Thursday, September 1, 2016

Falling Silent

When I started this blog I really didn't think many people would read it. Now it's not read by millions or even thousands or hundreds, but it has been read by many. Some people in far away countries like Russia, Israel, and even China. I don't know if any of those people read more than one post, but I'm glad they read one. I hope it spoke to something in them. I hope it helped them in some way.

I've always felt misunderstood. I would be categorized as an introvert, and I've come to accept that. For years, I wished I was an extrovert. I wished people were drawn to me, like they were my extroverted friends. Because I am quieter, more reserved, I have been accused of being a snob, of thinking I'm better than other people. I remember once at the camp I worked at during the summers I was in college, a friend came to me and told me some girls asked her if I was a snob. Honestly, I was totally shocked. I thought so little of myself that I couldn't imagine anyone thinking I thought highly enough of myself to be a snob. To this day, I think people that I've meet once or twice before don't even remember me. I'm still taken aback when someone actually does know me. I have allowed God to heal areas in my life, and I don't think so little of myself anymore, but I still wonder if people see me, the real me.

A few years ago, something happened that brought about so much healing and freedom, but at the same time it brought a different kind of pain. I found my heart feeling free, but my voice seemed to be fading. I started blogging less. I stopped sharing as much. I felt God tell me that I was to separate and be quiet for a time. Since I was just learning to open up to people and use my voice, it seemed like a strange time to pull back, to shut up. I had been letting others see and hear the real me, and then it stopped. I still feel the strain of it in some of my relationships. I still don't understand it. I have feared that I would fall silent again. I fear it even as I type now. I just don't seem to have anything to share. I fear that people will think I don't care about them. I fear that they'll think I'm being a snob.

I've always had a non-traditional relationship with God. I've never been interested in religion and ritual, but rather I've always wanted to just be in Him. I have known the judgement of others for not being religious enough. They wanted me to follow the program, and God told me not to. Even trying to explain that to someone resulted in being publicly maligned. I've been told I spend too much time alone with God. That I need to spend more time with people. Interestingly, not long after that God told me to separate myself. I was judged for that. I guess I still am. I do wish to have a Church group. A group of people who want to know God for who He is not what He has been made into. A group that wants to spend time together and with Him. A Church that ministers to each other the way they did in the New Testament Church.

Maybe this separation and quiet time are preparing me to be in such a true for of the Church. I hope so. I hope it leads me to speak again. This former, practically recluse, wants to speak even if my voice shakes!



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"What are you waiting for?"

Seven years ago I started working at my school. It was a brand new school. As a new school, the PTA didn't have funds yet, so the year was full of fund raisers. One of them was a golf tournament. That might sound like a good idea, but it wasn't.

The day of the tournament was freezing! It was October in North Carolina so it shouldn't have been, but it was. It was cold and rainy. There weren't a lot of golfers, but there were a lot of staff members at various jobs for the tournament. Mine was to sit in a golf cart, at a hole, and see if anyone got a hole-in-one, I have never been, and still am not a golf fan. It is boring! It was even more boring because of the time that I waited for golfers to come by. Let's just say that 30-40 minutes would pass between groups.

But I wasn't alone. A teacher assistant, who no longer works at my school, was my golf cart partner. She and I did enjoy excursions along the golf paths in the cart. We were really good at timing how long we could wheel around before another group was going to show up at our hole. We never missed a group. But after awhile the trips around the course became boring as well, so we just sat there hoping for golfers to come over the hill to our hole.

So we talked. During the course of this wretched, cold, boring day she questioned me about having kids. I told her I did not. I don't remember the exact words any longer, but she made a comment about it that hurt me. It was meant to be hurtful, but it was said bluntly and well, it didn't need to be said. I can still remember how it touched on the Heart's Desire spot and made me feel like I had a knife twisted in it.

Last Friday was the first day after the school year. Most teachers walked around smiling as they finished up paperwork and cleaned their rooms. I did not. I was missing my kiddos and doing the final paperwork made it all too real that the last two years were over. (I had the best, close-knit, family-like class ever.) I had to go to office and on the way back to my classroom I ran into one of the custodians. She mentioned that I should be happy because the year was over. I told that I wasn't and I missed my kids. Her reply was, "you don't have your own kids?"

"No,"

"What are you waiting for?" she asked.

The golf cart experience of seven years ago had gone along the same line and came flooding back to me in the second before I could reply. That Heart's Desire spot was getting poked at again. I smiled and said,"just waiting on a man." and turned the corner.

Yup, that smile disappeared the second I turned the corner, but I realized that even though it hurt, I wasn't devastated by it, like I was seven years ago.

For whatever reason, I have spent 30+ years with a Heart's Desire for a family, a husband and children, and I have been waiting. I don't for the life of me understand why. I have seen people, family and friends, even former students, be married, have children, and even remarried. I keep looking at them and wondering why they have what I long for, but I don't have it. Not even the least glimpse of it. Well meaning people ask the questions, make the comments, and even tell me that I am a mother to my students. Believe me when I say that it is not the same!

I am glad that the bluntly worded question doesn't hold the same sting it did seven years ago. I still have the longing, but feel more and more like Sarah everyday, and feel that I am past the hope. I don't know if the waiting has eroded my hope, or if the reality of it not happening has made me come to realize it isn't in His plan for me. This post was supposed to be how seven years changed my reaction to the question, and it did, truly.

Yet I sit here crying about what hasn't been and wonder.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Blessed?

If you read anything on social media: Facebook, Twitter, whatever, you will see that people are claiming to be blessed. Married = blessed. Baby = blessed. New job = blessed. New house = blessed. Family time = blessed. On vacation = blessed. And on and on. These things definitely seem like what we have come to know and call being blessed, but I wonder if those things actually equal being blessed.

I live in the United States and I have way more in material goods than most people in the world. I have a house that is fully furnished, a car, clothes, and plenty of extras. My house always has necessary projects to be done; my furniture has been bought at garage sales or given to me; my car is not as big as I want; my clothes are usually bought on sale; and many of my extras have come second-hand. I don't have the biggest or the best, but I have plenty and would fall into the blessed category. But I honestly wonder if these things are blessings or not.

I just read the first chapter of 2nd Thessalonians and it once again made me wonder what being blessed really is. Verse 3 "We ought to give thanks to for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing." That all sounds really good, and honestly makes me think they're blessed people, but then comes verses 4 and 5. "Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering."

Um, what?

So being persecuted means being blessed? Well maybe or maybe not, but being persecuted and being steadfast and faithful; and back to verse 3, faith and love are growing abundantly is being blessed. How do I know that these things are blessings, because of this wonderful line "This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, that you may considered worthy of the kingdom of God..." Because of the persecution they endured, and the ensuing growth of faith and love towards others they have been judged worthy of the kingdom of God. That is the ultimate evidence of being blessed.

(Side-note, did you notice the word "judge"?  That seems to be such a bad word to many Christians, these days. But He still judges and we need to be prepared to be judged.)

Back to the whole premise of this post. I would love all the things that many of us, particular American Christians, call blessed. I would love a husband to celebrate anniversaries with; babies to love on and brag about on Facebook; and all the other trappings we called blessed. Who wouldn't? More than that, I want to be blessed because I have been found worth of the kingdom of God. So often in the Scriptures we see evidence that going though trails and suffering, with faith and love results in the ultimate blessing of being worthy of the kingdom of God. That is being blessed.

Below is one of my favorite photos that I took while in Haiti. It reminds me that others live differently and that she may be more blessed than I am. Because she may has more opportunity to come through her suffering with faith and love for others.