It’s been a weird week, one of sinking deeper into this identity I’d been trying to dodge. But finally feeling at home in it. Understanding my gifts and even enjoying how they work in real life.
And yet at the same time, there were growing pains and conflict all around. The pain of feeling disregarded and claustrophobic from a relationship I couldn’t avoid, feeling out of control, feeling unheard.
And unrelated but equally overwhelming, knowing Josh and I are taking on another something-huge. Our whole lives are one giant we’ve-never-done-this-before, which is adventurous and all, but you’re always hurting someone’s feelings and getting your own hurt. It’s hard.
Anne Lamott wrote her usual blog-post-via-Facebook-status the other day, and I stopped to read it because I needed the slow, patient wisdom and the voice that understands mine. It was a day when I especially needed someone to hear me, and she did, strangely, by talking. She talked about when miracles finally happen, and at that point, they hardly feel like a miracle anymore. Cause you’re just so tired.
And that is exactly what it felt like.
The other day, the grinding and the aching finally lurched to a halt when resolve came. At least for one of our requests. It was that moment we thought we’d been waiting for. And there it was, smaller and less shiny than we’d imagined. Less of a feeling of relief. And now all we have the energy to say in reply is, “Oh, okay.”
And now we’re moving on again. It’s nothing special now, the answer we thought we wanted. Anne called it “a miracle”. It’s just another step in this journey, and now we see we have a new set of challenges.
You think that after so much prayer and shouting and straining and confusion, it should feel like, “Ahhhh.” But it doesn’t. Anne says, “If I were God, or God’s West Coat Rep, I would have a much more organized and predictable system.”
It’s true. I would make things efficient. Because we all think God is in the customer service business. We think it’s his job to make me happy or I’m going to find another religion. But it’s really his job to keep us safe, not necessarily happy, but to perfect his image in us, as messy as that is.
And that mess is beautiful in its own right. They call it wabi-sabi in Japan. The loveliness of broken down things. I am trying to be wabi-sabi, to be broken enough to be beautiful. And to appreciate the sad shape everyone else is in around me, and not hold it against them too much. To even love the strange, odd-shaped miracles as they come, slower than I would like, usually, but always with that feeling of being so so loved.
- More Wabi-sabi images right here: http://madamemaven.blogspot.com/2009/03/design-wabi-sabi-mommi.html
Here’s Anne. She says it the way I would like to say it.
“My family finally got the slow-mo miracle we’d been working, praying and healing toward. But the problem with miracles is that they don’t necessarily make you mildly euphoric. They’re not caffeinated, which is what I would prefer. You can be grateful and amazed beyond words that God, heard your prayers, jiggled things around, and speitzed them, to somehow help a huge problem in your life to resolve in a beautiful, surprising way. But it might leave you exhausted. I think a better system would be for God to honor frequent buyer punch cards, so every 10th resolution or miracle you got would be free.
My family finally got the slow-mo miracle we’d been working, praying and healing toward. But the problem with miracles is that they don’t necessarily make you mildly euphoric. They’re not caffeinated, which is what I would prefer. You can be grateful and amazed beyond words that God, heard your prayers, jiggled things around, and speitzed them, to somehow help a huge problem in your life to resolve in a beautiful, surprising way. But it might leave you exhausted. I think a better system would be for God to honor frequent buyer punch cards, so every 10th resolution or miracle you got would be free.
I’m just saying. Your mind can actually be blown that, against all odds, things have shaken down and turned out in a way that you would have barely been able to hope for. But it still might mean your heart will ache.
If I were God, or God’s West Coat Rep, I would have a much more organized and predictable system.
Take Lazarus, or instance. His sisters get their miracle; and even though he ends up dying eventually, we still see thatthat’s what it was. Or say, for instance, that you have anorexic teenage daughter, who almost died, and instead, was shown a way out of No Way. From extreme secrecy and isolation, she ends up with a pit crew, or at least she has one amazing person to walk with her. She not only survives, but blossoms, fully, and then gets herself into a college 3000 miles away.
Well, a miracle, right? If you’ve been through this, you know how close you came to losing her. You know how far away from you the disease took her. And yet, now she’s thriving, and your heart is so filled with gratitude that you could burst. You’re Zorba the Greek. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.
And yet, she’s about to go live 3000 miles away.
That’s all I’m saying: miracles aren’t the same as nitrous oxide, which would be SO great, if you ask me. But no. Miracles means Grace must have tiptoed sneakily into the picture while you were busy with your clipboard, making lists and writing down all your Good Ideas on how to save, rescue and fix everyone. Miracles–even little brown paper bag miracles–are when you absolutely could not have gotten to where you are now, from where you were. But it may come at a cost.
God’s provincence does not mean No Storms, which I hate hate hate. I would not agree to this, given a choice. By the same token–given a choice–I would not have agreed to grow four inches when I was 13, as my knees and elbows ached sharply for most of a year. And anyway, I’ve shrunk an inch–so I want my money back. Growing in body and spirit I hard.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about, that sometimes you don’t notice that you got a miracle, or ARE a miracle, because it’s more of a mixed grille than you’d been expecting. There’s joy and relief, but maybe also bittersweet feelings, and exhaustion. It turns out to be a quiet consignment store miracle, instead of something snazzier and perfect from Ikea. So for today, a) who asked me, anyways? and b) thankyouthankyouthankyou.