I’m too sensitive for the world today. I’m sorry. I’m going to stay upstairs, for Thanksgiving dinner and the foreseeable future. Everything about everything stresses me out.
I’m not going to give you the list of the things that qualify as stressors in my life right now. It’s a long list. But then again, the three year old is a little better than she was last week. My husband is spending afternoons on the driveway, building something real. And the five year old likes to walk around kicking sawdust and wearing his daddy’s ear protection.
The rest is pretty much excuses.
The one thing that did happen happened here. I checked this microphone, and found that it was on. I blogged about church — really about church — and people heard me. Emily Wierenga linked me up, and I panicked. I couldn’t blog for a whole week.
It’s hard to be seen. It makes you all squirmy.
I know this from way back, because when I did theatre, I had shows like this, too: shows that made people really see me, see right through me, all the way into the place where we have everything in common and so they see themselves.
I love that feeling. And I hate it. It’s a candidate for the thing that C. S. Lewis calls joy, “the unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.” It’s like having something reach into your chest and lift you up by your ribs. It was my quest, as a theatre director, to find it, and when I found it, to survive it.
When I applied to graduate schools, the interviewers wanted to know what I thought I was going to get out of my graduate degree. I said, I know I’m good at this, but I don’t know why. I don’t know why it is sometimes magic and sometimes it just sucks. I want someone to teach me how to control it.
I didn’t get accepted into that program. And maybe that’s okay, the world has classrooms, too. Two lessons I have learned since then: the ones that are magic are simply the ones that are true, and, nobody can teach you how to control it.
This is relevant, I swear. I told a pastor yesterday morning that I’m having trouble finding my voice as a Christian, and she said, “The church is having trouble finding its voice right now. It isn’t just you.”
And so I look at myself sitting here, trying to come up with a blog focus, because that’s what Jeff Goins says you’re supposed to do. And all I’ve got is this story that I’m going with my family to live a simpler life in a fancy tent on a hill, and the reason for that is that I’m a…solidarity-activist wannabe-evangelical anarcho-feminist Buddha-admiring worshipper of Jesus.
I wish we could skip the part where we have to describe ourselves. I wish we could get straight to the part where we can really see each other: all the way in, to the place where we have everything in common.
And I believe that this is what heaven looks like: a whole world of see-through people. No more wondering what those hyphens mean, or if he really meant it, or if she’s telling you the truth. And no more trying to find your voice. We’ll walk right through each other. We’ll know.
In the meantime, I dream of living in the kingdom. (Here and not yet.) And I try to raise myself up, and I try to raise my kids up, and I hold on tight and I struggle. Until I remember that it isn’t supposed to be a struggle at all. It is surrender. You have to let the silence reach into your chest and pull the story out. There isn’t any other way.
Then, maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll remember that Thanksgiving isn’t work either. Having Thanksgiving in a house that is a little too full and a little too full of sensitive people isn’t work. It is also surrender. You allow yourself to be transparent. I don’t know that it is supposed to be particularly comfortable. It might be less so. It might be that feeling when somebody really sees you, which makes you want to panic, and walk the floor, and feel self-important, and elated and not alone.
Friends, I’m not great with the winter holidays. This day starts a month of grinchy grumpiness for me, deep memories of conflict and fear of abandonment, and other selfish things. I’m totally serious about wanting to hide out in my room.
But this is the work of being human. And being Christian. And, let me say it again, of being human. To show up, and chill out, and loosen our hold.
I don’t know any way to do that but to take refuge. This is how a Christian takes refuge. We rest in Jesus, in the Perfect One, so we can relax enough to let the Holy Spirit rip our guts out. It doesn’t make very much sense. But then, most beautiful things don’t make very much sense. And I’m not just talking about blogging, or making theatre. I’m talking about seeing and being seen. I’m talking about living Not Alone. Seeing poverty, and revealing fear and guilt. Seeing bigotry, and revealing compassion. Seeing an obnoxious three year old, or an even more obnoxious grown-up aunt, and knowing that we all are just a little bit afraid that the bonds will break.
I was trying this morning to write a different blog post, a much a happier story, about how we got our land, and we are so excited for what comes next. And that story is true. But this one kept getting in the way, and I’m posting it because I want to honor that. If holidays are hard for me, maybe they are for some other people, too, and maybe we don’t always want to admit that.