I realize I have not published anything in over a month; this does not mean that I have not been writing. I guess what I have been writing has been pretty personal, pretty raw. Last night, I decided to let it out and just upload it here for no other reason than to just share a little of my heart with the world. I realize it doesn't make much sense and my thoughts seem scattered, but they are what they are--very real.
Too often in my life, I have responded to the question of pain with a rather cliche answer that I may have believed in my head, but perhaps never truly felt in my heart. "God is good," I would tell myself... "He will never bring me more than I can handle." Throughout these past few months, I have been bombarded with statements such as, "God has a plan for you, Shelly" and "He will bring beauty from your pain." While somewhere in my mind I knew that what these people were saying was true, I couldn't quite seem to reconcile such statements with my present feelings of abandonment, pain, and even hopelessness. The questions kept me tossing and turning:
Where is God when all is lost?
Where is God when it hurts?
Where is God when the unthinkable happens?
Where is God when you don't know what to do?
Where is God when you don't have the answers?
Where is God when your world falls apart?
Where is God when you are tired of playing a part?
Where is God when you are tired of religion?
Where is He?
Is He here, in this 'mess' that we call life, a world that is filled with pain and suffering? Is He here when those we trust and love turn their backs on us? Is He here when we have no where to turn and find ourselves flat on our faces, poor and weary? Where is He?
What about when we don't 'feel it?' What about when we feel like everything has been a lie and we are tired of playing a part? What are we supposed to do then? Do we keep playing along, saying all the right things and communicating to everyone around us that we are holding on and doing ok?
Perhaps tonight I realize the weight of all that has struck me over this past year: what it means to experience loss, what it means to leave a life behind, what it means to watch everything that was once a dream turn into a complete nightmare and leave your heart with a scar that can never be fully healed. The truth is, I don't know how I have held on for so long. I am realizing today that such experiences cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot, leave you unchanged. When your world has been turned upside down, there is no possible way that the course of your life and your entire outlook is not drastically affected. I don't know, I guess I thought somehow that I could continue as I was, sad in the silence yet 'moving forward' when all eyes were on me. Truth is, I just don't have it in me... my hope to press on as I was has come and gone, and at times I question if it will ever return.
And, in the silence, I question... Where do I go from here? Do I 'press on' as if I still believe? As if I can package all of these feelings in a pretty little box and stand before God, confident that He will just take them all away and replace them with something beautiful? I am taught that then, and only then, can I press on and be the woman God has created me to be. Really? Do I really believe that? These feelings are very real and very raw; I am left to deal with them every single day and if I had to guess, most people in our common Christian circles wouldn't know what to do with some of the things I am experiencing. I have no facaded smile or glimmer in my eye that whispers to the world that everything is going to be okay in the end. Perhaps I am writing tonight to simply be real with myself for the first time in a very long time. Life is a mess, and yet at the same time, deep down I am confident that I cannot stray from God's love. I will not say that I 'understand' what the future holds or that I can muster some hope for what may come, however I do realize that I am on a journey towards something that is going to change me in a significant way. I may not see it for a very long time and in fact, I may never see it... all I have are entries like these to remind me exactly where I was in this part of my story, the story that is making me more of who I was created to be.
This moment is bitter sweet, for I know I would not be here in Ecuador if such experiences were not a part of my story. Sometimes when it is quiet, I try to understand what in the world I was thinking when I made the decision to come here. You see, I love Ecuador and at the same time, I hate it with everything that is inside me. I hate it because it is a place that demands that I grow; it demands that I stand face to face with heart-wrenching questions. It demands that I rid myself of the fears crippling my heart and at least open my eyes to even the smallest glimmer of hope to move forward. The experiences it brings me scream loud and clear that I cannot remain as I am; they pour salt onto my wounds and tell me that I must adapt, I must grow, I must change, I must find the beauty in the ashes that remain.
Truth is, I don't have a clue why I am here and why I feel the way I do right now. I am simply living and trying to understand the depth of all of this. I have no wisdom to offer about the pain of suffering and loss, for when I open my eyes I realize more than ever that I am standing in the midst of it. Perhaps that is where I need to be... realizing that I do not have the answers and accepting my feelings for what they are -- very messy, and very real. They may not 'fit' with what one would expect a 'God-fearing woman' to say or think, however I don't really think God wants us to hide who we are or what we are feeling. I have found in my life that I feel most refreshed when I hear someone say something that I myself was too afraid to let come out. Somewhere in the confines of religion and rules, we have lost our genuineness; we have lost our emotions, and even more so, we have lost our ability to truly feel.
We must embrace every step of the way--sometimes we have hope, and other times we don't. Sometimes we cannot see Him, and other times we could not deny His presence if we tried. Sometimes, just sometimes, we are filled with emotions that we cannot explain... we search for an anchor, and find ourselves falling to the bottom of the ocean floor. Sometimes it is there, and only there, that we can make sense of all that makes us who we are. Maybe someday I will find the strength to lift myself from this place with enough faith to move in some direction, any direction, that will change what has been.
Until then, here I remain... accepting moments like this one, no matter how messy, no matter how undelightful, no matter how painful...for they are the pieces of my story that make me who I am, and someday, will be a part of the story of how God made me who I was supposed to be...