I keep a journal with pen and paper. I’ve done this since high school, straight through college, with my most prolific years being the twenty-somethings. Books are filled up with every kind of emotion a girl can feel while waiting (or thinking I’m waiting) for the Next Thing to come sweep me off my feet.
One of the reasons I write things down is that I love to see the journey. Some days it just doesn’t feel like I’m moving, at all, but if you string together a dozen or few hundred of those, suddenly there is progress. Forward motion. Inertia, if you will. Anyway, I found two entries in my journal from a year ago, and wanted to share them here.
Oh, what a miserable week! What a miserable life, really. Alone. Except for Judah, who is excellent company but a poor conversationalist (for now)–completely alone. Someone asked me today what I do all day. I didn’t even have an answer. I don’t know what I do. I survive. I make good meals for my loves. I play with my baby. I sleep. I make it through the day.
It’s the nights that are worst. I am plagued by the worst kinds of thoughts, and nightmares. I hate being alone. I do things I don’t want. I make David the enemy, even though he is closest to my heart. He feels a thousand miles away, though, because the world he lives in is varied and interesting and beautiful. And mine is barren and falling apart. How can he be near me? How can he flourish as I whither and die? I must be far away, or something is choking me. So I flail about, trying to release the hold, injuring whatever is close enough to swing my desperate fists at: David. He feels it and is crushed. I’m crushing him. So I hate myself all the more. I want to disappear. I want to feel differently. I want to be the new creature I’m supposed to be.
So I question: I doubt God’s presence. How can He be here and yet I flounder? If He is author and perfecter, how am I unravelling at such a pace and finding myself more and more imperfect? Have I not believed? Have I not received the gift that can set me free? I’ve tried. And tried. I want to be free (please free me!). I want to be new (please make me new!). I want to be kind and loving and good. I want to have strength to fight the battle all around me. I only want to know it’s not inside me, that I am not the cause of the darkness somehow. That I am not the enemy.
God, please shine some light here.
I want to remember this day. It has been a hard day. I’ve felt lonely and tired and like I can’t keep going. I want to remember because I hope I’ll look back and see that I’m out of this pit. I hope to see that there was a reason for my anguish. This place that we’re in, that there was a reason God has us here in this time and place. That we are not states and oceans away from family and friends for nothing. No, it cannot be for nothing. (Can it?)
So I want to remember there was an altar here, and that on it today was all of my happiness and sense of belonging. Friendships. Family. The places that I feel most at home. It all crackled on the fire and was consumed, and I was bereft. It burned, and I had nothing valuable left to put in its place.
I wrote that on November 1, almost exactly a year ago, and I am so glad I did. When I look back at last fall, I remember a few desperate moments. I remember sitting in the car with David, driving him back to work one day, sobbing and telling him I could not go on. He wanted to fix it, so he did what he does when he’s desperate: he called his parents, and asked them to come visit us. I cried even more before they came, told him that won’t fix the problem. They cannot be the friends I need to have here. They cannot fix this place for me. But they came, because it wasn’t up to me. They came and played with Judah. They did mundane things with me. They washed my dishes and helped us put on a Christmas dinner party (it was December then). They looked at our pictures and hugged us. They told us: your home is so peaceful. When we walk in here, we can tell this is a place of peace. They gave me compliments and lots of grace when I fell apart, a few times. They sat in the backyard in the sunshine and let me sleep.
I never would have guessed it, but things started to change. I don’t know that it was just because they came, but I know they prayed life and love into our home. Into me. This big, beautiful house with a Christmas tree in the middle started to feel like home to me. They left; we stayed, right through Christmas, just the three of us and our pretty Christmas tree. We invited friends to have Christmas brunch with us. I made a big batch of fresh cinnamon rolls, and the friends never came. But it was ok. I was disappointed, and we had leftover cinnamon rolls for weeks, but I didn’t fall apart. I was starting to feel whole again.
I know there are a lot of factors, like being pregnant and being in a brand new city in a brand new state. I also know that those things I put on my invisible altar, they were given back to me. I have friends and happiness and belonging here, in that place I called desolate. Some weeks I think: there are too many things to get done and people to see and Bible studies to go to! But those are problems I welcome with wide open arms. Come here, full calendar! Let me love you!
So I write these things down to say God is good. I write down the bad things, too, to say: God is good there too. In fact, I like these Good Things more because I know where I was just one year ago.