The last couple nights I have slept terribly. I wake up with a throbbing heavy head, feeling exhausted and confused. Can't remember what I dreamt. There are no symbols or images in my mind to help me understand what I was grappling with in my sleep. Whatever answer I was trying to find, I didn't find it in my dreams.
I spent yesterday sighing a lot. Not good. For me that is the tinge of something near to depression. But its just a tinge; like a spot of mold on your cheddar cheese, and you decide it's only a spot and wipe it off...and then eat the rest of the cheese. And so yesterday I kept wiping off that tinge of darkness that hovered near me. I kept going over lessons with Abby, giving her a vocab test, making us a healthy lunch, running out to the post office and then grocery store later in the afternoon. But I did all this with the sheerest of determination and grit- like a cowboy on a dry dusty trail who finds out the trail is longer than he expected and so he digs in, he keeps going, but he feels lost.
It didn't help that in the morning I was reading the early news about the election results, and I was scanning forums and sites where people were writing words of exultation as well as scathing words of hostility, viciousness, and attack . One man won a presidency, there was a victory-and yet there was a lot of alarm, fear, and despair. I tried not to let this plague of distress enter my newly found grateful-thankful mindset...but it did. I felt my optimism and my happy outlook burst like a balloon that was shot at by a nasty little boy with a slightly evil grin. Even at the grocery store, it seemed like people were rude and mean, and children were out of control and screaming and flailing. One little boy was threatening to run out in the road and the mother was nervously trying to placate him as well as keep him alive at the same time.
"I never had to do that," I told Abby as we headed to the car with our groceries.
"Never had to do what?" she asked.
"I never had to worry about Alex acting up and throwing tantrums and terrifying strangers who passed by. He was a pretty mild kid," I paused in my reverie and then smiled at her. "But he made up for all that in his teenage years, didn't he?!". I wanted her to know that I try not to idealize the past. There are all kinds of pasts: the recent past, the real past, the long-ago past, the past that never really occurred but we keep thinking it did.
Here's why I often return to the past- cause that's when I can see God's hand, His presence, a lot better than I can see it in my "now". Like right now, I know He's with me, that He's for me, but is He in front of me paving the way? Because I often feel like I am in uncharted territory, stumbling forward only to look back for His approval of my direction and seeing that He is not there.
"Why do you look for the living among the dead?...He is not here" the angel said (Luke 24). Why do I keep looking back to see if I can find answers for my future? My past can't help me go forward- especially if I am often repeating it! And if I repeat a lesson that I already learned, that I thought I learned, then where exactly am I- in the past, or in the future regretfully remembering the past?
Either way my feet are dogged by memory, by the good memory of seeing how God intervened, and by regret over how bad it was, over how bad I was. But at least I am pretty clear on what happened in my past. I am not clear on what is happening now. If God is in front of me paving the way, I can't see Him, that's for sure. I can't always feel His presence. I only feel my frantic beating heart on those days where I wake up in a hostile world and remember that I have to go out into it. I do hear His words, though, calling to me from up ahead: Do it afraid, Lauren. Do it afraid.
And if I stumble ahead and go grocery shopping and grade a test and make dinner- even though I'm thinking Does any of this matter- if I do all this feeling wretched and dry and short on air, I find that this pleases Him. This. It's so ironic. I feel queasy and unstable- but He sees, instead, a beautiful sight. He calls it....Faith.
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him"(Hebrews 11:6). It's just that it seems God always wants to reward me with more opportunities to get to know Him, more chances to stumble ahead, and that's not exactly the Reward I had in mind.
I had in mind a warm blanket and a soft chair; a chance to exult in my recent victory of faith (Lord, I was grateful and optimistic for three whole days!). I had in mind a soothing, "Well done, my child". And instead I hear Him say- from ahead- "Now let's go onward, shall we?".
And so that's what I do.