Friday, February 3, 2012

"outswamped" is my new favorite word

Once again, I find myself with my computer taking a study break from wading through a lecture on the tympanic membrane - I'm supposing that he will soon move on to the rest of the middle ear, since he only has so many lectures on the ear's anatomy. And I'm hungry. It seems that hunger and studying go together, but I don't want to buy food here. Oops, wasn't I supposed to accept that expense? Well, still... I'll eat at home in a half hour or forty-five minutes.

Today, I found out that my living situation will be changing, probably with a new room-mate, at least. So now that the stress regarding my mom's health (which concludes with my mom not having cancer - you know how it takes time for the medical people to prove to their satisfaction that cancer isn't there. She hasn't had it yet, either.), anyway, now that is past and the roommate situation comes up. Life continues to be, um, not boring.

My current hobby is reading suspense novels - still the cheap, quick reads.

Interestingly enough, what threw me most today was finding out about a friend who is preparing to move to another country, as a student, but more so doing her best to follow what she perceives as God's leading. There seems to be plenty of references to missionaries "giving all" and following God to a foreign country, sometimes one that they hadn't wanted to go to. I presume that these people (or at least some of them) end up loving the place they go to and "growing in their relationship with God." I've kind of been through part of that, moving to a different place with a different culture. But the only "changed" expectation was that I figured God would send me to a desert, and instead landed near a rainforest. But I ended up loving it. And I don't feel like I "lost everything." I traveled there with my suitcases and didn't much miss the stuff I'd left at home. Probably the biggest thing I "lost" was a shot at American "normalcy" in a just-after-highschool college experience. And that was something I probably wouldn't have completely attained anyway. And my cultural standards got nice and confused, which made returning to my "home" state confusing. But I gained lots, which still fits the stereotypical missionary immage of the "I left everything and I gained something so worth it." Which is a nice happyish thought. Really, its okay if you don't want to read my ramblings about mission work; my blog isn't mostly about this, so feel free to bail.

Anyway, my story gets more complicated when I returned to my "home" state. I didn't feel like God had led me away from my "mission" site, yet situational "guidance" pretty clearly sent me home. (Someone later told me that I could have stayed and cooked and mopped floors and things. I.e., come have a job where my contamination OCD could grow into a heart-wrenching problem while the pleasures of the job were way outswamped by the struggle.) So basically, I felt betrayed by God, that he'd led me where he wasn't allowing me to go. Interestingly enough, there was some comfort for that when I read the part of Acts where Paul kept running into dead ends. Anyway, then I "felt" like I was supposed to go to College A, but I really really didn't want to go. So I ended up going to the local community college, and I very rarely regret it. But it wasn't following the "feeling" of God's leading - but I did get a "feeling" in "answer" to a prayer that said it was okay to stay a the community college instead of going to College A. I, of course, decided this a few days before I was to fly out. So I still think it was okay to stay at the community college, however, was that what messed me up from "feeling" God's Will? What that the "sin" that irreperably broke the connection? That has never been fixed because I've never truly "repented" enough? Possibly, but I don't think so.

But it gets better. Which is my way of saying that it gets worse. I spent the next three semesters rushing through college to get my A.A. degree. Yes, I graduated in three semesters, and yes, I'm a bit proud about it in a hopefully-un-sinful way. The trick was testing out of a semester's worth of classes. CLEP tests, language placement tests, planning myself and checking it with my advisor instead of having her plan my life for me. But my whole goal was to go back to the last official missionary job that I had, which was a job I loved - the raising support thing isn't so much fun, if I could have been payed in place of the "missionary" title, that would have been even better. So this was the purpose I lived for, the future plan that let me think I wasn't depressed (since I actually wanted to live for this job). And then... my plan fell through. I was willing to go, but my application and my past history of depression along with my OCD method of filling the application (be sure to send your OCD on vacation far away from you while you fill out an application that is important to you) and the people who got it... I wasn't straight out turned down; my application was pretty much turned down, as in, I was asked to re-write it. Which is funny, considering the reason it sounded so wishy-washy to them was because I was afraid of lying and my OCD had fun with that, since that was the one thing I thought could disqualify me. Instead of re-writing a poorly worded but none-the-less sincere application (immagine the number of "maybe"s I put into it), I "withdrew my application." And the plan I had been living on for almost two years was broken.

That's okay, I thought, I'll just live my slightly-American-dream-ish dream of working full time in a paid setting that I enjoyed (i.e., childcare) and living in an appartment and owning a car. So I started living that. Right along with starting to investigate my "emotional problems." And in less than a year, I visited the "behavioral health unit" of the hospital for a few days. By the way, that name bugs me. Makes me feel like a child who never learned how to behave. Mental health unit sounds better, since I like the mental illness model of understanding my illnesses instead of the if-you-were-a-better-_______-then-you-wouldn't-feel-this-bad model.

Back to my story. I spent the next year and a half getting to where I am now, living through the depression and hopelessness and lack of desire to continue living on this earth. Heaven sounded really good. But I was pretty positive that there are better ways of switching from earth to heaven than trying to make it happen all by myself.

So now I'm here, working part time, educating myself via student loans and online classes and lectures that I'm momentarily avoiding, and trying to preserve as much mental health as I can while still taking three classes and not exercising as often as I should and generally not being "better enough" at whatever it is that I wish could cure the remaining depression. And my friend is working towards a "foreign" place, following what she sees as God's clear, undisputable call, afraid to even consider what could happen to her if she disobeyed. I remember that fear, too. What-if I didn't follow God's call and something bad happened? It still seems a little more like OCD than biblically founded fear to me. But that's my interpretation.

And she mentions the people who avoid "following God's call" to missionary work, who aren't willing to give up "everything." Que the music for setting up "missionaries" as "more obediant" Christians. These unwilling people are also part of the stereotypical talk around missions. But here is the missing part. Missionaries are just Christians (unless, of course, they are missionaries of another religion). Missionaries have the same basic sin problems and personality problems and stress problems and money problems and health problems - except for the ones with such health problems that end them up off "the field." I guess even that part isn't too far off from the stereotypical conversations around missions.

Here's the part I haven't heard about so often. The people who desperately want to go to "the field" but who can't because of funding, family issues, visas, health, application issues, mission agency issues, or whatever. People who would gladly give up "everything" since it isn't everything to them. People who have cried because they couldn't go. People who look on the surface to be just like all the other "lesser Christians" who stay home from missions and instead live the "sinful" "American dream." People like me. But I just tried to say that there weren't "lesser Christians" and "better Christians." I guess this is a fine place to admit that what my mind knows doesn't always change my feelings when I want it to, so I continue feeling like there is a heirarchy even while I believe that there isn't one.

So I cried today. Because I still don't fully understand why I'm here and couldn't go there to a place of warmth and light and ---NO DARK SNOWY WINTERS!! :-) --- there might be some Seasonal Affective Disorder issues hidden in there. Because I kind of miss the times of feeling like God was giving me specific directions and I was "surrendering" to Him, getting closer and closer to Him as I became more obediant. But I know that times of feeling like God is being silent on an issue can require just as much if not more faith - which faith my mind knows is also a gift, so we can't really have faith competitions; that's kind of a silly idea. I still have a desire to go, after all my personnally life-shaking experiences over the last year and a half.

But I don't think God always directs us with specific "you need to go here now" directions. Sure, he can. And I'm trying to presume that he did, in my friend's case. Either way, she's the one who has to decide what to believe on that, not me. And I still kind of think he did for me, too, in the past. But now? It's different. It's so much less specific and open and foggy. And sometimes I'm afraid I've gone numb, gone calloused through disobedience and lack of repentence - especially now that I'm trying not to ask forgiveness for things that I'm not sure are sin (i.e. trying to keep the scrupulosity from being a big part of my religion). But "that's a risk that I'm going to take." It is. I am. But I haven't turned from God; I've just changed part of my ideas about him.


  1. Abigail, What you write about God and wondering what His will is--it's so familiar to me, and I understand the confusion and pain that goes along with it.

    I have never been good at discerning God's will. My OCD just feeds me with guilt and doubt. I finally stopped expecting to know for sure, with absolutely no doubt. Because, really, who knows for sure? Faith is faith, not certainty. I think we each have to find our own peace with God. At certain times, I feel in tune with God, and other times I don't. I am trying to accept that.

    I think when we follow our bliss, when we follow what we love, we are on the right track.

    Take care. I'll be thinking about you.

  2. Yes. I love your last sentence. Sometimes I look back at the younger me and wish to go back to that certainty about everything, when you could tell for sure if you were supposed to do something or not, and when you knew how to think about things. Now all I can say is, everything is a lot more complicated than I ever dreamed. But He is still faithful, even though that faithfulness looks very little like I thought it would.