To you, my regular readers, I came back up here to tack this on after writing this post and finding it winding down an unexpected canyon...I couldn't get out once I started and just had to ride it out. Don't bother with this post...this one is my own wandering mind, trying diligently to work out the unknown. It is full of boring things that I need to get out but none of you needs to necessarily read. I thought about not posting this and keeping it to myself in my non-existent journal, but realized you all know me anyway so what does it matter...I'm an odd duck and have already revealed pretty much the core of who I am in everything I have ever written anyway, so it is sort of pointless to hide anything as if you don't already know far more than is probably wise to share. A bit too late for that. But remembering who this is for, our family, it felt fair to put it here in our family journal. Sorry. I'll have a more appropriate reader oriented post as soon as I can.
There are times when we find God inserted in almost every single thing we do, and those are the times when I feel so thankful that I am where I am today. I have spent a great deal of my life feeling oddly out of place, not fitting in with any "crowd" and often as an observer. There are times, especially this year with all the changes that we have experienced, when I think that sense of being disconnected is quite valid, and others when I know it was a yearning for what I have found now.
For the most part, my hard edges have been worn smooth by a God who has tumbled me and polished me. I am not so beautiful as to be a stand alone gemstone, but I now find joy in being added to the chain alongside others whose previously roughened edges were also polished to a gleam. We all show signs of the ravages of time, of events and forces that chipped away at us leaving cracks and discoloration, but somehow when God gets done with the coarse grind we are changed, we are in far better shape, and we realize the polishing will go on until death.
I recall a time, not all that many years ago, when I walked around 24/7 seeing the negative. I was so angry and disdainful of others, all the while wallowing in dismay at all life had not provided...never realizing that I was receiving what energy I was putting out into the world. The change was not something I myself could have brought about, I was too steeped in a lifestyle that was far more concerned with "me" and was unable to recognize that life could be different.
I don't really know what brought about the gradual changes, but I can point to certain individuals who helped me find my way, either by rejecting me or supporting me. We often don't give credit where credit is due, and the broken relationships and heartaches lead us where we need to go just as firmly as those who willingly hold our hand and draw us in. I can look back now, and with the wisdom that comes with the passage of time I give thanks for all that transpired in my life, the things that broke my heart are what created the opening for God to enter. Being vulnerable, frightened, or deeply saddened is not a place where we would elect to "live", but it is often in this broken state that we are finally available to God, and don't reject the Spirit ourselves as we desperately reach out trying to cling to anything that might offer a respite from the pain and isolation we feel.
God has broken me on several occasions and brought me to new understanding. God broke me last winter, and for many months following I literally had to lean on others until a new wholeness emerged, and it looks very different than I expected. It has taken awhile for me to become acquainted with this modified version of Cindy, and in fact, I am still not fully "in the know", but am thankfully further down the road now than I was 3 or 4 months ago.
The wisdom of the people God has surrounded me with has astounded me, but further still is the willingness of certain people to bob in and out and wait for my return to wholeness, always offering a life ring if I needed it, and realizing that this was one sea that had to be navigated by myself for the most part, even if it meant watching safely from shore while feeling helpless to do much more than offer shouts of encouragement.
I have been pastored by many, some without the title, and an extraordinary one with the title who provided me with a place to shed my tears of frustration and confusion, and who literally was at moments the sole light shining in the bleak dark night of my soul. I have wrestled with so much on so many levels this year that it would have been impossible to sort it out, nor would it have been possible to do so in anything other than a spiritual context. And God provided perfect peace, a place to rest, a person to help restore me. What would I have done??? I have a fresh perspective on what it means to be a pastor.
I have a sense of standing at a new crossroads, but I am not sure where any of the roads lead. It is unsettling, to say the least. Dominick often sees me as over-analyzing things to death, and there are moments I am sure he is right and I would give anything to view the world from his more concrete perspective, for it would be so much easier. However, that is not the way I am made, no matter how strong the desire to do so.
I wonder, will I have the courage necessary to jump off whatever new cliff God places before me? Or will I simply "settle", living a safer existence. I won't say happier, because it seems that for me, happiness is largely tied these days to challenge and risk, at least of the emotional sort. And oddly, despite still feeling not fully into my new skin, I repeatedly ask God to reveal the new adventure, to teach the newest lesson, to keep me barreling ever faster forward toward a deeper, richer and more connected life. And I know this will lead to wisdom I can not yet imagine, but that wisdom will come with a cost, and it will be hard earned.
I find it fascinating, too, that I am in the unusual and very privileged position to be raising 5 young people who all are walking this journey with me, yet as is natural and expected they are waaaaaayyyy far behind on the path. Oh, how I rejoice in how they walk with eyes wide open!! Each of them at their own pace, but definitely traveling the spiritual path and gathering the "supplies" in the form of experiences that they will need for their adult journeys that will surely have them visiting places unimagined, both literally and figuratively. Those experiences have been at times torturous, agonizing and wretchedly, tragically beautiful in their power. Emerging from it are spirits that are unparalleled in depth and capacity to love, spirits whose loyalty is surprising in its strength.
The further gift is to be forever committed to a man who understands and supports, despite being on a different and perhaps parallel path. The yin and yang of our relationship is what keeps us tied so tightly to one another, both of us recognizing the value of being partnered with someone so different who can fill in our missing colors on our paint-by-number dreams, to quote Jackson Browne. Those colors are the ones each of us does not possess but the other does and gladly leans over, paintbrush in hand, offering their gift of subtle hue. All that I am I could never be without him, and all that we are as a family is due to him. I have spent numerous years cheering from the sidelines as he found his place in the world, and he now sits on the sidelines encouraging, supporting and wishing he could meet me in the middle of this desert...and indeed does find me at an oasis now and again...but then he moves on knowing I have to find my own way out to the lush, green valley that awaits me. And he will be there, arms outreached, saying "Wish I could have been more help, but I knew you could do it...I may not always understand why you had to travel the desert, but I'll allow you to go where you need to go.". Precious is his offering.
I greedily and eagerly reach for those whose lives intersect ours, whose offerings are also indeed precious. Time spent with us, following from afar with care and prayer, strands braided together for strength. People I'll never meet, cities are the only name I will know them by as blog stats reveal hits and my silent little "hello" is sent out. Near and dear ones, giving gifts of pure love in the form of guitars and teaching, emails and messages saying "I love you...what would my life be without you.". How far I have strayed, thankfully, from that bitter woman I once was, whose trust in others was nil, whose lens was not rose colored but jet black. That lens has been replaced with a double rainbow stretching far and wide, spread not just across the mountain view from my own backyard, but across the world, spanning the globe as the love continues to sustain me and strengthen with each passing day. I have expanded.
Oh God, you HAVE saved me, and I am prostrate on the ground in gratitude. How desperately I wish that for others, and how corny I know that sounds to so many. I once was like that too, and I do not laugh at the thought.
Thank you for walking with me, for waiting for me, for being present in the eyes, hearts and minds of so many whose lives touch mine. Teach me more...please...so that I may be even fuller. I can't explain this desire, it makes no sense to me. Maybe someday I will better understand, or maybe it will remain a mystery.