Reflections on things that matter.
This is my day off. Yesterday was also my day off. I am on break. From life. My life is broken and disorganized and I am taking a step back in order to breath, regroup, and get back to living. And this is incredibly hard for me. I feel guilty for sitting out. Some of it is circumstance (I don’t have a job and I haven’t been able to get one) while some of it I chose (took half a semester off from online graduate school). Why am I doing this? Because I lost myself.
Back in September I was supposed to be flying off to England to pursue my MA in English and American Literature. One of my life’s dreams was to live in the UK and study British literature in the homeland of my greatest literary influences, like Dickens, Austen, Tolkien, Lewis, and Bronte. It is my aim to become a professor of literature and a writer of excellent stories. After a 3-year set-back, I was finally on my way. I had been accepted into a program at the University of Kent at Canterbury. I had my passport. I had an address in Kent. I quit my job at the community college library. I was ready to go.
Then I found out, three weeks before I was supposed to arrive at the university, that my student visa paperwork was unprocessed and had been lost somewhere at Home Office for 2 months. After days of frantic calls and e-mails I had to face the fact that I could not obtain a student visa in time to begin my course of study. I was beyond devastated. I was drowning in a sick, suffocating terror. I went from having a safe but unfulfilling job to daring to follow a big dream, and then from there to losing both. I was shipwrecked in the middle of an unforgiving sea.
I was lost in confusion and grief after it all fell apart at the seams. I lost confidence in myself, in God, and in people after what should have been the greatest adventure of my life thus far turned into my life’s most devastating failure. And after that devastating failure, I rushed back in and tried to put a plan together. I plugged into a MA degree in Theological Studies because it could be entered upon quickly and because it still had a little bit to do with what I wanted to study in a PhD. I gave myself no time to heal or regroup, and as a result, I fell apart. My first semester was an uphill fight, but after that, my academic performance deteriorated as I began to fall prey to panic attacks that would last for days. I would cyclically pass from dismay and panic to depression and despair and then into complete and total apathy. I was so close to being suicidal that it would have scared me if I had cared. But I didn’t, and on some days, it was that apathy that kept me from suicide.
But it was mostly the fact that no matter how hard I tried to abandon the offensive doctrines of my religious upbringing, I could not convince myself that there is no God. I know he’s real. I was angry at him. I wished I had the right to say “you are unfair, so you’re fired!” I was so lost in my grief and in the pain of my personal disappointment that I couldn’t see the “good God” and I wondered to myself if I ever had. Where was the God of abundant joy? Where was the God of life to the fullest? Even if I couldn’t have what I wanted, I should have been able to handle it better. If God was good, why would he make me such a weak person? I still don’t know what to say about most of how I felt and how I still feel sometimes, but I know that God is real and that based on all I’ve learned and observed, I cannot ignore him now.
And in all of this chaos, I lost the ability to identify who I am, what I want out of life, and how to get there. I once was a creative girl. I don’t know where that girl has gone. I remember a happy girl. She’s missing too. There was a smart girl who seems to have wandered away as well. There was a girl who knew and loved the very real God. I don’t know where she is either. Right now, the girl that is left is just tired, but her eyes are at least half open, and it’s time to play hide and seek. I’m looking for the others now. I’m hoping to find them all in company together. I’m hoping they will fold me into an embrace, wash my cuts, dry my tears, and lead me to the place where they have been hiding. I hope that Jesus is there, and that he will pick me up and dust me off and say “courage, Dear Heart,” and that his words will make me brave.