I know I've been MIA, and I'm not going to apologize because I'm sure by now you've all started rolling your eyes at my promises to do better. And, truthfully, I was intending to stay MIA for a bit longer, but that would be remiss and ungrateful. With everything going on lately, I've been a pretty big Negative Nancy (my daughter's pretend alter-ego). I've needed some time to compose myself. And to whip my life back into the shape of ordered control. I've needed some time to deal with my feelings and not expose them to the very forces that created the hardships. But there are tender mercies. There are REALLY hard things, but I'm not so stuck in Negative Nancy that I can't see that there are still those blessings.
I feel like many nights when I hit my knees, exhausted from a hard physical and emotional day, I found myself repeating the immortal words of Elder Cook's Grandson, "Hope Ya know, We had a hard time." When we took a leap of faith on Ranger finding a better work situation, we really thought we had adequate nets along the way to slow down our decent. And then people were less than honest with us (understatement), the government came up with piddly excuses for delaying our tax returns, and all of those safety nets either came way too late or never came (and I'm starting to see they never will). And then you add to that a past that was much easier to deal with when it was suppressed, causing every slight physical contact to send me off into panic attacks; an extended family not interested in learning personal boundaries; and a week with no vehicle, phone, internet, or washing machine, as well as relying entirely on food storage for 2 months, and "Hope ya know" was beginning to be too mild. I really felt like God had purposely left us hanging! There are all of these stories of tithing and having the money come in just in the nick of time... but those aren't my story. We didn't get those blessings. We have been given countless blessings promising us enough and to spare and a large family, and yet day after day and week after week (even month after month), we are left with the blaring proof that those blessings are not ready to come into fruition.
And then my garden died.
The carrots are barely sprouting (now), the onions have been replanted, I had about 4 garlic plants in a whole 10ft row, the tomatoes and peppers were nonexistent (I never had time to plant seeds soon enough and starts cost $$$), the corn, squash, and cucumbers were started inside and I've learned the valuable lesson that seed-starting mix is the equivalent of caffeine in small children (great for STARTING growth, but then turns quite toxic), thereby stunting their growth and they've not grown in 2 weeks or have all died. the beans were all eaten before I even knew they popped their heads out of the ground, the lettuce, herbs, and spinach never came up, and the peas and radishes are the only things that haven't needed replanting this year. Too bad the radishes are for my sister.
That was pretty much rock bottom for me. At least with a garden, I had the promise of tomorrow. But when you see the jars flying off the shelves in order to feed your family, and the garden not growing, big rocks start forming in your stomach.
I was pretty grumpy. I'm not proud of it. I could have kept carrying my family along, but a person can only be strong so long, and I guess a month and a half is my limit.
I showed up for therapy last week (did I mention the ugly flashbacks?) and my counselor could tell it wasn't going to be a day of coping with the past. I was a wreck, and it didn't take a therapist to see it. I was mad at the world, mad at God (yes, I was. We have a relationship strong enough to handle it. He is my Father, and instead of punishing me for my feelings, He lets us talk about them), and emotionally broken. I was the untamed horse too exhausted to keep fighting. I told her I almost didn't come, but that I wasn't going to let it win. I felt like the very storms of hell were raging against me, and that I could see the timing perfectly aligned with my working out memories - that the storms were coming from inside me too. My face looks like the craters of the moon with whatever is happening to my hormones. My head was constantly throbbing. Everything was trying to keep me from dealing with these suppressed memories and I wasn't going to let them win. If I stopped now, they'd just keep going; somehow I just knew it. And then she gave me an auditory pat on the back for coming and we talked. And peace finally started flowing.
She told me she thought God would be pleased in my determination, and I felt that she was right. Even when I give up, I still hold on. Even when I'm that broken horse, I stay standing. I suddenly knew it, and it was comforting to know that God knew it, too. And then, in the middle of talking, I remembered one of my favorite stories. By now, this story is a part of my soul. In The Horse and His Boy, by C.S. Lewis, I always loved the role that Aslan the Lion played. Throughout the whole story, Aslan is chasing the 2 talking horses and their riders. He guides everything, but is explicit in nothing. towards the peak of the story, it is left up to the 4 to save all of Narnia; if they get there in time. But they're exhausted. It's already been a long journey, and they are going as fast as they think they can. And then we meet Aslan again, and he chases them. Somehow their "as fast as they can," becomes ever-so-much faster with a lion at their heels. It gets them to their destination in enough time to warn the king, thereby saving Narnia and the surrounding kingdoms. When Aslan finally approaches them in the end of the story, everything is made clear. Without the trial of a lion chasing them, they would never have known how fast and how far they could really go. In an instant that story came back to me, along with the lesson. In an instant I saw that my feelings of abandonment by God were really Him chasing me so that I could get "there" in time. I knew how far I could go, and I knew that God was pleased.
And then I was walking through the barren gardening aisles at the hardware store. And there were tomatoes and peppers; on extreme clearance for $ . 75/fourpack, extremely root bound but still alive. The lady in the gardening section assured me that with a little root simulator, they'd be just fine and I'd get enough tomatoes to never notice the difference. I had hoped to grow my garden organic this year, but when faced with the choices of no tomatoes, or non-organic for one more year, I took what I could get. Just knowing I have 20 little tomato plants in my garden brings so much more peace. They look so beautiful in my garden!
And in the midst of all of this, I took the Praxis test. I would be incredibly ungrateful to not count it among my tender mercies. I wont get the results back for another 1-2 weeks, but I have complete confidence. I went in dreaming of what would happen if I passed and came out dreaming of what happened if I made their honors. Going in, I never would have thought it plausible! Somehow, I just knew everything I needed to do. All of the chaos in my life fell away and I was left with just a clear train of thought. I opened my test booklet and knew the best course of action for me, personally. I was able to allot myself the perfect amount of time for each question. Most of the answers came easily. Of the questions I remember guessing on, I only missed one when I looked it up after the test. There is no denying that God had his hand in it.
So... I don't know where I'm going from here, and mostly, I don't like that. But God is in charge. I can't help but feel this week that God has some grand plans for me - that my life is not meant to stay quiet, that all of this testing and refining will somehow change the world, even if I never see how. I feel that being sick all winter and going through this chaos now is "all part of a grander plan," and somehow when the people I've connected with this year have taught me some valuable lesson, a little voice inside tells me to remember it, because I'm going to need to share the lesson with the world soon. None of that is sitting very comfortably with me. I'd be much happier moving to the middle of nowhere and living off of the land and never having to talk to people ever again.
The problem is... I got the same feelings about being prepared - "Get ready, Keira."... 2 weeks before I met Ranger.