Hello again

Hello, dear old blog. It’s been over a year since I visited your dusty pages, and, to be quite honest, for the past year I’ve never even given you much thought. Life has been busy. Crazy busy at times. I’ve also had my last two computers die on me, so this once-book-marked page was lost for a time. So, naturally, I forgot about you.

But the other day I found you again, as I began doing research for a school project. I needed to peruse some blogs, and you poor, lost, forgotten thing, suddenly reappeared. So here I am. I don’t intend to stay long—in fact I may start another blog at some point in the near future—but I wanted to pay my respects to what was once a cathartic outlet for a hurting, lonely young woman. I also wanted to let you know just how far I’ve come since I last visited. I’m not the same girl who left. Or woman, rather. I still want to call myself a “girl” at times, but the reality is I am nearing 40 (40, yikes!), and although part of me still rebels against the relentless march of time, and mentally I feel much closer to 25, I’m becoming a little more comfortable with my status as a “mature woman” and the wisdom and respect that (hopefully) comes with that.

The truth is, I’ve become more comfortable in my skin over the last year or so, and I feel like I’m more “me” than I’ve ever been. My fragmented sense of self, shattered by years of trauma, isolation and intense pain, has finally begun to coalesce, and I no longer see myself through the incredibly warped lens that I once did. It’s true I still feel fragile and broken in many ways, and I know I will carry some of my scars for the rest of my life, but despite my places of brokenness, and the struggles I still face, I no longer see myself defined by that brokenness. After all, we are all broken, to some degree. It’s part of being human. So I will keep you around, dear old blog, if only as a reminder to myself of where I’ve been and how far God has brought me.

It truly is amazing how far I’ve come in only a couple years. Totally by God’s grace, of course. I stated in a post prior to moving to attend my current university, that this new phase in life would either make me or break me. Well, I was convinced the first year that it would break me. A very difficult living situation and the adjustment to a completely foreign (and very demanding) university environment bowled me over for a while. I struggled with intense loneliness and feelings of not fitting in anywhere. But by the end of my second semester I’d begun to feel a little more comfortable in my new environment, and even began to make a few school chums. Thankfully, things only continued to improve once I found a new living situation last summer—I now have a wonderful roommate I get along fabulously with and actually have a lot in common with.

I am now staring at two more months till I walk the “Lawn,” flip my tassel, and become an official college graduate, possessor of a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. It seems hard to believe. What I once only dreamed of doing will soon become a reality. It’s been a rough, challenging couple of years, but I can say with full confidence that this college experience has been just what I needed to “get back on my feet,” as it were, and gain the confidence and skills I need to do something useful and rewarding with my life. My university experience has not broken me…on the contrary, it has helped shape me into a more confident and well-rounded woman. Living in a different city, and further away from family, has also been good for me. It’s allowed me to grow, to become more of my own person, and to put behind me/at a distance certain negative environments and people that only dragged me down and kept me stuck in my dark valley.

On the flip side, I’ve met so many interesting and lovely people here at the university—much to my surprise—and each one, whether a fellow student or professor/instructor, has impacted me positively in some way. I shall miss some of those people—one person in particular, who’s been a blessing and encouragement to me throughout the last two years (although I know he has no idea). I shall miss the university itself too: the beautiful campus, the grand old libraries, the stimulating academic atmosphere. Although I’ve never truly “fit in” with most of my fellow students, due to my age, this university, and the city it resides in, has still come to feel like home to me.

I’ll miss too, the wonderful ESOL kids I’ve tutored over the last year…I get teary-eyed just thinking about saying goodbye to them and perhaps never seeing their precious faces again. They’ve touched my life immeasurably, and made me realize, more than ever, that my calling lies in some kind of educational work. Teaching and tutoring them has brought me such joy.

So it is with ambivalent feelings that I’ll be moving on in a few months. And although I know I still have many challenges awaiting me, and darkness, doubting and pain will inevitably raise their ugly heads from time to time, I no longer see a bleak future. And as far as my relationship with God goes…it’s not where I want it to be, but I’m slowly realizing that He is the only One who will never let go of me and never stop loving me, and if I can only learn to rest in that, and let everything else go—all my shame, hurts, disappointments, failures, and unrealistic expectations of others—then maybe, just maybe, I can eventually find the life of joy and wholeness I so long for.

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Only the lonely…

I know it’s been a while. I know I said in my last post I might be bidding this little blog farewell. But, life never turns out like we think it will, and because I find myself in desperate need of a place to vent, here I am.

I know my problems are small, in comparison to what is currently going on in the world. Ebola. ISIS. Wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes. Droughts. Fires. So much is happening, and in the grand scheme of things, my struggles mean very little.

But however small and insignificant my struggles really are, they’re still my struggles, and, as is so often the case in my life, I find myself with no one nearby to turn to. I’m super busy these days, going to school full-time, working part-time, all in a new city, at a new school, and in a completely new environment. I knew this transition to a four-year university would be a challenge, so I’m not surprised at how tough things have been for me so far, but although there are certain aspects of my new life I’m enjoying, overall I’m not nearly as happy and excited about my new situation as I hoped to be.

The main reason for this is how utterly lonely I feel. Even though I’m surrounded by students at school and live with three roommates, I have no real friends here yet. No one I feel I can really relate to or connect with. I have had moments where I’ve simply had to go for a drive in my car to get a good cry in, to let out all the pent-up emotions I’m feeling, because I have nowhere else to go. I know not having any real friends yet is partially my own fault, due to not venturing more to places like churches, but my overwhelming work-load, crazy schedule, and continuing distrust of churches in general have discouraged and hindered me from venturing out more.

But it’s more than that. I’m realizing, much to my own dismay, how the last several years of incredible pain and isolation have affected me. And though I’m attempting to become a more “normal” person, create a new life for myself, and leave the past behind, such a transition is far easier said than done. For better or worse, as I think I mentioned in my last post, I will be affected by some of my wounds for the rest of my life. And I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that not everyone will understand, that many will judge me wrongly, and that I simply will never be a completely “normal” person (if there is even such a thing) and learn to accept that about myself, whether others do or not.

This process of realization and acceptance is hard, though. And at the moment I’m not handling it too well. Especially when one’s environment is not very accepting and one feels the disconnection and alienation keenly. I’m a woman in my mid-thirties going to a university where I’m surrounded by teenagers to young twenty-somethings, I’m a middle-class, non-preppy person surrounded by mostly upper-class, preppy people, and I live with three young woman in their early-twenties whom, except for our Christian faith, I have very little in common with. (You’d think our faith would draw us together, but to be honest, it’s more of a peripheral issue, and I don’t connect well with other Christian women when I can’t connect with them on a deeper, spiritual level.) I just feel so disconnected, lost and alone. I thought I would at least have a “safe” environment in my living situation, since my roommates are Christians, but I’m definitely the odd one out, not just because of my age, but also because of my personality I suppose, which has not meshed well so far with the other girls. Oh, they’re sweet most of the time, and try to include me in things, but it’s the remarks I get sometimes, the looks, the insensitive laughter and poking fun, the immature reactions and behavior, that drive me up the wall. I simply have no one, either at my current home, or elsewhere, to turn to, to talk to, to vent to. I feel absolutely and utterly alone.

And that is not a good feeling. So here I am. Hello again, little blog. Much in my life has changed, but some things, it seems, never change.

Some ramblings, reflections & possibly a farewell

I’ve come to the realization lately that this blog will probably be collecting dust very soon and that perhaps I should just bid it farewell. And I think perhaps it’s just as well.

I am moving into a new season of my life, and while I by no means consider myself completely out of my “valley of Achor” just yet, I am in a much different place now than I was when I started this blog, and even if I somehow find time to continue to blog in the future, I’ll probably start another blog rather than contribute to this one. So this may very well be my last post on “Valley of Achor.”

So much has happened over the last few months that I won’t even attempt to go into a detailed narrative, but let’s just say that I’ve faced the biggest demons in my life, I’ve confronted my deepest source of pain, I’ve made some earth-shattering revelations to certain people, my faith has all but crumbled into the dust, and all this has happened in the midst of preparing for my transition to university this fall. I’ve been on a roller-coaster ride emotionally, some days hopeful and exuberant, other days despairing of life itself, and some days so stressed out and overwhelmed I’ve just wanted to curl up in my bed and avoid the challenges and mile-long-to-do-list facing me.

But I’ve survived, I’m still here, and by next month I’ll be living in a new city, with people I barely know, and facing two years of intense study at a prestigious university. I have a feeling the next two years will either make me or break me. I am simultaneously super excited and absolutely terrified. But I know I’m doing the right thing, no matter the outcome. I didn’t make it this far only to allow fear to dissuade me from my dreams.

So, as I step out on this next new phase of my life, into uncharted territory, I think I’ll bid this little blog, and the young woman I once was, farewell. I will never forget the dark places I have been in, and the pain I have endured, but I want to move on.

Although, I have come to realize, I shall probably carry my scars for the rest of my life. There will be no true and complete healing for me in this life. Some pain is never truly forgotten or overcome. Despite what all the health and wealth and prosperity people preach. I’ve been made even more keenly aware of my fragility due to a sudden and unexpected flare-up of my rheumatoid arthritis recently. I’ve been mostly in remission in recent years, so the flare-up really caught me off guard, but it also reminded me that pain will always be my friend, in one shape or another. I will never be able to escape pain. But physical pain I can handle. Even on days like last week where I was so stiff and in so much pain I could barely move. It’s emotional pain, it’s mental pain, it’s memories that can’t be erased, that hurt far worse. Those are the sources of pain that sear one’s soul, that leave an indelible mark on one’s spirit. And it’s those sources of pain that will always haunt me, and that I will always carry with me, no matter where I go or what I do in this life of mine.

But however challenging the next steps of my life may be, I’m determined to go forward. I cannot, will not, ever, ever go back to the dark places I’ve been in. I would rather be dead. My life, however fragile and bruised and battered, must make its mark in this world. I must make it mean something. So that none of my pain will be for naught.

Last night I felt my life meant something. I’ve been volunteering again this summer at a local church teaching an ESL class, and last night was my last class. I went to class expecting it to be the normal affair it usually is, although I regretted I couldn’t think of a way to reward or celebrate my students’ participation in the class. However, the students flipped the tables on me and totally surprised me by celebrating me as their teacher. Apparently they conspired to throw me a party. I knew something was up when I saw them bringing assorted items into class, like drinks and pizza boxes. But it wasn’t just the little party. There were also flowers, a sweet thank you card signed by all the students, a $25 gift card to Panera, and hugs and words of appreciation and “I’ll miss you, teacher”s from all the students. I could have cried. It was so touching, and reminded me that my life can be valuable, despite the pain, if I only use it to bless others.

So this is why I’m still here. Why I’m still fighting. Why, despite everything I’ve been through, and probably have yet to go through, I will do my best to persevere. To not give up. To keep staring down my darkest demons and my deepest fears. Come what may, I must go on. Because my life must not be lived in vain.

So, this may be farewell. Farewell to the Valley of Achor. I’m moving on. Both literally and figuratively. Perhaps a new blog will come along at some point, but for the foreseeable future, I’ll be too immersed in real life to wander the halls of the blogosphere.

Onward & upward

So I found out sooner than I expected. Not longer after writing the last post, I checked my e-mail, and discovered that I’d received an e-mail from my prospective university, informing me that the decisions had been posted. Officially, they weren’t due till tomorrow. But, for whatever reason, I got my pleasant surprise a bit early. And when I read the official acceptance letter, I shrieked with joy. I jumped up. I pumped my fists. I ran downstairs and shared the joyous news with my grandmother. I felt like a little kid who’d just been handed a shiny new toy, or the offer of an exciting adventure.

Really, I am on an adventure. And though I know the next couple years (I will enter as a junior in the fall) will be full of challenges, I know in the end they will be worth it. Just as the last few years have been challenging, but they have also been worth it. I didn’t take calculus or human biology or public speaking because I wanted to. I took them because I wanted to get to this point. And now I have.

So I’m super excited. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. And I hope I will do well and accomplish the goal I originally set out to accomplish a few years ago.

I’ve still got a lot of unresolved issues in other areas of my life, but in this area at least, I know where I’m headed. And that gives me something to look forward to.


Bittersweet. That’s really the only way I can describe what I’m feeling right now. The realization hit me with full force this morning that by next week I’ll have no more classes, no more homework, no more tests…no more school for at least the next three months. And while part of me is relieved, a part of me hardly knows what to do with myself. I feel a bit sad, a bit lost. And I’m so pathetic I actually shed a few tears. I think I’ve become one of those strange people that actually likes being in school.

Of course, I’m beat. I’m exhausted. I’m glad, in some ways, that this past semester is nearly over. It has been pretty rough at times. A couple courses have given me many stressful, hair-pulling moments. Moments where I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel. But I’ve hung in there, and here I am at last, at the end. And looking back with very fond memories on those classes, classmates and professors that made this past semester worth even the frustrating bits. It has been a very intense, yet simultaneously very rewarding semester.

This semester has been rewarding mainly because two courses I took had wonderful professors, great classmates, and subjects I loved and excelled in. One professor especially–who taught my favorite class, Spanish 202–left a very positive impression on me. Some people are just cut out to be teachers, and this guy was one of them. Friendly, down-to-earth, approachable, and the type of professor who took personal interest in each one of his students. And yesterday, at our last class, he made my day when, after I handed him my final exam, he frankly and warmly wished me the best, gave me high praise on my grades, and told me he believed I would not only be accepted at the university I applied to, but would do very well there. This meant a lot to me, because, despite his genial nature, he wasn’t one who flattered or gave out compliments and praise indiscriminately. So I knew he meant every word he said. But I was touched even more when I later read a personal note he left on my final essay. He basically gave me more praise and encouragement, and told me how much he appreciated my “dedication” to his class. I have to honestly say I’ve never received such a note from a college professor before. I’ve received notes before, I’ve received commendation before, but not all rolled into one. So such a gesture really touched and encouraged me.

But that note simply added more “bittersweetness” to the end of this semester, and really, the end of my time at the community college. I’ve met some great people, even made a couple friends, and learned a lot over the last few years. And even though this last semester was the most stressful of them all, in some senses, I’ve enjoyed the relationships, discussions, interactions and intellectual stimulation it’s afforded me. And this is why, I think, I’ll miss being in school over the next few months. And why I hope, come tomorrow, that some certain news I’ve been waiting for will be affirmative, and not negative. For I’m only one day away from finding out if the next step of my academic journey will continue on in the fall.

So we’ll see. All I can say for sure at this point is that college has been good for me. I think I’ve walked away from the last few years with greater confidence in my abilities and hopefully better prepared for whatever the future holds. So I hope, and pray, my schooling will continue on into the fall, in a different city, at a four-year university. I confess that I won’t know what to do with myself if it doesn’t. Being in school has given me a greater purpose, a goal, something to keep me going amidst all the other difficult and painful things in my life.

Tomorrow awaits. My future awaits. But I am thankful for what I’ve been given over the last few years, and I will cherish especially the good memories of this past semester. It was rough. But it was also fun. And I learned a lot.

A taste of life

It’s been a while. And it’s amazing I’m finding time, even now, to write anything on here. My workload this semester with school has been intense, not to mention the stress of my job and certain personal issues in my life, so I doubt I’ll be contributing much on here over the next few months.

But I thought I’d share something quickly that happened to me the other day. Something that gave me a taste–just a taste–of what the author of this blog post shared in his reasons for leaving the institutional church and instead joining a more organic expression of church. I will preface what I’m going to share first by saying I’m thinking of leaving this thing called the “institutional church” as well. I’m just so sick and tired of the superficiality, the ritual, the deadness, the lack of real community, the social club atmosphere…pretty much most of what the author of the aforementioned blog post said. I’m just so disillusioned right now and consequently no longer regularly attend church services.

However, in an effort to find some sort of spiritual community, I recently started attending a small group unaffiliated with any particular church, and geared toward people seeking emotional and relational healing. I wasn’t too impressed at first, even though the people I met were welcoming and friendly. To be honest, I thought at first it just seemed like a navel-gazing session, where everyone rehashed all their child-hood traumas for the umpteenth time. But, because the people were nice, I decided to go back. Well, this past Wednesday evening, as I sat in this brightly-lit room in a basement, surrounded by only four other women, I just spilled some of the things I’ve been struggling with, and instead of the condemnation and judgment I expected, all four women decided to spend some time praying for me. Me, and only me. I protested at first, but they insisted, so I let them pray for me, and afterwards the leader of the group said she felt God wanted her to hug me, because I needed it. So I let this woman hug me, and as she did so, something in me just broke. I sobbed. Hard. Tears of pent up frustration, of loneliness, of despair, of pain, of every negative feeling that has been oppressing me for so long, fell on that woman’s shoulder as she held me close. And as she held me, I felt, in a way, that God Himself was hugging me. Letting me know He understood. That He really did care. That He loved me, despite my brokenness. It was a powerful, cathartic few minutes, and after this woman let me go, the other women took turns hugging me as well, while speaking words of encouragement over me.

When I left that meeting, I felt so much lighter than when I went in. And I felt I had experienced, for the first time in a very long time, a taste of what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. What the true church ought to look like. People ministering to each other. People being real with each other. A place where the broken, the lame, and the sick can come, just as they are, and be made whole. A place where plastic smiles and superficial spirituality are not allowed. A place where the love of Jesus is not just talked about, but actually seen and experienced. A place where rivers of life flow, in place of stagnant pools of dead doctrine and dogma.

I think it’s sad that most of my experiences of this type have been found outside an institutional church. And apparently I continue to find these pockets of life outside the four walls of a church. But I’ll take what I can get. For however long it lasts. If I must go outside of “church” to find church–real church, that is–then so be it.

I think I’ve had enough of the institutional church. But the other night gave me hope. Hope that not all is lost, and that perhaps, as far away as God feels most of the time to me, He is closer than I think, and just waiting to hold my broken, fragile self close to His heart.

Letter to a hurting little girl…(and to any hurting little girls)

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Dear child,

I know the pain you’re enduring. I weep for you. I weep for how isolated and unloveable this pain makes you feel. I weep for how this pain will adversely affect the rest of your life. I weep for all the dark times ahead that you will have to endure. I weep for how broken your life will feel. How broken you will feel.

But I want you to know something: this pain is not your fault. You are not to blame. You are not to blame for the scorn of others. For the taunts of others. For the callous remarks of others. For the rejection of those who simply, in their own brokenness, didn’t know how to love you. You are so, so special, my child. You have a beautiful imagination, a keen intelligence, a sweet spirit, and a wonderfully sensitive soul. Your circumstances and trials do not define you. You are, beneath your humble exterior, a little princess. Like Sara, in one of your favorite novels, A Little Princess. She chose not to let her circumstances and the way others treated her define who she was. She held her dark, little head high, remembering that true princesses are not princesses merely on the outside, but princesses on the inside. And that is what you are as well, dear one. Remember that.

So hold on, sweet little girl. Your life will not be an easy one, and you will probably always feel a bit different from others because of the things you’ve had to endure, but never, ever let that uniqueness pull you down. Instead, embrace it, remembering your uniqueness is what uniquely qualifies you for the tasks and plans ahead. Remember that uniqueness when, one day in the future, you meet other boys and girls–and even adults–who, like you, have known tremendous pain. Your own suffering will enable you to have a greater empathy and compassion for others who suffer.

Lastly, dear child, know that you are loved. You may not feel loved, and you may feel God has abandoned you, but the truth is that His tender hands are what hold you, and for His own mysterious purposes that you currently don’t understand, and perhaps may never understand, He has allowed this pain in your life. If nothing else, He will use this pain to draw you to Himself, the only source of unfailing love, which, even if you don’t feel it, is always, always there. Hold onto Him, even when doubt and anger cloud your vision. He is holding onto you, and He loves you so, so much. One day in the future, when you hold a dirty, bedraggled little street girl in your arms, you will experience a taste of the love your Heavenly Father has for you–the kind of love that will hold you close even when you feel dirty and bedraggled. He isn’t the legalistic, perpetually angry God you’ve been exposed to since birth. I promise you. He isn’t.

One day, child, you’ll make it through all this. Don’t lose heart, though many dark days lie ahead. I know the tears you shed, and the pain you feel, for they are the same tears I shed today, and the same pain I feel today, but I know now that, though the journey through the valley of the shadow may seem endless, I do not walk it alone. You aren’t alone, dear one. He is there. And He weeps with you. He knows. He sees. And He holds you close.

So remember: no matter how others treat you, no matter how gut-wrenching your pain, you are, and always will be, a beautiful little princess. And may that enable you to hold your head just a little bit higher.

Most affectionately,

Your future self

A different perspective…& thoughts on church

So, no more self-pitying today. Despite my last post, in which a flood of emotions just spilled over onto the written page, I am not in the throes of despair merely because I’m single. I keep telling myself I’ll be more positive on this blog, but as is often the case, this place just ends up being my dumping ground. Sometimes all it takes is a day or two for some perspective to take hold of my wayward emotions, and then I realize how silly those emotions really are.

I’ve told myself if I am to remain single I do not want to be the cranky, bitter, self-pitying old maid that no one wants to be around. I have an aunt who is close to 50 and still single, and though I love her to pieces, I’ve often wondered if her crankiness is part of the reason she’s not married. Whether I ever marry or not, I do not want to be that sort of person. Nor do I want to be angry and bitter. Marriage is not a right or guarantee, and though I desire it strongly some day, to demand it from God is unreasonable. It may be very likely I’ll never marry–and I must come to terms with that. But to hold it against God if He never grants me this desire is selfish and silly. He has given me many other blessings in my life, such as the ability to pursue an education, and I confess getting my degree is the one thing I look forward to most right now. It is probably the one thing keeping me going right now. Like the marathon I trained for a few years ago, I know all the pain and effort I’m putting into pursuing this degree will one day pay off and bring great reward and satisfaction once I cross the finish line. And, God-willing, it will open up many doors of opportunity as far as a career is concerned. Doors that are currently shut to me.

So, no, no more self-pity on the singleness front. At least not today. Maybe my “time” is running out as far as marriage is concerned, but even if it is, I certainly don’t want to waste whatever time I have left on this earth bemoaning the fact that I’m not married instead of doing something positive with my life. I have to keep reminding myself of some of my “heroines” of the faith–Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, and Gladys Aylward, for example–all single women who made a tremendous impact with their lives. Singleness is not a curse–often it can be a tremendous blessing. And when I stop and really think about it, there are definitely some aspects of singleness I enjoy very, very much. I don’t think I’ll ever stop desiring marriage, and I won’t stop praying for it, but I must learn to appreciate my freedom and independence more, while I’ve still got it.

So as far as singleness goes, that is my pep talk to myself for the day. However, certainly I’m still dealing with many other painful and discouraging issues in my life right now. And today as I drove home from church, I felt like crying again, because those feelings of being unseen and unknown somehow get highlighted the most when I go to church. The truth is, I’m about fed up with church. I’m tempted to give up on it altogether. I’m just so disillusioned with the emptiness of it. I went to the Christmas party for my singles group a couple weeks ago, and yes, everyone was lovely, and I had a decent time, but is it wrong of me to want more than sitting around eating, making pointless small talk and playing silly games? The pastor talked again today about the church being a family, and he even specifically addressed those of us who still feel like we’re on the fringes and trying to remedy that, but somehow his words only felt hollow to me. Especially when during the service he urged us to get into groups and pray for each other, and though I had plenty of people around me, only one young woman, sitting closest to me, actually prayed with me. Everyone else nearby had already formed their own little groups, or gone off elsewhere to seek another group. And the young woman who prayed with me looked rather reluctant to do so. I wondered if I had spiritual “cooties” or something? Sometimes forcing “togetherness,” instead of drawing those of us on the fringes in, only tends to highlight the fact that some of us are on the fringes. Which is awkward, to say the least.

I’m just sick of this charade called “church.” Occasionally I’ll get something out of it, and I suppose I’m better off getting a tiny bit of spiritual nourishment rather than none, but overall, if I come away from church crying and feeling empty inside rather than feeling uplifted, encouraged and/or convicted, then something’s wrong.

I feel like I’m dying spiritually right now, but I no longer know where to turn to find the life and help I’m seeking. Even the one friend who’s stuck with me through thick and thin over the last couple years no longer provides the spiritual and emotional support she once did. She’s into some weird charismatic stuff I don’t ascribe to, and when I do try to share some of my burdens with her, she seems to barely listen and always seems far more interested in talking about her own affairs. She says she prays for me, and I believe her, and am grateful for that at least, but I no longer feel our friendship is the life-giving, mutual relationship it once was. So I’m understandably frustrated and disappointed. I feel like I have nowhere to turn.

I’m trying to keep my chin up. I’m trying to press on. I’m trying to believe that somewhere, somehow, I’ll find the fellowship, the friendships, and the spiritual family I long for. But the honest truth is that with each passing day I grow more and more disillusioned with this thing called church. I haven’t lost my faith, but even that is on some wobbly ground right now. I don’t know where God is in all of this. I know He’s out there, somewhere, and every once in a while I think I hear His voice, but more and more it feels like He’s led me into a vast wilderness and simply abandoned me here.

But enough of my woefulness. This too shall pass. It must. Some way, somehow.

On singleness, cops, crying in cars & trusting God

Yesterday was a weird day. A day that ended with me sitting in my car crying and having a cute cop pull up beside me, make me roll down my window, ask me if I was ok and offer to help me.

I know I posted my “bucket list” the other day and declared I would hold onto hope for better days and dreams coming true, but sometimes it’s still hard to believe for good things when so much pain, fear and disillusionment stare one in the face. I’ve been struggling over the last few days, even though Christmas itself was filled with family, friends, good food and a good time. This past evening things just seemed to spill over after I spent what was actually an enjoyable time with a sister and a cousin at the movies, watching the second installment of the “Hobbit” trilogy. (I still can’t quite get over the fact that Peter Jackson made three movies out of a very short children’s book…although, as a Tolkien fan, I’m not complaining.)

While we waited for the movie to start, my cousin and I spent some time chatting and catching up, since we don’t see each other very often, and as is usually the case, our conversation turned to our status as single women. She and I are eight days apart, in our thirties, and still, regrettably, unmarried. She related to me how her brother made some insensitive remarks to her on Christmas day, regarding her singleness, basically telling her she was “running out of time,” and not likely to ever get married if she didn’t get her act together soon. My heart went out to her, and as much as I love her brother, if he’d been present, I’d have been tempted to smack him. Anyway, she then went on to lament her single status and wonder why only older men and creepy guys seem to ask her out. I told her I seemed to have the same problem (and occasionally guys that are way too young), and that she certainly wasn’t alone in her feelings of “What’s wrong with me? and why do other people seem to have no problem getting married?” It’s especially demoralizing when those much younger than you–like those you used to babysit as children–are now getting married and having children. I felt that acutely just the other day when I noticed on Facebook the engagement of a young man eleven years my junior that I used to think of as a little brother. Ouch. I couldn’t help but turn my gaze heavenward and say, Ok, God, when’s it my turn?

Strangely enough, however, as my cousin continued to lament her singleness, and even as I commiserated with her, I tried to encourage her as well, especially when she told me she often felt angry at God over her singleness and was afraid she’d be single for the rest of her life. I told her to trust God, no matter what. To leave it in His hands. And, somehow, for her at least, I meant those words. I believed those words. And I genuinely want to see her happy and blessed with a husband. But, as I drove home, I couldn’t believe those words for myself. I’m not angry at God over my singleness like my cousin. But I am discouraged. And in a place of unwilling resignation over the fact that I may never get married. When I was younger, I had hope. But as I get older, that hope is quickly dwindling, as I realize the sad fact that men typically age better than women, and unless you’re the exception and one hot cougar, most men won’t look twice at an older woman. (If someone would like to contradict me on this assessment, I’d be happy to hear it. I’m just stating what I observe.)

So, as cruel and insensitive as my cousin’s words to his sister were, I concede there’s some truth to them. Even my other cousin, his sister, conceded that. And that’s why the words hurt so much. As women in our thirties, my cousin and I are definitely, in some ways, “running out of time.” Does that mean God can’t do the miraculous? I hope not. But, yes, a miracle is probably what it would take. Especially for someone in my situation. I actually have more hope for my cousin than myself because not only am I a woman of a certain age, but I feel led to a very specific calling in my life, one that most men wouldn’t want–or at least, all the men I’ve met so far don’t want. And it’s not something I’m willing to compromise on. As much as I want to get married, I know I wouldn’t be happy married to someone who didn’t share a similar calling/career.

So, I’m having to face the fact that, aside from divine intervention, I might very well never get married. And this thought, stirred up after my conversation with my cousin, as well as thoughts about my other current struggles, disappointments, and afflictions, eventually led to my sitting in my car in front of my house, pouring out frustrated tears to a God Who seems absolutely remote right now, and then having a cop pull up beside me, rap on my window, and shine a flashlight in my face. I looked up to see a young cop staring at me, and at his command, I rolled down my window. I couldn’t disguise the fact that I’d been crying, so he immediately asked if I was ok, and when I mumbled a “sort of,” he then proceeded to insist on helping me in some way. I expressed appreciation at this offer, but told him I lived at the house I was parked in front of, would be fine, and would be going inside momentarily. Thankfully, that seemed to assure him enough, and he left me after that. But, understandably, I was slightly embarrassed about the whole situation. It was certainly a first for me. (And it made me wonder why a cop was patrolling our street late at night.)

It also made me ponder the sad fact that most often the tears I shed are either completely unseen or seen by complete strangers. And that seems to be the story of my life. Unseen. Most of my pain and suffering have been completely hidden from those around me. And, ironically, that was one of the things I was railing against God about in my car. The fact that I’m so tired of feeling alone and unseen. Even though I have a big family and a few good friends who care about me, I just feel like I’m always floating on the fringes. That no one truly knows me. That no one has any idea of what I’m truly going through. Perhaps that’s one reason I desire marriage so much. Because if I felt truly seen and known by even one person, it would mean so much to me.

I’m trying to hold onto hope. To believe that maybe my circumstances will eventually change. To believe that God answers prayers and that some of my dreams will come true. To believe that the scary things I’m facing may not be as bad as I think they’ll be.

But sometimes I can’t help but shed frightened, frustrated tears. Because while it may be easy to tell others to simply “trust God,” trusting God myself is often the hardest thing to do.

A bit of holiday cheer

I haven’t really been able to get into the “Christmas spirit” this year, but if there’s one thing that brings a bit of holiday cheer to my heart, it’s the Christmas light displays everywhere. The street on which I live has been a staple of the tacky lights tour in my city for the last several years–except for last year, when the usual houses were strangely unlit–so I was happy to see some of the usual suspects out in full force this year, inviting, once again the lines of buses, cars and limos down our street (which, I’ll admit, can be annoying at times, when I happen to get stuck behind them on my way home).

Last night I snapped some photos, since, most likely, this will be my last Christmas living on this street.

Merry Christmas everyone.