August 10, 2010

An Invitation to Watch the Library at Alexandria Burn

As "defeatist" as this title sounds, it is not meant to. It's a reflection of the growing process that James and I have needed to move through as time passes. Let me explain...

A few days ago, James said two things to me, both in reference to this new situation that we find ourselves in. The first one made me laugh long and hard and the other one made me cry:

1) "I feel like someone just took a crap in my lap and now I can either stand up and try to wipe it off (and get crap all over myself in the process), or I can just let it sit there and have a mound of crap sitting in my lap."

2) "I feel like I have been told that for the next undefined period of time, I have to watch the Great Library of Alexandria burn to the ground, knowing what treasures are hidden inside. I could read continuously my whole life and never turn all the pages, but now they are being reduced to ash."

In its day, the Great Library of Alexandria was the largest collection of writings from around the world by Alexander the Great (he didn't live to see it). Historians drool when they think about all the goodies that must have been hidden inside this treasure trove, but unfortunately it was burned to the ground sometime between 48 BC and and 642 AD. Some people would see James' comment as being very morbid and morose, but I take it as an odd compliment, and a very romantic one at that.

Regardless of whether or not I burn to the ground or whether God chooses to put an end to this burning, I am currently a building on fire.

I want to make it clear that I do not have any designs or preplanned intentions for this blog, except this: to track this journey that I am on. I do not want to make large, overblown faith-based statements that I do not actually feel. Neither do I want to be hugely cynical and negative. My emotions will change and they will change frequently. I want to track them honestly, because frankly, I have recently become aware of how many people there must be on this same path...

So many questions! What does a situation like this do for a marriage? What does it do for your future? What does it do for your children? I guess I am in the process of finding out.
But this process is mine and it is the journey that God has given me. I choose to share it because I believe that there is value in being open. What I do ask for a level of respect for the personal nature of the things that I share. Please, don't be embarrassed when you see me. Please don't feel that because I am being open on my blog, that you are somehow being a Peeping Tom. Truth be told, I don't see myself as having a huge message to share, but it has become apparent that for some reason, I have been handed a microphone. You are not under any obligations to listen to me or to agree with me, but please respect me.

James and I are eating bitter, and we are eating a lot of it. The last few days, all we have done is eat bitter. And what comes out when you eat bitter? A lot more bitter. We simply can not make it through one day without having at least two HEAVY discussions, where all of our inner slime comes pouring out and there is no off switch. We don't aim our slime at each other, thankfully, but it's like timer goes off and we each let it loose simultaneously. It's chaotic, there is no order, but the things we say to each other are generally of the same vain and we can relate to each other. It is a very strange twist on a marriage to have the primary mode of connection being the NEED to let loose the brimming vat of slime that has filled up over the previous few hours. It is very bitter. We have never related to each other in this way before. Thankfully, for all of our bitter conversations that we have had, we usually end up laughing, feeling lighter and relieved.

The simple truth is this: we have no idea what to do with ourselves! Within five weeks we have gone from a life of purpose, placement, independence, cultural stimulation, enjoying a family life in one permanant home... to a life where our home changes every few weeks, making doctor's appointments, waiting for those appointments, driving to those appointments, arranging a zillion small details, moving our stuff around, rarely seeing our own children, dealing with tedious tasks on a daily basis...

And always WAITING! Waiting for what? The building to burn? I ask you how, even with a heavy helping of God's grace, is a married couple to deal with our respective sides of this issue? I feel like a building on fire! The bitterest thoughts that I have had in the last while is this one: I can't see that I have a future! For some reason it is easier for me to bear this idea in and of myself, but the really unbearable thought for me is that I do not have a future to offer to my amazing and dedicated husband. We got married because we saw a beautiful future together, and I feel like I am watching my ability to give that to him burn into ash. I have been dreaming about my life for my entire life! I have been dreaming about my life with James since a few weeks after I met him! I have been dreaming about my boys' futures since before they were a twinkle in my eye! And in James' eye. ;)

Do I stop dreaming? James and I have discussed how far removed we sometimes feel from our own thoughts. Its as though we are standing in a parking lot, thinking. A thought like the one I just wrote comes up, "Do I stop dreaming?". Then I step out of my own body momentarily to say to myself, "Of course not, that would be losing faith." But then I step out of that second body into a third person and that person says, "But James still has a future, do you expect him not to think about what life changes he will go through if you die?" Fourth person, "No, I want him to be honest with me and I am glad that he is." Fifth person, "So what is he supposed to do with you in the meantime? How do you express these feelings to him without laying a huge burden on him of not knowing how to respond?" Sixth person, "Yes, what do you have to offer to your husband except pain and a burning shell?" Seventh person, "But I know that God has given us something unique and special through all of this, and I KNOW that he is not just telling us to watch my library burn."

And on it goes... James and I have started referring to these types of mental dialogues as getting together with our 35 closest friends, the ones who are always willing to pull their van into the parking lot of our minds and step out one by one to have a good debate. Before you know it, you are surrounded, exhausted and defeated! We have also compared it to us sitting around with these 35 closest friends, floating on driftwood and discussing again and again how exactly it was that your ship just went down. You don't really want to keep talking about it, but you're still floating on driftwood and it seems like not talking about the ship wreck is pretending that something serious did NOT just happen.

Today after our afternoon slime fest, James had to run some errands (surprise, surprise) and I was waiting in the car for him. I had the heaviest weight like a blanket resting on me and all I could do was trickle tears. I didn't want to sob or cry, I just wanted to detach myself. I am so glad that James and I talk about these things, but what on earth do you do with it afterwords? After all of that slime gushing everywhere, its all the eye can see.

I am starting to learn that after these sessions, I don't know how to pray for myself. After all, I spend all of my time in my mind. But then it occured to me that James probably feels the same way and he doesn't know how to pray for himself either. I need to pray for him, because there is only one person I know, who knows exactly what James needs and that is Jesus. Jesus knows what to do with slime, no matter how much of it there is and how much surface it covers and how it won't stop coming.

This evening we went for a walk. It was so open, it was so comfortable. We had no sense of underlying discomfort. We laughed, we joked. What a strange life. Was this afternoon worth it? Sometimes it's a little too raw to say. But Jesus has shown himself to be faithful again. Lets see what happens tomorrow...


Carly Campbell said...

God bless you. I am praying for you all. May He wrap you in His comforting embrace. Thank you for sharing, it is humbling and a blessing.

Larissa said...

Jess thank you for your honesty and openness! What an encouragement you can be to others in your desire to be honest. And it is also nice to see you still have a sense of humor, too. :)
Praying for you.

Eileen said...

Hello Jessica and James, Jessica - I am a friend of Carol and knew James from a baby. As a toddler our kids used to give him rides on our 'Deanmobile' - a contraption we had put together from old bikes etc. We have pictures and yes, James - you did have wonderfully full lips like your Mum even then!
John and I have been reading your blog and found your honesty, courage, humour, your grasp of theology, your acceptance and faith in God very inspiring. We also love the pictures you are posting.It's a tough road and we are praying very much for you. I read today in Psalm 93:3and4 and thought of you and hope it may be an encouragement.
love, Eileen Dean