It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reflections of a 50 year old (part 1)

I dreaded this. You have no idea - really you don't. I don't know that there was ever a person who dreaded turning 50 more than me. Well, maybe a movie star here or there who like me felt that her best days were behind her and there'd be little left of her life to really enjoy.

I don't feel like there's little life left for me to enjoy. I do feel like I won't recognize it when I see it. I wonder if I've ever really enjoyed my life. I question that because as I reflect my memories are rarely happy ones. I remember disappointing people, disappointing myself, failing to see great things for what they were and therefore missing out on something wonderful. I think back to times when I should have been frivolous just for the sake of making memories but allowed myself to be held back by someone or something. I dwell constantly on whether I made choices because they were the best for me (or so I thought) at the time or whether I really believed they were the best for everyone else.

I know I have missed out on a lot. I know it because I haven't used the word fun to describe anything about my daily existence in so many years I cannot remember actually saying "That was fun"

It's possible that my definition is just too severe. I know that I have vastly different definitions of certain words than most do. Usually I attribute that to my complete faith in the sovereign will of God. A word like "crisis" for example, used to describe everything from imminent war to Obama's hangnail in the media these days, has a completely different meaning to me. My definition is far closer to the actual one. I may have thought I had a crisis twice in my life. One of those was when we discovered our daughter was going to die at birth. Even then, looking back, I'm not sure I saw that as a true crisis. After all, it wasn't like God wasn't in control. Honestly, if one really believes in the depth of her being that God really is in control is anything a crisis?

That my friends, is the root of my problem. I realized something about myself almost 16 years ago now and I have found that it's negatively affected every aspect of my life. However, it's part of who I am and I cannot disown it, disavow it, or discharge it.

I am.... The Queen of Sovereignty.

You've never heard of that position before? Well, if it's ever been held by anyone in the past, they have probably worked very hard to keep it a secret. I am not sure I share the title with anyone these days, but I may. They, obviously, have chosen to hide it themselves. Or, if they were lucky, they were able to discard it before it took hold too deeply in their being.

Of course I have coined that title myself. It may be known by another name.

This title comes with quite a bit of inheritance. You'd think knowing that, I'd be psyched about it. After all, who doesn't want an inheritance? How many of you have ever thought of an inheritance as being a burden?

Thanks to my pedigree, I am a Calvinist. There is no other option. I don't mind being a Calvinist. Actually I don't ever battle with myself over that issue. This is one part, maybe the only part, that I don't feel is a burden to me but it is a great burden to most of my friends. Being a Calvinist in a Southern Baptist Church is difficult at best. I have found that there are just some conversations I cannot have, with anyone, it's sorta sad.

I lack appropriate compassion. Well, maybe I don't. I probably really have more than appropriate compassion, my brain just gets in the way of knowing how to express it. I have had this problem for a long time. I want to say, for all of my adult life. I think that is so because I have been a believer for my entire adult life and once I trusted my salvation to God, I assumed I could completely trust everything else to Him to. I think this is why my definition of crisis is so extreme. If God is in control, if I really trust Him in the midst of every circumstance, if I believe that He has allowed something good or bad into my life... then why should I fret? Why should I fall apart? Why should I handle any of it in a negative way?

Well, because I am human, because things are sad, because tragedies call for tears, they call for sadness, they call for aching hearts that can't be soothed - at least for awhile. But see, that's just the point... that is my burden... I can see that for so many, I can't allow it for myself.

But here's the rub. It's not because I think I am better than anyone that has fallen apart when tragedy strikes. It would be like me thinking I'm better because you drink out of a water fountain with your mouth and I use my nose. It's pure idiocy. It's my burden because I cannot overcome what I know is inappropriate for that which is appropriate. My brain has the key to my heart and it's not unlocking it anytime soon. That's also why I struggle with empathizing. It's not that I don't feel your pain, understand your grief, or desperately want to hold you while you cry. I am there, right there with you, I really am. But when it's time I want to say something profound, something I am sure will make all the difference in how you perceive your circumstances. I want to say to you what my brain says to me when I am in a place of hurt.

And every time I open my mouth I stop the words. I stop them because they aren't words that will help. They are truth, yes. They aren't words that will help. There are no words that will help. I know that. So I freeze. I either just stare at you, or I ask what I can do... I can run errands, I can watch kids, I can wash clothes, I can clean a house. What I can't do is hold you while you cry because if I do, I will end up saying something like Romans 8:28.

Do you know how much you have to keep inside when you are the Queen of Sovereignty? That realization was what made me realize my lineage and understand what I was stuck with. It also helped me understand myself a little better though.

It was almost 17 years ago, in Charleston, SC that Michael and I buried our oldest daughter and third child, Rebekah Joy. I think most people that knew us then would say that in the midst of tragedy we managed to muddle through exceedingly well. They'd be right. It was completely genuine. We didn't try to pretend to be people that we weren't. We saw God's hand in everything and He held us closely the whole way through. We ended that experience in victory and have, to this day, an amazing testimony of His Greatness to show for it all.

Within 6 months of that tragedy Michael was at the FBI academy while I stayed home with 2 boys alone  for a little over 4 months. I met each day with enthusiasm and each night with exhaustion but never really slept. Then one day, I got a phone call. Michael told me that he had injured himself and it may be serious enough that it would prevent him from graduating.

I collapsed in tears... oh, of course not until AFTER he hung up the phone. I was inconsolable. I probably cried for hours. Obviously the boys were in bed because I'd never let them see me like that. I cried and cried and cried. Why? after all, I just buried my daughter. This was nothing compared to that.

It was at that moment that I realized I had just been crowned. How could I ever share my honest concerns about having to live through another 4 months of the FBI academy while Michael got recycled? After all, I spent months telling people in testimony after testimony of God's grace and sufficiency in the midst of such sadness. I championed His Sovereign Will in our lives and explained how THAT alone was what enabled me to move beyond the sadness.

HOW could I possibly speak to ANYONE about my concern, my worry, my fear that I would have to manage another 4 months as a single mother? Where was my faith?

It was at that moment that I said to myself "You are the Queen of Sovereignty, you have to wear the crown." I think that at that moment I could have rejected the crown. I really think I could have, but I didn't. Once I accepted it, there was no turning back.

So many of my reflections are what they are because of my royal position. Unlike real royalty, I am not sure there is a way to lose the crown. There are just some things that are so much a part of who I am that the best I can do is to recognize when it is standing in the way and try my best to work around it.

I do have some hesitations about writing this "series". I really don't even know what will come of it. I am, however, struggling with being 50. I am thinking that maybe, if I can put it in writing - my thoughts, my feelings - and share it with a few I might be able to make sense of it all.

I'm 4 days away from meeting one of God's most precious gifts to me for the weekend. She is a couple years older than I am and is taking her aging by storm. She insists that she's not bothered by it and is living her life with joy and enthusiasm. The timing isn't lost on me.

After all... I am the Queen.