I’ve been feeling down lately. Down, and out of the game really. I reached the point of not caring. Disenchantment with hope, anger at God, knowing in my head that God was not to blame, but embodying a heart that refused to care.
In my article, “Angry at God,” I had explored that emotion. I had worked out my laments in all their raw transparency, and yet, here I was again. That was part of the problem. I was coming to realize that life was not about coming to terms with anything and being done with it. In some situations, certain topics, it seemed to be a continual renovation of the same broken down pipes that were needed to make the rest of the house work well. I understood my anger, on a logical level as being illogical, but on an emotional scale I was spiraling out of control. I was on overload, and past my quota for coping well.
My roommate, the first person to live with me since my husband died, moved out unexpectedly, convinced that the asbestos (did I mention my house is 10 years old and asbestos has been illegal for more than a decade?) in my house was making her sick. Never mind that I am the third owner, or that I offered to have a contractor inspect it. Within 24 hours, she was gone. My daughter and I, abandoned again. The week before I had received a threatening phone call just after putting my toddler to bed. A week after that, my second floor bathroom flooded, a good friend of mine had been diagnosed with cancer, I realized I had to let another friend I had come to love, go, my nerves had been attacked so severely from stress that my face twitched when I asked a question in public one day, I was drowning in loose ends and unfinished projects, like piling up dishes, taxes, laundry, articles, and trying to be a fun-loving mom fully aware that I was severely failing at it.
Then, my wonderfully loving mom took my daughter away for a long weekend. I caught my breath, I cleaned the house, I organized some papers, and I had a little fun. I woke up in the morning and relished that I didn’t have to get out of bed to make anyone else breakfast but me. Even though I hardly went anywhere, I felt the tremendous freedom of knowing if I wanted to go to the store at midnight, or a movie at 7pm, I could. If I wanted to watch a movie in the middle of the day, or eat a blizzard for breakfast, I could. There was no one to look after but me.
My daughter came home and I was more the fun loving mom I had wanted to be. I was filmed for my work’s career site and I didn’t flinch, or twitch, or have a panic attack. I thrived. I thought of my friend with cancer who still wants to live, and it made me ask the question, “What is worth living for?” My roommate problems seemed smaller. I let my feelings, warranted or not, about God, out, and I immersed myself in whatever I felt in the moment. I’m not sure it was the best philosophy, or one I would recommend to live by long term, but there was something about getting the toxicity out, like an infection, instead of holding it in and becoming more ill. I allowed myself to feel the grit of life without fluffing over it, and because I felt it, I found I could let it go.
In the book of Ecclesiastes it talks about there being a time for everything under the sun. “A time to kill, a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” (Ecclesiastes 3: 3,4 NKJV)
I remember training hundreds of colleagues at work about the change curve, and asking them, “Do you ever feel angry and you don’t know why?” Someone would always nod. “That’s what happens when we bury our emotions. When we push things down and hope they’ll go away, but they never do. They just come out in unexpected ways, perhaps years down the road. Maybe they come out in anger, or sickness, and by that point, because one has buried their grief, they don’t even know what’s causing their anger, or sickness, depression, or pain.”
I didn’t want that. I wanted to feel. Whether it was pain, happiness, sadness, sorrow, anger, excitement, ecstatic elation, whatever was within, I wanted it to come out. If it came out now there was still a chance I could identify it. I embrace the season for the roller-coaster it was. I rode the tide, and purged the toxic garbage so I could have capacity to find contentment again; kind of like cleaning house.
Everything Has Its Time (Ecclesiastes chapter 3: 1 – 8 NKJV)
“3 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.”
In this time of tearing open, my hope lies in the healing threads of long-term restoration.