I feel like I've mostly outgrown these, but occasionally they come back to hang out.
As I sit through them this moment in time, I am grateful that a wonderful man is sitting next to me, available for emergency snuggles and talk-about sessions if need be. And I take comfort simply in his presence. Thank God for this addition to my life.
To weather this particular bout, I have the following game plan (aside from talking to Alex if I need to). I've opened the blinds, to let the last bit of daylight in. I can read my book (written by Louis Sachar, author of the Wayside books and Holes, who is still publishing!). I can drink water. I can take Alex on a walk.
That sounds like he's my dog.
I can also write -- I can share with you what was on my mind this morning, before I blazed into the afternoon with its pizza and Friends and taxes (yes, I filed today) and a cushy bed to read in.
This morning I woke at 8 and was like:
I was up, and I was already looking for a change of location. Sometimes you just wake up ready for action, ya know? Usually I'm just ready for coffee, but today was different. I packed a bag with four -- yes -- books and was out the door in about five minutes.
I ordered the quinoa "power" oatmeal at Panera (yes, I live there), and settled in with my coffee in a cozy booth.
When my breakfast was delivered to my table, I took a spoonful. The honey was impossible to miss upon hitting my tongue. Just a little, nearly invisible dollop upon the almond topping was enough to really sweeten things up.
I'm not a big eater of honey. I had a brief but enthusiastic zeal for toast drizzled in honey during high school, but said season came and went without ever making a reappearance.
One, as Alex can tell you with rolled eyes, I'm big on refined sugar.
Two, well maybe that's it. I just prefer the processed terrible-for-you stuff over the natural option.
I'm working on it. Did I mention I ordered quinoa oatmeal today??
I tend to float through my days, of late. Well, I race, really, but with a lot of happiness in me as I jump from birthday party to cat snuggle to drinks with Alex to project at work to dinner with a friend to...
I only seem to slow down for sleep, but for once I'm not rushing from thing to thing to avoid the thoughts in my head. I'm just stimulating my brain and feeding all its passions, rather than trying to avoid depression. I still get the blues (seldom but occasionally), like today, but even now I feel less like a monkey swinging from tree branches and more like a groggy sloth waking from a nap. I am writing as a means to breathe through the blasé, not as a flight from, well, facing it.
But where was I? Sorry, this was much more organized in my head earlier, when I wasn't in sloth mode.
Oh yes, I float.
Like Mario collecting coins in the sky, I float.
But as Mario has to eventually complete the game level, he comes down from above the clouds. And so do I.
Or at least, I feel myself maybe slipping downward. I feel it as a possibility.
And I get scared.
Instead of tasting the sweetness of life's honey, suddenly there's a pinch as I let my mind wander, and a taste of metal enters my mouth, like I'm a curious kid who's popped a penny in my mouth and suddenly regretted it.
The fear of something bad isn't like it used to be, where I'd feel happy for a day and fear that I'd be down the next. I rarely worry that life's big dark cloud will come to hang over my head, the cloud of depression and never-ending anxiety and fear that used to hang over me.
But for whatever reason, I fear other clouds. Death of people close to me. Natural disasters. Missiles launching. Cancer. Losing relationships.
This morning, though I marched into my favorite coffee place with energy, I was followed in by a sense of foreboding. Subtle, but there.
Sometimes I can chalk this up to fatigue, or stress, or even boredom. I blame it on something else, look back at the people I love, and move on. But on other days I have a hard time getting past the thought of "My good run has gone on long enough, it's bound to be my turn to be dealt a bad lot soon."
This is terribly healthy, and I'm sure my therapist is applauding with glee.
But I can't deny it. These thoughts come to visit me sometimes, and they cause me to feel less like I'm in the clouds and more like they're rolling in on me.
My church gives jars of honey to its guests. I'm not sure why it does this, but I also am not one to question such kind hospitality. It might have to do with a Bible verse, or it could just be because it's a nice thing to do, and we want people to feel welcome.
I was recently with some people at church, and one of them who will remain unnamed dropped his jar of honey on the ground.
We were all shocked for a moment, immediately running through our minds the steps it takes to clean up broken glass, until we were stopped by something else.
Examining the mess, we realized rather quickly that there was less of a shattered explosion on the concrete and more of a self-contained, slow ooze unfolding -- or unpouring -- before us.
It was so interesting that we all lost focus on the problem and instead commented on the physic novelty of the situation.
The honey was so thick and sticky that it clung to the slivers of glass and the glass to the honey. Had there been water in the jar, the shards would have shot further outward from the point of impact.
It was like the honey and the glass were one, a devoted couple clinging to each other in a time of distress.
Now this may sound obvious, but broken glass stresses me out.
I know, right? As if it's a downright celebration for others.
I just hate the urgency of it. You have to take care of it right away. You have to corral people, and pets, and babies, keeping them from the area.
You have to find the broom. Really, worldwide panic ensues.
And then you're never sure if your work is done. For days after, you're nervous to enter within 10 feet of the area without, at the very least, wearing socks. And if you're really neurotic, like some of us are privileged to be, you worry that infants will stick glass in their mouth, that animals will get it stuck in their paws, that basically everyone will go to the hospital due to your own negligence.
So in a weird way, during the Broken Honey Jar of 2016, I found myself...comforted? Maybe just calm. But yes, comforted that we weren't dealing with a bigger broken-glass issue than I'm used to.
My pastor, Rustin, preached today about everyday life. He referenced Romans 12:9-21, which basically just says:
- Be nice.
- Don't seek revenge.
- Hate evil.
- Love each other.
Basic Christian stuff, right? So a pretty good text for a sermon on basic everyday life.
I like these everyday messages in church, because they make me feel secure in working a normal, domestic job, for being slow in reaching my write-a-book dreams, blah blah etc.
But today, as I kept picturing that jar of honey on the ground, I thought of all the clouds that could come visit me at anytime. I thought of the clouds that are visiting people in my life.
An infant with frightening disease. Thoughts of suicide. A marriage broken up. A spouse recently passed.
How is it that I remain untouched by such atrocities, I thought? Sure, I had a rough time -- a legitimately rough time -- in my twenties, but I'm still pretty young yet. What if something terrible's around the corner?
I can hear my therapist's applause getting louder. We've moved into a standing ovation, really.
So here's what I latched on to today, to keep myself from getting sucked under the umbrella of hypothetical storm clouds.
Romans 12:9 -- "Love must be sincere."
Simple enough, right? I can do that, love sincerely. And where I can't, I can pray for help. And let me tell you, it is such a comfort to know that only God can make us feel certain things -- I love just turning it over sometimes, and waiting for results inside me.
And Romans 12:12 -- "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Joyful in hope. I feel like that's a mysterious little phrase, and I find the Bible to be full of those. But be joyful, and be in hope -- AKA be hopeful. Embrace joy. Embrace hope. This is how I'm going to interpret this (and wait for the ministers and theologians in my life to break it down for me further -- ahem, Rustin, Caleb, Dad).
Faithful in prayer.
Pray for my own life, and pray for others, particularly the people who are under storm clouds at the moment.
And be patient in affliction.
This is tough. I mean, yowza. I know someone who lost her husband, and you want me to ask her to be patient?! I would think when you get the one free pass at screaming and throwing a fit in life, it's when you've lost your great love. But who am I to argue with Scripture?
And who knows? Maybe the point of patience in affliction is to make the heartbreak slower. That seems, in a way, horribly cruel, that we should ever have to endure pain for a longer period of time. But when things are slower they also aren't as sharp. And we aren't rushed through our grief.
I don't know. I'm just yammering to try and make sense of it all.
But I know this: I can praise the Lord that I'm not facing serious, crippling affliction right now in my life. Perhaps God wants me to enjoy the ride, and not think about when it might end?
And as I kept thinking about that jar of honey this morning, I couldn't help but think that if and when a storm cloud comes to hover over me, I hope that I can be held together like that broken jar of honey.
I hope that my church family, new as it is to me, and my Alex, my friends, my family -- I hope that they can be like sweet honey around me, keeping me from shattering so far from myself that I can't be swept back together in one place. I hope they can be joyful in their hope for me, faithful in their prayer for me, and patient, like oozing honey, through my affliction.
And through it all, the ups and downs, may our love be sincere. Please, God, help us to be sincere in our love.