November 23, 2010

Drama Queen

I hardly know how to put to words what is inside of me. I know that I can't express it verbally. People ask me how I am doing and I open my mouth wanting to say what's inside, but the only thing that comes out are reassurances. The truth is that I'm suffocating, but I have no idea how to say it. Something broke in me a few days ago. The dam of discontent came crashing down and I am now churning around in the foamy waters. Very dramatic I know, and somewhat humiliating to know that people who know me are reading this. But I have to write it, because it doesn't work when I try to say it.

Regardless of what I know to be true, I continue to measure my value by what I am doing (or not doing). I long to be a part of the world again, but since I have nothing to do but stay at home, I find myself curling up into a tiny hard ball - away from people, and away from myself. I want to cry but my eyes are dry. Dear God what happened to my life! I don't want to be hard! I don't want to be a basket case! I feel like I'd be happy if I was doing something, but maybe I'm just fooling myself. Apparently I've got years ahead of me... is this really what I am going to do? Nothing?

I can't say what I want to say, so here it is in writing, because I don't want to become a recluse. I feel like I am drowning. Please pray for me. Something has to give.

November 20, 2010

A Still Small Wind

Over the last few weeks I've felt myself slip into a sense of apathy. Nothing really seems to phase me, but not much touches me either. I'm not restless as I pass through my uneventful days, but I'm not rested either. I'm not unhappy, but I'm not happy either. If I feel anything, its irritation at the idea of living like this for a long time when I know that I am capable of more.

I've thought for awhile that I should be taking this opportunity to read my Bible more, but something in me has rebelled against that idea until now. Today, I suddenly realized that I am slowly but surely withering, in front of my own eyes. So I went to my Bible and I started to read.

The first thing I read was in Luke 14:7-11. Here Jesus teaches about humility, saying that when you are invited to a feast you should not presume to sit in a seat of honor. After all, someone else might come who is more important than you are, and in front of all the guests you will be asked to move to make room for the more important guest. Instead, Jesus suggests that you arrive at a feast, you should immediately take the lowest seat possible. That way, when your host sees that you have taken a humble seat, they will protest, and lead you to a seat of greater honor.

I have read this many times before, but something about it struck me today as being very crafty, almost too crafty. Its like this reverse psychology thing where someone pretends to be humble in order that they may actually be exalted. But then again, it was said by Jesus, so there must be some merit to it. For me, I think it means humbly accepting the low seat I'm in, instead of thinking about the seat that I "deserve" to be sitting in. I don't deserve anything, not even what I do have. Yes, as Christians we have access to all the promises of God, and we should ask him for all the desires of our heart. But it is not very humble to tell God exactly what he should give us and how he should go about doing it.

Rather than be a proud bumbling idiot, I think I'd rather take my humble seat and wait for God to say to me, "Friend, we have a better place than this for you!" and guide me to the place where he wants me to be. It is crafty, but really at the heart of it is a high level of trust in God. It is trusting that he is not going to leave me in the low humble seat, and that he knows best which seat to move me to. I may not be moved to THE seat of honor, but perhaps there will be really interesting people to talk to at that seat.

I have mentioned before that I am in a place of silence right now, and that it is a good thing to wait for God in silence. I was thinking some more about this today, and I suddenly remembered the story where God tells Elijah to go out and stand on a mountain and wait for God to speak. Suddenly a a huge windstorm comes up and blows so terribly that it tears rocks loose from the mountain. But God does not speak in the windstorm. Then there is a terrible earthquake, but again, God does not speak in the earthquake. After that there is a great fire that consumes the mountain, but God does not speak in the fire. After all of that chaos, there comes a soft, quiet wind, and then Elijah hears him speak.

In the last few months I feel like we've experienced our share of loud chaotic disasters; windstorms, fires, and earthquakes. In all of these I have tried to scream above the din and ask God to speak. It seems like God SHOULD speak in the middle of earthquakes, fires and windstorms. It seems like the most natural time for God to speak because it seems like it would be the best time to REALLY show his power. But maybe he doesn't speak then because he knows that we wouldn't properly hear amidst all the noise. Maybe he waits for the silence when we are no longer fighting, because he knows that's when we'll actually hear.

Right now I am quiet verging on despondence and there are very few large and important plans in my mind. So today when I read my Bible, I finally heard that sweet voice and it made me want to weep. He told me that he's heard my screaming and my crying, seen my faith and my trust. He said that its been a been a beautiful and fragrant offering in his eyes. He told me that there is more in store for me than I would expect, but now is the time to be quiet.

It is simultaneously not much and yet much more than I expected, but its all I need for now. More will come when I need it. I think that embracing this time will lead to a lot of growth and some much needed follow up to a season of chaos.

Thats all for now

November 13, 2010

Murder Mystery!

This evening, James and I sent out the following letter to some friends and immediate family.

Sir James Basswood Yaardley III, 9th Earl of Hampshire, empowered to speak on behalf of her Imperial Majesty, the Queen Empress Victoria,

Shanghai, November 13, 1880

Dear Respected Person,

A tragic and horrifying event has taken place at the St.Joseph’s Mission in the village of Xiao Dongxi, Zhejiang Province. A priest was found brutally murdered. With regards to the investigation of this incident, you have certain personal vested interests in seeing that the matter is settled “properly”.

This incident has led to grave and exaggerated misunderstandings between the Majestic British Empire and the Imperial Qing Court of China.

In the interest of preventing war and promoting peace and international goodwill, I, James Basswood Yaardley, have been sent to Shanghai to investigate this atrocious event. You, Honoured Person, are invited to attend a dinner party on Her Majesty’s own yacht on the night of December 31. 2010, beginning promptly at 9:30 pm.

Refusing to attend will cast immediate suspicion on your person, and on your ancestors for generations to come. Please confirm that you will be in attendance with my dear wife, Baroness Hedwig of Bremerhaven, at your earliest possible convenience. You will be briefed as to how your are connected to this crime within two weeks before the dinner.

Most Respectfully Yours,

Sir James Basswood Yaardley III, 9th Earl of Hampshire

That's right! James and I are writing a murder mystery for New Year's Eve. So far we are having a darn good time of making it up! The plot is very mysterious indeed and we have a wide spread of characters. If we could, we would invite more people, however it is already very complex to write a plot for 15 people!

Here's a little taste of our characters! We have a Cardinal sent by the Vatican to investigate the incident. We have a traditional Chinese doctor. We have a Formosan pirate. We have a US Martial. We have a Taoist monk, a peasant washer woman, an American opera singer, and even the Empress Dowager of China herself!

Who done it?

November 12, 2010

Angry

For those who continue to read this blog, I'm sure you have noticed my dwindling number of posts. There are two reasons for this. One is that I'm turning into a hermit. Both in blogging and in real life I find myself withdrawing from people. Either I don't want to be around them, or I am silent when I am with them. This has nothing to do with who I'm with, and everything to do with me.

Another reason I have not been blogging much is that my thoughts have taken an increasingly negative turn and I have not wanted to put those up here. But really that is a somewhat hypocritical thing for me to do. At the beginning of all this I said that the reason I wanted to blog was to chronicle this journey that I am on, honestly expressing everything I experience. Apparently that is easier for me to do when I am talking about what it means to have faith, rather than now when I am angry and irritable.

Lately, I've been more prone to picking and choosing what I want people to know. This bothers me a lot. It is only one of many ways that I have seen myself withdrawing from people, turning inward and away. I have always been an open person, excited to meet new people, easily cheered up when down, etc. But now I hate meeting new people. My chemo cap gives me away. Most people are pretty good at masking their surprise after the initial curious look, but I imagine during the rest of the interaction that they they are burning with curiosity to know what is wrong with me. The thought of socializing makes me cringe. I feel like I am walking around with my hands clenched shut - and I hate that feeling, like I'm closing myself to the world.

Remember back when I wrote about Fiery Darts and Faith (Sept25)? I wrote about a hard realization I'd had that much of my faith until that time had been built on my good circumstances rather than on God, and that the stripping of my circumstances made me feel groundless. Well, I see now that another thing I have had faith in is my own good nature. "I'm a happy person, easy to get along with, people like me, of course God Loves me etc." But in the last while my good nature has also gone to the wind. I'm cranky and I complain a lot in my head. ("I hate being back on chemo. I'm so weak. I'm so breathless. I spend all my time sleeping. I'm always freezing. This sucks. My life is pointless. I don't want to talk to that person."

With my good nature stripped away it is hard for me to believe that any person, let alone God loves me. Yet another layer of the onion that is me peeled away.

All I see in me right now is ugliness and pointlessness, but regardless of that, I want to share myself openly both with you and with God. Why? Because I do not want to walk around with my hands in fists. I want my hands to be open. But they won't be open if I am trying to hide my ugliness. People will never know what is inside of me if I don't show them. And if they don't know what is inside of me, they won't be able to relate to me. If people can't relate to me... well, then I will be a lonely person.

Yes, I am back on chemo now and it is pure joy (let the sarcasm flow!). It is only for five days, but it is an increased dosage. I haven't been able to eat but that hasn't stopped my stomach from regurgitating bile. I am always freezing, regardless of how many blankets and layers I wear and my attitude SUCKS! I feel like throwing things. Two more days.

For those of you who feel that I have been denying myself by not being angry... here you go. I'm angry. Not at anything in particular... just angry.

November 09, 2010

It is Good

As things have regulated and after I got the doctor's prognosis last week, I have had a certain concept in my mind. It makes its appearance in Lamentations 3 scattered amidst a cluster of verses.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust - there may yet be hope.

Later it says, "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone."

I felt a lot of discontent after I wrote the last blog entry. Something about it really bothered me. I felt like I had betrayed something in myself. The Doctor told me that I can have my life back and my instinct was to then go and look for a new life instead of waiting and trusting.

Just because I have "time" now, doesn't mean that I should go about trying to fill it up. What is the purpose of that? It my time fills up naturally and I can handle it, then that is okay. However I don't want to go looking for things to do, even if they seem like really good things. For example, a really "good" way for me to spend my time would be visiting hospital patients. But even the thought of that makes me tired, because my heart would not be in it.

I think that this is a time where God has called me to wait and to be patient, to be silent. Not a depressed silence, but an accepting silence. I don't want to just resign myself to this season of silence and less stimulation than I am used to. I want to accept it gracefully, and wait for the hand of God to make whatever changes he wants to make in me.

These verses above say that it is a good thing to wait for God in silence when we are young and that God even lays periods of silence upon us. The problem is that we young'uns really like to be busy! Who has time to wait? If serious constraints are laid on us, then we think we ought to resent them.

Instead of filling my time (just for the sake of it) and ruining the silence in which God speaks, I want to wait and see what he says. I believe he knows the desires of my heart and knows what kinds of ways I would like to spend my time, what kind of work I would like to do. But if I rush into something, I'll miss out on the silence.

This isn't to say that I would turn down great job opportunities or meaningful ways to spend my time now. But it is to say that I want to embrace the silence, however long or short it lasts. As to how to spend my time or what work to do... we'll look at each opportunity as they arise.

As a last note, I suspect that this posting is a little convoluted and difficult to follow. I apologize!

November 05, 2010

My Life - Handed Back on a Platter

I had another doctor's visit today in which my life for the next two years was outlined for me - five days of chemo per month for the next two years and an MRI every three months. Fairly noninvasive. We won't know anything more about the nature of my tumor until we have had several of those MRI's As for the rest of it... "Don't worry about it!" says my doctor. Resume normal life! No need for constant supervision! Yes of course you can fly on an airplane by yourself!

Of course this is good news, but it does leave me feeling a little lost. Resume my life after so many months of being told to take precautions? The life I had before this doesn't really exist anymore. I can't resume that life, as ideal and pleasant as it was. Truth be told, I'm puzzled and a little angry to be told to resume life after the roller coaster we've been on.

I am very seriously considering looking for some type of paid employment, but I'm not sure what is open to me. "Having my life back" brings up more questions than answers, and I find myself more anxious than I have been for weeks. Its not that I enjoyed being an "invalid", but at least then I knew which doors were open and which ones were closed. I suppose it is easy to put your faith in "knowing", even if that knowledge is not very good. I suppose I just need to get used to the fact that I will never "know", and put my faith in God... yet again.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.