Friday, February 29, 2008

...a "leap" of faith...

as 2004, the last Leap Year, began...
I was in my penultimate year of teaching...
I had already retired from the symphony,
so I wasn't doing a lot of playing...

Mom was in her last few months of
"independent living" on the ranch...
as she would fall, beginning the downward spiral,
in July...turning both of our lives upside down...

I was battling the school district, trying to find
a librarian job, and being blocked at every turn...
I was exhausted... physically, mentally,
emotionally and spiritually...and, as I realize now...
sinking ever deeper into depression...

I was very unhealthy...
got NO exercise and ate junk food...
I spent any time not working, alone...
generally flopped in front of the TV...

except for Mom...I talked to no one...
went no where...except shopping...
even at church, I wasn't happy ...
often forcing myself to sing
in spite of how I was feeling...

I considered myself a Christian...
but inside...I had withered...
I knew God loved me...
but I loathed myself so much,
I just blocked Him out...
I didn't care...why should He ?

my house was a disaster area...
but I didn't have the strength to change it...
that summer, after school was out,
I would attempt to start a kitchen redo,
being stalled by Mom's accident...

left for months with no sink that worked...
no stove...a refrigerator that either let food rot, or froze it soild...
a filthy floor, counter tops of old nasty laminate...
decrepit cupboards...no storage and a light that didn't work...

since before Mom's accident, I had moved everything
from the nook/kitchen/utility porch into the DR and office...
so the new sink/plumbing could be done...
everything got more and more piled up in the DR...

soon, there was a new stove, as well as the new cabinets,
microwave/exhaust fan and numerous other elements
of the new kitchen...[tile, paint, light fixtures...]
stacked everywhere in the DR/LR...

I wouldn't finish the kitchen until late January 2005...
then I had a stove fire [cat induced...]
and lost my new stove for a couple of months...

my last year of teaching was awful...
I was sick a lot...my students were obnoxious...
and the administrator would eventually chase
55 of 75 staff members away before they "promoted" him...

just before I retired,[June 2005], Mom moved
into her assisted living apartment...
this meant that the ranch and 98 years
of accumulated family "stuff", was sorted and parceled out...
boxes of it ended up in my already cluttered DR/LR...

I also realized that all of my furniture needed replacement...
so, during the first year of my retirement,
I replaced my 'fridge, bed, sofa, chairs, both TV's,
easy chairs, media cabinet, media storage, coffee tables, end tables,
ALL rugs, drapes, light fixtures, lamps...
and had a complete tear-off new roof installation...
this also required EXTENSIVE tree trimming...

then... last winter, as Mom was dying...
my furnace just quit...
this brought about a complete tear-out,
[with Has-Mat asbestos removal...]
of the old ducting...and installation of the new ducting,
for the central heat and air...

a whole new electrical service box was required...
as was bringing up to "code"
the service TO the house ...
and OUT to the garage...[more tree trimming...]

and to fix the waterfall over my front door...
every time it rained...
a new gutter ...
and subsequently...a new awning...canvas and frame...
all this strung out over months ...

I was frustrated... depressed... exhausted...
and had pretty much given up...

as I set up my "final arrangements"...
[cremation & niche purchase...
as well as making arrangements
for any cats who might survive me]
I found myself sinking into a place
that I had no chance of climbing out of on my own...

I was so unhappy... so lonely...
so sure that my life was past all redemption...
so much that had been enjoyable
had ceased to have any meaning...
or was just gone...

that's when God sent a couple of tender-hearted souls
to pull me out of that hole...
I won't spend time here recounting all this recent history,
but suffice it to say that the last 3 to 4 months of my life
have been an incredible roller coaster ride...

so as I look back on where I was in 2004...
it's almost unbelievable how far I've come from then...
but having said that, it's the last 6 weeks or so
that have been even more
of a "growing" experience...

I have learned, very recently, that my worst problems
are those I cause myself when I get in His way...
I fear losing control...I panic and mess up everything...
I get that knot of fear in my stomach...and go with it...

a couple of days ago, this happened and as I fought the panic,
a thought came to me..." fear is not of God...it's the enemy..."
so I asked God to take it and leave me calm if it wasn't His will...
AND THE FEAR LEFT ! ...leaving me calm...

I've been "tested" in this way several times since...
done the same thing...and the fear has vanished...
leaving me with peace and calm...and a big smile...

in that same vein, I struggle with being truly thankful...
and joyful for pain and aggravation...
so buoyed by the success of the "fear" thing...
I started praising God for my pain...

and as I was doing that, I began to understand
possible reasons for the situations that vexed me...
saw them as "learning opportunities"...pruning and growth...
I began to be led to verses and other devotional readings
that spoke of being pruned in order to bear more and better fruit...

and I knew then... that all my "problems" and "deadly sins"
were just the outgrowth of my failure to trust God completely......
my fear was so great that I built walls...
pushed people who got too close, away...

if you have control issues...
being "known"... is terrifying....
letting someone "in" means that you can be hurt...
so to control that chance, I would block them out...
all because of fear ...of being hurt...and the pain...

I used anger... bitterness...
stubborn pride and guilt...
to fuel my fears...
fear of being loved... being known... losing control...
being hurt... being alone... and failing...

failure to be who and what my parents thought I should be...
of disappointing "people"... society... friends...
of being "not enough"...of being "too much"...
of always being "wrong"..."out-of-step"..."not good enough"...
the list is endless...and so was my self-loathing...

I've always been proud of my ability to figure things out...
it's a form of control...always knowing "why" or "how"... ..
and this played right into the enemy's "fear card"...

if you are only comfortable when you know what's going to happen next...
you can't live by faith...


"faith is the belief of things unseen..."
I have been faith-filled during parts of my life...
when I was applying to go on tour, raised money and then went...
when I had a bout with cancer...
and lost my right thumb, but saved my life...
and when Mom got so sick...

I had a great peace and belief that God
was holding me close...protecting me from harm...
but there were other times, when prayer seemed to go unanswered...
and something that looked so hopeful, such as a job...
turned out to be a dead end...not for me...

in confusion, I closed myself off...
close to bitterness...and withered....

I know now that I was blocking God's love
by not praying for His will...
all those things I thought I wanted...
those were MY will... not His...

as well as being truly thankful for the pain and aggravation...
I must be gladly seeking His will for me...
it's control relinquished... trust given... and faith in His goodness...
it's "being known"...and loved anyway...

ALL THINGS are possible with JOY...
NOTHING good comes with FEAR...

so in this "Leap Year, 2008"...
I am taking a "leap of faith"...
I'm learning to rejoice in my pain...and watching it melt away...
I'm learning to relegate my fears...to the enemy from which they came...

I'm praying, with joy and confidence,
the prayer that never fails...
["...Thy will be done..."]
and I'm trusting Him to love me "home"...
being "known" by someone you can trust is a good thing...

"...the clouds have parted...
the sun is shining through..."
all the way into my soul...
and God willing, back out again...

5 comments:

DearestDragonfly said...

Fear -- definitely a place carved out/inhabited by evil. I used to try to rid myself of it by 'fixing' whatever was wrong...psychoanalyzing my weirdness...and generally looking for a lot of human-made answers. For me, the power came from naming it as evil.

Reminds me of a speaker I heard ages ago, who said anything that diminishes us is NOT of God. That was the beginning of my naming depression as such. When I looked it in the face...I had a vision of a rat scurrying away to hide from the light.

us300 said...

I really enjoed reading this blog entry, good to know that I am not alone! Keep the faith, your brother in Christ, J

catsinger said...

DD...yes...I find saying,"get out of here satan"...and laughing works well...also "Jesus conquers, Jesus saves..."...but my recent favorite is "if this is not from You, take it and give me peace..." works every time and leaves me with a big smile on my face...!
you are also correct when you say that trying to fix myself won't work...I have to surrender control and let Him do it...I like the "rat" vision... ; )

J...good to hear from you..hope all's well in AZ...

The Trouble With Roy said...

This was beautifully written -- I'm glad I read it and even more glad you pulled through to write it.

catsinger said...

TTWR...thanks for the kind words...I'm enjoying reading your well-written blog entries too...