This week, I started a break. I broke from everything normal, everything I used to enjoy, everything that has framed my identity for the past two and a half years. It was necessary, yet painful. Almost a literal break, like a breaking of the heart so that it can be bandaged, nursed, and healed to form scar tissue that will ultimately remind me of my mistakes and misdirection. Who I am has been so incredibly wrapped up in my daily routine, versus a strong connection with my Creator and a strong sense of me. What that implies is that my daily routine doesn’t strengthen the two most important areas of my life. Something’s broken. So, I took a break.
Begrudgingly, awkwardly, and somewhat clumsily, I’ve now stumbled into territory I’ve NEVER navigated. I don’t do me very well. In only a couple of days of hiking through my inner wilderness, I’ve found that me lies behind a deteriorating dam that holds the water that covers a massive, heavy rusted door that leads to a stairwell that spirals down, down, down to a deep dark cellar where I’ve unconsciously locked away boxes, trunks, and piles of me. Let’s talk about YOU…you’re here and now. Even if your junk is locked away, I’ll hold the rope while you descend to find it versus journeying down through my own muck and mess. I’m a rope-holder, if you will. A chameleon, ready to color myself to everyone else’s feelings and empathize. You’re blue, I’m blue. You’re yellow, I’m all smiles. That’s held up well for a long time; it’s made me seem normal somehow. But the dam is cracking. Water is spewing forth. My chameleon colors are faltering as the water hits me in the face. I’m not ready to tap into my well of whatever-it-may-be and own it, but if I don’t, the ensuing flood could do damage. So, I’d rather control this. Patch the cracks. Work it out in my cellar, and swim everything to the surface versus reacting to a disaster waiting to happen.
So, I took a break. It officially started Monday. However, there were loose ends to tie. Little things I wasn’t ready to let go of just yet. Which is ok. I think God wanted it that way. He knows we’ve got some big work to do, He and I. Well, I’ve got some big work to do. He’s just ready and waiting for me to do it.
I wasn’t sure what I’d do with myself. Like I said, I don’t do me. I deflect. I watch TV. I read blogs. I check out Facebook. Anything to avoid doing me-work. However, for the first time in a very long time, last night after tying up all loose ends and heading into a day off, I found myself alone. I think God wanted it this way. He was preparing a place for me.
Lenny left yesterday afternoon for his Emmaus walk. I’m thankful for this for him. He deserves this time, his own break of sorts. One of our two roommates, Lenny’s nephew, moved out yesterday afternoon before I got home. My sister, our other roommate, made plans elsewhere. For the first time, in a very long time, I found myself alone.
I found myself on fire to write. Not to write this opening story of my break, but to begin writing about my history. What I remember about growing up. In one hour, I’d cranked out five very descriptive pages. It felt freeing. Yet, I wasn’t yet writing about how it shaped me. That’s ok. I’ve got lots of time to get to that part.
I followed my writing by looking up Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Personal Life Plan, a book and template recommended by my friend, Beth Stoddard. She did it. She said it was good for her. I thought I’d give it a try. So, I simply read a little. I made a couple of lists, not even directly related to what the book instructed me to do. My lists were a start for my day off: 1) Talk to God, read my Bible, journal, 2) Write, 3) Make music, 4) Take care of Lenny. Lenny’s not here for three days. So, I’ve got some good me time. I’m ok with that and feeling good about it.
Today, on my first real day off, I’m hit with the reality of the gift God has given me. I’m alone once again. My house is in order. It’s raining out. It’s…peaceful. I’ve turned off my phone. I’m ready. Thank you God.
I very intentionally followed my list. God reminded me that He’s always with me (Genesis 28:15) and that I have a Counselor (John 14:16-17). Wow, what a way to start. Thank you God.
Even with the intentionality of following my list, I allowed myself to branch off almost immediately. Versus going directly to number two, this “thing” that I’m writing, I read a little of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. What a blessing. In her own words, she sums up a quote from Jean Pierre de Caussade as follows:
“If we are dying of thirst, passively reading books about water quenches little; the only way to quench the parched mouth is to close the book and dip the hand into water and bring it to the lips. If we thirst, we’ll have to drink. I would have to DO something.”
Yes, I have to DO something. I have to drink. I’m drinking. It’s a slow, ultimately satisfying. But the cup is full and I have a long way to go. In reference to giving thanks to God by naming very specifically his gifts, she goes on to say:
“This naming is how the first emptiness of space fills; the naming of light and land and sky…naming offers the gift of recognition…Naming [is] to find identity, our identity, God’s.”
I will name my gifts during this process. However, to fill my emptiness, I have to name me during this process. Find my identity. Open up to brokenness and let the scar tissue form. I take a deep breath and dive.