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.