“It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.” - Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated
Some of the impact from painful and pressuring times has been blunted by this resilience. It served me well on my mission when people rejected the messages of what was so important to me. It served as a protectant as I experienced life with an alcoholic mother. It has helped me modify and restructure my business as I find things that work and don't. Sometimes this "good" mechanism, this personal positive has had an unintended, undiagnosed disease effect.
The very act of a bounce changes an objects direction from the thing from which it bounced. You can talk and talk about the past, the hard thing, the experience from that caused the bouncing but though your lips draw you close to it, your heart and your soul have bounced on, and are far from it. There is a certain disconnect making it hard to revisit and recover from life's harsh blows.
The last few years have opened up opportunity for reflection, time that as a young twenty-something I simply did not have the desire for. I can see the follies of my youth with such staggering, embarrassing, and painful clarity now. The lack of faith, the loneliness, the running. I see my mistakes and at times, unlike the confident, I regret huge portions of my life. Mostly because in my aforementioned bouncing I bounced uncontrollably without recovering from the thing that sent me in motion.
I have been revisiting and returning to my hardships through deep conversation with dear friends, intensive weekly therapy and consistent thought about my life. It has been the most therapeutic and transformative 9 months of my life. I have, through the process figured out who I am. Yes, I'm 30. Yes, I'm a late bloomer in the personal identity department. Yes, I have an incredibly long way to go. The process of therapy is therapeutic. Therapeutic in that it uncovers symptoms and seeks, not only to heal them, but to understand their origins.
As I taught on my mission, man's first orienting move toward enlightenment and salvation is understanding the nature of God and his relationship to his maker. I can list the history and characteristics of divinity, the trinity, Father and Son but I do not understand my relationship to them. And so one of my biggest challenges is with God. Who is He? What are His intentions for me? Is He truly a caring parent or a non-intervening observer? Is there such a thing as destiny or a personal plan for each of us? Does God care about our lost keys while children suffer? Does he forgive? How do mercy and justice play out? Is God calling me to come closer, to knock, to ask?
Each time I have asked these questions I have been answered the same, "...your heart is far from me."
It's sad. It's sad to write that and to feel it. Its lonely and disoriented. Doubt needs to be visited. Doubt is the great catalyst for everything great from scientific discovery to personal triumph. I, like so many others, find that doubt isn't something that is warmly embraced in our culture. Our first Sunday ritual is saturated to the point of deafness with the phrase, "I know". I understand that feeling. I've said and I've felt it. I've felt that burning fiber conviction and I loved its warmth but it but the truth is "I don't know"feels more powerful to me now. It is more needy and needing and for now, I am needy and needing. In fact, as a Christian I intend to need and not know for the rest of my life, so I'm choosing to embrace it.
Instead of fearing my feeble knees and far-away heart and answering it with niceties I am ready to get down with it, get on with it. I need to orient my heart instead of comforting it with traditions and rites that have, for me, become motions. I want to return to the rites with neediness. I want my heart to be filled and close, not tied up with traditions that I can't see the service of. These words all scratch the surface. These words will one day act as an emotional reminder of where I was. I intend to move beyond this and through it to something assured and at rest. I don't intend for my questions to be answered- not all of them. I just want to feel. I am not interested in "knowing" so much as "hoping".
I have been seeking peace and last night I felt it as I rounded the point of the mountain driving along i-15. I sing while I drive and as I belted out"O Come O Come Emmanuel" something caught my eye to the east. Pronounced and arresting there among Traverse twinklings was the lesser light night-ruler.
When I saw it I audibly remarked at its majesty, "Oh wow!" And then, I burst into tears. The flood gates were open as "...who ransomed captive Israel" blared out I sang and cried and sang and cried. I apologized to the Creator for what I'm not and I thanked Him for the second chances to be what I am. I felt a reverent awe for the condescension of the Christ child as I felt the hand of God reach down and remind me that He is there.
I am still unsure of what this means but I am certain that planets moving in their regular form are, as divine witnesses, speaking something to me. Something of our cause for disorientation, something of comfort and mercy and a majesty that, in that moment, was for me.