Thursday, December 08, 2016

life on hold • time flies

telling the story button life stuff button

Like someone who leaves a rural area because no matter what that individual does, there would be no substantial opportunities for them there, I finally pushed myself out of San Diego because the size and diversity of Los Angeles held far more promise. Henri Nouwen correctly cited the anonymity and relative rootlessness of life in California – "California life alone is just too hard to bear" – but paradoxically, LA still holds more hope for me than SD ever did. Needless to say, being on my fifth short-term stray bed, spare room, corner couch temp housing since July 2015 and having belongings in two separate storage places is dis-concerting and de-stabilizing. I've been email-following two exceptionally outstanding grief and loss /mental health sites: Second Firsts and Turning The Page. Christina from Second Firsts essentially reminds everyone, don't compare your current level of functioning and productivity to what you ordinarily did before your heart broke.

A blog pal whose son died by suicide asked about him:
"Where are you? I wonder . . . How might you have influenced your world, you with your multitude of gifts, your expansive education, your wit and geniality? Who might you be – business executive, architect, photographer? Husband, father? ... The door has been slammed shut on the answers to all of those questions."
I ask those questions about myself, yet realizing almost no one no one ever reaches their full potential, achieves everything possible in all their areas of interest or giftedness. This is old stuff, but I still glance back at how I wowed Sizable Suburban Church when I interviewed; a quarter century later my skills, knowledge, and abilities in every one of those areas far surpasses what I could do at that time, as one would expect with the passage of so many years. Oh, I know and obsess about mediocrity, low expectations, vicious politics in the church. I still fear I'm dying of grief and loss. Partly fear I'm not (dying of grief and loss), but then need to exegete the text and prepare for my SS class and it happens every time because Time Flies, Huey Lewis and the News.

best is yet to comeThis is not a hunter-gatherer society, but it is one where people with certain levels of education and experience expect to use them to some extent...somewhere. Social scientists easily can put together a normative predictor of a persons' life (career, income, etc.) from information that includes education and hard work. Walter Brueggemann says "bright, skilled, educated people are valued and sought after." He also speaks of people being "nullified." Don't dismiss me! I may not talk about myself very much or very often, but like everyone, I have my own story, longings, and hopes. See me! Hear me! Know me! Exploit me?

It is not uncommon for people to experience major life disruptions. Not "everyone, all the time," but frequently enough not to be surprising. So what else is new? Talk to me! Tell me!

On a late September Friday morning in 2001, I walked into Bayside Community Center in San Diego where I expected to be doing my Community Economic Development internship and said, "Thank you, God! Now I know why nothing else worked out—you've truly saved the best for last." Fifteen years ago. More than enough time for someone to start kindergarten and graduate from HS. Following day I had an email from the associate director I'd interviewed with informing me she had no interest in my being at Bayside and I needed to find something else. One more episode in a long series that continued after the CED program ended. So I scrambled and put together Affordable Housing in City Heights. I finished the CED certificate program 14+ years ago. Another credential for urban ministry! I assured them if I didn't find a job through networking during that year, I'd find a way to bring my new skills into the church. The economy started tanking badly during 2006-2007, major housing crash in fall 2008... I fully get that churches and non-profits well may not have paid employment for much of anyone, I get my level of grief and loss, I get how dramatically the grief and loss has aged me, I get Harvey Cox's "Violence is normative in the Fall," but I still cannot understand why I'm not in a slightly broader place by now.

A blog I recently discovered and started following reminds us of the theological and existential truth:
We're all — TBI or otherwise — like shards of a broken vessel, that needs to be put back together again. We can be like kintsugi pottery that's been smashed to pieces and then repaired using gold. The finished piece actually becomes more beautiful and more valuable than it was before. Repairing our broken Selves is like that. We're restoring a coherent sense of our whole Selves — and others — in the face of shattering circumstances, so that the light we all hold within ourselves can shine forth.
My heart hurts from the loneliness. I've spent so many years in a time warp, life on hold... still cannot figure how to connect with life again. I fear I'm dying of grief and loss and don't know where to turn, though I do know my main goal right now is to break the spare room, empty couch, stray bed cycle of ultra-temp housing and get stuff out of storage. Short version: 24+ years after being recalled from Sizable Church in Semi-Affluent Suburbia, I'm still trying to create a life of participation, meaning, and purpose. Months became years became decades, as I intentionally kept gaining more knowledge and additional skills for inner city ministry. My ability level matters not without opportunities to use my gifts and experience in service to others.

Thanks for reading/listening; peace, hope, and joy to all of you!

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