Sunday, October 5, 2014

This journey is my own

In this day and age, of Facebook and status updates and like, it can be difficult to find satisfaction in the audience of one. It's great actually, to be able to go anywhere in much of the country and know that I have a friend and we could get coffee or share a meal.

This way of living is something I least expected. In our early marriage with a working and college-bound husband, I spent all my time with the littles and virtually none with other people. I tried hard to be like other married with children Christian women I saw, but I couldn't do it. The girls, being a year apart each, didn't demand but really did need a lot more of my attention that I could share. And they didn't really enjoy children's classes and nurseries, probably due to the fact that since I didn't go out and didn't do things with other people they didn't know what to do with them either... But don't get me wrong, we were out; the girls and I spent many many hours walking and riding buses and traveling about the edges of Portland to get things done and to accomplish the things that needed to happen to run our household, we just didn't do that with other people. And I practiced attachment parenting, which had me using a stroller seldom and carrying the girls in packs or a sling frequently. Taking them with me places rather than leaving them behind.  Breast-feeding and cosleeping and really just a different form a parenting which didn't fit very well with the other women I met. There was a lot of baby-wise in those years...

I consider those early years to be pivotal in the reason why I struggle so much in living with an audience of one. Looking back, I did want to fit in. I couldn't put my family through the things that would've been required to help me fit in, but I really did want to. 

Thankfully, there were such things at that time as message boards online and lots and lots of books. So the girls and I did everything together and I made friends with a handful of people on the Internet. We chatted about our lives on a message board on the moms online network, encouraging one another, answering questions, praying for each other, and generally just being friends - without ever seeing one another face-to-face.  I don't even think that we had profile pictures when it first began... Maybe they can answer that question. This was way before Facebook, before MySpace...  these were the years of instant messenger, and you've got mail, and very simple flip cell phones, and dial-up internet - or maybe if you were super lucky you had the new DSL. We got DSL in 1999, what an amazing thing. 

This type of friendship helped me very much as I wasn't really even able to go to church due to the challenge of having some of the only kids that needed to stay in the cry room with their parents. 

So when we moved, and the girls and I made our way about this town where everything is slower and people aren't necessarily on a mission to get something done, I found I was able to start making friends. In real life.   

It was exhilarating, and it was something that I hadn't been able to experience since high school. Which is why, probably anyway, I initially had the maturity of a high school student. Fumbling about trying to make friends, trying to appease people, and generally not being myself. At the same time of course, being the mom to three girls and the wife of Jake, and spending time with my sister-in-law's who lived with us on and off, trying to help them mature and grow up to. 

At about 28, I pretty much crashed in every way imaginable. Not only was I blindsided by some crazy things in my life emotionally and mentally, but I was tired. It wouldn't let up!

Enter clinical depression which gave way to PTSD, and even though it was difficult I still tried to fake it with people for a little while longer. It was growing more difficult and my faith was sort of in a crisis. I was becoming very frustrated and upset at God, a theme that I had originally gone through 10 years prior, and of course not happy that I had to do it again. 

Thankfully I had all those friends that I've met online... Their friendship, wisdom, and prayer was critical in the next couple years as I struggled very deeply in my real world life.

But this was still via email and periodic phone calls, there was no social media networking website that would accommodate us. 

Enter the crash. There was a year in which the bottom dropped out and I was just completely devastated. Friendships betrayed me, my mind betrayed me, my body betrayed me and I was a wreck. 

I could no longer live anyway of my life appeasing those about me. I had to begin to live for an audience of one. I had to learn that my identity is in Christ, and I had to learn that I was created and I was planned and I was fashioned - that my temperament and personality and my strengths and weaknesses are all gifts from God to turn me into the woman he wants me to be. 

I'm thankful there was no Facebook. 

I'm thankful for a singer songwriter named Sara Groves who wrote the song which captures precisely the words that I keep repeating through this post...  this journey is my own. 

It's been an interesting journey, and I'm thankful I'm not done yet. And I'm thankful now to have Facebook, but only because I have a very well grounded concept of who I am. I'm thankful for friends in real life that have been there through it all and didn't abandon ship when I went off the deep end, and for friends online who I've been blessed by for 15 years - give or take. I can hop a plane and go anywhere in this country and enjoy a meal and conversation and come back home and share the pictures with everybody else on Facebook - and it's a wonderful thing! 

I still struggle with the competition among women, but honestly more because I don't see the value in it than because I want to be part of it. I want all women to find true freedom too! 

Freedom. This is the thing we are given, freedom. Not a freedom to be who we want to be or get what we want...  but freedom to live as the people we were created to be. Unique, with different likes and dislikes, with passions and talents that help us form part of the body of Christ - not a club - but a multi-faceted body with many members!

Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one.... this journey is my own.

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