In Which I Learn to Shut Down

Sometimes I read something in a book that rings so true I just have to share it. Continuing my journey through Anne Lamott’s writings, from her 2013 book, Stitches, comes this thought:

“I rarely felt at home as a child, nor did I feel that the earth was my real home. I was a girl who found it scary and confusing to be on this particular planet at all. … My brothers and I were not encouraged to search for God, the obvious source of solace, … The grown-ups we trusted did not share the news that life was going to include deep isolation, or that the culture’s fixation on achievement would be spiritually crippling to those of a more gentle character. No one mentioned the peace that was possible in surrender to a power greater than oneself, unless it was to an older sibling, when resistance was futile anyway. Teachers forgot to mention that we could be filled only by the truth that suffuses our heart, presence, humanity. So a lot of us raced around the rat exercise wheel, to get good grades and positions, to get into the best colleges and companies, and to keep our weight down.”

“If you were raised in the 1950s or 1960s, and grasped how scary the world could be, in Birmingham, Vietnam and the house on the corner where the daddy drank, you were diagnosed as being the overly sensitive child. … What that term meant was that you noticed how unhappy or crazy your parents were. Also, you worried about global starvation, animals at the pound who didn’t get adopted, and smog. What a nut. You looked into things too deeply, and you noticed things that not many others could see, and this exasperated your parents and teachers.”

With such a long quote, there’s not much more for me to add except that I was – and in many ways still am – that child. The girl with a gentle, spiritually-open nature that when crazy stuff happened around her and to her she learned to turn off that gentle side. To not feel any pain. To feel nothing in order to keep herself safe. To not let the potential for love, or Love, enter her heart in order to keep herself safe.

My vision of God became incredibly skewed as a child and God and I are still working to straighten it out (well, I’m the one doing the work, but without His Love, guidance and support I would fail miserably). It will take a lifetime of work and prayer and putting one foot in front of the other, step-by-step. And, sometimes I feel up to the challenge and sometimes I don’t. I’m ever grateful that God is not as wishy-washy I am and never leaves me, though I leave Him all too often.

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In Which Wandering is Okay

In my daily struggle to stay focused on God I stumble and fall down so much that my knees have perpetually bleeding wounds. Some weeks I can walk along beside God just fine, chatting about this and that and occasionally boohooing about some injustice I feel.

Other weeks it’s like, “God? God who?” And I stumble off, tripping over giant roots in the dirt as I’ve wandered off my path and into the haunted forest. I’m in the midst of one of those weeks now. As I wander around and stub my toes on those pesky roots, I’m happy to report that just there, beyond the leafy border, is God, waiting ever so patiently for me to return to His side. He is keeping a weathered eye on me, making sure I don’t fall down a bear trap and get stuck alone. And even if by chance I pull an Alice on Him, He’ll sit on the edge of the hole, keeping me company, until I turn to Him for help.

God’s kinda cool like that. That makes me happy in my blindness – knowing that just beyond the darkness is Light so Brilliant it chases away anything not born in and of Love.

I’ve decided to accept my tendency to wander. My mom says I did it all the time as a child whenever she shopped with me in tow. And I still do it. When we go shopping, she likes to linger and look and I like to scan and keep moving. By the time I’m done with the store, she’s only halfway through so I generally go find a place to sit and wait until she’s caught up. She comes from a line of great shoppers – her mother and sister were like her and, although I rarely go shopping with my sister, I suspect she’s like mom, preferring to linger and look.

It does me no good to beat myself up for forgetting about God again and trying to live my life without Him (because I’m so good at it, after all). My nature is to wander – that’s the way God made me and by accepting that part of me there’s one less thing I have to forgive myself for when I finally come to my senses.

A Child of the Universe

From the blog, One-Minute Thankful:

A Child of the Universe

Thankful Meditation:

You are a child of the Universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

 Max Ehrmann, ‘Desiderata, A Poem for a Way of Life’

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Thankful Affirmation:

Today I am thankful to be a living, breathing child of the universe, playing my part for a time on this earth. I will be kind to those who travel the path beside me, embrace those who arrive ahead, and encourage to those who come after.

 

Thankful Goal:

We are all children of the same Creator. Be kind.

 

(Well said.)