Saturday, December 23, 2006

my own pursuit of happyness

“This part of my story is called: Fear.”

It is 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning and I am wide-awake. Given that I am not usually wide awake until about 9:30, preferably 11:00, I am not sure what to do with myself, let alone the stirring in the pit of my stomach. I rummage around our hotel room for paper and a pen, fortunate to find two measly sheets by the phone, and slip back into my space in the middle of the king-sized bed next to my sleeping husband, pulling the heavy duvet back up over my chilled legs. He moans softly as I turn on the light by my bedside. I begin to write anyway.

It is the writing that has caused this stirring—this inability to enjoy my Saturday morning without children in a bed large enough to have its own zip code. No—perhaps it is the movie that has caused the stirring, but the stirring is about the writing. Whatever the exact source of this tension, I don’t like it—especially when I could be sleeping. Especially when I could remain comfortable. I don’t like to be stirred. Like the meals in my crockpot after a day left alone on low, too much of one thing is stuck to the bottom and too much of another has risen to the surface. Do I stir it all back into the soup, or do I start skimming off the top and avoiding the bottom?

What makes a man with a high school education, barely getting by in his sales job, think he can be a stock broker just because he could go through a math book in a week as a child? What makes a mother of two in the “heart of America” with a zoo membership and a microvan think she has anything to say that could be of relevance to anyone just because a few people told her she could write? Better yet, what makes one act on it, boldly pursuing his dream, while the other sits on the couch at the end of the day staring at her laptop, paralyzed by fear and the excuse of busyness and the mundanity of her life?

In a scene that I overlooked until this early-morning moment of epiphany, Will Smith’s character boldly pitches himself and his product to a CEO way out of his league in the CEO’s private box at a 49ers game and is shot down for his inexperience. The disappointment is clear in his eyes, in the shrug in his shoulders as he leaves later that day, bone density scanner in hand, and walks several blocks to take the bus back to his hotel room from which he is about to be evicted, rendering him homeless. What I first saw in this scene was the failure, the rejection, the disappointment. Then I saw the determination to keep going. But it wasn’t until this morning that I finally saw the big picture.

Will’s character, “Chris,” met that afternoon at the football game several young, up-and-coming businessmen eager to invest in the exploding 80’s market. His pursuit of the big fish had resulted in failure, but in the end it reeled him in a large enough net full of smaller fish to procure him the coveted 1 in 20 position at Dean Whitter, which began his climb to success and wealth. Small fish, big picture. He got it. I haven’t. Yet.

Fear of rejection and a lack of faith in the bigger picture. That is what grips my stomach this morning, robbing me of precious time spent sleeping in. That and the knowledge that I need to either act on it or stop torturing myself with just talking about it. I’m really not too busy to do this—I’m just too chicken. And so it seems, like it or not, God has reached down in his divine wisdom and stirred the pot—all the dreams stuck to the bottom and all the fears skimming the top all mixed back up in one big, delicious scoop. The decision is now mine—do I serve up a dish while it’s ready, or will I inevitably let it settle again?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

more orifice issues

My ear hurts, I hear from the front foyer. My ear really hurts!!! He is crying, as he was most of the night. I cringe inwardly, knowing that I have a full day of clients ahead of me and I talk to my husband about taking him to the doctor's office. The details worked out, we go our separate ways with kisses and hugs and the drying of tears. Everything will be fine.

And yet there is a nagging... Two voices whisper in my ear. One is named guilt. It whispers things like, you should have caught this yesterday. How did you not see he had an ear infection? What kind of mom are you? I try my best to ignore it--after all, we've not had an ear infection in our home since my daughter got tubes over six and a half years ago. This is the first he has complained that his ear hurt. I could not have known. But you should have recognized it...

The second voice is named fear. It screams things like, what if you can't get him in to the doctor? What if his eardrum has ruptured? What if you have to take him to Urgent Care? To the Emergency Room? What if he misses his Christmas program on Thursday? Then, fear stops screaming and begins to whisper--icy cold breath on my neck that sends shivers down my spine. Thoughts I would never think on my own. Thoughts that make me crazy swirling around in my head until I know the answer and all is resolved.

Thoughts like, what if that little turkey stuck one of those tri-beads in his ear?!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

it's all in my head

I’ve been sick so often since my youngest child was born that I’m beginning to have to grasp at straws in order to look for the bright side of this situation. My latest attempt involves likening my spiritual life to a sinus infection. In it’s most basic form, the theology goes something like this: I’ve got so much gunk in my head, I can’t think straight. Therefore, I feel like crap. It ain’t Augustine, but it works for me at the moment.

The Word indicates often that the thought life is the root of much of our trouble. That being the case, I seem to have developed a rather insidious strain that is particularly resistant to antibiotics, and it is wrecking havoc with my health. I no sooner clear up the symptoms than another infection rears its ugly head and I am down again. I worry—about my weight, about my finances, about my children, about my relationship with God. The germ enters my system and before I know it fear, discontent, and entitlement are racing full-blown through my bloodstream. I am sick.

I want to get better. But I am powerless. There was an old commercial for some food product that urged us to Eat all you want, we’ll make more! I’m convinced whatever creates snot in our heads works for the same product label. Blow all you want, we’ll make more! I take my thoughts captive as often as I blow my nose, discarded Kleenex and thought-particles all over the nightstand and floor, but my head is still full of both. No amount of striving brings change without a healing agent at work in my head.

Saline rinses
, one person tells me. Oil of oregano capsules, says another. Echinacea, vitamin C, zinc lozenges, Airborne, mushrooms— I’ve tried them all. Nothing gets to the root of the infection. Bible reading plans, journaling, memorization, fasting, prayer—I’ve tried them all. Nothing gets to the root of the infection. I’ve got to try harder, I tell myself. The answer is out there somewhere, preferably in a conveniently-packaged pill form—that is the promise, is it not? Take this, you’ll feel better. But I’m not feeling better, and I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Finally at the end of myself and my medicine chest, I invite the Holy Spirit to do what only He can—to heal my weary head. I implore Him to clear out all that is not of Him and restore right thinking, clear breathing, proper functioning, and overall health. Bring healing where my best efforts have failed. Enable me to breathe again. I’m tired of sitting on the couch with a box of Kleenex—I want to get on with my life and stop blowing my nose. I am ready, Lord. It’s time to clear my head.