Thursday, August 08, 2013

Our Inextricable Connection

When I grabbed my phone off the charger this morning to toss it in my purse and head out the door to work, I glanced at it briefly and discovered my entire screen filled up with facebook messages from high school classmates.

The group had been trying to plan a reunion, so it wasn't unusual to see these messages on my phone’s screen. But the message this time carried much different news than reunion plans.

Grief is a strange thing. We've lost two classmates already to unexpected, early deaths. Other classmates have lost parents and other family members. But now, one of us had lost a child.

It’s probably been ten years since I have seen anyone from my graduating class. I’ve moved around a lot – Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and now Arizona. And since I wasn't particularly close to anyone in my class, I haven’t made an effort to call or exchange emails over the years. I left high school behind the year I graduated and haven’t really looked back.

My class was small because the town was small. 20 kids. So we all knew each other. And 13 of those 20 kids that all graduated together started Kindergarten together. We shared 13 years in that small school, all in one building. We walked the halls together, decorated our lockers with the latest trend, we ran laps together in gym class, shared blow dyers and suffered through an eccentric science teacher, a grumpy math teacher, and a few others that helped define our high school experience. We played kickball in the 4th grade, held mock elections together in the 5th, and shoved our desks together in the 6th grade.

Whether we like it our not, we are connected because of this shared experience.

I have not been shy about my high school experience. I wasn’t a fan of most of it, which is why I left it behind without regret. But these people are still connected to me. Facebook has made that physically possible. But emotionally, the connection is a far more intrinsic and mysterious then I can even begin to understand.

Because when I read that one of my classmates lost a child, not only did my jaw drop in disbelief, but my heart caved in grief for her and her family. I am not close friend with her, but she is my classmate, my comrade… we went through the foxhole of Loomis Public School together for 13 years. We are connected, inextricably. I hurt because she is hurting. But not just by virtue of this being a tragedy, but in that we are bound together because of where we are all from.

There are no words to say to comfort in a time like this. I can offer up prayers to the God who created me and save me, the God I love and worship for this family, with the peace of knowing that He is walking beside her in this grief. I am angry at a fallen world that is the cause of car wrecks. I am sad for someone that I do not really know, but am linked to in an unexplained way. Sad that she has to go through the loss of a child so young. I can rail at the unfairness of this tragedy, knowing that “fairness” really has nothing to do with it at all.

And I will do this from afar, probably without her ever knowing. But that’s okay. We are tied in a way I don’t understand, and that is why I do it all in the first place.

Monday, August 05, 2013

the slow art of mending

When I find myself trying not to look across the room, wondering. When I find myself waiting for that acceptance in some form of contact. When I find myself assuming rather than knowing. When I find myself waiting and hoping that this isn’t really rejection but just miscommunication.

When I find myself asking “was it something I did?”

When deep down I am really just asking myself “is it something I am?”

Everyone hates rejection. That does not make me special. The desperate pain we all feel when rejection hits our hearts and the ache causes our chests to cave in and our breathing to become shallow. This is real.

But perhaps I am the only one who feels this way.

I find myself desperate to mend the feelings of rejection that seems ingrained in my soul… that crop up when an expectation isn’t met, when an invitation isn’t extended. When leaving feels like rejection, even though it isn’t always. When criticism tears open a wound where a freshly healed scar was mended by a prayer. I want to mend, I want to take the bleeding wound and cover it with gauze in the form of anything but what it should be covered with just to stop the bleeding.

I so want to be that person that finds contentment in every moment given by a person. That is happy with the time given. But I am not. I feel insecure when an expectation isn’t met. I feel rejected most of the time. Security in friendships very rarely exists for me. Yet I am forced to play the part of secure so my anxiety is hidden underneath a calm exterior with a coffee cup in my hand and an even expression on my face.

This is more than understanding who I am in Christ. This is more than just believing that I am his child and that he accepts me totally and completely. I know this deep down.

But I also know the rest of the world doesn’t.

My whole life I’ve been telling myself that I am known and loved by Christ. But this has not changed my desire to be accepted by the rest of the world – especially by the ones that mean the most to me. It’s much easier for me to find my identity in those that fill the rest of my world, and to allow what they do to change the way I see myself. All the while knowing how Christ sees me. I manage to separate what was never meant to be separated.

I ask God to stitch together these wounds with words on paper, with prayers murmured, with music that allows salient tears to form in the corners of my eyes and drop down onto the back of my hands. The slow mending works to heal several times each week, but as disconnected as I end up from the reality of what is happening, my irrational feelings surface and they are masters at opening more wounds.

So the mending is slow. But it is deliberate. I am inching ever closer to the “joy that seekest me through pain.” There is a love that will not let me go.