[I wanted to share that I don’t intend this piece to be prescriptive to all people in all circumstances. Obviously, there are those with chronic issues and diseases who are bedridden – or maybe God’s still got you in ‘the bed’ because he isn’t finished talking with you, doing his work. This piece is simply an expression of my experience with depression, anxiety, and physical pain – which can range from being nearly-nonexistent to debilitating. Remember: “He makes everything beautiful in its time; he has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet no one can fathom what he has done from beginning to end.” -Eccl. 3:11]
Recently, a friend and I were talking about chronic pain and physical limitations, and she caught me off guard by saying, “You do so much…” I did feel tired at that moment, and it rang true.
It reminded me that busyness for busyness’ sake is never a good thing. There should always be purpose to our work and activity; otherwise, we risk being roped in by all the world’s empty noise. But I assured my friend that there were plenty of days when I wasn’t that strong; when I didn’t feel I could make it to work; days, not so very long ago, that I’d felt sick – so nauseous I couldn’t get out of bed. Even suicidal at the very worst. But it’s because those times are so dark and debilitating that I find the almost unnatural energy and motivation to plunge into things when I actually feel alive. It’s an emotional mix of being so grateful to live and holding a sense of responsibility to be with others. To work toward making dreams reality and hosting girls in my kitchen and writing and walking for three hours on a Saturday, each beautiful step a reminder that life doesn’t last forever. It’s like I’m running as fast as I can go with a kite, as it flutters and waves in the bright blue sky, because I know, in just a little while, the kite will drop again.
And no, that’s not to say that the kite should drop or will drop for sure – but life has patterns, and it’s stupid not to recognize them.
I’ve always had too many big ideas for my own good. Some of you are probably the same. (You know, you get this vision of something you want to accomplish; but even as you’re working toward it, another one plummets down and seizes your attention like a pocket knife to a magpie.) There have always been a flurry of ideas, but never such a scramble to get them finished. Sometimes I stop and sense that it’s like there’s this massive ticking clock above me all the time, reminding that there’s only so much daylight left until it turns midnight. Which is totally true, of course, but the ticking is very loud these days.
Once upon a time, I was content with less. I didn’t dream far beyond the walls of trees lining my own little town. Maybe what kept me in was fear, but a lot of it was a lack of experience and, thus, a lack of hunger for more. What I had inside was perfect and purposeful and without need for anything more. Once upon a time, all I wanted was to live near friends and family, play piano for church, sing in a local Christmas chorale, and raise a tiny blonde-haired boy.
Some days, if I’m totally honest with myself, that’s still true.
But when your world is too small, sometimes God expands it and (especially if you’re unwilling) kicks you outside the gate and whatever else is holding you close because of your own stupid behavior or because your dreams are too small, or simply because he’s not finished with you yet. There’s a whole wide world out there to love–a world with miles of abandoned string all over the ground that, also, used to soar with hope.
Do you ever feel like you’re just inventing things to keep you busy? It does feel like that on certain days, when I get out of breath, running from place to place and conversation to conversation.
But it sure beats laying in bed.
I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus whispers to us in the quiet. Whether our time of debilitation is short (causing us to stop and rest when we don’t want to) or agonizingly long (when you feel so desperate, you cry with him every night like clockwork). I know this is true because he’s been speaking in both for 27 years. But there are some moments in the deepest places of desperation that the only voices you can hear in bed inside that stuffy, dark room are the enemy’s and your own – which often sound the same. And that’s when it’s time to get out. Oh, it’ll be there for you when you come back, but, for now, the winds have changed. Once you’ve exhausted crying and sleeping and lying there staring at the white, stucco ceiling with glazed-over eyes and a hurt in your chest the weight of New York City, it’s time to get out of the bed.
And then, on a clear day that catches you by surprise, the sun comes out and somebody tosses you a kite.
And you’re off…