Sunday, September 21, 2008

peering inside myself

last week, i sat down to write an email to a friend about what a horrible person i am. as i began typing, i immediately realized i hadn't asked her about a significant event she had been dealing with. so instead of sharing my ugliness, i asked about her instead and decided i would wait to hear from her first before dumping my insides all over the computer.

then a funny thing happened: as i read her response,  and her total willingness to listen to me whine and complain, i realized i no longer needed (at least for now) to spill my guts. somehow, by making the decision to ask how she was and to let go of my self-centeredness (at least for now), it made me lose steam on the self-loathing. 

so since then i have been thinking a lot about why this happened and about my current life in general. 

about a month ago, after many, many, many months of hardship and struggle, our life began to have some semblance of normalcy again. the two older kids started school, which gives me days at home with rhys (yay!) and my editing work (ugh!). rick is gone from the house from 7:30 to 5:30 (yuck!), and now we have a regular paycheck to complement my sporadic freelance work (hooray!). and soon we will have health insurance as well (hooray for coverage, ugh for the cost).

i have been struggling to figure out exactly what hand, if any, God plays in the details of our life. my problem with putting too much of the day-to-day stuff of life is that most of it has truly been despairing for the last couple of years, and i don't want to think that God might have actually wanted us to go through such hardship and strife. but then, as i've written here before, i also wonder why i might have been taught growing up that if i pray for something i will get it (within reason, within God's will--and isn't keeping my electricity on in God's will?!), when there are thousands of people in our city who sleep on the streets every night, with no electricity, no food, no shelter, no family, no tv, no shoes even. and what makes me better than the least of these? nothing--in fact, jesus said they are closer to heaven than i.

ok, so i need to admit now that i am a pessimistic person. i fight against this, but inevitably, anytime my husband and i have a discussion, or i am presented with any situation, i see the negative, the cons. incidentally, it drives rick bananas, because he is prone to see the positive. so i guess you could say we complement each other well, because it's good to be able to see both sides of things. anyway, i realized that in all of this, during the past few years, when i've really struggled just to keep my head at the same level of the water (not even above), i've been so pessimistic, so focused on the negative, so bent on seeing all the bad sides of everything, that it's made me not just a little bitter. i've started becoming a person i don't like very much. 

i've noticed that anytime something happens around me, i complain, judge, whine, lash out--and what i really want is to be a woman of grace, humility, kindness. now, i don't want to be super sappy or syrupy. i am always going to be super realistic and speak my mind. i feel like those are qualities about me that make me stronger. but i made the decision that i want to have a more positive approach to life. i want to be happier. i want to look around me and see the beauty in my surroundings. to borrow from another blog post i read recently, i want to see the beautiful in the ugly. 

so to everyone i've been cranky toward, judged unnecessarily, been sharp-tongued toward, been impatient with, been unlovely to--to all of you, i am so sorry. i want to turn over a new leaf; i want to be a different person.

and i realize i can't do this alone. so feel free to prod me gently in the right direction. certainly i recognize the need in my own life for community. i desperately need this right now. 

so all of this self-awareness brought me to this: am i coming to this desire, wanting to be different, embody more gentleness and joy because our life has suddenly gotten less stressful? our life is by no means instantly easier because rick is working and the kids are in school, providing me a respite from parenting each day. it will be a long time before we get completely on our feet again. but when we were in the really dark times, people would tell me to pray, tell me things would be better someday, tell me to just trust that we would be out of the desert soon--and i scoffed. besides a couple of  people who have suffered like us (or have suffered far greater), most of the people telling me this had not experienced what i would consider really tough times, if that makes sense. so i think it's easy to say this when you haven't really been through a dark period. or maybe it's just that when people go through dark periods, they don't share, so maybe i just didn't know that some of these people really KNEW what i was feeling.

but i find it interesting that now that some of the pressure of our life is releasing a little, this is when i'm feeling more of a pull, a conviction toward some of these things. and what i want to be is the kind of person who, in the face of serious desert experiences, is STILL calm, graceful, kind, loving, patient. these things i was not. i think having true character is being able to be all these positive things when i'm  IN the desert, not when i'm coming out of it.

i have decided (for now) that dealing with my internal struggles is a good thing. i hope i emerge from this a sort of new person.


Mrs. H. said...

What a heart felt, honest post. You are one of the sweetest, most caring people I've ever known! Everyone looks back and whishes that they had weathered storms differently. What is so important is the things you learned while in the hard times. The things you are appreciating now are because of the hard times. And what a better friend you can be to others when they go through struggles! My heart is too full right now to write much more, but I just wanted you to know that I'm reading your posts, that I am praying for you and that I am thankfull for a renewed friendship! :-)

Amelia Plum said...

Kristi, I only know you through your blog but I'd have to agree with most of what Mrs H said. You come across as incredibly sweet, thoughtful and caring in your writings. It is hard to got through tough times but that you come through it and can make a positive difference due to the struggles you went through is wonderful - and the fact that you write about examining yourself and your pessimism during this dark time, well I think your honesty and introspection is wondeful.

asti said...

Wonderful post...actually bought a tear to my eye. In my experience, when things back off a little, get a little easier, you can pull back and see things with much more perspective...and some of those things we analyze aren't great (behaviour whilst under pressure for example), prompting soul searching and a striving to change for the better. I have a tendency to be a real COW when times are rough, just adding more stress to the you, I am the negative one and my hubby is the positive one (or head in the sand and not proactive, as I like think !)It's just the way I react. It's helpful to realise that acting like that doesn't 'change' anything in the slightest...just adds more negativity to the pot.
I'm so happy that your life is heading for easier times. You come across as a very sweet,caring and sensitive person who is not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, which is very refreshing, especially with all the 'perfect life' blogs out there !LOL..
The fact that you even wrote this post is testament to your goodness.
Don't be so hard on yourself, difficult times bring out our darker sides...a temporary glitch.
Hope this made even the merest shred of sense..waffle, waffle !
asti x

amy said...

everyone is right. i always appreciate your honesty. you are very genuine and i know that i can always be real with you.
as one who is going through some tough times, i know that God is using this to grow my faith. and as hard as it is at times, i know that the benefit is priceless.
love and miss you...

g13 said...

thanks for the post. as you know, i am by nature a negative person as well. even when things are going well i skulk around waiting for the other shoe to drop.

the only constant in my life that altered my perspective, apart from my wife, kid and the 2006 cardinals, is working beside people with disabilities on a daily basis.

i'm sure that's not the answer for everyone and i doubt whether it's the answer for you, but i'm glad your hunting for a positive stimuli or two.