I am not broken, but sometimes I sense this lingering sadness, like some stain that won’t be cleaned away. Even when my heart is overwhelmed with joy (which is frequent) it exists in the shadows. I wonder if this is okay, even good; if it is simply part of the delicate balance of living and serves as a reminder that I am more than flesh and bone. I am spirit, made up of all the colors of my experience, like a great painting, with each color bleeding into the next until it becomes indistinguishable from its neighbor, ’til there is no longer a single color, a single pain, a single joy, but rather a collective whole that is my very being. I am a created soul, living the gift of humanness, and that soul must be nourished.
The truth is, I haven’t been nourishing my soul. I haven’t posted here in months, mainly due to illness. I struggle with an autoimmune disease with many symptoms, the worst of which is intense joint and bone pain. Sometimes, I hurt so much I can barely draw breath. The result is that I hunker down, go into survival mode, and quit *doing things* — I lose my sense of purpose, because I don’t have the strength and energy to feed my soul and participate in those things that make me who I am.
Well, I’ve started a book study with a group of people, and two things have already happened for me. The first is that I’m supposed to take an inventory of what I have to offer the world, which, the way I’m feeling, is nothing. How can I give to others when I myself am running on empty? (I haven’t actually done this assignment yet, and I know I will ultimately come up with a list. But trust me, it won’t be easy).
The second thing is that we’ll be reading the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. It’s a book for teens, written by teens, and I haven’t read it yet. Even so, just thinking about the title, it’s wormed its way into my brain and I keep asking myself, “When is the last time I did a hard thing?” Truth be told, I can’t remember.
So, dear reader, this is what I’ve done: I started by writing out a list I entitled My Envisioned Life. It included these categories: home, body, marriage & ministry, children, and creative expression. It gave me heart palpitations to write it, and I’m not kidding you. It is this indelible, irretrievable statement about who I want to be and what I want to do in the world, and making it was one of the biggest actions of faith I have ever committed. I know you’re curious what I wrote, but I’m too much of a coward to share it, at the moment.
Then I waited to see what God would drop into my mind to do. And the things He put there were hard. Hard, hard, hard. So I am going to do hard things, knowing I may fail, knowing that doing them may not help me achieve the things I want. The only guarantee I have is that things will never change if I do nothing. This is the beginning…
- I have made a correlation, through observation, between food and pain. When I eat wheat or corn, within about a half-an-hour, my pain level ramps up. So, I’m going grain-free. I did this once before, for fourteen months, and it is hard. It is the definition of hard. So every time I’m tempted to eat a bowl of cereal, I say to myself, “Do hard things, missy.”
- I must write. I simply must. It helps me. I have an assignment for my book study to journal, so this will be where I do it. I am committed to consistency, not frequency, so I will post once a week.
- I need a creative outlet. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like, or even the first step, but I will pray and explore until I find something that brings me satisfaction.
So, dear reader, I sign off. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of each other.