Thursday, February 22, 2018

Light A New Fire and Give Me Desire

I’m a terrible mother. No really, I am. I’m also a terrible wife. And a terrible friend for that matter. I try not to discriminate.  I’m pretty much failing miserably across the board. All I can really hope for these days is that I don’t ruin my children for all eternity, that somehow they will survive my shortcomings and failures and manage to become well-rounded, kind, and fully functional adults...or at the very least, decent human beings. And maybe, if I’m just lucky enough, my marriage will not only survive this phase I find myself stuck in but will actually emerge stronger and more fruitful at its cessation. Perhaps I’ll even get lucky enough to have a few of you still standing by my side when I finally grow up and get my head screwed on straight and my life back on track (God willing). I’m going to pause now to wait for all of you who are silly enough to call me your friend to reassure me that I am not at all any of the afore-mentioned things, that I am indeed, a good mother, wife and friend. Go ahead, chime right in. No? I thought not. Then I will indulge my sorrows a bit further and invite a few more guests to my pity party. Here comes the brutal honesty. Fasten your seatbelts. This one might not sit well with some of you.

I am the chief of sinners. As Timothy so eloquently penned, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst.” And I do so often feel that I am and must indeed be, the worst of all sinners (insert a multitude of sins here, beginning with pride, ending with selfishness and basically everything in between). But I have decided it is futile to ask God to help me stop sinning or even to forgive me for my sins, although I do know I need copious amounts of forgiveness on a minute-to-minute basis. Make no mistake, I am aware that He desires us to seek forgiveness and I have many, many times in the past and will do so many, many times in the future, but what I genuinely crave and need above all else presently is simply, desire. I need a desire to turn away from my sinful desires, to choose the path less traveled, and to fulfill the roles God has called me to play in my life. I need a yearning to be a better version of myself - a better wife, mother and friend.  I need a longing to choose virtue over sin. You see, the desire to walk the straight and narrow has been replaced as of late with an insatiable impulse to run, to escape, to be anywhere other than where I am at this moment. Call it a mid-life crisis (that’s what I’ve been calling it). Call it restlessness, this uneasiness that consumes me, this feeling I can only describe as crawling out of my skin. Call it boredom. Call it whatever you’d like, but to deny its existence would be catastrophic at best, because these things do not just fade away. These feelings do not resolve themselves. I look at most of my friends and neighbors, the moms at the school, on the baseball field and at the Girl Scout meetings and think, why do they not feel the need to flee? Why are they perfectly content to volunteer, engage, encourage, cuddle and step up where it matters most? Why are they so firmly planted and engaged in their children's lives and in their marriages, to their friendships and families? Why do I always feel so distant and disconnected? Why does wanderlust consume me? Why am I constantly listening for the sound of a passing freight train to carry me far, far away? Why have I not settled into motherhood after all these years? Why, oh why, do I always seem to be the only one fighting vehemently to contain my tears on the sidelines of the soccer field, unable to fulfill my halftime duties of sliced oranges and water distribution?

I have many things at my disposal on a daily basis. I have plenty of guilt, shame and regret. I have exhaustion to boot. I have uncertainty at every turn, medication to stabilize my mood swings and counter the depression, and enough personalities to fill a large stadium. I have loads of heartache and suffering and an impressive accumulation of self-loathing that has been years in the making. I have disappointment and insurmountable feelings of inadequacy that tear through me like a hurricane. I have bitterness, insecurity and frustration. I have abandonment issues from childhood right up until today in my faith, or lack thereof.  And I have so much accumulated rage and bitterness that it frightens me to the core. My life is abundant with all things stifling and oppressive. What I don’t have enough of is the desire to shake the stagnancy and move beyond the pain. I need desire.

And so I am making myself a promise. I am vowing from this day forward, with the tiniest seeds of strength and hope that remain within me, to ask daily now for desire alone. And though I don’t fancy myself anything remotely close to a prayer warrior these days (in fact it takes everything within me to even acknowledge the existence of my faith sometimes), my soul will cry out for nothing more and nothing less than a shred of longing to start anew. I will seek a hunger to feel warmth and affection toward my children when my very core wars against it and I find myself kicking against the goads with every breath. Pause for effect here. Inhale, exhale, don’t freak out. I love my children with every fiber of my being. I would take the same bullet for them that any mother would. They have my heart and soul forever. And I know how painful it sounds to say that being their mom is not always enough and the feelings of affection don't always come naturally, but if I am nothing else, I am a truth teller who values authenticity above all else and I will be the first to admit that the struggle is real. I need the desire to put their needs above my own, the desire to sacrifice on their behalf. I need the desire to work as hard as it takes to survive this phase of life and come out clean on the other side. I need the desire to make my marriage work despite the fact that the flame might have waned a bit and we are indeed two ships passing in the night. It’s not personal. The love is there. We have a good marriage and a solid foundation. We are good friends, committed to forever. We are, simply put, over-committed, weary and missing the mark on far too many occasions. I need the desire to start fresh and move forward, to cling to the thread I am hanging by and stay the course, however obscure it may seem. I need my thirst for adventure to be replaced by a thirst for contentment. I need my instinct to run to be overshadowed by a love of the present and an appreciation of the power of mindfulness and intentionality. I need so many things, but I can gather them all under the blanket of desire. And so it begins.

I am confident of one thing alone. This storm will pass, as they always do. This hurricane will undoubtedly leave a wake, but will no doubt, flame out in due time. And when that time comes, I will welcome the next phase with open arms. When the apology tour has concluded, the tears have been bottled, and the seas have been calmed, I will lift my eyes heavenward and behold the beauty of a God who refuses to forsake me, a God who, in all things, works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I will say a silent prayer of gratitude to my savior for allowing me to feel what I need to feel when I need to feel it despite the grumblings and fear of those around me (I love you all dearly, but I do not need to be saved. That work was finished long ago as far as I know). I will weep tears of joy and relief that my God never allows me to fall too far from His grasp, too far from His loving arms, too far out of reach. Because just when I am certain I am beyond redemption and grace - at the very moment I am confident He cannot possibly continue to love me -  it is then that He carries me and calls me home. It is then that He rescues me and reveals Himself to me. It is then that He reclaims my heart and breathes grace back into my life. And it is then that my soul sings, "How great thou art."

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