As I read the words above from Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr, I think "Oh, thank God! There's hope for me yet!" I am trying to embrace my imperfections and look at them as a "clever place for God to hide holiness!"
I wish there was an easy way to do that, but unfortunately our own humanness seems to be a "fastpass" to imperfection. I just found myself in the midst of such a human moment as I ran through all of the things I need to do before the school year begins. As a teacher and mother of three young children, there's a lot on my "to do" list for August. In fact, there is so much to do, that I found myself overcome as I washed dishes the other night.
I could feel the emotions coming as I washed another glass (wondering why 5 people needed to use 12 classes in one day!) As I washed the multitude of glassware, I felt myself feeling resentful that I needed to wash the dishes in the first place. The broken dishwasher sits there on vacation while I wash and wash and wash. So, as I let the feelings of resentment enter into my moment, I began to let those feelings invite guests. All of a sudden, it wasn't about washing dishes at all, it was about the laundry I had to do and the lesson plans I had write; it was the school supplies to buy and the paperwork to fill out; it was the house to clean; It was....................................................
Well, it was everything! And then they came...the tears. What I initially started feeling (resentment over washing dishes) couldn't even be recognized. To quote country singer Miranda Lambert (I know from Richard Rohr to Miranda Lambert!) I had let the "crazy" in and allowed it to grow a life of it's own.
I know the emotion that makes me feel compassion for others and joy for life, is also the emotion that can take me down a very dark road. I beat cancer for heaven's sake, am I really crying over washing dishes? So, I have to STOP! Stop for a minute and get back to the dishes! In other words, remember what it was that first sparked the emotion and reclaim the path of imperfection.
I can't change my emotional make-up, nor would I! It's what makes me who I am (who God created me to be!) But, I can try to create balance in an otherwise unbalanced day! When I feel myself feeling overwhelmed, I know that I need to STOP and reassess where that emotion is coming from. Is it something I can do something about or do I need to accept the thing that makes me crazy and find peace with it.
Back to the other night. So, on the 8th glass, my husband came up and said "would you like me to jump in here and finish?" I guess watching his wife cry while washing dishes was too much for him to take. Letting him help (and then of course the trip for ice cream with the kids after) was the STOP I needed. I moment to step back and recognize that one of my imperfection is that I think I can do it all - and in that moment of imperfection - holiness stepped right in and took me for ice cream!
For those of you who are still here - it's like coming home! I hope to keep writing and finding new ways to celebrate each and every day!
I am Cancer Free and the sky is the limit(actually there are no limits)! I just had my four year check-up and things are awesome. Better yet, I feel awesome! I
t's taken some time to find my way back to this blog, but for anyone still out there - I am still living my joyful journey!
Stay Posted! The words are coming....
My love to all of you - Susan
It's been awhile, I know...But, I'm thrilled to step forward once again, in trust! thank you all for your support, prayers and love - We did it!
“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." - Isak Dinesen
The Celtic saints had a practice of setting out in coracles, small boats without oars, in complete trust. The idea is that God's will, in the form of water currents and wind, would lead them to the "place of their resurrection." In other words, they would be led to the place God needed them to rise up and serve those who needed them most.
Can you imagine stepping in a boat without oars and settling wherever the wind and currents lead you? On top of that, can you see yourself then getting out of the boat on new shores ready to serve in God's name?
We are all faced with moments that bring us face to face with the opportunity to "get in the boat." Sometimes we feel rooted in a strength that allows us to step in without question. More often we've got one foot in and one foot out! This is a more familiar image for me. We want to get in and move forward in trust, however... WOW, that is hard!
We want to see those shores that we will land on. We want to know how long we will be in this boat. We want to be assured that the sailing will be easy. These are our human demands, and we can't help but be governed by them. Or, can we?
Faith in the journey is fostered by first taking a step forward in trust. When we imagine ourselves getting in that boat and allowing God to lead us, it doesn't mean that we always feel completely confident and assured in our decision. Rather, we step in and trust that wherever we are led, God will provide us with what we need to handle those shores. The more we practice, "getting in the boat" the more we will experience God's presence on our journey.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt that I had been led to some rocky shores. I would have preferred a nice, white sandy beach aside calm waters. But, there is something along the rocky shores that needs me. This is my statement of trust. This is the belief that helps me get in this boat and be led...not easy, I know. The impossible is possible!
Probably the most difficult part of this journey is the fear that accompanies new terrain. The most repeated phrase in all of scripture is “be not afraid.” I don’t think this is a coincidence. God knows that our human nature is to fear. In one of my darkest moments along my journey with cancer, I could taste fear. I remember a night when I was up unable to sleep. I stared at a picture of my husband and three children. I thought about what my doctors had told me: 4 surgeries, 16 rounds of chemo, 28 days of radiation therapy and ten years of daily medications – and that was if everything went smoothly. The fear that ran through my body paralyzed me in that moment.
I went to the computer and read messages left for me on a Caringbridge website that a friend had created for me. With each message, I felt a bit of strength piercing through the fear. Next, I went to my email to respond to some messages. As I looked through my mail, a new message showed up in my inbox. It was 2am and my friend was emailing me. I emailed her back and said, “are you really up and emailing me or is this a delayed message?” I received a message back that said, “Call me on my cell phone.” That began an hour-long conversation that lessened the fear enough for me to get some sleep.
Sometimes fear is only relieved by the presence of others. There is a reason why community is so important in this life. When we can’t find the words or the strength to help ourselves, others can hold us up until we can. My fear didn’t completely go away. In fact, living with cancer means that fear will always poke its’ head in every now and then. I can move forward in trust because I can look back and know that in previous moments when I felt fear, I was ok. In these moments, I can open myself to those around me and say, “Will you walk with me in this moment?”
Are you being asked to climb aboard today? Can you trust that God will lead you to the shores that are meant for you? Can you put both feet in the boat?
Until next time, we take a sacred pause...
As a parent, it is a great privilege to "experience" life with my children. Their total abandonment in that moment at the ocean was something I envied. As a child, I too use to run to the ocean or our hometown lake and just jump in without giving it a second thought. But, now as an adult (a reasoning adult) I feel compelled to "test" the water before entering into it. I'm not sure when this change took place, but I know that it is a part of what happens to us as we approach events in our lives as adults.