I have not been able to write lately and it has frustrated me. My beautiful, loved, red Dell laptop, my companion for the last five years, finally used its ninth life last week. I knew the day would come when the little tricks that had been working would no longer work to allow my red Dell to continue its partnership with me. Losing a computer is like losing a part of one’s heart. So many memories contained on the hard drive of that computer–pictures, documents, videos, favorite places, all tucked neatly in one space to be accessed at the press of a key. I sincerely felt like a part of my heart died with it.
Ok. I have publicly displayed my grief over a temporary thing on earth. I know it is not the end of the world and that my life will continue. Somehow, I will adjust to the different feel of new keys under my fingertips. Until then, I have the use of an extra laptop we have in our house–one repaired under a warranty but replaced before the repair could happen. Its keys are not nearly as cooperative as those found on my red Dell and its cover is a plain black, but the charging port works, so at least I am able to type again, all be it slowly.
The “mystery” referred to in the title of this post has nothing to do with the loss of my laptop friend. I included that bit of information because I had someone e-mail me and ask if I was okay because I hadn’t written. Asking if I am okay is a loaded question and usually one people try to steer clear of with me. When living with chronic illness and chronic depression both while adjusting to a new season of life, one is seldom “okay”. I used to be really skilled at faking it…I could put on a smile and say all is fine and make small talk like every other person out there who does not want people to know that her world is far from perfect. I’m not so good at that anymore. I now find that most people who know me don’t ask me that question now. The majority of the human race doesn’t know what to do with a non-standard answer. The expected answer to “How are you?” is “I’m fine. How are you?” Yeah. That isn’t always easy to fake now.
Back to the “mystery” that inspired this post to begin with…I’m getting there. Really.
The past week or so has found me questioning some things about life. Specifically, I am referring to the Christian life. Please understand that these are my thoughts–not necessarily my truths. There is an important distinction there that needs to be clear. I can know something is true yet still have thoughts counteractive to that truth. A good example would be I know my husband loves me, yet there are specific times that I wonder if he does. Usually those times fall when I am beating myself up for some mistake I made or some words I said. My thoughts go to, “How could he still love me after I said that?” This past week, I found myself once again facing the doubt that I understand anything at all about God and the life He wants me to live. It really hit me Sunday after church, although it started a few days before that.
Very often as of late, I wonder what purpose I am supposed to be filling right now. I have raised my kids and while I am still a mom, the needs and demands that came with the role of full-time-mom-to-four-kids-in-five-years have definitely changed. My days used to be filled with laundry, cleaning, laundry, homeschooling, laundry, sports, laundry, cooking…did I mention laundry already? Now with a nearly empty nest, one married, one almost married and the married one expecting a baby, I no longer fill any of the roles listed above. That’s where I get stuck; I don’t know what role I am supposed to fill. One evening last week, after not being able to finish something we had committed to because of not feeling well, the feeling of uselessness hit hard. Not only do I not know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, often the activities I try to do end up frustrating as I am unable to do them because of my health. When Sunday rolled around, we went to church as usual. I often wake up not wanting to go but am glad I did once there. This week, I woke up not feeling well and was tempted to stay home but remembered that so often I am thankful I went. So, I went. And I wished I had stayed home. Our pastor talked about how a potter fashions clay from an impure lump of nothing to a vessel formed for a specific purpose. You know, I get all that, and I believe it; yet, as I left there, my mind was replaying the words “It’s so easy for him to stand up there and say because he knows his purpose” over and over again. I tried to discuss my thoughts with my husband who just didn’t understand where I was coming from (what is that saying? Men are from Mars…). That led to more tears, more frustration, and a very quiet lunch.
The crux of the issue, for me, is the fact that living the Christian life is often so mysterious. There isn’t always a clear cut path to take. Some people, though, don’t seem to have that problem. It’s like they have this thing all figured out and they’re busy doing the work God made them to do. I know several who have left careers in other fields because they believed God was “calling” them into ministry. And, it appears they were right. One of my sons felt God calling him into full time ministry when he was in high school. He went to college to prepare for that calling but has yet to actually find a job in full time ministry. I know of another person who felt that same call, prepared for it, found a job doing it, and then ran into so many obstacles he was sure he had heard God wrong. He went back to school to get a degree in another field. There could be many combinations of the above scenarios, but each one asks the same question in my mind: How can anyone be sure what God is wanting them to do? Are obstacles a sign that you heard God wrong? Or are they an attack from satan who is trying to stop you from living for God? Perhaps some obstacles are the former and some the latter. But, the bottom line is how am I supposed to know which is which?
Is living the Christian life supposed to be confusing? Am I supposed to be always wondering what God’s plan is? The “Christian”answer to that is to trust God. I get that. But what does one do in the meantime? And, in trusting, how does one know if a series of events are actually from God, or from satan, or the fact that we live in a world with millions of other people and circumstances?
All of this is a battle that takes its toll spiritually. I find myself second guessing life much of the time. Like many other moms, I had planned to go back to work once my kids were adults. After all, my husband had unselfishly been the sole provider for those years and it was only right to contribute once the workload at home eased. Those plans went up in smoke with the worsening of my health. I have worked from home for the last eight years or so–very part time. I love my job, but I only have work about five months of the year. That doesn’t ease the financial burden from my husband very much. I have a degree but that degree is not recognized by the state in which I reside. To be certified here would mean more school–something we can’t afford, and even if we could, my health would not allow me to do the job anyway. Instead, I add to his burden with medical bills that could not have been anticipated just five years ago. So, is my illness an obstacle from satan to keep me from doing something for God, or is it God trying to tell me something else? Or is it just because we live in a world full of all kinds of evil–disease being one of them? The mystery rears its head in this form time and time again for me; I see others who just seem to get it and it makes me wonder if I am missing some important part of the puzzle of the Christian life.
If you can understand any of what I wrote here, and you happen to have some insight, I would be very appreciative if you would share that insight with me. It is so easy to get bogged down in the semantics of things, especially when one thinks as I do. The problem is that kind of thinking can potentially drive me to the edge of doubt–doubt that there is any purpose for me right now. And, if you have read much of my writing, you know that is NOT a good place for my thoughts to be.