I keep feeling the Spirit (the Holy one…) nudging me to write. Like, in a BIG way. It has been a summer for the books and the one huge thing I’ve learned is that God is so real, and so present, and SO much smarter than me and that I am living beneath my capabilities. Thus, every moment is an exercise in learning to surrender to that greatness. Because that is so scary. I have to learn it, ever. so. slowly.
I have so much to say but my voice is so very, very flawed. Limited. Biased, Unlearn-ed. So here I am listing all of the reasons NOT to do what I feel that third god is telling me to do instead of practicing what he has been teaching me to do. Die to Christ. Ambitions, proclivities, fears, all dead. In He who gives me not only living, breathing mortal life, but LIFE in all the sense of the word. And not just life Eternal, but LIFE in the here and now. John 10:10 I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (in the Doctrine and Covenants 66:2 to be exact, He says that we might be partakers of the glories… when we receive Him….)
We all have a story. And God placed a lot of talented story tellers on this earth. I definitely have a story, but am definitely not a storyteller so why would He call me to be one?
So let me just say this: Isaiah 43:18-19 says to forget the old things because I’m going to do something new in you. I will make a way in the places you wouldn’t expect. (I, in this case is HE, being Jesus Christ.) He is talking to the Israelites who had be held captive in Babylon, and wouldn’t be delivered for many more generations, but he would walk with them through their captivity.
Aren’t we all captives?
I’ve got a food problem. Well, a self-control problem in general. I am definitely captive to that. I’m captive to my insecurities, my fears, my need to be right and to be heard, my lack of trust in the Lord and pretty much everyone else. But He has walked with me through that. And unlike the Israelites I don’t have to wait 250 more years to be delivered. And maybe they didn’t either. But I want to let go of petting my sins, hand them to Him and take the hand of deliverance that He is offering me. I’ve tasted it and I am convinced that freedom in Christ is better than control in Mandi .
We have experienced a miracle this summer. Small m miracle to most, but definitely a noteworthy moment in our blip on the timeline. A change of heart. An opening. My heart has begun to believe and to trust. It has begun to shed the years of anger and fear and self-preservation and retribution. That my husband is gay and cheated a lot is feeling less and less important. I don’t have to hold on to that and use it as a shield anymore. It never really served anyone as a shield anyway.
When I was young, I never felt very good, physically or emotionally. It was hard to be taken seriously as I was pretty dramatic even in the smallest things. I learned that in order to get what I needed, or thought I needed, I would have to convince those around me of the seriousness of my condition. I have a sore throat = it feels like giant spikes are closing in on my throat, etc… along with a fake scratchy voice and a slow trudge through the house, preferably past the people I was trying to impress. Even better if they were watching tv and I could slowly walk past and heave a rather weighty and well-timed sigh.
At 21 I served a mission to San Diego. It became apparent pretty soon after I arrived there that things weren’t right with me, but I didn’t know exactly what was wrong and couldn’t verbalize my problems. The rigidity of the schedule, the pyramid-scheme feel of the “leadership ladder”, the utter lack of measurable results all played into my despair. I wasn’t self-aware enough to know that I required self-care. That I was a human, God-created individual and that my needs and personality weren’t so easily malleable into the “ideal” missionary that I expected (and I’m quite certain mission/church leadership expected) me to suddenly become once I put on the tag.
I knew the pat answers to all of the questions, sort of knew the doctrines of the gospel, understood on a rudimentary level that I was a daughter of God and had every right to His grace, guidance and comfort, but didn’t really know how that could make a difference to or to my work. I thought that all that I had and knew was more than enough to make me into a powerhouse missionary who could light up any room, change lives by her word, and bring multitudes of sorrowful souls to the Lord of All.
I had Zero idea what it was all about.
And that was dangerous.
Every day was a mountain. I obeyed to the letter- except for my lunch-hour and driving to La Jolla and Old Town naps- prayed like crazy, read everything I could get my hands on, and threw myself into the work. But it never fit. It was like walking 100 miles in too-small shoes all day, every day. I doubted what I was teaching. It made no sense to me that God would create so many millions of souls, and require them all to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ as-told-through Joseph Smith or they were shut out of the highest glory forever. Especially when so very few of those souls had any desire to even talk about Jesus Christ, let alone Joseph Smith.
Though telling the First Vision was a deeply moving experience, I found myself embarrassed when we would tell it to someone who remained doubtful. I hated telling people that unless they accept “our” baptism and temple ordinances, their loved ones would be lost to them forever. I hated inviting people to church, knowing that attendance and membership was hard, requiring more faith than most likely they, (because even I lacked it) had. That church was not as shiny as the doctrine. That the people weren’t always that friendly or helpful and yes, the Pentecostals down the street probably did have a much better children’s ministry than we did.
It weighed on me to the point of suffocation. “Have more faith.” “Pray more.” “Fast again.” “You aren’t calling on the blessing you received.” “Just forget yourself and get to work.” “You need to love your companion more and work together as one.” Everything pointed to me, and my failure to become That Missionary. There was no room for me, only her, and honestly, I didn’t like her very much. That beautiful Gospel that I thought I loved became a noose around my neck. And I had to get free.
After less than three months, I packed my bags, called the airline and booked a ticket home. It was only at the insistence of my companion that we tell the mission president of my plans. When I told him I was going home, he laughed, which made me even more determined to go. Once he understood how serious I was, he offered everything he could within his power. A sit-down with a Seventy. A stay in the mission home for as long as I needed. A phone call home. But it just wasn’t enough.
In retrospect, I do wish I could have stayed and figured it all out. But it has been 22 years and I’m just starting to understand some of it. I came home and fought the darkness of depression that was slowly but doggedly encroaching on me. I was medicated but it would be another 17 years before I understood that the term Anxiety was more fitting for me.
But what that experience taught me is that people won’t take you seriously unless you’re really, really sick. Preferably in an observable way. So if I had a bad day, I had to stay in bed or make artwork out of my own blood. I had to go into rages and smash pottery. I had to really show those around me that I truly needed help. You see, even my depression wasn’t enough, I had to make it more.
When Mikeal came to me and told me he looked at porn, I shrugged it off. We would work through it. When he came to me and told me he had hooked up with a couple of random guys on business trips, I shrugged it off. We would work through it. When he told me about the men propositioning him at work, I shrugged it off. We would work through it. When he came to me and told me that he had been keeping an affair from me, I sat up and took notice. And I behaved like every jilted wife was supposed to behave. Because that was how I would get the attention and help I needed.
I struggled with knowing the appropriate way to handle the situation because the only thing that was certain was that I hurt, and that I deeply, desperately, loved this man. So I inflated the reaction. I went to what I knew. And because of that, it took me many, many years to even begin to see recovery. I didn’t even know what recovery was. I built up a wall, but busted open the sporadic hole to let Mikeal in on occasion. I held up the pretense that I had forgiven him and all was well, while at the same time shooting barbs at him and making sure he knew exactly how much pain I was in .
It is this shield that I am finally beginning to identify and let down. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t hooked up with anyone in years. Perhaps it’s because he is finding his own healing. Perhaps it’s because I’m in those proverbial 40’s where all women begin to get real with themselves (except those who don’t, and get botox and cheek implants…). But I can say that for the first time in my life I see a ME that is legitimate.
So maybe I’ll find some focus to the writing. Because these pointless rambling posts can’t be all there is. If there really is a greatness that God is aiming to unlock (a notion that is so thrilling and so scary and feels so prideful to even mention) I want to be present for it. If I’m going to write, I demand that it to serves a purpose outside my own need to express.