I don’t know if you’ve noticed that I haven’t blogged much in the last couple of years, but here’s why.
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I’ve taken a beating over the last couple of years. I mean, I know you know about a lot of the horrendous stress I’ve had since 2006, but 2014 brought a whole fresh level of hell I’d yet to experience before recently. And I haven’t wanted to talk about the entirety of it (except, you know, to my closest friends). The whole mood of everything I wrote (when I actually wrote, which was next to never) took a turn, I lost my ‘funny,’ and it took me a long, long time to find it again… if I even have yet.
It’s better in my world now, but different.
I’m kind of tired.
So back to that whole ‘beating’ thing. When I say ‘fresh level of hell,’ I mean PEOPLE. Gosh. People can really, really suck the life out of you. They can let you down, irritate, and really just flat out betray you. And it seems like if ONE person is going to really show their hind end, several of them at once decide get together and twist all their knives at ONCE, into you AND your children (and NOTHING makes a mama cry more buckets of tears, am I right)? It seems like in 2014 and 2015 and so far into 2016 I’ve seen a whole new side of more than one person I thought I knew, and it was a whole lot of ugliness. And disappointment. I expected better from people, and was disappointed.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because I’ve said enough that you can relate (and don’t ask me the details, because I’m not talking about it). People bring grief, sadness, and hurt feelings sometimes. That’s all.
I think it would go a long way toward my healing to write a big dramatic open letter to all of the big fat jerks pointing out ALL THE WAYS YOU HAVE FAILED ME AND DISAPPOINTED JESUS, but I won’t. Yet. Maybe. Probably. Jesus seems to love people for some reason, all of them, so I probably can’t speak for Him. And because I want to be LIKE HIM, I have to get control over that part of me that wants to say, “YOU. ARE. DEAD. TO. ME.” and actually not SAY that to people, or probably even think it. I’m supposed to forgive and all that. Blah.
So there’s that.
In addition to that rollicking good time, for some reason the last few weeks of 2015, all the grief and sadness and whatnot of all of it, ALL of the past 5 years, caught up with me, and made its presence known in actual physical symptoms like I’ve never had before. Really. Stress gets to you, interferes with your sleep, and then lack of sleep makes you sick. Entire books have been written on the subject, and I’m here to testify… mental stress takes up residence in your lungs, or your adrenal glands, or the tense muscles in the back of your neck. It feels bad all over.
I’m not thrilled about mentioning this one teeny, tiny little part of it that’s got me down (I mean, in addition to the PEOPLE), because, DEAD HORSE.
But I need to go there. I need to.
It’s this: I’m sad about The Blue House, ok?
But it’s been over five years, and I have not cried about it until somewhere in the last few months of 2015. You have my permission to stop reading if you want to, but if you’ll just bear with me through one more sentence or two about my Blue House, maybe I’ll get it out of my system (and I’m writing all this down because somebody, somewhere, might be working through some of the same grief). It’s just that I wanted that house. For years, literally. I spent years stalking it and walking down the street to look at it and pray about it and waiting for it to come on the market. I poured my heart into it. Then my beloved house was used as a pawn in a very ugly game in which I got to keep my kids, but lost the house.
And not just the house. I had a car I loved, too. I had a Volvo XC90, and I wanted that car. It was pretty and fun. I didn’t get to keep that either, because PAWNS.
And then there was the furniture, and the cookbooks, and the clothes. I had to get rid of two-thirds of my things to move into an apartment one-third the size of my house. I sold my china and my crystal, and I’m sad about it. I’ll likely never have china or crystal again, because I have three kids now who insist on outgrowing their shoes, and then, you know, they’ll all start expecting a college education. When I was a single mama I sold some of my jewelry to send a kid to camp, and I’m sad about that too. I keep thinking of a certain skirt, or a purse, or even the cute vintage table I used as a desk in my home office, and I miss them all. And the antique rugs. I wanted those. I’ve spent four years looking for rugs to replace those, and haven’t found a rug that my soul loves.
Because I’ve been blogging long enough to know how this works, I’m fully prepared for hateful or condescending comments about how materialistic I am because I’m sad about my Volvo and my rugs, and I should be grateful and yada yada yada. I’m not trying to have a pity party here, but I had a whole life that I had worked hard to build, surrounded by things I really wanted, and a circle of friends, most of whom are no longer on my speed dial, and a huge twelve-year chapter is just GONE. Burned up.
I think I haven’t let myself truly grieve over it until now because 1) I wasn’t going to give the Mean People the satisfaction of knowing they had really struck a big blow, and 2) I was so grateful that God rescued me from the horrendous parts of that life, and all the ‘things’ paled in comparison. I thought that to be sad about any of the past I had left behind was to reject that my new life, and all my new-found happiness, was a gift, and it was enough.
All that’s true, but at the same time, I’ve realized that it’s perfectly normal and healthy, even, to be sad about all that was lost. I spent years building a life, and arranging all the things just so, and it all crumbled down around my ankles.
But let me interrupt this story to tell you about Moses.
You know, Moses; the baby in the basket, the dude who led the Israelites out of bondage. I spent most of 2015 studying his life (for the second time), and he is absolutely (aside from Jesus, of course) the Bible person who has had the biggest impact on me. I LOVE MOSES.There was no other leader like him, who chose to be mistreated with his people rather than live the life of royalty he could have had.
But let’s skip to the part about the slavery, in a nutshell: God’s people were enslaved in Egypt, and Moses led them out of slavery through the wilderness to the Promised Land that God had promised their ancestors, that they all dreamed of during their years of slavery, then worked and waited for for FORTY YEARS. If YOU were headed somewhere, and taking 40 years to get there, can you even imagine how much of your life would be spent consumed with that place?
And then Moses, by way of committing a sin that God told him NOT to do, lost his ticket in.
He got to walk TO the Promised Land, get his beloved people there, SEE the Promised Land, but NOT GO IN.
And I’ll be honest… I have questioned God about it, both times I’ve done that study. Moses was a great man and dedicated his life to God and his people. COULDN’T YOU just let him have THE PROMISED LAND, God? I don’t get it. It seems mean and punitive and unfair. If ANYONE deserved to go in, wouldn’t it be Moses?
But God’s thoughts aren’t like mine, and as I was reading over the verses again and struggling with it and asking God to reveal to me some wisdom about WHY, a few reasons came to me.
First, the people may possibly have begun to worship Moses as an idol (Heaven knows they did love them some idols…)
Secondly, he sinned in view of the people. How could THEY expect to have to obey God if their leader sinned and got away with it? If God just said, “Oh, OK… I’ll let this one slide. Go on in.” All bedlam would break loose (Heaven knows the Israelites were prone to some bedlam…)
But the third reason I love most of all. Moses didn’t go in to the Promised Land, because it wasn’t his Promised Land.
Moses just thought it was.
He worked hard and invested years of his life in moving toward it. But it wasn’t going to be his. Not ever.
God took Moses to the top of the mountain and let him see it, then God took Moses HOME. And I can’t fathom all that Heaven will be, but it’s real, and Moses got to go there. I can just imagine God saying to Moses, “See this? All this land here? Can you even imagine this home I’ve given to your people? If you think this is good, just WAIT until you see what I have for YOU.”
Moses was old by this point. So old, and probably tired. I can’t imagine that he wanted to weed-whack his way into the new place and slay another army or two to get there. I imagine that God’s offer to take him on Home… well, that probably sounded like the better option by that point.
God is love. That’s all God can ever be. And when God says, “You can’t have this,” it’s never because God knows how you adored your hardwood floors and farmhouse sink and some silly antique rugs, and just sits up in Heaven guffawing and slapping his knee as it’s all snatched away from you.
It’s because God says, “All that stuff you wanted? It pales in comparison to the joy I have for you. THAT is not your Promised Land, child. TRUST ME.”
You know, sometimes we find ourselves in a life that was not part of OUR plan, and it’s frustrating that NOTHING looks like it’s supposed to. NOTHING like what we prepared and planned and plotted and spent years designing. This isn’t it. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This is NOT WHAT I DREAMED OF FOR MYSELF.
Maybe it’s because you haven’t even gotten to the mountain yet.
But when you get there and see the view, don’t be surprised if even better things lie ahead, beyond the Promised Land you thought you wanted.