Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Where I'm At

Do you ever find yourself struggling to define what you are feeling? There is something holding you back, holding you down, and you just can't quite put your finger on it and then BAM, something cracks open and you know the name of this thing that has been your constant, yet somewhat obscure companion?

I have been wanting to come back here and write a bit more about what I have been *unsuccessfully* working through these last months, but it was like when you have a word at the tip of your tongue and it just keeps slipping away. I would sit down and think "Now I will write", but it was like the words I'd put down and the stuff jammed deep inside of me weren't matching up. Last night, my feelings found a name. We went out to dinner with my dad and for the first time there was some kid free space where we could talk more openly about adult only issues. Once I started talking, the words just kept tumbling out and along with them something I hadn't been able to put my finger on---

I am angry.

Really angry.

I have been trying to figure out why I am angry, because how will I work through my anger unless I identify the causes.

There have been things from our life here in South Africa that have been hard. I don't share it all, because not all of the parts of the different stories are mine to share. But there are things from our life here that I am angry about and that have caused me a lot of hurt.

We have had to deal with issues of trust being broken with people we care about. A lot. We've had to look at relationships and ask ourselves if we are causing harm to people or truly helping them. Introspection is hard and painful. Having trust broken is maddening.

We have experienced a lot of hard stuff with the people on our team. I think a common misconception is that when Christians work together, everything is easy peasy. Interpersonal issues with coworkers are nothing new, but when you all say you love Jesus and are doing God's kingdom building work it seems like interpersonal issues would pop up and be taken care of with love and hugs and wishes for peace.

I should know better. After all, I'm a Pastor's Kid and I've had a front row seat to the ugliness inside of Christian circles more often than I'd like to remember.

I am a mom who has not once but twice had to talk to my sweet boy and assure him that he is safe and secure in Christ after a Christian authority figure (not once but twice) told him that he maybe wasn't really saved. Twice.

I am a human who often feels taken advantage of and walked over by some of the people that I am trying to help and this gets old. Really old.

It isn't only things from this Southern Hemisphere that have turned me into a ticking time bomb. Being back in the states was amazing, truly, but it is hard to go back to a place that was home and realize that you aren't the same anymore and you can't quite seem to fit.

Even when I was with people I dearly love, there was an internal conversation happening inside my mind. I was constantly trying to sort things out and figure out what my thoughts were on certain things people said and did. This was tiring and took away some of the fun of being with family and friends.

Parenting kids when you are away from home is hard. Parenting kids who see all the fun stuff their friends and cousins get to do and wonder why they can't just stay living in America is really hard. Bring on the guilt and stress and anxiety.

Seeing loved ones is awesome. Catching up with loved ones is big fun. Hearing about the hard stuff that your loved ones have been facing while you are living on the other side of the ocean is hard. It makes you feel disconnected and a bit left out and also a lot of anger towards all the crappy stuff your people have had to deal with. Mountains of anger from 3 years worth of crap.

Being a frequent Facebook user, I see the ugliness all around from those who claim to follow Christ. This makes me angry. And it hurts my heart. Especially when people I love are engaging in the ugliness and throwing out careless words or "likes" without really considering what those things say to the world around them. Because there is a bigger world around you. A really big world. 

I feel like something in me has shut down. A lot of the things I am angry about involve people of faith, and at some point, I started to not want to identify with people who claimed to be following Christ, and this in turn led me to disengage with a lot of other God related stuff. Like reading my Bible, praying, seeking His will, claiming His peace and strength and love.

It didn't really take a lot to disengage as I have been struggling for a while and things have slowly been falling away. I think I have only recently become more aware of what is going on inside of me.

I have built up walls to protect myself from further hurt and to keep myself from losing it so that I can keep doing what I need to do. Yet, I have been working from a place of anger, and this can spill out, even when I try to keep it in check.

My anger spills out on my children. It spills out on my husband. 

It spills out in my work and how I view people in South Africa. It really spilled out at one of our board meetings and even at our operational meetings.

It spills out when I am in church. I try to sing, but think "I am not living out these words and based on my experiences, I am guessing other people are also just singing lies".

I am the official writer of newsletters, reports, difficult emails and when you have to write things that sound nice and full of God and His love when you are feeling hurt and angry, it all begins to feel very fake.

I have started reading "The Broken Way", but I have struggled to get beyond the first chapter as I don't feel broken. I just feel a kind of nothingness. And nothingness and brokenness are not the same.

I thought when I was in the states I would have some time to be still and sort out my mind, but it didn't work that way. Instead I drank in the good and loveliness of the people we were with. The time with them was a salve to some of the hurt I have felt, but being back in the states had its own set of difficulties. I could tell that if I started to examine my heart and my feelings too much, I would be overwhelmed and unable to deal with anything else, including grocery stores and long drives and my kids wishing they could stay forever in America.

Building walls takes time, and breaking walls down also takes time. I have a feeling a "quick fix" isn't going to fix things for the long term and that I need to do some work, which right now I am finding difficult.

I want to hear God again and not the noise of everything around me. Yet I can't just tune out life and family and ministry. I think this keeps me from doing the work as I have already seen that when small cracks appear, the tears start to seep out and I don't feel like I have time or space to really just let it all go. God I want space.

So I am trying to not completely shut down and shut out and self destruct, but it is hard. This is the truth. It is hard to deal with all of the emotions and the reasons behind them.

And right now, if you back me into a corner, you will get the angry me. I need to work on this. But at this point, I know angry me and what she can and cannot handle. I am a little afraid of sad me and tired me and broken me. I don't know how to live with them. While the walls I have built do hurt me, they also make me feel safe. And yes, I know that God can break any wall, that He is bigger than any wall, that His love goes around walls, but I don't even know where to begin with God. I have only recently come to know my anger and I am not ready to just let her go.

But I will have to do this at some point so I can start the work of breaking. Who knows what will be made from the pieces.



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