Even beauty can harbor pain. I have been looking for the beauty in each day, but I haven’t posted about it in the past week. There have been so many things swirling around in my head, and I wanted many times to sit and write. Life gets in the way, and that’s not always bad.
My pain. The beautiful pain to share? Not like “Oh, it’s so beautiful, it’s killing me!” I don’t do insincere well. But there are three things have led to this post. One was a dream. Another was a memory. The third is the present. Let me explain.
I am in a public setting, a bar, a party, maybe (it’s a dream–funky from the get go, so keep that in mind). I’ve apparently come with friends, and we’re all mingling. I’m not a drinker, so that’s not happening. It appears at least some people are in costume. I never see myself, I don’t know what I’m wearing. A man walks past that I notice. Shorts are a part of his costume. He’s tall, with lean muscles. I find him attractive, but I never see his face in focus. We begin a pleasant conversation. I see him smile at me. I like a smile. Another man approaches us and tries to get my attention. He’s annoying and at least a little drunk. You know how that is? People with slurry speech rarely get the hint, and he won’t go away. The handsome fellow kisses me. It isn’t passionate, it’s actually ridiculous simply intended to get the message across to the tipsy interlocutor. It worked and he’s gone. I see the conversationalist smiling at me in a casual way, as if he’s ready to pick up where we left off, and like nothing happened. I don’t know how the rest of the evening went, I only know as we’re leaving, and standing outside, people are all parting ways and he looks at me and realizes something is wrong. He asks about it. I tell him it has been a long time since I’ve been kissed and I really hadn’t anticipated the first one to be anything like what he’d done. It had upset me and unnerved me in an unpleasant way. Like an unwelcome violation. Oddly, I wasn’t angry at him, but the casualness of it all really disturbed me. As he looks at me, I know he’s listening and understands. He leans down, and I know he’s going to kiss me again. I let him, and it is sweet, tender, gentle. This is not the type of kiss that makes you think the next thing is a segue into bed. It’s not passionate, but there is an intimacy to it that I haven’t known in a great while.
And I woke up. The dream saddened me. Because the kiss was beautiful. But it wasn’t real. The sadness is from the knowing that it wasn’t real. I’m not a casual person. I guess that’s part of the lack of insincerity. I don’t go around randomly kissing strangers and won’t begin today. It’s that I don’t have that kind of intimacy with anyone, and I’ve no idea when or if that will occur again. I know that God intended for intimacy to be beautiful. It’s the lack of that in my life that is painful.
I have been sorting through the things in my home. We homeschooled for so many years and I have begun to tackle the pantry where the books and supplies were primarily kept. I need to clean it out and figure out what there is and what needs to be done with it all. So many sweet memories came to my mind as I began to sort through the things. Things to throw away, things to put in order, things to store away. Thinking about what is gone and never will be again is painful. The memories are beautiful and I’m very grateful to have them. It doesn’t stop the tears. I am a sappy sentimentalist. Many times I don’t like inevitability. Sometimes the memories are so beautiful and painful at the same time I prefer to avoid them. It’s when they come flooding back due to the absolute necessity of moving forward that crowds in and I cannot turn off the memories, because they are right in front of me. They will not be silenced. And I have to do the pantry in short spurts or I am overwhelmed with the noise and images blocking me from moving forward.
My oldest daughter came for a visit. I have been anticipating this since before Thanksgiving. I haven’t seen her in almost five months and I’ve been looking forward to it immensely. Her little sister has been waiting for it “on pins and needles.” Her words. My oldest daughter is truly amazing and is living an incredible life, saving money towards her future; and she enjoys the work she’s doing so much, it doesn’t seem like work to her. She’s got the job we all want — where you’d want to do it even if you didn’t get paid, yet you do get paid. Awesomeness.
So, she arrived. Her stay was brief, enjoyable, and beautiful. Simply beautiful and bittersweet because the whole time I knew she’d be leaving again very soon, and I really like her company. There are changes in her in this brief separation that are molding her into another individual, not one I don’t know, but her own person. Yes, it’s what we want for our children, but having had my hand in nearly every decision, every direction, everything for her whole life prior to her moving ahead is still a difficult pill to swallow. I love her and I have already mentioned I don’t really like change. Add to that her departure was a foregone conclusion even before she came.
As much as I tried to appreciate the moments she was here, the inevitable loomed. My youngest princess cried the night before she left as we were saying prayers at bedtime, and I had no words of comfort. Just understanding. It made me cry. I tried not to think about the following morning. But, a sweet little girl crying as she clings to you sort of makes that difficult.
These kinds of things make me wonder about the idea of it “being better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
So much pain in beauty. But Christ never promised it would be easy. We have pain. We are bound to have pain. There is no lie in that. We will suffer in this life, no matter how much beauty we experience. Whether we know Him or not. There is not a single person past or present that has not experienced pain.
It’s times like this that I see why I hold back so often from reaching out to people, why I would choose rather to stay silent, stay alone, stay aloof from engaging. I anticipate the end and the departure. I anticipate disappointment. I would sometimes choose rather to be lonely than to be hurt. It is knowing the pain which accompanies the beauty that distresses me most.
I have hope in the beauty. I know there is no way to escape the pain. I know we were given beauty in this life to enjoy and I would not change the beautiful to escape the pain.
This part of my life must be my cocoon. The waiting for a new and beautiful something that God has for me when this is past, this must be my chrysalis. I am being transformed through what by all outward appearance is a time of stagnation where nothing is changing but hours, minutes, and days. Butterflies have wings. I better prepare to take flight.
When I get to the end of a book, I react in some way. I’m sad to leave the characters behind if it was a good book, I may also be satisfied in the resolution of the story. At the end of a movie, I do likewise. I tend to think about it a bit, and if it was unsettling, I sometimes linger longer on my reflections. I like the movies that leave me with a warm, pleasant feeling, but you always want to go back for more.
So, is it any wonder that at the end of a year we give pause to look back at the year and wonder on it’s contents, and look forward to the next year in hopes it will unfold in a more hopeful way?
It has been a while since I’ve posted, and I’ve gained new followers in the interim (odd that, but welcome, all!), and I think a part of it is the length of time my life has been in a limbo mode. It’s not like life is standing still, but since I’ve either been in a survival mode or simply waiting on God that it seems like not much is going on. Yet, my children continue to grow and experience needs, and as they say, ‘Time marches on’.
With that in mind, looking back on 2014 doesn’t give me much to truly reflect on but the constancy of God. Is that a problem? Nope. Not at all.
I have moved–temporary. I have had a change in my financial status–temporary. I have enrolled my son in a new district with a whole new school, surroundings, teachers. . . temporary. I have begun again to homeschool my eldest daughter still in school–temporary.
We are surrounded by temporary. I need to hold on fast to the things that are eternal. I need to cling to what God’s promises are for the eternal. The things I have are not the things that will be.
I recently listened at a Wednesday night Q&A bible study to the response of my pastor which turned to the idea of being in limbo and waiting on God. As he responded, I sat there and began to cry. I couldn’t help it. He was talking about how sometimes, when you’re waiting on God, and you don’t know the outcome, because God has yet to reveal it to you, some people will perceive it as a cop out. As weakness, even. He said as a pastor, he spends a lot of time waiting on God and it’s tough as a leader to do that.
I get it. I’m in that place and some people find it unsettling. As if I can take over for God. It resonated with me in a familiar, “That’s it! Precisely!” kind of way. I felt it deep, and it moved me to know I’m okay.
We want to be in charge. We want to be in control. We want to know the answers, the responses, the clever comebacks and the formula. The formula to punch into our daily routine so that when we get our ducks all in a row, we know how it is going to end. I gave up on this a long time ago. Doesn’t mean I don’t try to take it all back, pick up the burden again, and wish I knew where God was going with my life.
I do have a rough guestimate. But I don’t know how to get there. I’ve seen glimpses. But I don’t know how to bring it to fruition. It’s bigger than me. It’s more than I can do in my capacity. That’s how I know it has to be from God. And that I have to wait on Him. And be ready.
What can I do in the meantime? Well, for starters (hehehe–endings?), I will stop the attitude of being in limbo. God has something for me today. Tomorrow, next week–it’s future. Today. That’s what I need to focus on.
As I look at closing the curtain on 2014, the focus I have as the curtain rises for 2015 is beauty.
I’ve really decided I’m a pessimistic optimist. I don’t know how else to define my POV. I know the end of the story. It ends good. I know I’ll be standing with the hero of the story when God closes the book on time and reopens the gates of eternity. But every day isn’t sunshine and roses, and I know I’ll get burned now and again. Pessimistic optimism. I’m cool with that.
How does that fit in with the theme of beauty, you ask?
Well, I recently told a woman she is beautiful because her beauty is not simply the exterior, it comes from within, where it truly matters. I don’t mean that I don’t appreciate physical beauty, what I mean is that I’m going to focus on the beauty in this day. The beauty of the here and now. Whatever it is that God shows me today that is beautiful in my world. Because there is beauty to be found, and I need to see it.
Standing still on the edge of tomorrow, at the end of 2014, I have hope in the beauty of 2015. Because God is in it, and He’s got something beautiful waiting to unfold before me this year.
I don’t want to miss it.