recently about the dangers of getting to "know" people through blogs. I've been doing mental gymnastics since I read her post to justify blogging ever since I read it. What if you don't have friends who want to hug you, who wear impeccable outfits, or who...? What if...?

Well, the what-ifs of my mental gymnastics don't really matter - What hit me this morning is that she is right. You can't fully know people merely through their blogs. Take my own blog, for instance. Sometimes, I write things that I think are true, only to find myself in a different place a few weeks or months later. I got a comment that reminded me of a post I wrote in November after Pete failed the Bar. It was a nice, conclusory, encouraging post. I got a few encouraged commenters. Good for me. *pats self on back*

But I only recorded so much.

Behind that encouraging, conclusory post was several months of postpartum depression, an extremely difficult move from a home I love to a six-month lease that really stretched our financial limits, a very demanding baby, loneliness, a fresh bout with Lyme disease, and a broken heart. But I couldn't admit any of that, because I wanted so badly to respond correctly to the situation. I didn't want to be human, to fall, to... admit that I felt God had betrayed me.

I wrote what I wanted to be true. I wrote what I wanted to think. Sometimes I write to define myself, so that I don't get away from me. But I don't really know myself, not the way God knows me, so there is always a variable. The variable in this instance offers a catalyst to the equation that is Kelly + God. (Weird, homeschooler using a math/science metaphor...)

The last month or so has been a month of searching. No, not searching, waiting.

I recently pulled out my old journals to see where I had walked with God and I found a disturbing cycle of "God, my life sucks, but it must be because I need to do better in my walk with You, so I'm going to do better now." Six months later, I was in the same spot again.

I can't live like this. I know the truth - God has given me a gift in the ability to sort through just about anything and see what is true and of Him and see what is not true. But knowing that something is true is not enough.

I'm an oldest child. This means that I do what is expected of me. I'm good at it, or at least, I used to be. It's how I gain approval. So I look at what I know is true, what I know God has said, and I do it. And I say it. And I despise myself, because in the core of my being, I am grasping at approval for myself. He is not really enough - I'm just saying it because it is what people want to hear from a good Christian girl like me. I accept suffering, because it is supposed to give me character. I don't say this and I do say that because...

Well, I don't know because. Not anymore.

Let me be honest.

I *hate* the fact that I have Lyme disease. I *hate* that I was up until nearly 1:00 a.m. with convulsions last night. I *hate* that I am walking through this murky cloud of depression that I can't reach past to talk to people coherently and interact to my own expectations. I *hate* that I get frustrated with my husband and with my daughter and with my sister - the people who love me most. I *hate* living in town, I *hate* power outages, and I *hate* looking like a frumpy housewife because I don't have time or money to do anything for myself beyond showering and throwing on whatever fits that I can nurse in.

I am angry. Angry with God for letting Pete fail the Bar the first time, angry with myself for being angry at Him. I'm angry with God for allowing my health to go crazy again - can't He see all that I need to do? I'm angry at my body, at the weather, at life in general. I can't sugar-coat it to myself anymore, couched in terms of "God knows" or "I'm okay."

I'm not dead. But I'm not okay. That is me being honest.

So I wait. I don't know if I'm waiting for lightning to strike or what.

A week and a half ago, I was the center of attention in a room of believers. I surprised the leader of the group when he asked me what I was afraid of.

"His kindness," I said. "His kindness terrifies me."

In my life, kindness always comes with a price. I respond properly, or it's gone, and man, am I in trouble. Only, what did I do? Or what didn't I do?

Right now, I know that I am desperate for Him. I can't go on without His help. But I haven't asked Him for it. I haven't asked Him to turn the power back on the last few times it's gone out. I haven't asked Him to give us a house in the country, or to give Pete a job or to let Pete pass the Bar. I don't ask Him to make Piper stop crying when I just can't take it anymore. I haven't asked Him to help me get better.

A pastor preached a sermon once that hit me really hard. He preached, "Sometimes things that just *have* to happen don't."

That's my life. To lay my desire out before Him to throw into the wind and let 'er rip feels stupid. I'm out of courage. I'm out of motivation.

Only I know this: I want Him. In the weirdest, craziest twist of all, all those things I won't ask Him for because I want them too much for Him to say no - they don't even really matter to me. I just want to know Him. I am sick of me. I am sick of my managing and manipulating my own life to try to understand why it happens this way. I am sick of saying all the same old spiritual-sounding things to bring myself to a comfortable conclusion. When I write, I want it to be real. When I sing, I want it to be real. When I encourage, I want it to be Him, not just me saying the right words. I am sick of *me.*

I know the truth of Him for the whole world. But not for me.

This time, I need to know Him for me.

I had a conversation with my mom the other day that made me think. I stepped outside of our words for a moment and tried to listen as an outside observer. To him, we would just be two venting females that he wanted to avoid. But we both knew what the other was saying and where it was coming from in our hearts. We knew our histories and our wounds and how they played into the frustrations we were expressing.

It struck me that words are so finite. As much as I love them, as much as I write and speak and sing them, they may always be misunderstood by someone who does not know me.

Interesting, then, that God's Word was a Person.

Knowing Him is the only way I'll ever reconcile the truth that I know with the circumstances and struggles in my life. I won't ever come to a place where I can accept myself, my desires, and my frailty without knowing Him. All the self-justification and manipulation in the world can't make me what I am not or give me the ability to be who I want to be.

I have started five or six sentences apologizing for my honesty in this post, but I can't justify it. It's what I need to say. If He can't use me without my white-washing, then He's not a very big God, is He? I can't disclaim me anymore. I hope He can and does love me as me, and that He made me as me to reveal Himself.

How He'll do that, I have no idea.

For once.

I find strange comfort in that.


Heidi said...

Thanks hon, for being honest. And no, you don't need to apologize. It's good to see your heart. By being honest you give others the freedom to be just as honest. I love you.

PaperYarnGirl said...

If He can't use me without my white-washing, then He's not a very big God, is He?

I think you've nailed it here. And I wish I had something encouraging to say, but I just don't. I'm tired and brain-fried. But you're not alone. Thanks for being honest.

the Joneses said...

Let's see how far I get into this with My Little Helper here and present with me.

On another blog, which is written by someone who has seen more grief in four years than I've seen all my life, someone else posted a Lewis quote that went along the lines of, "It's not that we don't believe God will give us His best. We just don't know how painful His best will be."

I have such a fear of God's "goodness" as well. Especially since I have such a good life, such good health, such comfort and privilege. One day I'm going to use up all my credit and then God is going to teach me character, etc.

Of course you hate being sick. Of course you hate moving. You hate that Pete didn't make the Bar. And the demanding baby thing has just about driven ME out of my mind the last month. (Not your baby. Mine.) It's a pet saying of mine that God allows us to react before we respond.

But mostly, to quote what my pastor says to me, oh, about every third month, Don't be too hard on yourself. Have as much mercy for yourself as God has for you. Ha! Wasn't that easy! Let me know when you get it done so I can see how to do it...

And Little Assistant declares me done. Thanks for this post.

-- SJ

KSolarisL said...

You are so brave Kelly! There is no place in the WORLD safe enough for me to write down my emotions. Not because I'm afraid what people will think, but because I KNOW what people (even those closest to me) will DO.

I wish I could tell you: THINK POSITIVE and it will all get better! But that's not helpful, is it? What helps me most is always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. When I was throwing-up 5 and 6 times a day last year, I held on because I knew that ONE DAY, it would be over (though it seemed like FOREVER!). Even right now, as I sit here, falling asleep in front of my computer (my baby wasn't crying all night, but he had a very stuffy nose and I kept thinking he was going to suffocate. I think he slept more than I did.) I think someday, when all my babies grow up and leave me I will wish I had them back. Dirty diapers, sleepless nights and all. But it WILL come to and end, weather we like it or not. I hate living in the city too. I hate not being able to go anywhere without Josh. I hate the fact that I don't cook well and my kitchen is always dirty. But I keep looking ahead. Someday, I always tell myself, we will have our own place far from city lights; someday I will have my own car. Someday I will learn how to cook. But, in the mean time, I try (the Lord gives me MUCH grace) to make the best of things. And for me, sometimes just "Whistling a Happy Tune" can make cloudy days seem bright. He gives me peace that passes understanding. Seriously. I pray he'll give you some too.

Anna said...

Kelly, I think you've hit some key stuff, something I've been struggling with for different reasons... Thanks for this...

I was reading through my journals that I had written as a teenager, and I was the queen of whitewashing! I wrote what I thought I should think or feel or how I should respond. I could think of lots of things that I was thinking and feeling and responding to in other ways that I didn't want to write down. Why? I'm still trying to unpack that. I know I didn't want to seem "ungrateful" and perhaps it was something along the lines that if I wasn't grateful for what I had, and the life I had, it would all be snatched away or something.

And while I know deep down in side that our God isn't capricious like that, my human fear can't comprehend God as he is, and so I find myself feeling all sorts of weird things in response to his goodness and kindness.

Kelly Sauer said...

Heidi and Malegra, I appreciate knowing you know my heart. Thank you for letting me know that this touched yours.

Sara, I appreciated the thought from C.S. Lewis - I'd never heard that, but as I've processed it today, I'm finding it more and more accurate. I want His best so much, but I don't want His best if it looks like this...

Hey Krys, thanks for your thoughts. I wish that all I was experiencing was just the rough spots and suffering that might be brightened with a "chin up" and a "hang in there." Yet the fact I've been coming to face is that safe place or no safe place, brave or not, am I willing to walk broken, open, with nothing in order, and more pain than I want - so that I can have all of Christ?

Anna - I love your heart! Thanks for sharing with me (er, us)...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kelly. That post was ME.

Kim said...

I appreciate your honestly and openness, Kelly. When I read this post, as when you shared with me on the day we recently met, I just want to find a way to make it all better for you. But I know it is not my place to stand in the way of the process of learning to trust and depend on God. As painful as it is at times,you are not alone. You may not feel like it now, but you are blessed to understand things about God and your relationship with Him that have taken me 20 years longer to see. Your blog is beautiful; thank you for sharing it with me.

Joli said...

Hi Kelly,
Thank you for your honest post! It seems most of my January and part of Feb. felt like your post. Feelings can be such a curse. Have you been on girltalk recently. I just noticed the topics revolve around feelings, PMS, postpartum depression, etc. I found the columns encouraging and good reminders. http://girltalk.blogs.com/
Love you!

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