Sunday, October 28, 2012

how my mother-in-law ruined my life

I mean, did October really have to come with a bulldozer and bury me alive? Sheesh!  I was doing really well as a single mom until Quinn's fall break and a visit from my mother-in-law completely unhinged me.  Now, I know that the phrase "mother-in-law" is almost universally negative because of cultural stereotypes, but I happen to love mine.  She cooks, she cleans, she spoils Quinn but still enforces basic manners, and she made my life much easier during Quinn's fall break the first week of October.  I got to wake up at a reasonable hour, leave for work early, get things done, work out, attend an event on a school night by myself, not do the dishes and find them magically cleaned the next morning, not make the final round to shut things down every night.  All the things you get to do without thinking about them when you have a husband, but none of which you get to do as a single mom.

And then she left.  That's how she ruined my life.

Because I remembered all the selfish reasons I miss Emmett.  Apparently so did Quinn.  He's been dreaming about his dad and asking for pictures and stories.  Add to that Emmett's birthday, which was  yesterday, and we've both pretty much been basket cases all month.

Two days ago Quinn and I went to bed at 7 pm.  Yes, 7 pm.  Now I'm pretty sure I even broke my own record for early bedtime that night because I was asleep by 7:30.  On top of just not being able to get my act together this month, this week has been particularly tough on multiple levels.  A student lost her mom this week and Quinn broke his arm.  So as I crawled in bed Friday night I prayed one of those wordless prayers that come out when you get way down to the bottom of your soul and there's nothing really left to say.

And then I slept the whole night for the first time in weeks, although by whole night I mean until 3 am.  Because let's face it, when you go to bed at 7 pm, then 3 am is a reasonable wake up time.  I got out of bed around 4 am and did what I always do when I'm crawling back from that place at the bottom of my soul; I cleaned my room.  You'd think I would clean my room on a weekly basis since it is apparently such a spiritual event for me, but really it only happens every few months.  Just when I seem to get a little balance in my life, God tweaks it just enough - like that game Jenga - and everything crashes in a heap, and then, I clean my room.

But seriously, people.  I spend time with God.  I pray.  I live a quiet, sober life full of reflection and meditation.  I go to Bible study and try to be nice to people.  I give where and how I can.  I play with my kid and pack him healthy lunches.  And I do these things even when I'm not feeling the Holy Spirit mojo because I know I need these things.  Then SHOULDN'T I BE OVER BEING CRAZY BY NOW?  I thought I was an adult.  Isn't that what being an adult means?  That sensible, responsible living means you get to stop being crazy?

If truth be told though, I found plenty of reasons to lose it when Emmett was alive and well.  Maybe it's a good thing he can't tell you the whole truth.  Cause I could get crazy.  All that has really changed is what kinds of things make me lose it.  God likes to nudge me over the edge just in case I might start to feel like I have it all together. And nothing I can do, no matter how holy it is, can prevent God's little nudge from sending me whirling into chaos. I've discovered that I like orderliness and quietness and sensibleness and peace, sometimes more than I like God.  I can carve a life that suits me out of the chaos around me, and I can defend that little space against all sorts of evil.  But then God sends someone like my mother-in-law to be kind and caring and loving, and He completely destroys my little space.

So be careful when you're nice to people, because genuine service and love may be God's way of showing them kindness. And the kindness of the Lord, though it be all sorts of painful, truly does lead us to repentance, but often the road to repentance first passes through the land of crazy.  So when you're kind to people, they may get crazy.

I don't even have words yet to say what I'm repenting of because in the midst of all the crazy, I've felt deeply cherished by God, like he's ridiculously in love with me and well pleased with me.  Maybe that's all I needed, was to feel that again.  Either way, I'm glad my mother-in-law likes to ruin my life and I'm very thankful that she does, even though I'm still clawing my way out of crazy.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

tenant wanted

At some point last week I remembered that I had a blog.  It's been several weeks, nearly a month, since I've written.  At first I thought, well, I don't have anything to write.  And then I thought, oh, well, I'll write later because I'm not feeling so much like writing now.  Now I wonder if anyone will even read this one, as it's been so long.  And I find I don't really care about the readers, but I'm drawn back for the words - words that have been swimming in my consciousness, catching bits of light now and then like baubles hung in my grandmother's window.

I'm reading so much and living so intensely.  I found myself weeping over the passages in Exodus about slavery, weeping for the tender way in which God constructed his laws to protect the poor and helpless.  I've driven into a sunset whose brilliant colors were muted by a wispy, almost invisible cloud line on the horizon and thought how perfectly that fits how I see God's brilliance right now.  I've taken a walk on a fall morning after a night of rain and felt poetry drop into my heart, like a little gift that blossomed and grew.  My skin bears numerous scars from the yard work during our service project day where we cleaned up another widow's yard.  The angry red welts looks so much like my soul feels, that I smile at them like they're old friends.

In Phantasties,  by George MacDonald, the narrator traveling through faerie land notes that the irony of sorrow is how it carves out hollow spaces in our soul where we can experience a uniquely deep and abiding joy.  You might even say that we can only experience joy to the extent that we have lived well through sorrow.  I have whole new unexplored caverns in my soul carved out by sorrow.  Joy is poking around, trying the new spaces on for size.  We'll see if it takes up residence.