Beginning this post has caused me a fair amount of unease . . . I feel like I’m stalled in neutral, burning rubber, with the words “GO!” blinking green over my head, but each time I think I might be ready to do just that, I lose all momentum and peter out again, left inhaling the noxious fumes of my own exhaust pipe.
I suppose the wise thing to do would be to take some more time and process, then come back when I do know where to begin. The only problem with that is I can’t seem to move on — or if I’m using the same analogy — I can’t seem to get out of the vehicle and leave it be while I go off to think. When I try, it jumps onto my shoulders and rides piggy-back, making it rather difficult to go on with my day.
I need this car off my shoulders.
Writing — typing — it down on paper may be the only way to do that. First off, I want to apologize if any of this feels scattered and fragmented. Were this a synopsis, I might make an outline to collect my thoughts better, but life is not literature, and I don’t want anything I have to say feeling manufactured. Totally and completely, my hope in sharing this is that there might be someone who benefits from hearing it. Those who know me well, know that my face reads like an open book. My feelings are front and center, dangling from each sleeve. There is very little I am not willing expose about my struggles and hurt if the result is fruitful.
Honesty and Vulnerability: these two attributes have always come very natural to me. I say natural, but more accurately would be the word innate.
Let me explain it this way:
I am incapable of remaining on the surface of things. At least for any length of time, that is. Obviously when you first meet someone, there is certain amount of chit-chat that occurs during the interim of establishing familiarity. But, for me anyway, this is always a very brief period of time. If relationships are like oceans, then I am a deep-sea diver. Bypassing all the kelp, muck and gunk floating at the top, I want to propel straight to the bottom. This is where exotic fish obscure themselves in coral, where pearls are hidden inside clams, where caves and winding tunnels lead you to discover untold treasures. What I want . . . is access to what makes a human soul exquisite, and in return, offer you mine. Heavy? Yes, I know. Quite honestly, I’ve often thought so myself and convey just as much from time to time. But until our time is no longer hindered by body and firmament, I don’t get to know why I was born this way — with an intense desire to connect with people, and a hunger to know one fully and be fully known in return. I have to believe, however, that it wasn’t an accident. I have to believe that having my heart-broken isn’t in vain. There must be a Greater purpose.
I should mention that, in this case, my usage of “natural” should not be confused with “easy.” There is nothing — nothing, whatsoever — easy or safe about being vulnerable with another human being. There is always risk involved. Some are riskier than others. Some suffer past hurts and remain private and guarded. Some have neither the motivation or inclination. And some have no choice at all, because giving something and giving everything hold no distinction.
Okay. I might actually be ready to begin. Bit of an lengthy intro, but it ties in with what’s to come.
One last thought: more than anything, I think what hinders me from “starting” is that I shy away from anything that might be perceived as indulgent or self-absorbed. I was brought up in home where the words “The world does not revolved around you, Cara.” were spoken often to me. For years and years and years I heard these words. To be honest, as a little girl, I didn’t quite get it. I mean, I understood that I was being called selfish, and of course I knew that the world did not literally rotate around my physical being, but I didn’t get it. On my best day I would never profess to being a perfect child; mouthy, brash, with a bit of a temper (<— under-estimation) but, all in all, I was a good child. I don't believe at six years old I was in danger of becoming a narcissist or succumbing to insouciance. But these words left a lasting impact on me, and as a result, have made me extra sensitive not to be a burden on people. I will listen far more often than I will speak. Listening skills are nothing to flout; I think most of us would do well to listen a great deal more than we speak, but for a healthy relationship to thrive, a reciprocity must exist.
A moment ago I compared myself to a deep-sea diver. I also mentioned having my heart-broken; this is where I want to start.
In the last year or two there have been some big changes in our — my husband and I — lives. Our church, once around 30 in size, joined with another church — around 100 in size — to be become a church of around 130 in size. I, for one, was very excited about this merge. I had reservations, of course, about losing the intimacy and the open-forum atmosphere our small numbers accommodated. It wasn't a seamless transition and unfortunately we didn't take our entire church with us, something that grieved me. Overall, though, I was hopeful of the things to come. Of the 30 people in our church, Michael and I were the only one of our kind (twenties with no children.) While I don't think one necessarily has to be in the same life-stage to enjoy a friendship, I was eager to meet a few couples our age, and maybe even a few girls I could grab coffee with once in a while.
In an effort to bring the two churches together, we collectively participated in some activities with the hope of building friendships, and I took it upon myself to approach a few ladies, expressing a desire to get to know them better. Months later, for some, this seems to have been successful. There are certainly those who have transitioned well. Unfortunately, we are not among them. Every Sunday I leave heavy-hearted, asking myself a question I haven't thought about since sixth grade, when I used to eat lunch by myself in the math-room: "Why don't they like me?" I am not a shy woman, though walking up to an almost complete stranger and starting a conversation is a little daunting, even for someone such as myself. I remind myself then that feelings are like muscles; the ones you use most frequently will be strong and capable, the ones you don't, weak and ineffective. Discomfort should never stand in Possibility's way.
The risk I was taking in befriending strangers was high, but so was the pay-out, in my opinion. Ultimately, I may have set my expectations a little high. Then again . . . maybe not. While I continue to pray about where it is God wants me and where I can be of most use to Him, I have cause to wonder. Is it here? It there a place for my gifts? Am I benefiting anyone? Am I to keep trying to break through walls that won't crumble? It's possible that maybe the answer is one I'm not prepared to hear. It's possible, after all my praying for confirmation, that the door has gently been shut on me. As difficult as that may be to swallow, I have to consider it.
A person's time is bit like ocean front real-estate; there is only so much undeveloped land available for acquisition. Between a spouse, children, a job perhaps, time alone with the Lord, and the friends accumulated over the years, that doesn't leave a lot of space for additions. In order to make room for a new relationship, a renovation needs to happen. Before that, though, there needs to be desire. Every individual is arbiter of their value system, placing priorities one on top of the other. That part of me which is innate, longing for meaningful and deep relationships, has always upheld a high value on relationships. I will always find a way to make room.
Whether I'm simply not liked, or the reasons for lack of effort result from busyness and disinterest, I am becoming more and more convinced I'm being called outside this church. The hello's in passing, the smiles from across the room, everyone talking to the same people they talk to every single Sunday — this wasn't what I envisioned for us. Truthfully, I don't think it's what anyone envisioned. A mixture of comfort, oblivion, and resignation, I think we've settled.
We can stand up, hold hands, and recite some pretty words, but all I see when I look around, is two churches existing inside one building.
Another change that took place very recently was the launching of our Crafting Water ministry. Both Michael and I were so excited about this, and wanting to share that excitement, sent out an e-mail to about 50 friends, family, and church-family. Now . . . I know myself extremely well, and in the past have let unrealistic expectations spoil things, so I made sure to keep that in mind. I’m incredibly glad I did. Of our church-family, not one person responded to that e-mai. It was like having the wind knocked out of me 50 times.
As a way of showing support, it’s not uncommon for our church to take a moment during announcements to mention an endeavor such as this one, or invite the person(s) up to speak about their ministry in front of the congregation. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t one to say, “That’s great!” or “How can we support you?” Some time passed and thankfully a few church-friends have offered encouragement and shown a bit of interest, but mostly it was those I never would have expected to care at all, that cared the most . . .
My husband — the pithy one — has a great quote he says to me when I’m left confounded over a lack of involvement from friends.
“If they couldn’t understand it, then it wasn’t for them.”
These are great words. True words. Unfortunately they don’t make the hurt go away. How do I make sense of all of this? How do I put into terms that don’t leave me aching and bruised, that the people who are, in theory, supposed to love me the most are, in actuality, loving me the least?
The answer: love them anyway and love boldly.
Among the 6.9 billion humans populating the Earth, there are only two of whom I entirely trust my heart — dark spots and all — with: my husband and my Savior. I need not trust someone to love them, though. And it is not a choice at all, but a commandment. I do this because I was first loved, knowing that this, too, came at a very high risk, and consequently costing a man His sinless life.
What saddens me, more than anything else, is the Great potential squandered. Of all church paradigms I been a part of over the last 10 years, the philosophy and concept behind our church is exceptional. Yet it remains concept and philosophy until the day real, genuine love surpasses fond ideals and perorations. Right now what we have is broth; a satisfactory base prepped for ingredients which will make it flavorful and rich. With chicken, vegetables, and seasonings, lasting sustenance is possible. Left at a broth for an extended duration, and the body renders itself a colander, purging that once promised as nourishment.
I want to shout at the top of my lungs “There is so much more!” Can’t you feel it? Can’t you feel what’s missing? The decision would be simpler if it were cruelty or viciousness I was up against. Were it an evil dictated by ignorance that resolves in people meanness and hate, I could fight that. Prejudice, racism, defamation and slander, religious and political embroilment, these are ugly and dangerous, but relatively unambiguous evils. This . . . this listless and cavalier behavior leaves me clutching steam and pinning down clouds.
My voice is but one, and it is likely not the majority. These shared sentiments belong to that of my husband and myself, only. For now, I will continue as I have, extending a hand to any who wish to take it, offering a willing heart. I will love boldly. But I have no interest in a quick return, I am looking to make an long-term investment, and am prepared to leave in order to find those who seek the same. I will not languor in stultification for much longer. And if you have no desire or room for me, I will take my love and offer it to someone who wants it.
Love will not fail.