I wrote this the other day and it’s been milling around in my head since.
“how are you doing?” people keep asking me. the flippant way (“what’s up?” “how’s it going?”) or the sweet way (“how are you?”) or the real-friend way (“how’s your heart lately?” “tell me how you’re doing.”). it’s normal; people ask these questions, sometimes wanting to sit and hear the answer, sometimes hoping for a “good thanks, you?” in response. and I just moved, and started a new job, and I have lots of really wonderful friends, so I get to answer this question a lot.
but I’m here on this blank “sheet of paper” because I don’t actually have that answer. I don’t know what to say. sometimes the “good thanks, you?” answer is all I’ve got, because people generally don’t have an hour to sit and listen to me try to unravel and understand my own feelings. or lack of feelings. my apathy and lukewarm or my kilimanjaros and mariana trenches.
I don’t even understand these places myself. I wonder if even-keeled means boring, but I also don’t love the drama when I’m in the middle of it. I’m my most creative when I’m at my darkest: the deepest ruts of despair and depression have historically brought about my most poignant creations. and when I create – especially out of hardship – I feel like I’m doing what I was made to, down to the core of my being. it’s like the natural outpouring of my soul. Eric Liddell, the famous athlete, said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” and that’s how I feel about pouring out creatively.
but I don’t want to be sad, do I? I just typed out three different versions of a sentence along the lines of “I love being happy but…” and the more I think about it, the less I think I do…? I don’t know. I think when I’m happy – placidly so, not because something amazing is happening – I feel shallow. (I’m well aware how self-centered this may come across as. I’m trying to figure it out myself, and that usually comes by writing about it. this is weirdly personal.)
I’ve been in the throws of despair and hated it but still found a way to be deeply grateful for the feelings, thoughts, and experiences I’ve been given. but maybe when things are good I don’t know how to be satisfied.
maybe this comes back to the thoughts I’ve been having recently about struggle.
I don’t want to live ‘struggle-free’. what I want a is life that’s pulled along by the right struggle. when I picture an existence that fuels and fulfills me and glorifies God with my particular gifts, I don’t picture white fences and easy-going conversation with the neighbors. I just don’t. something about that actually kind of makes me anxious. this isn’t to say I want struggle for its own sake. I certainly don’t want to toil on and on for the wrong thing, something pointless, or outside of God’s will for my life in the grand scheme, just so I don’t get too comfortable.
I’d just rather work hard with push-back for the noble thing God has set out for me than to either have it easy on the wrong path or struggle and tire but toward the wrong goal. I want the dignity and purpose that come from the right struggle. I can’t imagine I’m meant for a ride without bumps.
and when things are too easy, or just feel like…nothing…I worry that I’m wasting beautiful time with stupid flat-lining. I don’t know how to be grateful for “down time” when it’s a whole week or a month or six months.
maybe it’s a gift, this quiet in my spirit. but it doesn’t feel like Holy-Spirit-stillness, it feels like I’m missing something, like I’m not pressing toward God or he’s not pressing toward me. it feels like I’m doing something wrong because I’m not “sucking the marrow out of life”, as Thoreau would encourage me. it feels like I’m just dog-paddling around in the kiddie pool.
I don’t want the kiddie pool.
maybe I don’t know what I’m asking for – I dealt with a lot of emotional shit last year (external and internal), and I’m not saying that was fun – but I don’t think I want to stay here.
I don’t want to look for God in the whirlwind and the fire but miss him in the still, small voice. I want to learn patience, and quiet. I want to learn to rely on his timing. I want to learn what this “season” of life can teach me.
but this placidness kind of sucks when I don’t even know if God wants me to sit in faith or move in faith. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
so my update, when people ask:
I don’t know. where I’m at, what I should be doing, what I shouldn’t be doing. I don’t know if I should be grateful because I’m okay, or if it’s a warning sign that all I am is “okay”. I don’t know if the quiet is convenient, aiding and abetting sinful distance from God, or if it’s a gift, after all the craziness. and if it is a gift, is it supposed to stir up a restlessness in me that will push me toward God’s plan for me, or is it supposed to quiet my spirit and draw my closer to God in a time of rest? I don’t know if pulling out my own hair because of boredom and confusion and apathy is better than suffocating myself with busyness and too many “yesses”.
what I do know is that right now I can’t create. I can’t draw or play music. I sure as hell can’t write. not a scrap. my fingers have only cliches and pedantic adjectives to offer.
I don’t want to demonize this period in my life, any more than I tried to demonize the hard times last year, or idolize the times that Jesus redeemed in their aftermath.
but it’s hard. because it’s not hard.
as stupid as that sounds.
like Diana Goodman, I miss the mountains.