A Season of Ungratefulness

I haven't posted in a while. It isn't because I have nothing to say. Maybe it is because I have too much to say.

All these demons eating at me.

These voice whispering, screaming.

They don't leave any room for me to think. There isn't enough space to process all these thoughts and feelings.

This Lent has been a hard season for me. I think more than ever, I am acutely aware of  my ungratefulness. I see the cravings, the desires, the wants...how the not having of these things vex me. And I am vexed greatly. There is this very dark feeling that God is withholding, and I know, maybe more now than ever, that if he is not fulfilling those things, that there is a very real possibility that it is because he does not want me to have them. And I am not grateful that. I look at Him and accuse Him of neglect, of forgetfulness, of a lack of love.

In our Lenten guide last week, the primary reading was Luke 12:22-34. (Luke is, for me, a neglected book. I tend to look at the parallel verses in Matthew. Matthew 6:34 could be one of my life verses, I am such a worrier.) It was Luke 12:32 that struck me the most during my reading.
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

The Kingdom.

Last night, the Skipper and I sat eating Mexican. "The kingdom isn't enough," I said. She looked and me with sad, knowing eyes and nodded.

You can say God set us up to fail, that he knew our natures were weak and that it wouldn't be fair to punish us for not being able to live up to unrealistic expectations. But he wanted us to love him, wanted us to choose him and that meant that that left the option open for us to not choose him. Adam and Eve chose themselves and so the cycle began, and sin came into the world and there would be no relief from that brokenness. However, God also set us up to win, because he knew we were weak and we would never be able to not choose ourselves. He made a way to bring us back to Himself no matter how many times we walked away and left Him to be gods or to make gods of other things and people. It PLEASED Him to strip Himself of divinity and walk as one of us so that we out have back everything we had lost. It was His pleasure to give us the kingdom.

I complain, because the kingdom, his love, his presence...it just doesn't seem like enough. I don't want it. I want other things. Things that seem more delightful and more wonderful and more pleasurable than He does. I am ungrateful. I am forgetful. I am this sinful saint that isn't doing it quite right. And yet, here is this great big God who will stoop low and please Himself by giving Himself for me. Even as I sit, sulking like a spoiled child, he is reminds me that he is gracious and slow to anger and abounding in love. He has not forgotten me or forsaken me. My ungratefulness does not change His character, does not change His affection, does not change what pleases Him.



You know when are about to do it. It see that lion pacing back and forth in its cage and its mane is big and wild and its fur and smooth and golden and shiny.  You think, if I am fast enough, I can stick my hand through those bars and stroke its coat and it will never know I was even there. And you ignore the fact that that lion is licking its lips. You ignore the look in that lion's eyes that tells you that it is a savage creature, not some docile house cat, and you are the perfect prey.

Yes, you know when you are about to do something truly heinous and instead of fleeing from it, you reach your hand into that cage.

And that is what I want to do.

Even though I know that that lion is going to bite me. Going to pull as much of my body as it can through the thin bars of that cage and maul me. 

My counselor says that she believes in me. I guess I believe in me too. But the truth is, I just don't want to care anymore. I want to feel something, anything. I am tired of waiting around for something to change.

That lion is beautiful...and dangerous. If you are logical, you know that to be true. You look in your heart and know that it isn't going to end well, that you will never make it out unscathed.  You recognize that that adrenaline rush, that momentary thrill, that short second of bliss is the instant right before the blood rushes out. That thin line between pleasure and pain is easily crossed and you are left bleeding to death.


Forty One Days

I sat on your couch, crying.

I would love to say that it was the first time, but we both know that isn't true.

And my tears were from the sheer sight of you. And from the acute sense of loss that I felt. And from my desire to fix something that you say isn't broken.

Forty one days. I hadn't seen you in forty one days. And you live five miles away from me.

For a period of that forty one days, you were a whole world away, and I still felt closer to you than I do now. I felt like maybe there was hope for us. Hope that we could be friends. But then you returned and it might have been better for me if you hadn't. I could have blamed the distance. I could have blamed the time zones. But now, I only blame myself.

You said that everything is fine, that we are fine. That you are comfortable with me, even now. But you don't need to see me, don't care one way or the other. And you don't care about my feelings or the feelings of our mutual friends, who you don't really need to see either. You wanted things to be light and easy between us and I always was so serious and you weren't interested in that. It shocked me, those pronouncements. You said you were okay with distance, but I didn't really believe that, or I didn't believe you were okay with that much distance.

So as I sat beside you on that couch, where we have eaten, and taken naps, and watched movies, and talked for hours, it shocked me how indifferent you were to me. Because you were once a man who spoke to me about marriage and children and families. Even after we realized that we could never overcome the differences between us, I loved you desperately, painfully. We kept pretending that reality was never going to catch up with us, that we could outrun it. And I wrestled with my flesh and with my God, at times longing to put Him away so that I could have you. Through the months of that, we lied to ourselves so that we could keep being friends, though we were far more, because as my Other Boy says, "I'd rather have something than nothing." And we had something.

I cannot reconcile the person who you now claim yourself to be, this "fucked-up asshole", with the man that I have seen you be with me. It hurts me to know that the way that we were from the beginning, was a lie. Because for me, it was our foundation, a friendship that was real and true and good and lovely, something I longed to preserve even when everything else was lost, but for you, it was the beginning of a pursuit that I didn't even see coming. And maybe I was naive. I can see that. But I never assumed that it could ever, would ever, be anything more, and I was content to settle for a dear friend and to love you from afar. But you claim you weren't my friend then, you were a boy that saw the possibility of more and now would rather have nothing.

And even though you say that we are fine, my fine is different from yours, and this is not fine for me. Because everywhere I go in the town has been tainted by the we that once was. And we can never get back to that, not even anywhere close, because the foundation of it was the not the stone I thought it to be, but sand. Everything reminds me of you. Reminds me of us. And the fear of seeing you in public and not being able to greet you, or talk to you, or relate to you like I once did, paralyzes me. So I pray for forty one, or eighty one, or a thousand and one days before I see you again. Because you are only five miles away and you are not the person that I knew and I don't know how to be fine with the you that is.


My Other Boy

"You kissed me!"

"Yeah. I know. I was there."

It caught me by surprise, you know, that kiss. I might have implied that it would be alright, sitting at the bar an hour before that, but I never thought that you would.

I hadn't kissed anyone in a hundred and fourteen days. Not even Red. That's the longest I have gone without kissing someone in the last two years. I've had some friends scold me because I have to keep track of that sort of thing, but I like to kiss boys and they like to kiss me, and after a college career of being the ugly duckling, I've been making up for lost time.

That kiss reminded me of our first kiss, standing in the kitchen of house that neither one of us lived in. It reminded me of the first time you text me and how it surprised me. It reminded me of a late spring night that turned into morning. And kissing you reminded me of how long it took me to get over you after we had already decided to be friends.

J. was the first real push to get over you. We look back at it now and laugh, but at the time, you were with her to feel better and I was being pushed to the side and had no idea why. And then came Red. And I knew then that I never felt for you what I felt for him. You boys have all the best and worst things in common and I think that is why I love you both. But I was madly in love with him and there is no comparison. Loving him made me see us for what we were and it made me content with the relationship that we had. Our feelings for each other were safe and secure and easy and light.

But that kiss was Kraft Mac n' Cheese. It was nostalgia. And I had a second helping and it made me happy. And comfortable. And warm. But in the light of a new day, it brought me back to before Red, to when I wasn't sure what it felt like for someone who I really loved to love me back. I would be lying if I said that I never wanted you to kiss me again because truthfully, kissing you is natural and fun and effortless. I have never hidden Red from you, or the hurt that has come from loving him, from wanting him and you have been with me through all of it and that kiss was a momentary reprieve from an ache that is ever present.

But it won't ever be enough.


When It Was Over

I remember when I told you that I had written about us. It was the best week of you and me that there was. We both decided, somehow without expressing it to the other, that we were going to just be us, to let the thing that we were be organic...not to stifle it or to pretend that we were not. We spent five days of that week together. Yes, it was my favorite week.

We had just finished our meal and I moved to sit beside you. The table felt like too much space between us. In that booth we sat, hands entwined, legs and shoulders pressed together, as if to reject the idea that we were anything but one being. And we were on display, sitting in the front of that restaurant, the huge window exposing us to the street. There was no denying that we were something and we were not afraid.

I told you about how I had written about the others. About how I wrote about them when those relationships came to their conclusions. How I needed that in order to work through what had been and what would be. And I told you that I had written about us because we were not over...we were something, and I needed to process that, even in the midst of it. I asked you to understand that there would be more. That I would, sometimes, write about us for as long as there was an us. I know that you are smart enough to infer that I would write about us when it was over.

And so this is it.

And it is hard. Because I know that we could have been something more than we were. The possibility of us, that is the scariest thing. That we both chose to walk away from that. And you are not the man that I thought you were. You were a different man for me and I know now that it concerned you, that you did not like the man you were because it meant that maybe you needed me, that maybe you wanted me around. And you don't want to want or need people. So you've retreated. I saw a glimpse of it, when we were something, but I knew that we could make it work because it was what we both wanted. But now I see that you are a creature that desires to be alone far more than I can even comprehend.

I am glad, in some ways, that we could never really choose each other. I cannot imagine how heartbroken I would have been on the day that you decided you no longer saw me as an essential part of your happiness, the devastation of knowing that I had become superfluous to your life. I imagine sitting there in our living room with my face buried in my hands as you packed to leave. Or me, tangled in unfamiliar sheets, listening to the breathing of man lying beside me that wasn't you.

I want desperately to just pick a day in early October and start over. I miss my friend. I miss the boy who sat with me for hours and listened to me bitch about guys and work and life. Who urged me to eat off his plate and who drank out of my cup, even when we had food and drinks of our own. Who sent me pictures of his work, and articles that interested him, and podcasts that challenged me. Who I could laugh with and laugh at. But you are perfecting your position as a lone wolf. I am sorry for that. I am sorry if any part of being with me pushed you back into solitude. I was always honest about who I was and what I needed and what I wanted. I believe that you tried to be those things for me, even when we had already decided that there would never be a you and me. And you kept trying, until it was too much, until you couldn't, because you knew it would never be worth the effort.

Red, my darling recluse, my one time friend, my almost was...I hope as I write these lines, that these will be the last tears I ever shed for us. I hope one day, you come out of hiding, that you see some value in all the people around you who long to know you.

I love you. Still.

And I haven't told you that today.


A Big, Wild Life

I'm lonely.

Am I allowed to say that?

I am lonely.

I sit at my desk, or in my car, or on my couch, lay in my bed at night looking up at the ceiling, and I feel the tears forming, rolling down my cheeks. And I bite my lip to keep myself from sobbing, from wailing.

I am busy almost every night of the week, and have dozens of friends, and get invites to lot of social events, and yet,  I feel this loneliness that settles on my skin like a cold blanket.

In the silence of my dark room, a voice whispers to me: You are not wanted. You are not loved. There is no one who will call you precious. No one who will see you as valuable. You are alone because you are not worthy. Work, little girl. Work harder so that no one knows that you are a phony...simply glass, posing as a diamond.

And I'm not supposed to say that, or feel that. I am supposed to smile and be content because Jesus loves me and he is good to me and he is gracious and kind and merciful.  How do I reconcile this truth that I know with every fiber of my being with the desperation that I feel? The weight of my sorrow is so heavy on me.

Last night, my cell phone the only light in my dark room, I talked to my Choir Lady about the loneliness and about how I was filling my life full of things to do. I told her, I am a knife, doing things that spoons were meant to do, just trying to feel useful...trying to feel like my life isn't a waste. And I could keep doing the work of a spoon, but it would always leave me feeling off, feeling wrong...because it was not how I was built, not why I was created. There is a life that I dreamed about having and the life that I am currently living, and if this is it, and this is what I get with loving God...it just isn't enough.  But a life without Him, it isn't an option for me. And I don't know what that means, what that looks like. To live a life with God, where in my present circumstances, I am angry at him at worst and indifferent towards him at best. And I know that it is best that I pray that I have a change of heart but right now, I just want to pray for a change of circumstance, for a miracle. The Choir Lady is a big proponent of prayer and encouraged me to be honest with God since he knows me. She also asked me what I wanted her to pray...if I could put all my wants into one sentence what would it be?

"I want a big, wild life and someone to share it with."

And that is what I want...to live a life full of adventure and fun, doing the work that God has created me to do. And I want someone who wants to do that work too, to walk alongside me and love me and love Jesus. And it will take a miracle.


Six Options

Today, I read this article. And all that came to mind was...Oh God, I'm screwed. I am so screwed.

Now, Mark might not be talking to me. He says this article is not for the immature, ungodly, unstable.  There are probably a lot of people who would put me in one or maybe all of those categories. I understand. I am not going to tout myself as some excellent role model for your daughters. In fact, I would tell them, if they want to be good Christian girls, if they want people to see them as having it all together, look at my example, and do the opposite. Seriously, we have problems over here.

The truth is, five of those six options are far easier than the one that was ultimately encouraged. I have done all of them, over and over and over, except for number three...and honestly, it is looking really good right now. Settling. Yes, my friends, it is looking more and more appealing.

My baby brother got engaged a few weeks ago.  He sent me a text. To tell me he was getting married. He sent my mother a text. To tell her that he was getting married. And my baby brother is not a baby, he is twenty seven. Which makes me old...and single...and childless. And if one more person tells me that I am young and that I have plenty of time, I will effing scream.

One of my co-workers brought her baby into work a few weeks ago. She had on the cutest little outfit. When I saw her, I burst into tears. Started sobbing at my desk. Mourning the children that I will never have.

So yes, settling is looking really, really, really good. Because, for once, a man who is good and kind and smart and lovely and adventurous and respectful and wonderful, is interested in me. But he is not interested in my Jesus. He is content to live in a world where I believe and he does not. Because that is the world he has always known, a place where his mother has faith and his father does not and somehow they make it work. This is the man that I want to settle for...and I know that I can't. And so I am praying. Because if there are more single women than men in the Church, and the men aren't marrying until they get older, and they are trying to marry girls that are twenty two or three or four and not women who are knocking on thirty, then I, and half the girls I graduated with, and the majority of the single girls in my community group, and in my church, and in this city, are in big trouble. Because everyone tells us to wait and hope and that God is big and that he sees the desires of our hearts and that we are not forgotten...but the numbers don't lie.

So we have to pray, for a lot of things...for hearts that are content with Jesus, for God to give us patience, for God to mature and grow us as we wait, for men who will turn to Jesus despite what the culture says, who will desire to love and honor and serve God, for men whose eyes do not only look for youth when they pursue a help-mate, for men who are not content to Peter Pan their way through life and who will desire to step up and be Godly husbands. And that list goes on and on. And if you are reading this and you are not single, you should pray that God has mercy on us, that he will not lead us into temptation, that he will be with us, that he will be solace for us and comfort for us and love to us. Pray hard. Because the irony of prayer is that we often want to give up because what we are praying for seems impossible but the reason we pray is because what we desire IS impossible. We are Leah, praying for a husband who will love us. We are the Israelites, praying for a savior who will come to free us. We are Ruth, longing for a kinsmen-redeemer. We are Hannah, aching for a son. We are David, pleading for the life of his unborn child. Yes, we are praying for impossible things.