When My Strength Fails

The phone rings. Again. It’s the doctor, the really kind doctor. The one who calls you instead of assigning the task to his nurse.

He wants to increase the medications. Again.

I ponder how much longer it will take to reach the maximum dose.

Because I know the medication isn’t enough.

I know that modern medicine has failed my son. I know our only hope lies in a specialized facility.

Because I know…

I am sad. I am tearful. I feel lost. I feel powerless.

Powerless. Such a small word for such a large feeling.

This is the part where I choose to believe in a higher power. Not because I’m certain God exists or that He will intervene. I choose to believe because its my only option. Some people say God is a crutch for the weak.

I’m here to say – I am weak.

I need there to be a God. I need that God to be loving. I need to believe that…

Just so I can go on.

Candidly,

Ash

P. S. “The Lord is good to those who wait on Him. It is good to wait  for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26

 

Part of Being Human

Let’s face it – rejection pretty much always hurts. I applied for a job recently that I didn’t even want. Big surprise – I didn’t get it. (Can’t imagine why….)

It still hurt! Even though I didn’t want it. Maybe especially because I didn’t want it.

The reality is I often go for things I don’t want so that I can fill a whole that I don’t know how to fill.

It’s that void thing I talk about all of the time.

Searching for meaning, purpose, etc.

I often think affirmation will fill that void so I do things to please others or try for things I don’t really want, hoping I’ll get that little bit of affirmation.

If affirmation filled the void, then I think mine would be full. I do have people who love me and affirm me. try to affirm myself.

Why haven’t I learned that people pleasing and even self-affirming don’t fill the void? Why do I keep completing the same types of circles in my life? When will I learn?

I’m probably being too hard on myself. Sigh.

There is a part of me that says The Void isn’t meant to be filled by anything other than God. That is the way I was raised. Unfortunately, in years of seeking God, I still have this emptiness.

I suppose maybe it is because I have bi-polar disorder, but I know other people who feel the void too – and they don’t have bipolar disorder.

What is the void, this emptiness?

Maybe its just humanity.

Candidly,

Ash

 

The Shape of Emptiness

When was the first time you felt empty? When did you notice a void in your life? I think these attributes – emptiness, meaninglessness, void – they can be feelings too. I remember the first time I felt meaningless. I had gotten in trouble for something and was sent to my room. I felt so badly that I took a belt down in my closet and tried to hit myself with it. I want to say that this memory was about the age of eight, but I fear it may have been even younger.

Emptiness came later. I was in at least eighth grade. I sat desperately reading  my Bible, devotional journals. I was looking to God to fill a hole in my heart. I wish my faith, my devotion had filled that hole, but there was a problem with that pursuit.

The hole wasn’t God-shaped.

There is a saying I’ve heard at some point in my life (not sure when or where). It goes, “Everyone has a God-shaped hole inside of them.” Perhaps that is why I devoted so much time and energy to pursuing him early on.

I thought God would fix me.

Now, in my head, I hear an angelic chorus singing, “God didn’t fix you, because you didn’t need fixing.” Okay, not an actual chorus, but it is what I imagine a good Christian would say or think while reading this story. I really wish that they would be right – that I don’t need fixing. I really do.

Some Things Remain Broken

If there is anything that I have learned from adulthood, then it is that some things can’t be repaired. I have seen it with our son’s autism, my mental health and our finances. I imagine a lot of people would simply say that I’ve lost hope. I don’t think that is true, because, believe me, I really dream of waking up to my son’s words and songs. I dream of a year in which depression does not affect me 330 days out of 365. I dream of a world in which we have a home to live in with a mortgage we are able to pay.

Oh yes, I hope.

Yet, I would be stupid not to prepare for a future in which my son needs full-time care. Facts are facts. If he hasn’t spoken by the age of nine, then things aren’t looking good for independent living. My depression? They say that the first time you have a season of depression that you should remain on medication for at least a year. The second bout of depression should be met with 3-5 years of medication. The third time? You should remain on medication for life. They also classify your depression as MAJOR and a legit DISORDER. I qualify for lifetime medication. I.E. This is thing is MAJOR and DISORDERED.

Some things remain broken. My friend has a dead plant in the landscaping at her new house. Initially, she thought to pull the ugly sucker out and replace it with something pretty. Then, she texted me a picture of it and said, “I’m keeping it”. You see, for her (and me) the dead plant reminds us that ugly and beautiful coexist, pain and joy coexist. Perhaps broken and whole can coexist too.

Sitting with Emptiness

In my life, I’m learning to sit with emptiness. You see, I’ve realized that I’ve been trying to fill it for years and years. I’ve tried relationships, careers and jobs, schooling, children, religion, success, popularity, leadership, etc. The truth is that I’ve been trying to fill the empty space with a square puzzle piece.

I’m guessing my emptiness is upwards of a dodecahedron. That’s the largest 3D shape I can recall.

**Excuse me, I just looked up the spelling for dodecahedron and discovered it is actually a polyhedron. Are polyhedrons different than 3D shapes? What is a polyhedron? More than one face, my search tells me. Well, I’ve concluded that most, if not all, 3D shapes are polyhedrons. Geometry has never been my strong suit. Is this geometry? God, I hope so. End digression.**

You can’t fill your emptiness until you understand it, know its dimensions. In order to know those things, you can’t be trying to solve for ‘X’ or running back and forth with objects to randomly fill the space. You have to stop. Be present.

Experience emptiness.

And all I have to say about experiencing emptiness is this….

Damn it! Pain is coming, confusion is coming. This is going to hurt like hell!

Panic aside…

Pain is a teacher. Confusion isn’t a crucifix. And Hell was made for rebels.

Candidly,

Ash

P.S. I wrote this post while listening to “Hold On” by Sarah McLachlan.

 

You’re Breaking My Heart

A good friend of mine once asked me, “Are you mad at God?”

“No, I am hurt by God.” I shared.

The truth is that my mind is the thing leading this journey called faith. Intellectually, I don’t believe that we can prove God exists. Yet, my mind is the thing fixated on the truth of His existence, while my heart bleeds a whole different language.

Perhaps I was raised to believe God exists, indoctrinated from a young age. Perhaps if I hadn’t been, then I would think differently. Yet, even if all of my upbringing had been different, there are moments in which I have known my true nature – moments I believe would have happened in my life no matter the environment or the circumstance. Of those moments, too many are reflective of a deep sense in my being of wholeness and completeness that I don’t think are reflective of humanity’s capacity. In these experiences, my mind said, “There must be a God.” It is the thought to which I cling. Do I need a crutch? Probably, almost definitely. Some say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

And so I believe.

The reverse is true of my heart. The moments in which I have not felt God are wholly and entirely the majority of what I have experienced in my life. The other small moments consist of two feelings. The first being abandonment. If God exists, then He most certainly has no interest in me. The second feeling is cruelty. If God exists, then He is cruel – instituting trials and suffering with the precision of a sprinkler. Sprinklers water the same ground repeatedly unless moved. God is not moved. He is sprinkling all of the suffering in one direction – mine. This is almost certainly a self-absorbed perspective. If I took one look around, then I would see that suffering is the universal equalizer – the commonality of suffering, as it is sometimes called.

The funny thing about suffering is that the universality of it does not make it easier to bare. My own suffering is not alleviated when I hear of other’s suffering. I am simply distracted by it. Sometimes that is a welcome distraction. At other times, it largely feels minimizing.

For instance, in the United States eighty percent of people make more money than my husband and I. Yet, eighty percent of earth’s population have less than we have. This sort of thinking minimizes the hardship of both sides. My family struggles to keep the power on and the rent paid. In truth, we alternate between the two so as never to be without power and never to be evicted. This sort of life is gruelingly stressful. Yes, we have running water and power, but what is required to obtain it? The other side also has minimized pain. Perhaps they know what their lives are missing or perhaps they don’t – either way this is a tragedy. But also, they struggle in that most of the world does not know them. Yes, we talk about them; we donate to charity; we go on medical and educational missions. But the eighty percent richer than them? Do not live anywhere near them or know of their day-to-day challenges. Perhaps that is one of their greater pains – a world pointing fingers at them from on high.

And I am one of that eighty percent.

All of this, this lengthy diatribe, is simply avoidance though. The paragraph I wrote earlier about my heart and the feelings I have about God? Those are things with which I would prefer not to sit. Most days, I feel as though I am bleeding out in front of an unmovable God. I am down on my knees and its tearing me apart. The truth is that all of the moments in which I have loved God seem to be unreciprocated. He and I, we have unrequited love.

And it’s breaking my heart.