Thursday, December 22, 2011

Upside, down

{My favorite necklace: a cross & a miraculous medal.}

Have you ever seen the movie Evan Almighty? Me neither. But I do really love a quote from the film that goes something like this:

"Let me ask you something: If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"

As someone who was raised to pray---which I always thought meant to ask God for the things I want--I think a lot about what it really means. I guess I had always assumed I asked and then received. Clean, simple and without fuss. Being an adult however, I realize that this is a childish way to approach life--and faith. Foolish, even. It doesn't take much living of life to understand that you will never have all the things you want. And really, it happens that way for a reason.
For me, it always comes back to children. I think about the fool in me, the one who prayed for a child over and over again. I was just doing what I had always done, but this time I didn't get what I demanded asked. It made me angry. Why did I just get what I asked for? Why did I have to wait and suffer for something that seemed so simple?
I sincerely believe I was blind to my own lack of faith back then. I couldn't see past my anger, frustration and general "Why me?" to see what was unfolding in my own heart. That's the thing about faith--the point being made by that quote--it's about believing in something or someone greater than yourself in the moments where it feels like your pain will never end. That is when it counts; not when everything is going your way and life is equal parts hunky and dory. In the good times, it's easy to have faith. It's simple to feel like you have strong faith, because it feels like you are being endlessly blessed. If you want to be something, to gain an admirable trait, you're going to have to work for it.

I sincerely believe that life should be about finding blessings that are encased in a hard, painful shell. January is always a "marker" for me; that was when we started trying to have children three years ago. After all was said and done and we came to realize that it probably wasn't going to happen, I thought the worst possible thing that could happen to me was this: to live a life without children. It seemed unbearable back then--intolerable, even.

Today, I struggle to grasp what I really want---not what I feel obligated to choose or even what I'm expected to be or do. Or say, for that matter. Maybe that's why I stopped writing over the last month. Perhaps that's why I feel like I don't have all that much to say sometimes. For me, I need to really think it through in my head first before I can ever feel ready to 'write it down' here in this space.

 Our life today, without children, is not the terrible intolerable mess I thought it would be. I don't spend every day feeling like something is missing or that any part of my life is miserable. As you can imagine, this creates some confusion. What, really and truly, do I want? Was this really the worst thing that could have happened?

I don't know. I mean really: I have no idea. Life is confusing to us sometimes when we really don't know what we want---and when we're given the rare option to choose the very foundation of our own path.

I have always loved Christmas because it is a time to really and truly soak in the quiet and peace of the season. As someone who is rarely quiet (I even hold long conversations aloud while I'm sleeping) I think it's important to just allow myself to be quiet and search for the peace in Christmas.

This year, I realize that I have more blessings that I could even begin to count. And peace? Well, peace is about following your heart, accepting whatever is thrown your way and realizing that maybe the worst thing isn't as bad as you though it would be. It might just be a blessing instead.

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