the unbearable heaviness of being

I wrote this quite awhile ago, but never posted it. It’s still true, so here it is.

Sometimes there is just too much.

Too much pain, suffering, sadness. Too much that is unfair. Too much that hits too close to home. Too much fear.

Why are things the way they are?

Oh, sure, I know the Sunday school answers. But those aren’t cutting it today.

I am a jumbled mess of sorrow and anxiety. Why are these things happening to these people? And what’s to say I won’t be next? Whether it’s me or someone close to me, it’s become painfully clear that no one is safe from the horrors of life.

Somewhere inside me is the knowledge that God is still in control, a seed of faith buried underneath a mountain of doubt.

I alternate between a fiery desire to live fully every moment I’m given and a crippling sense of futility that makes me want to pull the covers over my head and give up on it all.

I gave in, and admitted that God was God.

-C. S. Lewis

 

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detroit 

I wrote this last summer, but apparently never posted it. So here it is…

Aaron and I have given up on giving each other birthday gifts because a) we don’t need more stuff and b) we stink at actually going out and buying gifts. So we’ve decided that in lieu of gifts, each year we will head to Detroit for a Tigers game and an overnight stay.

Detroit, of course, is a city that needs no introduction. Anyone – anyone who doesn’t know the city, that is – will likely tell you that it’s an awful place. If you’ve been there, you know how wrong that assessment is.

We started our day at St. John’s Episcopal Church, with the sole purpose of enjoying the organ playing of Dr. Lewis, my college organ teacher. (Shout out to all my Hope peeps who survived Theory II and Senior Seminar with Uncle Huw. Here’s hoping your homework doesn’t have a fanged smiley face on it.) Figuring out a new church can be difficult when it’s within your own denomination, so asking a couple of lifelong protestants to be Episcopal for the day was a little intimidating. But we were greeted warmly, shown the best place to sit to see the organ, and if anyone was offended by our cluelessness, they certainly didn’t show it.

After the service, Dr. Lewis told us about the history of the church and introduced us to several people. And, honest to goodness, the altar guild (I hope I have that right) gifted us the day’s flowers. (Here they are!)


I got my pat on the ego for the day when Dr. Lewis introduced me as his student and explained to others how I had won Hope’s concerto competition on multiple instruments. (There is no affirmation quite like the positive words of a teacher you respect.) After some continued fellowship at the church coffee hour, we were on our way.

After the game (a pathetic loss), we headed to La Lanterna for dinner. We ended up having an extended conversation with the couple seated next to us – a pair probably about our parents’ age. She is a retired kindergarten teacher; he worked in the auto industry and then in higher education. (Side note for Hope folks: they live across the street from Paul Schaap – as in the science building. !!!) They finished their meal first; as they stood to leave, they shared heartfelt words of thanks for our work as teachers. We ordered dessert, and then prepared to pay the bill. It felt like a Facebook cliche when the bill arrived and it was only for the cost of dessert, because – as we found out from our waiter – our table neighbors had paid for our meal.

Detroit. It’s an amazing place.

sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon.

We meet again.

You always fill me with unspeakable dread. This week more so than usual.

A big event at school that feels scary – I’m afraid of failure, of embarrassment.

And politics… Oh, politics. The state government is trying to pass so many awful pieces of legislation that time prohibits my naming them all.

Last week I was angry. Upset. Fired up. But that was when there was only one issue to fight for. Now there are

SO.

MANY.

If I called my legislators for each issue individually, I would not have time to go to work. And, well, that’s not an option, particularly given the aforementioned anxiety about school.

I love Jess’s description of the end of the semester. I know the point she’s talking about – where you abandon everything and cling to the shimmering Christmas tree, the promise of joyful time with family, and the hope of a fresh start in the new year. Another week, and I’ll be there, too.

At least, I hope so.

It is hard to have hope for the new year in our current political state. It seems that the country has collectively lost its mind, and our state is doing no better. I’m sure I’m driving all of Facebook crazy, in particular any political conservatives. (Who haven’t unfriended me yet…. Ha.) But how can I stay silent in the face of what’s happening? I want to run out right now and yell, to anyone who will listen, “WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. THE. WORLD?!?!”

There is a beautiful dusting of snow falling. It brings back memories of childhood Christmases, candlelight services at RRC, everything tinged with the special fuzzy camera lens (a la South Pacific) of nostalgia. It is trying to trick my brain into believing that everything is fine, that I can sit back, relax, trust…

But I can’t.

I just can’t.

The snow is only an illusion. These are not the shimmery flakes of beautiful memories. These are the cold, hard ice crystals of Narnia’s Wicked Witch.

Our world is frozen by our own hatred and ignorance.

We need Aslan.

I need Aslan.

courage2

free write – 18 minutes

Where to begin….

Do you ever second-guess your entire life? Please tell me I’m not the only one. Some days everything seems like a great idea – fantastic – couldn’t be better – and some days everything seems all wrong – a big mistake – what the $(#*& am I doing?

I ended up here more or less by accident. I chose my major because I didn’t like doing homework for my other classes. I interviewed for one job. And here I am. Yes, this is an oversimplification, and there have been many decisions made along the way, and yes God has a purpose, blah blah blah… But sometimes I wonder if it would be easier – better? – if I had felt some CALLING, some magical something that pulled and tugged and told me THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

I remember struggling with this idea in college, mostly because I always felt that eventually I’d have to focus on one instrument. (Lo and behold, here I am still playing all three and then some.) The older I get, the more I try to understand the necessity of being CALLED to whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time, even if it isn’t mystical or magical.

(Side note: Maybe if we all chose our majors/careers/whatever by pulling swords from various stones? Just a thought.)

When I feel anxious or inadequate or hurt or afraid, my brain tells me that I’d be better off if I was doing something different. If I had a different job, or if I didn’t work at all. The urge is so powerful, so overwhelming at times, that it’s hard to separate a true need – a true CALLING – for change from the voice of my anxiety, whispering that things would be better, I’d feel less anxious, IF ONLY I would do X…

Ah, anxiety. My old friend. The name of this demon should be LEGION, for they are many.

  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of not being good enough.
  • Worry about what others think.
  • Worry about the “right” thing to do.
  • Fear of looking stupid.
  • Fear of being made fun of.
  • Fear of not being liked.
  • Worry about the future.
  • Worry about the past.
  • Worry about the present.
  • Worry about pretty much everything.

You get the idea.

For the longest time, I had no idea that anxiety – ANXIETY – was a thing. A thing that could be treated with counseling and medication. Anxiety’s tendrils reach throughout my family tree, and so I just assumed this was how everyone lived their life.

Anxiety doesn’t rule me.

Usually.

Days like today, returning to work after time off, looking at what comes ahead… Anxiety is a much more difficult foe.

(Right now it is telling me to stop typing, because this really isn’t very good writing, and I know I’m capable of better. The grammar police are going to get me. All my English teachers would be horrified at the atrocious form, structure, and syntax of this pile of word vomit.)

So now what? I really don’t know. I thought this was going somewhere when I started, but I think I’ve talked myself in a circle, and I only have a minute left before my self-imposed end time.

I guess I trust that even in the uncertainty, God can use me for something. He’s got a history of using broken people to do great things.

Good luck this week, Sisters. I love you!

You guys. I did the thing.

Dear Sisters,

People used to ask me if I was a runner. Apparently because all tall, slim people must run? I don’t know. Anyway, I am definitely not a runner. I hate running. What do I like? I like to bike, although I do it very seldom and for very short distances. I like to rollerblade, but my ‘blades haven’t seen the light of day in several years. (The level of dust covering the skate bag is rather impressive.) And, as we already discussed, I am learning to love my new mom-bod. But… I also know that I need to be more active somehow, as my current exercise regimen is…um…I don’t have one. And although I don’t mind weighing 10-15 lbs more than I used to, I would like to improve my soggy mid-section. It’s not just an appearance thing; two pregnancies have done a number on the muscles in that whole region, and I’d like to get them back working again. I have also struggled for a long time with maintaining good posture, and I’ve also got major muscle tension in my neck and back.

Enter: The MuTu System. A 12-week program led by a cheerful British lady that’s supposed to be just the ticket for folks like me. Today was Day 1. Will I make it all the way through all 12 weeks?? Here’s hoping.

Gotta go… Duty calls.  (Mama’s coming, Nataboo!)

Sara

“I think the rule is ‘don’t guess at that ever, ever, ever, ever….”

Dear Sisters,

I think I secretly thought that I would never in my life have to spend any time or energy thinking about my weight/shape/etc. I just always seemed to stay thin and light, no matter what I did, ate, etc. After Lydia was born, I was back in my pre-baby clothes in no time. I silently congratulated myself on having a body that was clearly intended to give birth to big, healthy babies, and spring back into shape as if nothing had ever happened. So when Natalie was born, I was confident that I’d be back in my regular clothes in no time, my body no worse for the wear.

Ha.

As it turns out, that was not exactly the case. From a weight standpoint, I really don’t care. Other than the fact that I’m cheap and hate having to replace perfectly good clothes, I’m happy to be a healthier (heavier) weight. What’s bugging me is that my stomach has not bounced back, and depending on what I wear, definitely still looks like I could be in the early stages of pregnancy. I realize this is a common problem, and I didn’t think it was really a big deal. I figured it would come back in time. After all, I’ve now given birth to two large babies, both of whom stayed past their due dates. Things get a bit stretched out. But within the last week, completely out of the blue and unprompted, two people have asked me if I was pregnant/when’s the baby due. UGH.

 

Le sigh… Now I find myself thinking about body image, wanting my daughters to grow up liking how they are made, blah, blah, blah, which, while important, is probably deeper thought than the situation warrants. I had the unfortunate coincidence of having two people make the same faux pas in a week’s time. They both probably feel really bad. And I can choose to forget about it and keep moving.

Except… The reason both of their comments bother me is that it’s something I’m really feeling sensitive about. So now what? My perfectionist tendency towards black-and-white thinking is ready to give up ALL THE THINGS – alcohol, unhealthy food, etc. – and do ALL THE EXERCISE. Which isn’t really the best approach. So I think instead I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, learn to embrace the new mom bod, and see if I can get in some walking and biking this summer.

Please pass the nachos, and the bigger pants.

Sara

shhh…. it’s a secret.

We are not exactly gourmet around our house. Part of it is the kid factor, but most of it is simply that by the time we’ve both made it through a day of school, neither one of us has much motivation to cook. Recently we’ve survived by the grace of two grandmas who love to make and/or pick up food for us.

image

One of our more brilliant life choices was motivated by this lack of…motivation. (I’m not even motivated enough to find a different word to use there.) And, like many great ideas, it was inspired by a book.

On Friday nights, we order pizza and have a SECRET PIZZA PARTY.

secret_pizza_party

I know, I know. Ordering pizza on a Friday night is not exactly earth-shattering. But hear me out. As a special treat, we eat our pizza downstairs, while watching some sort of children’s show. (Usually Clifford.) Well, OK, Lydia watches Clifford, and the adults goof around on their phones and generally chillax. The best part is that the decision factor is completely taken out of the equation. This is what we do on Friday nights. No thought required. Aaron calls or texts when he’s leaving school, I order the pizza using the handy “repeat my last order” button in the app, he picks up the pizza (and stops for a bottle of wine on the way), and ta-da! Dinner. Lydia thinks it’s a fantastic treat, and we love not having to muster the energy for a “real” dinner on Friday night. Win-win.

Stay lazy, my friends. Sometimes it actually turns out to be genius.