Walking Through the Fire

I never realized how much I identified with Bono.  I, too, have been searching all over - the highest heights and the deepest depths - for so long...but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.  Even more, I seem to have managed to find it and lose it all over again, many times over.  

Going, happily, round and round my mulberry "bush."

I would look to the past...don't we all, at times, ache for the past?...if it hadn’t been even more lonely, isolating and depressing.  (But what am I saying?  I prefer to be alone.  I just guess I didn’t like myself enough to know it back then.) 

Sometimes I wish I could blindly believe “back in the day” is what I am longing for.  What can I say?  I am too honest, too literal…to practical???  Sometimes I actually wish I could just fall for the fascade for a bit.  Just a moment…happily, innocently, blindly, naively believe the blatant lie/s about what would make me happy.  Take the tiny pill and be obliviously superficial.  

Jesse is as real as it gets...


It's just...It ain't me, babe.  I am deep and genuine and literal (to a fault!) and sincere.  Though I try, I can not be otherwise.  My eyes have been opened, and I can no longer ignore the fascades.


I will, however, admit there are times when something comes along, bringing with it a pang of desire for the days of blind innocence.  This week it was the radio overhead at Sam's, and a familiar voice singing a popular song...and the two did not match up in my head.  (I guess I never knew The Pet Shop Boys had their own remake.)  Forgive me...I searched for a shorter video, but the only versions I could find were this...an odd mini-movie reminiscent of the Mtv videos of my day...and a "live" version where they were obviously lip syncing.  Of course, I couldn't tolerate fake, so...



Despite the fact that my husband hates it, and I see right through the emotional fallacy inherent in this particular media (and beyond, thank you, Matt!)...I will allow myself to listen (fondly, in private) and think of, at least, my sister's happier times, before I close it out and move on.


Oh, I have been thinking of Kerri so much lately.  Perhaps it's the more recent losses I've experienced...


This week, I sat through one of the hardest memorials I have ever and will ever witness. It started with my first major tragedy in my new focus...January...and it was my job to maintain my composure and comfort the children and teachers who lost a tiny, precious, ever-positive, ever-smiling, ever-encouraging, little light-life.  (How do I love her, let me count the ways.  And this is not one of those glorified after-they-are-gone types of story.  She was, literally, constant, bubbling joy and kindness.)


A rainbow amid the storms...


I guess I did my job alright.  I got an award I would gladly return in exchange to have her back.
I have told myself I have not spoken of it in honor of their privacy.  (It is important to me that I do not invade anyone's space but my own -and family- with this blog.  I refrain from mentioning specifics about the people close to me.  I won't even post a picture without permission...or being asked by one of the nieces - or anyone else - to "make the blog." πŸ’•). 

But, if I am honest, I have also been avoiding my own pain.

No wonder life has lost it's spark...it all got sucked out in that tragic January fire, and I have refused to bring down the cookie jar and call my grief by its name, ever since.  


An early July adventure last year...this one made me panic all the way until I shouted them back down!!


Oh, but grief has been calling out to me from the depths within...each hale a fresh reminder of all of my deepest losses.  It is no wonder discontent has been my resting equilibrium!!  Only out of the depths of anguish does my heart, finally, speak - to release the festering toxicity within me. (There!!  That’s what was bothering me.) Oh God…why must I suffer so deeply in order to be filled?  


As I was sitting in that sorrow-filled church, I turned to the Bible app.  The verse for the day was Ephesians 2:10:


"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."


I raised my hand and turned to Matt, "Can I get an assignment change?!!"


Of course I know I can't, and I know, in truth, I really don't want one.  This is what I have been aching to do...to be there to catch the children when they fall.  It is the gifting that gives my life deep and sincere purpose; but, because I can doesn't make it easy...because I am called doesn't mean I am or will be unaffected.

I mean, I am affected by the life and death of bugs...so...what did you expect?!!




I am affected.  So, please consider...if you see me out and about, and I look a little off...I am either dealing with something or burying something...it's not YOU.  It is most definitely ME.  My job and my life are not easy.  They make a major emotional impact, and empathy charges it's toll.

It's funny, it seems I have spent a lifetime looking for markers along the way. For the most part, it has turned out there are none…you just stumble along until whomp, there it is…another milestone has passed, and you are suddenly well beyond the previous stage.


I guess I thought when I got to THIS point I would finally feel like I had arrived, but all I feel is lost and confused and a big empty hole I still can’t seem to satisfy.


Everything has changed and nothing has changed.  It's a confounding conundrum, life.


A tangled web.


In the height of self-pity, I sought the Bible again.  My two selected apps chose these verses of the day:

Psalm 46:10 - Be still and know that I am God. 
Isaiah 43:2 - When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned

Oh, the wretched irony.  And wouldn’t I take the burn in her place?  But, still,  I found myself asking, "So... is there ever a moment, from here on out, when I am NOT going to be passing through the fire?  Any chance I’m going to be led beside peaceful streams at any point in the near future?"

Woe is me.  What would I rather?  Comfort and ease???  Do comfort and ease equate to happiness?  I think not.

But...don't mind me..I am facing a big life transition this week.  It is a minor surgery, but a major juncture in the cycle.  Perhaps it is why I have been so keenly aware of my age.  (I mean, I ALSO tend toward the dramatic...)

One thing is for sure - this week, I WILL have rest.  And maybe that's all that I need.  A little rest and reprieve from the toil.

Rest and reprieve I say...poor Jesse and all his toils.  πŸ˜‚

In order to keep my perspective, I have been reading about modern day martyrs through a global Christian organization.  (It could always be worse...that doesn't negate or minimize the validity of my heartaches, but it helps me remember my gratitudes.). Today, I am grateful for my friend, who inadvertently reiterated these truths, and don't think I've let the "coincidence" go unheeded.


She invited me to lunch.  She paid for my meal.  (And though I fought back, she is STRONG!  I thought I was strong???). She gave me a glimpse into her childhood - escaping a tyrannical communist government in a fishing boat in the cover of the night (a financially costly trip, not to mention the risk of life); being forcefully split from her mother and siblings to live with her father and brother for 3 years in a refugee camp, at which point they were finally reunited in freedom...for which her parents worked endless hours, straining to provide for their large family in a new and foreign country.  And I didn't even mention the pirates they encountered along the way.


So, there.  Life isn't always as bad as it seems.


It can be painful at times, no doubt.  But...if we keep our perspective and remember the goal, perhaps, together, we can continue on and finish the race that is ours to run.  (I mean...let's be honest.  I'ma be walking mine...but I have been told my walk is intense.)


After all, EVERYTHING, I do tends to be intense.  (I hope my friends will forgive me this one-time exception to my permissions rule. 🀞It's just...this picture, really, says it all.)


It has been a somber post, my friends, I know.  Believe me it is a fleeting moment in many ups and downs.  However, I will leave you with some happy:


I decided to plan a family vacation toward the end of the summer.  I think I may have mentioned...  We are going to the Smoky Mountains, and I have rented a cabin that should be self-entertaining for the kids.  My goal is peaceful times and lovely views...a sabbatical, of sorts.  (I had a parent talk to me about "vacation" with kids, and he said he really couldn't call it "vacation."  So, he started referring to such trips as "family adventures."  I TOTALLY get that!!!!!  Family "vacations" are NOT, generally, a "vacation" for the parents.  However, for this one, I am hopeful.)


I have not, previously, taken much time to research the "to-do's" of the place.  A Barnwood Builders featured a yarn and fiber shop in the area, and I definitely plan to visit.  But, this week, Matt asked me to start the process of planning some activities, and guess what I discovered!  The Smoky Mountains happen to have a section on the Appalachian trail!


He wasn't even born when we started craving this journey.  We are so blessed to get to bring him along!

I had no idea, when I chose this trip, but if you have been around for awhile...you might remember my fascination with the trail.  We were introduced to a documentary somewhere in the 2010's-ish, and I have always wanted to walk it.  Realistically, I know I will not likely ever be able to reserve months out of a year of my life, until I could not reasonably hike a (nearly) 2,200 mile trail.


But this...for me, this is enough.  We will actually, hopefully, have the privilege of stepping foot on this path I have, for a long time, held so dear.  Who could NOT count that as blessing?!!
Sometimes, it is the small things that get me through: flowers from a tender-hearted y

oung girl; being overpowered by an amazingly strong woman insisting on paying for my meal; a generous gift from a neighbor; a kind word from a friend.  In my sullen, self-pity, I could easily overlook these and choose misery, but that would be neglecting the gifts.  If not for my own sake, for theirs, I choose gratitude to those who take the effort to encourage me along the way...and I hope I have encouraged, equally!


...the 3-year project, half-way done!  Who could not count this as joy??



With love and prayers and unity...

Always your friend, however you know me...



Kristen










Comments

  1. You and I are, one day, going to walk a trail…in honor of your dreams of the Appalachian. in honor of my dreams of the PCT, and in honor of our sister - who never got the chance.

    Your job is a heavy one, but you don’t have to carry it alone. Lean on me. I’m your boss, after all. :)

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  2. I am fortunate to have you AND my job, sister. I know people may consider me biased, but you know I wouldn't work for even you if I didn't think you were a wonderful boss. And you also know I would tell the truth about it. ;) I would walk 500 miles just to...walk with you in her honor. Love you!! Kristen

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