A guest anonymous post from a friend of Wild Wisteria blog.
Right now, feeling a little down and overwhelmed, the only things I can think are how I have failed.
I don’t have a paying job lined up for the next school year and I know that everywhere has hired the adjuncts they need. Maybe something will come available super last minute, but I don’t know where that might be or how to get it. I only applied for real to one university and have only emailed and made contact with half a dozen more. Clearly that wasn’t enough.
I haven’t done a flipping thing with my creative writing in nearly two weeks. The longer I don’t write a post for my friend’s blog, the more overwhelmed I get about it. I have plenty of ideas for interesting blogs, but it seems hard to get my fingers typing or writing. I feel like I’m letting her down.
I haven’t written a new story since March. I have revised two stories rather thoroughly, but I haven’t submitted them anywhere.
I just listened to a message from a friend who my husband and I had tentatively planned to go visit on our anniversary weekend—that’s how important we thought it was to see them before they moved half way across the country. I know my friend struggles actively with depression, but all I could feel was annoyed that our visit means so little to her and her husband, for whom we’ve been, basically and without exaggeration, ridiculously good friends. In the last place we lived, we were, for an amount of time, the only friends this couple had.
I spent hours and hours and hours on a paper for a conference that went well, but I don’t have a clear sense of where to submit it for publication. Since it’s so interdisciplinary, there isn’t a clear direct to go.
And yet, I am trying to slow myself down and remind myself that there are, as the credit card commercial says, something things that are Priceless. Or timeless.
Like the gift of Presence.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with a friend who is a new mother and then take her mom who is visiting from the Middle East with me to several grocery stores. We couldn’t communicate very well—lots of yes and pointing at pretty flowers and helping her exchange pitas so she could get the best price.
And then there is the fact that I had the opportunity to spend a few days with a friend in the middle of a pretty life-altering phase. Crisis, I might say. Emotionally turbulent. Lots of uncertainty and fear and annoyance. For her and her family’s consideration, I can’t say too much. But it was a big enough deal that I changed a plane ticket—time, location, number of Southwest points, a change that meant I had a day that began at 3 in the morning in the Midwest and ended in Boston at midnight, including transit in cabs, planes, buses, subways, more subways, more buses and more cabs. But I was able to spend quality time with my friend. I was able to do what my friend Jenn Aycock preached about—literally the night before I changed my plans. That being with someone who is sitting in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Being and sitting, when you really have no answers to give the person. No brilliant advice can make their grief or pain or f-ed up situation go away.
And how can I measure the “productivity” of that? How can I even begin to say that I should have been doing “work” instead of listening to the prodding of the Holy Spirit who often doesn’t make sense and who doesn’t always ask us to be reasonable?
The answer is: I can’t measure productivity compared to Presence. I shouldn’t, but still do, judge by the world’s standards which say that what I do is more important that who I am.
But I’m still such a failure, even at the being.
When I should have simply “been” and listened and supported and prayed for a friend, I jumped to conclusions and tried to jump to action. This lifelong friend recently reminded me that I get over-involved, that I act like I don’t trust her.
My reply: Yes, you are indeed one hundred percent. I know one of my most systemic issues is my desire and grasp for control. I told my friend in an email that I realized some of my desire stems from good motivation—of course, with a large part being evil and sinful desire. I wrote:
I realize part of my desire for control is to shield people from consequences of their actions. I did X because I wanted to shield you. But I ended up not doing anyone any good—perhaps because I tried to do when I should have tried to be.
Am I going to fail again and again at this? I could bet on myself and win.
But perhaps the chance at truly being with someone in the midst of crisis will remind me that that’s just what God is.
God is the God who is with us. Jesus said he would never leave or us forsake us. I sometimes forget the Holy Spirit is still here.
Just waiting for me to be, so I can listen to the Spirit’s voice better. Just waiting for me to be, so I can serve others better. Just waiting for me to say to myself, It’s okay you failed. God still loves you.
And friend, whoever might be reading this, God still loves you too. Even if you’ve failed at a dozen things today. And the Spirit—he’s waiting, so that you’ll turn to Jesus and rely on him—even for a moment. Maybe next time, the abiding, the relying, the abiding, the being will last a little longer than before.