I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:14
I am afraid I may be joining the ranks of “people who blog about their health issues”, which I have been avoiding for a while. Whatever has been going on with my stomach (which I have alternately been referring to as “janked-up stomach”, “crazy belly”, and “swollen colon”, the last of which isn’t really accurate but just sounds funny) finally had me on an examiner’s table this morning while an ultrasound was done of my upper abdomen.
The student doing the ultrasound was moving along very nicely when her supervisor walked back into the room. She sat down at the monitor and shouted “Great Ana!” which I assumed was an expletive that meant that I either had something missing or was gushing blood. Lying on my side, covered in jelly and towels, I dared to let out an “uhhh???”, to which the technician replied “great anatomy!” Apparently all of my organs are in just the right spot and are unusually visible via ultrasound. I swelled up with pride a little before asking “then what the hell is wrong with me?”
I had probably had a bad week, healthwise, because I got myself totally worked into a lather earlier in the week. Everything was taking three extra steps, I had to ask people to take on some of my responsibilities in a way that felt unfair, and I felt buried under work and anxiety. True to form, I had a few of my hallmark “episodes” of acting out, saying the wrong thing, being too loud, and generally stinking at life. I ended up spending most of Tuesday night in tears because I was so frustrated with myself.
My whole life has been spent trying to be more disciplined, trying not to indulge the brash and offensive parts of my personality. It is, by far, the thing I have worked hardest at over the last thirty years. So why am I still so bad at it?
Talking to a co-worker today, he was relating a similar self-directed frustration, also regarding something that had been a life-long challenge. We laughed at ourselves for getting so down. We all have something that it feels like we’ll never been good enough at, something that has taken the lion’s share of our effort, at which we still fail over and over. I really try not to use this word, but it sucks.
And a part of me has always believed that when everything finally falls apart, when the abandonment and desolation come, which part me believes they will, it will be because of this thing I suck at. Everyone will discover the thing I can’t get right, and everything will fall apart.
In spiritual direction I was talking about how disciplined I try to be in prayer because I need it. I have spontaneous prayer down pat, it’s the regimented stuff I need to work on. As I talked out the story of my life with my director I realized the word discipline came up over and over – in prayer, in speech, in life. This was no surprise to me, but I started to wonder if maybe I am a little compulsive about it. And yet despite my compulsion, I still don’t get it right.
At one point I said “yeah, it’s great that I am passionate and energetic and enthusiastic, but there’s also a part of me that is so bitchy. Why was I made like this?”. And I thought, what if God loves that part of me just as surely as God loves my creativity and loyalty and perfectly placed gall bladder?
What if God just loves me? What if the periodic stresses that make me act out are not black marks on my character but bumps on the road, a road on which I am never unloved and never abandoned? It is really easy to think that my darkness is too dark for redemption and that I shouldn’t even try to let in the Light. But what if I was made just right? What if my bumps in the road were meant to be uniquely mine, were meant to shake me up and guide my path? What if God loves me as I am?
If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light”— Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one. – Psalm 139: 11-12