There are many universal human experiences, one of which is learning. Regardless of age, ability, culture, family structure, race, creed, gender or sexuality, we all learn — many things in many ways. In particular, we learn words.
We all have fears, anxieties, insecurities. Most of us are scared to death of being alone. We all get angry, or sad, or confused. Simply put, we're all human, and that shared experience is worth remembering at all times, because when we forget it, that's when we go wrong. That's when we miss each other, stop listening, and resort to hurting each other deeply, violently, or maliciously.
...I wish I were good at being alone, at feeling comfortable only in my own presence. But that is when the void of my loneliness, inadequacy, and insecurity is most present, tangible, palpable. I feel more and more like the authentic me, and it's hard to celebrate the goodness there when my mind sees the cracks, the flaws, the shame and the pain.
Teach me to go to this country beyond words and beyond names. Teach me to pray on the side of the frontier, here were these woods are. I need to be led by you. I need my heart to be moved by you. I need my soul to be made clean by your prayer. I need my will to be made strong by you. I need the world to be saved and changed by you. I need you for all those who suffer, who are in prison, in danger, in sorrow. I need you for all the crazy people. I need your healing hand to work always in my life. I need you to make me, as you made your Son, healer, a comforter, a Savior. I need you to name the dead. I need you to help the dying cross their particular rivers. I need you for myself whether I live or die. It is necessary. Amen.
Perhaps true contentment happens not before or after the storm but at its epicenter, at the eye of the hurricane. In the midst of tumultuous winds and rain and hail and lightning and thunder, maybe, just maybe, that is where we are able to find stillness, find the place where we are settled and grounded and rooted in what it is that makes us who we are.
When I first heard of seasonal affective disorder, something inside me clicked into place. Winter has never been easy for me, especially since moving to the Chicago region over a decade ago. I can handle the cold—to some extent, at least. I can even enjoy the snow. But the darkness... that's what gets to me. After the time change, my heart sinks. 4 p.m. is too early for it to be getting dark, and yet we cannot escape it. Darkness is a natural part of life's cycle, of life's order.
Talking with a friend (and professor) the other day about grief, I realized that part of my own unfinished grief has to do with the remaining desire to be straight. To fall in love with a woman. To not cringe (or feel nauseated) at the idea of being intimate with her. I wonder what it would have been like had things turned out differently, but some questions never get answers. Some fantasies never become reality. Some hopes never stand a chance.
I don't know who came up with the idea that questioning God, God's motives, or God's actions (or inactions) is wrong, but I'd like to meet him (just roll with me on the gender assumption). If I had that chance, I'd point out David, Thomas, Job, even Paul. There are probably more biblical characters who dared question God. I'd ask why he thought it was wrong to hold God accountable for the ways in which God does and does not act in the world.
The sad truth is most of us never even come close to that proverbial silver-backed glass with the intent of introspection. The idea of knowing ourselves is horrific. What if we hate what we see? What if we suddenly see what others see? Worst of all, what if we find out a truth we've been running from for a long time: the truth that the person we present ourselves to be to the outside world is not who we really are at our core? What then? What if our stories don't line up...
The fact is that to know yourself and to let your self be known by others is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable, nerve-wracking process. It often includes tension, drama, and conflict (all three of which I despise greatly). But rarely does this conflict come up, I think, because we inherently dislike or detest someone else. It surfaces because we see something in them that makes us feel something about ourselves. Yet when we refuse to be vulnerable, to "risk engagement," we put ourselves at risk for emotional atrophying and decay.