You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘control’ tag.

Dig it – today I am trying to emulate Hildegard of Bingen and be as “a feather on the breath of God.”

I’ve struggled my entire life to find the right balance between two totally different outlooks, and unable to cling to one or the other. Either I adhered a little too tightly to the preferred outlook of those who had a huge hand in the way that I was raised: “God helps them who help themselves.” Or, I clung a bit too tightly to that whole “the lilies of the field” outlook: neither toil nor spin.

There’s gotta be something in between those two things. Something manageable, something I can maintain.

I’ve always been a planner, and that’s served me well in so far as I’ve gotten far and done a lot in the relatively few years I’ve been kicking around the world. I’ve asked myself more and more lately if getting far is as important as ending up where you hoped to be.

Because I’m not altogether certain I have.

And that’s okay, in a way. I wouldn’t take any of it back. Not even the most craptastical parts. (Which then begs the question that maybe wherever we end up, is exactly where we were meant to be, whatever it is. Which is like the chicken and the egg, and makes me feel like I can literally feel my brain turn inside out).

But that’s not really what ol’ Hildegard is getting at. She’s talking about letting go of all the anxiety we create around the idea of having to get anywhere, and letting go and trusting that you’ll end up wherever it is you were meant to be at the right time.

Because what really creates that anxiety? Nothing that really comes from within me – it’s all stuff I internalize that comes from without. All the shoulds and oughtas. All the expectations of those around me, spoken and unspoken.

So, yeah. Every single time I start to feel all wiggy about where I’m supposed to head next, I’m going to think about being that feather, just floating on the breath of God. Knowing I’ll get there – wherever there is – just when I’m meant to. And not a second sooner. No matter how much anxiety I generate about it.

Advertisements

“We live in a culture that tells us that there is never enough. That we are not enough, that we are not good enough, that we are not safe enough, that we can never be certain enough, that we’re not perfect enough. And maybe the one that we really don’t talk about, that I think is perhaps the most dangerous, is that we are not extraordinary enough. In this world, somehow, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life. And so often we are missing what is truly important because we’re on the quest for what is extraordinary. Not understanding that in our ordinary lives, in the ordinary moments of our lives, is really where we can find the most joy.” (Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW)

I love this woman and her message. She’s willing to look at – and talk about – all the things that we turn away from. Thought I’d share this with you today – it’s something I’ll bring into the hours and the minutes of my day today.

Watch the full video on her blog here.

Tonight has been one of the worst, yuckiest, most craptastical nights I have, perhaps, ever had. The kind of night that made me want to pull down the curtains of my soul, and numb out everything around me. The kind of night, where it feels like all I can do to keep my breathing low and controlled, and to keep looking right in front of me, and to not look too far off, because I would lose it.

Tonight, this is my prayer. Tonight, this is the note I want to end on. No matter how awful something is, there is a spark of hope within me, always, that it is truly not as awful as it seems.

 

 

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. (Judy Garland)

I’m a perverse creature. On the surface, I am all calm, cool, and collected – a lot of the time. At first glance, I don’t allow much softness to come through. I’m working on that, actually… At first glance, you wouldn’t take me for a woman much given over to sentimentality or easily swayed by romance. At first glance.

The truth? Just because something seems to be true, doesn’t mean that it is…

So, last night, Jeremy and I watched What Dreams May Come – a movie I always watch with a handkerchief. It was his first time seeing it all the way through, and there were a few parts that got a little tough for him. He (politely) didn’t comment or make a big deal out of it when I dabbed surreptitiously at the corners of my eyes.

The movie over, my emotional needs satisfied, he thoughtful, we sat there. We each have our own blanket, and our own end of the couch, and then our legs tangle up and take over the middle. Sometimes we duel for dominance of the middle territory (this increases as warm weather increases, fueled by me), but today we were content and lazy and comfortably entwined.

And then we started talking about the movie. And he said, “I’d do that, you know. Find you.” And I just smiled in the way that only a woman can when a man pledges to do some knightly deed for her love (a smile that’s one part entranced, one part dubious, and one part patronizing).

He was quiet for a minute. He asked me if I thought it would be like that, when we die. I said I hoped so, that it would be something like that – reunion with friends and family, communion with others and with God, the presence of joy.

At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. (Plato)

And then he blew me away. He said it didn’t matter to him – that if he died and it was all blackness and endings, and not the heaven that any of us hopes for or dreams of, that he would have spent all the days of his life hoping and dreaming with me and that was heaven enough.

I pretend that my heart is resistant to melting, but it isn’t. It puddled, instantly. He meant it. That is how he really feels. And it was equally humbling and exalting to know that.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. (Lao Tzu)

It made me think of all the times I lost my patience when he took forever to make a decision. All the times I got in a snit because he forgot to do something or I tripped over his shoes. All the times that he left a job half done (I saw it as half-done) and I got an attitude. It made me think about how that couldn’t possibly feel heavenly. And I wanted more for him, and for me – to see our lives in the now, in every moment, as he saw them – a little slice of heaven. Guess I really will have to quit “sweating the small stuff,” hey?

Seeing our life through his eyes, let me see it differently, too. I always say that we’re building an empire – I think he sees us already enjoying the one we’ve built. I always focus ahead, on all that’s left to do – he sees all that we have done, and all that we are and have. I see the promise of heaven, someday – he sees it now, in the moment.

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. (Zora Neale Hurston)

After I started working at the shop, and Dani saw Jeremy and I together for the first time, she told me later that I was different around him. I, somewhat panicked, said, “How? What do you mean?” And she said, “You’re softer.” And I thought, Hmm – that’s not so bad, I guess. It’s hard not to be when he says things like that and means them.

 

The other day, Jeremy (my fiancé) and I had an argument, and I gave lack of confidence as a reason (excuse) for my behavior in the situation. He, incredulous, turned to me and said, “I ran 400 miles away from my family, my hometown, and my past. You stayed here with all these same people, took it on the chin, and kept going. Don’t tell me you’re not confident! You’re one of the most confident people I’ve ever met.”

Where do I begin? My first thought was, “That’s a lie. I’m not confident. That’s bravado and stubbornness disguised as confidence.” My second thought was, “He really thinks that about me?” And my third thought was, “I never really had a choice.” In many ways, I see what he did as brave – venturing off to try his fortunes all on his own – and what I did as “cowardly,” I guess.

I suppose that one of the main reasons I “stayed here and took it on the chin” was that, in my family, there is no running away. They will come get you – if not physically, then emotionally. I was too well trained to the family expectations to go haring off to Ireland as I longed to do. When my life crumbled around me, I heaved a sigh (well, a few hundred sighs, actually), squared my shoulders and kept marching.

At the time, I’d thought that I’d changed dramatically – and I had. Everything I believed about myself, about others, about the nature of life and love and relationship, about reality, about success and failure, about individuality, about “good” and “bad” had changed. Everything had changed. I had changed.

I just hadn’t changed as much as I thought.

The moment we try to please another and abandon our own truth for theirs, we essentially hand our power to them, violate our own integrity, cut ourselves off from our inner wisdom, and – at least for a while – disconnect from our ability to love and nurture ourselves. (Betty Ford)

I was the Good Daughter. I did my duty. I tried not to disappoint my parents – I followed the code of behavior they laid out (both written and unwritten). I was very good at covering up misbehavior and lying “for their own good.” (Honestly, there are some things that parents don’t want to know their children are doing, that the majority of kids end up doing).

I exceeded expectations. I developed a strong perfectionistic streak. I attended all functions, I said the right things to the right people. I worked a LOT – too much (important in our family – being jobless for any reason is “shameful” – along with a lot of other things). Wherever they stated an expectation, or where one was unspoken, I not only tried to meet it – I tried to do it perfectly, so that I would be “beyond reproach.”

When being a “good girl” or a “good boy” becomes a way of life, we can be sure that exhaustion will accumulate, resentments will build, desperation and neediness will increase, and we’ll travel deeper into the land of victim consciousness. (Betty Ford)

So, when my life fell apart, when living by all those codes and rules didn’t automatically guarantee success, security and safety, I questioned everything. I suppose I went through a sort of “second adolescence.” I rebelled against expectations, figuring that if it was impossible to meet their standards, I’d do whatever I damn well pleased and pretty much courted displeasure as much as I courted their pleasure before.

And then the pendulum swung again. And I realized that in courting their displeasure, I was destroying my relationships with my family. I had to find the “happy medium.” At first, I thought that I’d just swung too far the other way (from people-pleaser to people-displeaser), but it’s really not that simple. All that I’d really changed were the externals. The circumstances, the situations, the conditions. Deep down, I was still aiming to eventually shine in my parents’ eyes, and in everyone’s eyes.

And now, I think I’m finally starting to “get it.” I didn’t take things far enough. I changed my course of action, but I never really changed my reasons for acting or my rationale. I never went deep enough. I hadn’t touched what Dani calls “my core foundational beliefs.” And I realize that until I do that, nothing will really change. 

Now, I’m working to try to rewrite that story. Recast myself. Discover what it’s like to do something just because it’s what you want to do – and not because you know that action will get you the pat on the head. I’m trying to imagine my way towards what it means to be me – without the people-pleasing.

 

 

Perfectionism is slow death. (Hugh Prather)

I separate all of my M&Ms by color, and then I eat each color in groups of three. I wish I were kidding. For the longest time, I really thought that this, among many other things, was simply quirky. I’m not so sure anymore.

There is a proper way to fold everything: large and medium bathroom towels get folded one way, hand towels another way, washcloths another way. I have another method for folding the towels and washcloths for the kitchen. There is a proper way to fold sheets, jeans, to tuck socks together. And all of these right ways are set up in a little system of rules in my head. Part of me argues the point that I’ve just figured out the neatest way to fold everything so that it fits into the space we have for it, and another part of me realizes that the preciseness with which I accomplish these tasks is a bit neurotic.

The other day at the shop, I was cutting apart my printed blog posts and securing them into my journal. I saw nothing odd about this. I cut them into pieces, then glue stick the pieces into place, and then cut tiny little strips of tape to secure the corners and kind of ensure (more) that they won’t fall out (someday).

Dani was standing next to me, watching: “What are you doing?” I told her. “But why are you taping them in? They’re already in.” I explained. She watched for a few moments more, and then just burst, “I can’t even watch this! It’s like, sick! It’s driving me crazy!” And off she went. I could kind of tell that it was getting to her – like nails on a chalkboard – but I kept going out of perverseness, I suppose.

My logic? No one but me really understands it. It’s another little code, another little set of rules. The title of this blog? Dreamphemera, alluding to the inescapable brevity of the human experience. Me including my (by nature ephemeral) blogs into my (less ephemeral) journals? That, I suppose, is me railing against that – me shouting into the darkness, saying that I, somehow, will circumvent the end we all come to and leave a legacy of some sort. That I will find a way to control that, too.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I’ve been thinking a LOT about all these little rules and codes, and unspoken taboos lately – these quirky little habits are like the visible tip of an insidious iceberg. Beneath the surface lurk all sorts of other little rules and codes for behavior, tasks, food, conversation, relationships, etc. AAARGH.

I’m frustrated. It’s frustrating. The more I think about all of it, the more I realize that it really is all about control, and the urge to feel safe. If I control the outcome and all the players, then it will be known, and therefore, safe. What utter hooey.

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. (Anna Quindlen)

I am a total perfectionist. While Dani watched me cutting those strips of tape for my blogs, she saw me as doing each one uniformly, with uniform motion – all that I could see was that this strip was too big, that one too small, this one inserted crookedly.

This is something that’s been coming up for me consistently the past few weeks – first with the small things, the little routines, the subtle habits. And then, I started thinking about it on a deeper level – and I could see that it was like a fungus that had spread throughout the entire block of cheese, unseen. The only things I’d noticed were the quirky things that people commented on – all of the deeper stuff? I got real good at blaming it on something else (all excuses).

When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target. (George Fisher)

Then Wittler and I had a conversation last night – issues resulting from one of the subtler and more damaging ways I “seek perfection” needed discussing. It was an awkward conversation. I had a hard time being honest. I wasn’t totally honest. And it didn’t feel good. Afterward, I lay in bed, studying the ceiling in the dark, and dwelling on it.

And came up with a few things:
Perfectionism is about control, not about seeking excellence.

Perfectionism kills creativity.

Perfectionism kills relationships.

Control is about avoiding fear and pain.

Controlling outcomes is an effort to feel secure.

Control is an illusion.

Security is an illusion.

I don’t want to do this anymore.

On this path, fumbling towards mastery, out here where everyone can watch, I’ve encountered challenges, I’ve changed mindsets and behaviors, I’ve worked on me, and all the stuff surrounding me. This is a tough one.

I couldn’t be honest in our conversation last night, because I felt like Linus. As though someone had asked me to set down my blankie, and walk the rest of my days without it, naked.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. (Anne Lamott)

If I don’t get honest about this with myself, I won’t be able to be honest with Wittler. And if I’m going to be honest, giving up this way, this control, terrifies me. Even though I can intellectually know that control is an illusion, giving that up just scares me to death. What do I put in place of it? And how can I ever hope to truly thrive, to truly grow, if I am so busy making sure that everything is in its appointed place, and done in the approved way?

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it. (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird)

 Maybe it’s time to start relaxing into the fumbles.

 

You know, I never thought that at this stage of the game I’d be facing the prospect of dealing with my anger. I thought I’d dealt with it – I am starting to see that, instead, I’ve just bottled it all up. There are moments when I can feel it viscerally, thrumming through me – hot and heady, ready to destroy.

And I find that really, really upsetting. I think it must come with the territory I’m entering now on my path: I have reached the parched, barren, burnt plains of anger. I have reached that place inside myself where I have allowed rage to devastate possibility or growth. I have reached that point on my journey where I must turn over each charred rock, scrape off the brittle crust of ash, and look to see what I have yet to release, what I have still before me to forgive. To really forgive.

The seeds of this knowing were planted a long time ago, and they’re only now breaking through on this arid stretch. Until now, I didn’t have the words to talk about it, and I couldn’t draw all of it together in my mind, or my heart. I was ashamed of it.

But, I found a passage today by Thich Nhat Hanh that brought some of it into focus:

It is best if we do not listen to or look at the person whom we consider to be the cause of our anger. Like a fireman, we have to pour water on the blaze first and not waste time looking for the one who set the house on fire. “Breathing in, I know that I am angry. Breathing out, I know that I must put all my energy into caring for my anger.” So we avoid thinking about the other person, and we refrain from doing or saying anything as long as our anger persists. If we put all our mind into observing our anger, we will avoid doing any damage that we may regret later. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

This is great so far as helping me deal with new anger arising now – and if I follow that premise (concentrate on your own anger, and not on those who’ve angered you), I can hopefully avoid future cringe-worthy moments. I’ve been repeating that mantra to myself for most of the day:

Breathing in, I know that I am angry.

Breathing out, I know that I must put all my energy into caring for my anger.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

(Do not throttle those who are angering you.

Do not call them dirty names when “no one” is listening. I added this part. I needed the clarification, apparently.)

This is part of Reiki Mastery, too. Just for today, I will not anger. When I mutter against them, I might feel better in the moment, as though I’ve expelled some of the venom within me – but in reality, I am cursing myself each time I curse someone else. If we are in all beings, and a part of all things, and they in us, then each time I curse someone else, I curse myself.

While this is all kinds of great and good for me to practice in the now, I need to get in and dig deep and look at all the old anger. It’s stockpiled in there. I feel like I’d need to send poor little thought-children down there in those freaky hazmat suits to handle each shard of ire with those creepy tongs they use to handle nuclear reactors.

What I do see is that you never really bury it – it’s in there, waiting for you to be ready to look at it, deal with it, and release it, finally. I think all of that old garbage – all of the little smoldering anger fires of long ago – help to fuel my anger in the present. I hate that idea. I hate that I know it’s true.

The reason that I haven’t looked at it or dealt with it, in part, was because it felt shameful. Some of the reasons I’d ever been angry in the first place felt selfish or wrong. Some of the reactions I’ve had to situations throughout my life have left me with no small amount of chagrin.

But mostly, I think I was just ashamed of the fact that I’d allowed someone to get to me enough to make me angry. That I allowed my self-control to slip long enough to let someone get past the defenses and cause me to lose my temper or have such a deeply “undignified” emotional reaction. If I continue this way, I will become Prometheus, chained to rock, allowing anger to devour me each day.

 

 

If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.  ( Linda Sunshine)

There were no truer words written than that quote. My sister just left our apartment – and for the past several months I’ve edged far closer to the urge to throttle her than to just “love her dearly.” The confounding part of it all is that even as I plot her imminent demise, my heart is wrenching for her and because of her.

There has been no one in my life as controversial as Kate. There has been no one as exasperating, as infuriating, as utterly maddening as my sister. There has also been no one who knew me quite so well, so intimately – very few who saw inside the boxes I’d drawn shut against prying eyes, no one who saw so well into my darkest corners or who ferreted out my weaknesses or my secrets and shames quite so easily.

God help me, there is no one like my sister. She was born here in possession of a manual detailing exactly where to find each of my buttons, and in which combinations to push them in order to achieve nuclear fury. There is no one who has inspired me to walk the floors at night, a maternal vigil, worried sick, worried fiercely for them, like Kate.

I know some sisters who only see each other on Mother’s Day and some who will never speak again. But most are like my sister and me…linked by volatile love, best friends who make other best friends ever so slightly less best.   (Patricia Volk)

I don’t know if it has more to do with me being the oldest child or with the exact conditions of our childhood circumstances, but I have always been like a tigress about her (and about our brother – but he needed a different kind of sistering from me – a blog post for another day). Kathryn required someone strong enough to intimidate those who’d she’d riled up into refraining from giving her the sound trouncing which she’d earned (no matter the situation, you could put money on it – if there was drama, my sister was there). She needed someone calmer than herself – and who possessed sound judgment –who was determined enough to cut through her scatter and chatter to chuck some sense into the maelstrom from time to time.

No matter what has passed between us, I have tried to be a “good sister.” I have succeeded admirably at times, and I have failed horribly at others. And right now, her life is a minefield of her own making. I am finding it hard to carry on with the roles that we’ve adopted and lived since childhood. I am tired, and I find myself out of patience, and out of common sense advice, and out of synch with our hereditary patterns. I feel left-footed in our relationship, and I cannot regain balance long enough to resume the dance.

I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.  ( Maya Angelou)

All I can do now, is listen to her. Love her. And hope – hope that things will turn out okay, hope that she will find her way, hope that she knows that I love her passionately, even if I have a hard time showing her sometimes. All I can do is accept who she is, and instead of reacting to her way of being by changing my behavior, know that she and I will find a new way of relating to one another that leaves me feeling like the sane, rational being I was before she blew through my door.

Throughout our entire childhood, I tried to protect her, to shield her, as best I could from all the ugly things – whether they were of her making or not. That’s not working so well anymore, and it leaves me to wonder what role I am to play now in her life, if not as her champion and defender? As Dani always says, “Who would you be, without that story?” There are parts of me that are working at cross-purposes now: one part of me still takes pride in being her shield and sanctuary, and another resents it.

Who will I be if not the eldest child? The eldest daughter? Who am I without that story, and all of the roles I play in it? But then, who am I to step in and take her chance to be her own defender? Who am I to so little value her ability to decide for herself what is right? Because isn’t that what I do by incessantly charging in on my white horse, so confident that my way is the right way?

At what point do I take that step back, and allow her life to unfold in either joy or pain? At what point do I stop enabling her, and crippling her?

Like everyone else, we are evolving and growing. The old story no longer fits us – and we lack a new myth to live by. The only thing we can do, I suppose, is allow it to write itself in love and pain, in sorrow and triumph, over time and page by page. All I can do is open my door to her, and open my heart to her, and have faith that we will find our new myth, we will recast our roles, we will learn new steps to old music. All I can do is have faith that our sisterhood is strong enough to survive this and all storms to come, and know that even though the shoreline may be reshaped, it remains one strong, unbroken line between ports.

Today, I felt like one of the bespelled humans who finally emerges from Faeryland after lifetimes spent amidst the glittering throng, who sets foot on human soil, and has all of their years come upon them all at once – who in that instant is crushed by the sheer weight of the passage of time, and the pressure of reality returning. Is shattered by the magnitude of every memory of every laugh, of every conversation, of every person that they have ever loved and who has ever loved them – and with that, the knowledge that all of it is so fleeting, so transient, so ephemeral – that life is slipping past them all in inches and miles, and that they are powerless to stop it.

Today was a tough day. And a long day. And by the time I got out of work, I was done. I felt raw, and tender – as though the slightest hurt would reverberate within me like a bell’s deep sounding, echoing off the walls of my heart. I drove to my folks’ house after work to pick up a package, and in the car on the way there, I had a talk with God. (This actually happens pretty frequently).

I started off pretty much bemoaning our state of affairs and ending with a kind of whimper. Then I sucked it up, and mustered forth to my folks’ house (I hate them to see me like that – they’re worriers and me a sobbing mess would not help).

You see, Wittler and I have been attempting to build our empire out of the ashes of our old life, and one of our main issues is that if all of the dollars in our account were good little soldiers, it’s pretty much been like this: recruitment is down, and far too many others have gone AWOL. *Sigh*

It’s hard to build an empire – we’ve been scraping for awhile now, and all of it aiming towards the goal of reshaping our life together into something closer to what we’ve both been longing for. We saved and moved into our own apartment – the first time as a couple that we’ll have our own space and our own energy there, and no one else’s vibes to muck it all up. It’s been absolutely deliciously wonderful.

In the midst of all of this scrimping and saving, and what I irreverently refer to as “poverty rations” (no slight intended to those who are truly suffering…) – dinners that consist of instant mashed potatoes and biscuits out of the popping cans – was the hope that we would finally find ourselves a leg up on all of the challenges that we face.

But, no. first the brakes fell off my car. Fell OFF. I didn’t know that was possible, actually. Even in that situation, I had to look and see how we were protected, how we were held in the palm of God’s hand, even then. They fell off blocks from the shop where my uncle (the mechanic) works, and fell off when I was not in dire need of stopping the car, but when I was only pulling slowly out of a parking space. They fell off the car the day before our ex-roommate was due to give us a check buying us out of our old security deposit. Even amidst what appeared challenging, we were supported.

So, we weren’t a leg “up,” but we were “even.” And then Wittler’s car started behaving in a horribly inappropriate fashion – when he tried to back up, one of the wheels just locked up and wouldn’t turn. Joy. So, today, my uncle calls me with the cost of the parts to fix that brake problem, and my heart just sank.

The reality is that I have a crap-ton of student loan debt, both of our cars need replacing sooner rather than later, we had intended to get married this year (quietly and inexpensively), and the prospect of starting a family seems awfully far off. I just shifted gears into this new life path in the not-so-distant-past, and we just shelled out a ton of cake to move.

So, I arrive at my folks’ house, attempting to suppress the urgent need to bawl and have myself a proper pity party, only to see my beautiful niece dressed in half of a Disney princess costume and sweatpants and waving a plastic faery wand around her head, and dancing throughout the house. I see my father – whose presence is so comforting to me that I cannot not cry if the urge is there. And I scamper off to “look” for something in the basement (code for: I went down to the basement to bawl my eyes out, attempt to expel the demons, and return upstairs as though nothing had happened).

Mid-way through my bawl, I can hear Abby (my niece) calling for me, and I realize that I am too raw, and too far into the ugly cry to suck it up and saunter casually in there with these people who have known me my entire life. I get out the worst of it, and come upstairs. My mom’s asking me if I’ve eaten, and then they all notice I’ve been crying. And they want to know why. And I don’t want to say – I don’t want them to worry about me, about us.

And my mom follows me. There have been plenty of times in our relationship where we haven’t been able to meet one another on the same emotional plane, couldn’t be what the other needed in that moment. Today though, she just let me cry and spill out all of my worries to her. She just listened. She didn’t trivialize what I was feeling and going through by telling me that it would all be alright. We both knew it would be alright, eventually – the important thing was that right now, it was not alright, and that I could not see my way clear of it. And then she offered to help us out with the money, and I told her no.

And then we walked into the house and she went into their pantry and packed us a bag of food, and went into her “magic” purse and pulled out the money we needed to fix Wittler’s car. And I put aside my pride and my stubborn will, and accepted the help. I let her take care of me, because she needed to, and I needed her to. And because I am learning that I need to let people do things for me, to accept their generosity with grace, and thereby honor their gift and their desire to give it.

Sitting here in the kitchen of our new apartment typing away, with Wittler in the background learning songs to play for me on the guitar, I can see how even through the rollercoaster of the past days and weeks, I have been supported in all that I have done, and in all that has happened. I can see God in the timely handing over of a check from our roommate, and in the compassion and love my mom showed me tonight.

And I can stop my railing, my worrying, my fretting. I can see the way clear, in this moment, how to allow the empire to build itself, and to sit in the quiet knowledge that it may not happen in the manner which I had conceived – but that it will happen, and in the manner in which it must unfold. I can see that – of course, silly girl – there will be those along the path to help you out of the muck when you’re up to your ears and sinking fast, and that all you have to do is have a grateful heart, and reach out when they’re reaching for you.

I’m pretty sure that this won’t be the last time I encounter this little basket of conditions on this path I’m on, but that’s the beauty of it – to remember, to allow the weight of memory of what’s come to inform what I intend to do the next time.

 

Faith is reason grown courageous. 

Sherwood Eddy

I have always struggled with my faith. I struggle with the very idea of faith – much less putting faith into my life as a practice. I was raised to believe that God helps those who help themselves – and I come from a family of hard-working, do-it-yourselfers, to whom asking for help is anathema.

I remember in college, reading about Dorothy Day – a socialist reformer turned devout Catholic. I really connected with her story, because at one point in her narrative she says, “I could not go to God on my knees.” She could not conceive of surrender – the idea that she must do for herself, that she was the only one on whom she could reliably depend, was too ingrained. She struggled, and eventually she came to a point where she was able to have faith.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
St. Thomas Aquinas

I remember that one sentence, out of all of the things that we had to read for that class. I could not go to God on my knees: I could not arrive in supplication; I could not allow myself to rely on that which was outside of myself; I could not have faith.

In recent years, this struggle has come to the forefront for me. I do believe in God – one who is loving, forgiving, patient, etc., etc. I do believe in mystical experiences, I do believe in miracles. I do believe that God has the power to and the ability to intercede in people’s lives. I guess the problem might be that I have a hard time conceiving of that God ever noticing me enough to intercede in mine?

Whatever my hang-ups, of late, I have been presented time and again with situations that demand my faith, first – and then what I long for materializes. Maybe that doesn’t sound difficult, but it is for me. And, I find it ties into what I am facing on my path to mastery: if you have faith, you do not worry; if you have faith, you can honor others; if you have faith, you have no need for anger. Aack.

In honesty, I long to have the kind of faith that would leave me with the certainty and security of knowing that, like the lilies of the field, I will be provided for. I long to have the sensation and knowing that I am held in the palm of God’s hand – safe, loved, and protected…treasured.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about this. I am trying to discover how to bend, to trust, to allow – instead of being so stubborn, so myopic, so determined to do it my way. Especially since when I do let go of the need to control, things FLOW – things go perfectly, and I am cared for – things materialize, and I have to struggle so much less than when I try to do it all on my own.

Faith is not trying to believe something regardless of the evidence; faith is daring something regardless of the consequences.
Sherwood Eddy

It seems like such a small cost, doesn’t it? Just have a little faith, and invest that faith. For me, that is like asking me to hand over limbs. It’s so safe here, behind my intellect and reason – so safe trusting in only me; no one can disappoint you if you never give them the opportunity to do anything for you. It’s also a very lonely and isolating way to live. One of my refrains is that “I am tired of feeling like Atlas – I am tired of holding up the world.” It’s exhausting to never trust anyone enough to allow them to do things for you – it’s bone-wearying to try to be the God force of your own life.

Along with the soul searching, I have been trying to put my faith into action in my life. I actually used to be rather good at this, but I also used to be very optimistic, and kind of naive. Then, I went through a divorce, and all of that changed for me. I became much more skeptical and cynical – much more negative, and so unwilling to allow people into my sphere, my trust, enough to disappoint me. At that time in my life, I just couldn’t take anymore disappointment. I would have rather been driven to my knees by the sheer weight of the world, rather than bend them willingly in faith.

If I purport to be actively walking on a path to mastery, then I cannot allow myself to continue this faithlessness with consciousness, and I recognize the need for a shift. The question is how? How to willingly bend, how to let go control? How to master the fear that relinquishing control creates? How to have faith that I can allow it all to fall out of my hands, and into God’s?

I have been presented with some very strong lessons in this in the past year (a kind of wonderful-terrifying, fabulous-frightening year). Situations kept coming to the forefront. On the one side, I stood there, with a white-knuckled grip on things, and deeply unhappy. In order to obtain the things I deeply wanted, I came to see that the only way to get from here to there was to have faith, and to take a leap – a nigh impossible task. The fact that I did it at all is due to the fact that I cannot stand the idea of being a hypocrite (I’m always telling people to take risks and really live their lives – how can I do less?) and that the potential happy outcomes were beyond enticing.

Faith is courage; it is creative while despair is always destructive. 

David S. Muzzey

The most confounding part of all of it is that I have had burning bush moments – times in my life when I knew without a doubt that I walked with the Divine, that God was a presence and active force in my life. I have seen the joys born out of having faith in that Divine wisdom and will and power, and experienced them firsthand. So, why is it so hard to bend to that faith time and again?

All of my questioning, all of my soul-scouring searching, all of this struggle . . . and at the end of the day, I must face the fact that I already know what I must do – get out of my own way, get out of God’s way, and allow. To stand in the knowledge that faith has moved mountains in my life – and that if I can relinquish control long enough, my entire reality could shift.

Namaste,

One Seeking Faith

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 40 other followers

How to Leave Comments:

Click on the title of the blog post you want to comment on. This opens that particular post, and at the bottom of the page, there is a comment form. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Got a minute? Check out my new art blog here:

"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)