Down for the Count Up, 4

FOURS, OCTOBER 5, 2010

Who decided to measure significance in fours?

Scholarly times, significant times, self discovery and soul expansion; whether we realized it or not.

First year scared, uncertain, going through the motions and just trying to keep up. We don’t think about seniors because it’s unimaginable that we will ever be them.

Second year more comfortable, finding routines to follow, not so much worried about being lost, we know our place, for now. 

Third year holding our own, established, feet planted firmly in ownership of our roles, noticing a new class of freshmen.

Fourth year – accomplishment, realized a pinnacle, and confidently measured our success and scholarship.
Some of us went on to college and some of us decided not to take another quarter ride.

Widowhood is a lot like that.

First year scared, uncertain, go through the motions and just try and keep up. We don’t think about happy because it’s unimaginable that we will ever be that again.

Second year not so uncomfortable, not so much worried about being trampled by anniversary dates, holidays and every days since we’ve already been through a round of those. 

Third year it seems we’re holding our own, sort of established, feet planted firmly because we’re tired of change, noticing more freshman faces and wondering if they’ll survive.

Fourth year – taking careful measure of each minor success in our educational journey, we don’t really need to decide to go on pursue a higher education. It just comes with this particular type of scholarship; not exactly a free ride – this one comes with a moral obligation to guide, if we can. Some of us will decide we’ve learned enough. Some of us will seize the opportunity to further our education.

So here I am, four years later having completed a reluctantly personal four year scholarship to widowhood. Not a freshman, or a sophomore, not even a junior anymore: I’m a senior.

I’m sure I haven’t learned all the “alone” there is to know in the universe, but I’ve established a pretty firm, well-rounded foundation. I’m sure additional unanticipated lessons will come my way. Circumstances seem to dictate further education is in store. Never content standing still, I guess I’m headed into the college years now.

Maybe, after another 4, I might qualify for some sort of teaching certificate. Although after another 4, I will no longer be a “young” widow, so I’m not sure how much help I’ll be to the younger accidental scholars. On the other hand, I anticipate, not with happiness, that there will be more peer aged victims of the inevitable.

I keep coming back to the conclusion that timing is everything. So how we count it is important.

Whether it’s a four-year program, a five or eight year program or an accelerated path, time doesn’t change the way you hurt, it merely adjusts your tolerance for the pain and moves it towards a strange and previously unimaginable acceptance.

Down for the Count Up, 5

HOW DID I, OCTOBER 10, 2011

So, have you done it, recently? Have you asked yourself, “How did I get here?”

October 6, 2007, I was on my very first mission roll, far from home, in the company of 48 strangers, asking myself over and over, “How did I get here?”

Every year for the past five years, on October 6th, I ask myself this question again. And every year, the answer seems more and more obvious. If you would have told me 10 years ago today, October 6, 2001, on my wedding day, that I would be a Christian, I would have doubted it. If you had told me 5 years ago today, October 6, 2006, at my husband’s funeral, that I would survive, and my Christian faith would be stronger than ever, I would have doubted it. There is no doubt in my mind these days, yet every year on this particular day, I take stock. I do so in amazement, and marvel at how GOD has brought me to and brought me through. Joyfully, this year, HE has brought me to you. Whether after a long while we’ve crossed paths again or we’ve intersected for the very first time, we’re solidly on the same journey, and have been for quite a while.

Please know that today, I am praying for the safety of your heart and body. I am praying for your guidance to be strong and bright. I am praying that the life you are living, will become sustaining memories that hold you close, reminding you of hard times and sacrifice, of love and hope, and those you share each experience with. May the LORD bless and keep you, always.

Ephesians 3:17-19
Then He will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of God, though it is too great to fully understand, then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Down for the Count Up, 6

THAT’S THAT, OCTOBER 1, 2012

Just one day of slight ups and some surprisingly big downs. An attempt to turn things around in a way that would normally bring me down… hasn’t. I’m not as bothered by it as I have been in the past. In fact, my amusement is sickly amusing. Does that mean I am becoming heart-stronger or strongly heading back down the WTH aisle at the IDGAF store?

In spite of all that, I was ok today. Until I found out something that set me back a bit, or a whole lot, to be honest. I convinced myself that I would be ok coming home from Ireland. I didn’t realize how much stock I had put into one, single, solitary, all-focused, not entirely rational, and now non-existent path. Feeling quite foolish, disappointed, and totally without a direction to cast my hopes.

Sometimes GOD quietly closes a door for you. Sometimes HE slams it shut on the foot you’ve stubbornly been using to keep it propped open. I got slammed; a little harder and a little harder to take than my usual god-smack. Of course, I’d been pushing to keep it open. I can only shake my head and glance back over my shoulder. I should have realized it was too difficult an undertaking to be worthwhile.

I’d like to be able to blame the pain on someone else, but no one let me down. I let myself down in a zig-zag, running-after pattern I’ve followed before. You know when you know better and you just can’t stop yourself from bee-lining, full-stinger ready, just can’t avoid buzzing and trying and buzzing and trying and buzzing and trying, only to fail and fail and fail?

It seems now, that the truth blares out. I never had a chance, but still I believed. Stubbornness moves against us more than for us. 
Trying to divest myself of the very emotional investment I have made, chasing rainbows toward an always fictitious pot of gold. I would have done better counting shiny penny moments and tracking mini-triumphs.

It’s a painful blessing to bear: the resounding slam indicates without doubt – my plans were not GOD’s plan. When that happens, there’s nothing left to do, but thank GOD that your toes won’t be jammed up against that door anymore, pick up your heart, and limp off in a new direction. That’s that.

Down for the Count Up, 7

AT SEVEN, SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

At Seven:
It’s hard not to be bitter when something is taken away from you.
It’s even harder not to be bitter when someone is taken away from you.

Even though you know things were going to get worse; even when you know that all there was to look forward to was suffering. It doesn’t help at all when the truth is they’re in a better place. The reality does nothing but make me wonder if I would have been strong enough to carry on for however long the carrying on might have taken, and why I wasn’t given the chance to find out.

I’m so wrapped up it in; cocooned in the sacred wool of a spiritual blanket keeping my soul sufficiently warm, and mercilessly rashing my skin. It’s impossible to divide the blessing from the curse.
It’s hard not to be bitter when the most common roll of life’s dice is seven, and I keep coming up on the less common low end. The biblical significance of seven (in creation, in time, in color, in sound, in seas, in wonders; completeness) isn’t lost on me, but brings no comfort, either.

On the surface it seems like everyone is rolling lucky, though odds are it isn’t true. It’s best to pray through the distortion, and answer questions of true meaning. Would I want to be anyone else? The answer is more than just a reasonable “No, of course not.” Because “No,” in this case, really means to some extent I am satisfied. I’m self-accepting of permanent quirks, still annoyed with bad habits. I can’t do everything I want to do, but I can do some things and still somewhat responsibly make ends meet.

I still need to worry about the future, not obsessively, but practically, with GOD given logic, and an un-jaundiced eye to the world. The sevens are out there. I believe, so I keep looking.