Friday, December 31, 2010

2011: A Prayer for Releasing Fear and Accepting the Unknown

2010 ends tonight and with it ends much of what is familiar to me. 2011 brings many more questions than answers.

I can look at this either as if I’m losing security or as if I’m releasing things that no longer fit to make room for growth and change. Although I do have some fear, I’m working to accept the unknown and live in the mystery until I am guided to the place I am supposed to be.

Letting go:

*My marriage
+Failed expectations

*The employment I’ve done for 8 years
+The stress of always being under a quota
+The stress of sometimes working for people who are ineffectual bosses
+The stress of going into the field and knocking on doors not knowing if it will be opened by the Lady or the Tiger
+!Strange dogs
+The unreliability of the work
-The pride I feel working for a respected university
The pride I feel to have this job with only a high school diploma. This job validates my intelligence and forces people to question their assumptions about people who haven't had the luxury of higher education.
-The really good hourly rate I am paid
-The flexibility of the schedule

*The house I’ve lived in for 10 years

*My status as a married person
-For what it’s worth, some people’s attitudes toward me will change—some for the better and some for the worse.

*The security of having a spouse with a good, steady job
-Health insurance
-I was able to be more selective in accepting work because I had the luxury
of my spouse’s reliable income.

I am the one moving out of our home. And yet I will be unemployed within the next couple of weeks. I have no idea how this will unfold. I trust.

I desire a life of submission to God’s will. I will actively do what I know will increase my awareness of God in my life, writing, prayer, fellowship, community. I will try to be open to new leadings and new directions. Not my will but Thine.

I would like to live a frugal life, relatively financially independent. I don’t want to think about retirement but about what kind of impact I am making on the world right now. I would like a low-stress job which would allow me the time to write and build community. Or, I would like to create a business that I can do from home such as owning an apartment building or running a hostel. Or, I’d like to find my own “right livelihood”. I trust Spirit to guide me.

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows I want to be automobile independent. In Nashville, with children in school and with a job, I don’t think this is possible. I would like to build into my new life as much freedom from auto-dependence as possible. I may still need to own a car but I would like to walk, (learn to) bike and ride buses whenever possible. I trust Spirit to lead me.

I would like an open house, that is, a house which is open and warm and inviting. I want to offer hospitality and to welcome people with food and generosity. (I’d really like a country kitchen, good for baking bread.) I would like my home to be a gathering place for my friends and my communities and my children’s friends. I trust Spirit to use me.

I would like to have greater compassion coupled with a more effective ability to act. I want to be a member of the Body of Christ on Earth, doing God’s work. I trust Spirit to teach me.

I know the more fearful I am, the more I pull inward and dread the unknown, the less I am able to hear God’s Call. Slowly, slowly, sometimes just cracks at a time, I’m revealing myself, releasing the fear and laying myself open for God. I’m not a patient woman, when I know that change is inevitable, I want it to be done and I’ve a tendency to force it--usually toward the outcome my ego most wants. I could easily do that now. I could apply for any and all jobs (which I started to do last month) and accept the first one offered to me. I could settle for renting whatever house or apartment I can afford for me and my children. I could compromise my values again in order to have stability, health insurance and security. But I’m pretty sure God doesn’t want me to do that right now. Maybe later I will find that taking a job with a corporation or a fast food restaurant or another research firm is where it seems God is leading me but for now I think I’m supposed to rest in the unknown. I think right now is a time of releasing fear and accepting that everything--EVERYthing--is beyond my control.

I give over this fear and trust God to transform it.
I accept the mystery and trust God to keep me.
I open myself, vulnerable and flawed, and trust God to strengthen, guide and use me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Reflection on the End of a Marriage

How does one write about the end of a marriage? I can say we’ve been avoiding the end since before the beginning. We fought entropy for a very long time and, finally, we’ve run out of energy and have stopped fighting. In our time together we’ve experienced a lot of good, anger, grief, joy, beauty, many frustrations and scarce contentment. We’ve compromised, given in, conceded and worked and we always wind up back here. 20 years of circling round and winding up here. There’s no right or wrong, no good versus bad, no victor nor victim, just two flawed people who can rarely find a way to take comfort in the security of one another. We’ve never, in our 20 years, learned to rely on one another or to be truly faithful to us: That back door marked “Exit” has always stood open, brightly lit and available. We’ve stood on that threshold for so long we finally found ourselves stumbling through.

I keep thinking about that Dave Mason song:

So let’s leave it alone ‘cause we can’t see eye-to-eye.
There aint no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy.
There’s only you and me and we just disagree.


We’re not sure how to go about this reinvention of everything familiar. It would be so much easier if there were some compelling reason—some wrong, some event: an unforgivable hurt—but there’s not; there are only a lifetime of small omissions, thoughtless actions and regrettable words which add to up to this desolation of unity. I think we are both weary of feeling alone together. I’m exhausted by not being able to trust the good feelings to last very long. When things are good, when we are able to turn to one another and relax and find comfort and pleasure in one another, it has so many times felt hopeful, like a new beginning. But one can only believe in the same beginning so many times before one stops trusting in the hope—which, of course, is hopelessness.

After years of discussions, tears, prayer, support from my spiritual community and trying, trying, we’re laying this romantic partnership down and placing our positive energy into our parenting partnership and our friendship. We work well together as parents and we actually, in spite of everything, like one another as people. Those aspects of our relationship have often been overshadowed while the more dramatic and negative dynamics absorbed our attention. We’re letting go the drama so we may define our individual selves apart from the bound-ness of marriage. When individual equilibrium occurs, we anticipate being able to bring what is good and strong and pleasant to our myriad remaining ties.

We are a work in progress. We’re working together to discover who we are apart. It sounds strange and very different but we’ve never shied away from defining things our own way rather than forcing ourselves into the roles given us by society. Normal is being estranged from one’s ex. But who says we must? We still admire the things that drew us together in the beginning. Yes, there are many reasons that we can’t live together but that doesn’t mean that we can’t LIKE one another. And so we are slowly learning who we are as individuals and as former spouses forging a new way of relating with one another and with the world.