June 23, 2010

Wondering What to Do

Last night my son and I watched "Batman Begins" with Christian Bale. We have seen most of the Batman movies, and think Christian Bale is the best Batman to date. We liked him in this movie a lot, and loved him in The Dark Knight. As we were watching the movie, this phrase caught my attention: "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

I feel like I have fallen down a very deep, dark shaft, and am struggling to figure out how to get back up and out into the light of day. I did this to myself, I know that now. I also know that some of what I have experienced is the result of testing and trials -- the proving of my faith. However, a fair portion was due to my own hand, in the sense of not doing what I said I would do. It is chastisement of a sort, trial of a sort, and persecution (most certainly) of a sort. The combination plunged me deep into a dark place, a place where I literally felt overwhelmed and afraid I would never get out.

Thankfully, the Lord is good. Yes, because of His Goodness, I know that I can never be lost or abandoned. I may feel it for a time, but He is always there, always ready to grab my hand and lift me out of the pit of life. This time, I had to climb out. I think the Lord does this occassionally, sort of to say "Well, you got yourself into this mess, so now pick yourself up and climb on out." He normally reaches down for me, but this time, He asked me to do it myself. I know why, I know why He didn't rescue me from my own hand. The answer was simply this: I have to learn to trust Him and do what I say I will do. If I choose to wander away, to walk my own way, make my own choices; then He will allow me the priviledge of trying that way out. This means that I will suffer the consequences. God doesn't always suspend the consequences from our choices. Sometimes He does -- I think -- especially when we are frail and so scared that the consequences will overwhelm our souls. Most of the time, though, when we have been hardened a bit, He allows us to experience it. For me, I am a child of experience. I learn by doing, and God knows that sometimes, just sometimes, I have to feel the heat of the fire to know not to stick my hand in it.

Well, I felt the fire, that is for certain. I got myself a bit singed and toasty the other day. In fact, I have been playing with fire now for about two-three weeks. It started out innocently, really it did. My MIL became ill and I panicked. I had my plans in order, I felt confident that the Lord was leading us to move away from Phoenix. I had applied for a job, and the Lord had impressed on me a certain order of events (first acceptance at Mercy College, then acceptance of a job, then provision to move). He was specific with me -- "in this order, Carol." I was getting pretty impatient with His "order of events" and wanted things to move more quickly. I was getting to the point where I was thinking, "this is never going to happen -- and we are running out of time." The Lord's reply to me: TRUST ME. Always He says to me, Trust Me.

My MIL was ill, in the hospital for a time, and our lives were going haywire. I didn't know what would happen, how I fit into the grand scheme of things, so I began to formulate another plan. You see, there were really two plans already established by the Lord. One was to go to IL, and one was to stay in Phoenix. The Lord had said either plan would faciliate His will -- either would work. I choose to go because it was best. It was harder initially, more work, more patience, more waiting, but in the end (the long run) it was best for me and my son. Plan A, I called it. Plan A was just better in the long run.

Plan B was good. Plan B was easy up front. It required little effort other than waiting for a job. I could do Plan B. Plan B didn't really require a big stretch of faith like Plan A. It would work, it would serve the Lord's purpose for my life; but it wasn't as challenging or trying as Plan A. I wanted Plan A, I told myself it was best. I made a list of pros and cons, and I did do my due diligence. Plan A made sense. Plan A was doable, but not by my hand alone. In fact, the only way Plan A would come to pass was through divine intervention. God would have to enable Plan A to be a reality in my life. There was nothing I could do to bring it about -- it was all about Him and would be done by Him. I knew this, I wanted it for His Glory, and I said as much.

Then illness struck, and my thoughts ran to Plan B. Plan B was easy. It was convenient, and it could work without much effort. In short, God didn't have to do as much to make Plan B work. He still directed me to several good jobs, showed me a potential home, and suggested some options for college for my son. It SEEMED ok on face value, and whenever I would think about it, I felt relieved. I was happy to not have to be so faithful, so patient, so enduring. Then I would get this sinking feeling, like I was shortchanging myself and not standing for His Best. I then would waffle and reaffirm my committment to Plan A. I don't know how many times I waffled, lets just say more than a dozen (that is a good starting number). I questioned Him, I made up reasons why Plan B sounded better than Plan A. I tried to convince myself that Plan B was just as good as Plan A. In the end, I never could quite do that because I would always have this "buyers remorse" feeling in my heart, like I had taken a hand-me-down instead of the precious new gift being handed to me.

Back to my MIL and her illness. As illness goes, my MIL recovered, and all the plans (quick changes) made to accomodate her seemed to not be needed anymore. Then all the ICK came back, all the issues that have been a part of our relationship for the past 27 years. There was talk again about taking more responsibility, helping out more, etc. I won't go into a lot of detail, but it reminded me of one of the reasons why moving away was a good thing. I have been the "care giver" now for almost 17 years. Yes, my DH and his sister have helped out (especially his sister -- she comes once a year for a weekend or longer to help do things). The lion's share has fallen to me in years past. Since the marriage crisis, I have taken a back seat and my DH has stepped up to do things that I would have normally done. It has been a good thing, a good thing all around. The care has been provided, the needs met -- just not always by me. I know this was the Lord's doing because whether I stay or go, the fact remains that my time is limited now. I will be working full-time and doing graduate school full-time. I will not have a lot of time, none in the day anymore, to run errands, go places, etc.

I had planned an easy transition out of helping so much. This time around, the need was severe and whenever you are faced with an immediate crisis, you do the necessary. But long term -- well -- I knew that I couldn't commit to anything long term. I just wasn't going to be available to do that. The suggestion that I would be there came as expected. The expectation that I would fill in, that was there as well. I stood my ground, took stock, and politely, but firmly said I had plans that would not allow me to do as much as before. The response was not good. The response was unfavorable, and I thought to myself (under my breath even), "Oh Lord, why didn't I just go to Northbrook?!"

Then came the crash, and later the burn of it all. I found myself saying the same thing not two days ago. I was being pinched by the other side of the family, again for a time commitment, and I said out loud, "Lord, it would have been so much easier to just go to Northbrook." I knew I said IT the very moment the words came out of my mouth. I knew it, and as I walked through the grocery store, the more guilty I felt. I left thinking, "Carol, you have made an error, and now you are trying to cover it up, make it LOOK better. It isn't going to float this time. You know better, so do the right thing." I did the right thing...I immediately confessed my error. The problem was that I got nothing in return. No, "It's ok, everything will be ok. Nope, nothing. Nada. Zip." I was left dangling by my own rope, stuck in a deep cavern, with only a tiny light to point the way out. No hand reached down and scooped me up. Nope, I had to walk it back out, I had to climb the walls, and encounter some unpleasantness along the way. I had to come back out of that cave, and stand in the bright light of His Glory and say: "Lord, I stand corrected. This was my fault, my error. I didn't do what I told you I would do, and I am sorry. Please forgive me." He did of course, but my troubles didn't end there. I still had some mess to clean up. I still had some unanswered questions that needed answering. I still needed to know what to do.

This morning I have spent the better part going back over my decisions, and seeing where I went wrong. I have had to confess some other things too -- clean the deck, so to speak. Now, I have to face my son and tell him that I was wrong, that I made the wrong choice, and that what we just went through was of my own doing. I have to be humble and contrite. Not that I mind doing that, but I feel so bad about it. I never wanted to hurt or disallusion my son. No, never. I didn't set out to do this on purpose, it was an error, that is all. However, this was an error that affected more than just me. This error touched another person's life, a person very close to me, a person I would die to save or defend.

So there you have it, the crux of the past three weeks and all my whining and wailing (though I don't recall wailing too much -- suffice to say "frustration"). I know what I must do, I know where I must go, and most importantly, I know that when I say I will do something, the Lord expects me to do it.

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