Living the Life One Doesn’t Select


I’m taking a little personal time off today for a haircut and some relaxation. Too many busy days in a row have taken a toll and I need a break. I’ve got bruises all over from moving boxes and furniture around, tripping over stuff, and dropping things on my feet and ankles, etc.  But I have wounds upon my spirit, too.  I can feel the fraying at the edge of the fabric of my soul that requires time and attention to be re-knit together by the One Who Knitted me originally in the womb.   Whoo-eeeee! My body and soul need a rest. As the day progressed, I came to realize just how badly I needed that rest and what God had prepared for my day.

Tonight I’m listening to recorded sessions from a church conference in Alabama that I had signed up to join in virtual space on Saturday.  The conference speaker, a Christian psychiatrist who writes and teaches about the science of neurobiology, neuroplasticity, and its interpersonal applications.  Dr. Curt Thompson, is talking about the Science of Wholeness. Reflecting on Hebrews 12:1-2  he says, “We need to be careful about the shriveling of our imaginations…. We have to dig into the scriptures and I want us to consider that what we are doing is an early exercise…… to create beauty and goodness in the world……Who makes up your cloud of witnesses, who are the people that literally bear witness to your life?  I want to suggest that the writer is understanding this to be a requirement for us to live.  This is the way it is.  We are surrounded by clouds of witness.  And I also want to immediately turn to the science of attachment and suggest we flourish in the presence of other minds.  I address the brokenness in my life in the presence of other people who are being the Body of Christ, the cloud of witnesses, who are bearing witness, asking good questions, who are offering suggesting good reflections, who are setting limits, who are not turning aside when the worst parts of me are on display.  We can know God because we have the experience of being known by him in a merciful and compassionate way.  We cannot do that if we are not known and being known in community doing the hard work of asking questions…… Life is not to be lived alone in the privacy of my own body, in my own mind.  We are meant to be part of a community that bears witness to my life, and I bear witness to theirs.  As an interesting side note, they don’t all have to be people that we like a great deal, just so you know…… (How and by whom are you “knowing and being known.”)…..  All sin begins with distraction.  All sin begins with a shift in direction of our attention.  What we pay attention to is what we remember and what we remember becomes our anticipated future….How well am I paying attention to what I’m paying attention to?  The writer is clear, “we must throw it off.”  I commend this series of three lectures and the three Q&A sessions.  The Science of Hope, The Science of Brokenness, and the Science of Wholeness, and especially the last one!  Go to Hope Hull United Methodist Church and watch the conference on The Science of Spiritual Formation vimeo recordings.  The guest code for viewing is HHUMC2021.

You, Readers, are part of my cloud of witnesses. I write as part of my call to the practice of living in confessional community- to know and be known, to love and be loved, to admonish and be admonished, to celebrate and be celebrated, to serve and be served.

Walking through our mostly empty home on Deerpoint Lake this morning, getting it ready to turn over to a new family, and trying to adapt to new quarters over the last five days with anxious pets have left me feeling very vulnerable and sad today. It’s like the closing of one more door on something precious. But I can’t remain tethered to the past. There would never be a good or easy time to move on. I have to continue my own journey now. God put discontent in my heart all of a sudden a few months ago to move. And as uncomfortable as those weeks were of praying and considering what to do, I know it has been the right decision, for many reasons, not the least of which has been the affirmation received from close family, friends, and advisors. I’m trusting God with each day. Some are just a little harder to walk out than others.

In the last week I was having to change profile info in several places online with the new address. While I was doing profile changes I looked at “married” and wondered, “what do I do with this?” I went to FB and looked at some others who’ve become widowed in the last year and the ones I checked had all changed status to widowed. I sighed and figured I have to embrace this reality, too. Life can be a hard taskmaster in demanding that one face the truth of her circumstances. The Lord knows I have had to be the one bringing that difficult message to some through the years. I am not exempt from preferring to live how I want life to be…… even if it is not truly how it is. The one consolation in this status change is how often God gives strict instruction to his people to care for widows and orphans. I’ve never thought of either as a “preferred” demographic, but clearly God has a soft spot for both……. and I am most grateful for God’s concern for those of us in these circumstances.

I enjoyed restful time with a friend as she ministered to me with her gift of crafting order out of chaotic strands of unruly hair, talking freely about her life and giving me the safety to do the same. I enjoyed a favorite pizza on a day declared “pizza day” by some, according to chat on the local Christian radio station.  I made choices about final things to take or leave behind.  I splurged on a specialty decaf coffee and ended the day with leftover spaghetti (one of my favorite foods) made for me by my sister this weekend and tried out a new heated foot and neck/shoulder massager to which she introduced me.  As I close out a day of intentionally going through the motions of self-care in pursuit of comfort-sharing, healing, and restoration, I choose to shift my gaze from the place and presence of then and there to the place and presence of now and here.

As a final gift of the day I stand and listen at the door of my new home.  How else would one welcome guests to Grand Falls Lane but with a waterfall! The waterfall may not be all that grand, but the fact that its abode is all ours- mine, our pets’, The Lord’s, and Bill’s- and is free and clear, is pretty grand, thanks to the love and wisdom of my partner of 48 years! I know both God and Bill have got their eye on me and their hearts are feeling my peace. A sense of security and peace, however, have not stopped the tears sliding down my cheeks today.  I head off to bed, awaiting the freshness of God’s mercy that I can inevitably find anew every morning.

And so, at the end of this day the tissue box is empty, the tears are drained away, the weariness is no longer a source of anxiety-edged action to seek comfort, but is permission to enter into the rest of a new day, also free and clear of the encumbrances that weighed me down as I continue to run the race with perseverance, sustained by the strength of the Lord.