There’s 45 different ways I’ve thought to begin this one – possibly more for ‘the book’ but feeling compelled to purge nonetheless….
It may be valuable to generalize the two trains of thought that normally chug through my mind. The first is the one I try to give the loudest ‘voice’. It’s the one that looks for rainbows, knows the rain will stop eventually and who always welcomes that sunshine.
The other, well, not much precious in that ‘voice’. It’s more the me that has three more vodka and cranberries than really necessary or wakes up to find an errant bottle of empty wine out on the porch – guess we (likely solo me) polished that one off.
This is a good backdrop for the second ‘voice’ – comes in with a bit of headache and may have to vomit a couple of good times to move on with the day and what it inevitably will require. My smile’s a lil’ more tongue and cheek and if I you get close enough on such a day, I may even bite, literally. Like I said, lil’ precious found there.
I felt an urge in ‘unpacking’ life stuff over the last week to give second voice some time on the soapbox. The day I wrote about rainbows last week was ‘me therapy’. More a purge of the well of my soul than an upchuck. A firm need to use the bad energy for good. To intentionally recognize beauty in ashes.
This is more the other voice, the train leaning heavy towards the other side of the track. Still therapy for me through more of a word vomit. If that’s not your kool-aid, you may want to switch to Instagram now for something more happy and shiny.
I talk about my cancer sometimes. It’s my ‘stone-wall’ of hard things. I like to break life’s other hard things against it. It’s my chosen trump card. My benchmark for needed perspective. Truthfully though, there are other, in some ways harder things in my life. I don’t talk about those things as much or to everyone. Be assured though, that stone wall takes a lot of hits and last week it took a big one. The devil walked right up to me and slapped me in the face, hard.
A past, but still very relevant hurt is what hit me across the face. Not a subtle tap at my door, the devil politely asking to come in. But more like waking up beside him face to face. Shocked, physically shaken and enraged – that was me. How dare he and a little, ‘God why?’ Through my rage, I paced and I prayed. Then I wrote and it was not a blog. It was direct venom to the devil’s vessel. It was honest, it was brutal – it was a slap in the face right back and a good kick to the stomach. It felt good. It felt justified. My mean girl resurrected.
On the backend, I struggled with it though. Was it too much? Is that the person I want to be? My faith and my pride in blatant opposition. Love and forgiveness, trying hard to keep those far from my thoughts.
Somewhat against my will, I did find myself pausing in the righteousness, needing to ask myself honest questions and give myself worthy (His voice louder than mine) feedback. Did I think He was proud of all my ‘means’ – no, not really. Should I ask His forgiveness for the me that took His permission to be bold ten steps further and to the left a little – absolutely I should. Is that what I did – nope, not right away. And did He let that stand – not one bit. Relentless as always.
Saturday, the devil came knocking again. This time more quietly and more politely. He looked right back at me in my own reflection as I tied that scarf too familiarly around my head in demonstration. He was whispering in my ear as I tried to be strong and helpful to a friend whose twin sister is about to take an even darker journey than my own. The frustration I felt at seeing those damn scarves, remembering each one. Trying to finagle it over hair that I almost felt in the moment guilty for having knowing her sister is about to know the pain and devastation of losing it all. Knowing the darkness of the tunnel she’s about to enter and fearing for her in tandem with praying because you can’t know until you’re there. But if you’ve been there, your heart breaks for anyone who has that journey before them. Love and prayers are the saving graces but they don’t diminish the hard realities that must be lived. The whispers growing so loud. Asking again, ‘God why?’ Less rage in that one, more helplessness and sadness.
I guess the third time is truly the charmed one. The SOB came knocking again this morning – out the gate on a Monday. With Bubba and a school project. Due today but barely even started. Us trying to figure a way to both be at school for the presentation only to be told by him, ‘I don’t want yall to come to that.’ Me shocked, ‘why not?’ And him, ‘Because I didn’t do very good on it.’ Translation being, he hadn’t done hardly anything. As Seth said, ‘head in the sand’ as if it would just go away.
This hurt my feelings and I pouted out loud. Fortunately, Seth was working from home this morning and could intercede on my less than subtle pouting. In all my parenting righteousness, I couldn’t understand (still audibly) how Bubba could have mountains of free time, be asked repeatedly if he had homework – my words, ‘be given all the tools for success and choose not to use them’. Unbelievable.
I was reminded gently in that moment, filled with my frustration that ‘this is part of being a parent.’ Grrrrr, simple and needed truth. Righteousness, perfection – mmmm, they’re lofty and hard to maintain but oh do I seek them, often without even realizing it. Do they fail me every time – yesssss. Does the devil relish my pursuit – with every beat of his black heart he does.
As I said, this is less about sun (which I love), rainbows (which are beautiful) or rain (which ceases eventually). I guess this is more about the devil – the one that may attack from the outside and the quiet presence he carries within me. When he’s loud and attacking from all sides, it’s easy to grow weary. Life loses luster and bad thoughts pervade everything. But he’s real and so is his influence. Not recognizing his works or his presence are dangerous and naive – that also empowers him. Like letting a snake nest in your house – so long as you can’t see him and he doesn’t bother you, what’s the fear? To that I’d say, ‘There’s a snake in your house – you need to find it and kill it.’ Or as my friend LA does – chop it in a bunch of pieces then set it outside as a warning to future snakes.
And you know the thing the devil probably hates most – love God more than you fear him. The devil may steal some moments, some days, some seasons of life but loving and trusting God wins. I say because I know. When I’m sitting amidst the ashes – some mine, some given to me and they just look like ashes, He’s there. If I’m willing to relent them, He will take those ashes and in His time (emphasis on His) draw beauty from them.
The devil has been especially loud in these past few days. And with the devil’s help, I’ve scattered the ashes, smeared them as furiously as I could, spread them across my face as warpaint – ready for battle. Back to ‘being given all the tools’ – grrrr, I hate when I choke on my own words. Me running around with ashes smeared across my face, armed with ugliness beget of this world and carrying a shield of righteousness – Lord, bless my heart. And He does…
My relentless God answered me when I submitted my righteousness to him (again) and trusted him with the ashes. He chose to give me peace (again and again) – the good kind that passes my understanding. He showed me He was more. More than my hurt, my pain, my frustration, my disappointment, my anger.
And my saviour friend does it with such finesse and a little snark. He knows how to impress me. Through worship, through relationships, through prayer, through meditation, through laughter, through service, through embraces, through assurances, through mercies, through getting to live another day. Hopefully better than yesterday but covered by grace before I even have the chance to take it south. Him amazing, me not so much.
My saviour friend was on my walk with me this morning. At the outset, I had a mosquito bite irking me in the bend of the front of my right foot. At the sock line, itchy with every step. Not encouraging at the outset of a 3 mile walk. Trying not to fall was me continuing to bend and scratch. I finally got my sock positioned and voila, problem solved. Then I feel something poking me on my left foot. Frustrated, I stepped to the side of trail and stopped, ready to call it before I’d hardly begun. It was literally a little ‘pebble in my shoe.’ I smiled as I flicked it back onto the path and resumed my walk.
It takes me roughly 45 minutes to do about 3.25 miles. I listened to praise music today – felt that would do my soul well. It did and God filled that time. He also had me backtracking to snap a picture of something that made me laugh aloud towards the end. In thinking of all the perspective I could glean from the frustrations of late, I saw shit in the grass. Sorry for the language – spade a spade kind of day.
I laughed because the grass was so green, still wet with dew, the sun sparkling, blue sky beyond. But it was still shit, covered in flies, nestled among the beauty of the day. I’m glad I didn’t step on it and that it was off my path. It was still there and that was fine. There’s likely more that I didn’t see. Spade spade, shit shit – sometimes you just have to call it, see it for what it is and know that it doesn’t cover/define the majority thankfully. Good to remember to be glad – it’s over there and you’re over here, today’s not about that. Tomorrow might be, so enjoy today.