Sunday, September 21, 2008

Playing Hurt

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and I mentioned that I've been intentionally keeping my blog topics pretty fluffy lately. Talking about the weather, DVRs, and the Disney Channel is all pretty safe public forum fodder. You can talk about that stuff and stay pretty guarded. I also mentioned that if I got any deeper or more vulnerable than that, that I'd probably end up scaring or ticking off one or two of the 5 readers that actually frequent the Waiting Room. Truth is, folks, I'm not sure I can keep it up. Allow me some room to vent a little. Warning: Not for the squeamish or easily offended.

To be quite frank, life just sucks right now. There. I said it. You want to know what life with 4 small children ages 5 and under is like? You want to know what it's like with suffocating debt? You want to know what it's like living 30-45 minutes from everything, including the church that you love and helped build and would love to be more involved but simply can't imagine any way to make that happen? It sucks. All of it. Plain and simple. Think: HELL. Now, there are moments of sweetness and cuteness thrown into the mix for grins and giggles, but for the most part it's just plain hard. It's like being in Baby Boot Camp 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no break for lunch. There is no time off. There is no vacation. There is no pay. There is no peace and quiet. Ever. There's never enough sleep. There's never enough time to do...anything. Everything that you've assumed were basic human rights simply...aren't...anymore. I can't eat fast enough. I can't breath fast enough before someone else is needing something from me. Everything I clean needs cleaning 20 minutes later. I cook food for tiny little dictators who hate WHATEVER I put in front of them. I think it's safe to say that the majority of my days are largely joy-less. Good times.

It's Sunday and I'm playing hurt. I have to just keep rolling with the punches. I have to just keep moving. Sundays used to be my favorite day of the week. I loved going to church and serving and feeling like I was a part of something big. Having a purpose. Having a vision. Now, it's just flat-out painful. Painful because we live so far away AND our children are so young...and so's just incredibly difficult to be involved in any capacity, which is our heart. Today, we had to listen to Oliver, who is in the throes of TERRIBLE TWO TEMPER TANTRUM TODDLER-DOM, scream at the top of his lungs for 45 minutes all the way home, even after daddy pulled the vehicle over and gave him an "attitude adjustment." That's a PC way of saying "spanking" for the layperson, by the way.

Nothing is easy right now. Nothing. I feel like I'm in a pressure cooker. Having 4 kids is tough enough as it is. I feel like one of the stressors we are dealing with would be enough to drive anyone insane. But our plates are loaded, and I've never felt so isolated or disconnected in my life. We still have two empty houses in Athens that need to sell. So that's, count 'em, THREE mortgages that we are servicing. With the housing market the way that it is, I realize that it's simply by the grace of God that we haven't foreclosed on any of them yet.

But am I really supposed to be smiling and singing "Hallelujah!" through all of this? I try counting my blessings...daily. We're all healthy. We have food. Clothing. And a roof over our heads. I get it. I try to focus on the things I can be thankful for. I try to see the silver lining--daily. And I am sure that in 5 or 10 years or so, I will be able to look back on this time and see what God is doing. But. Dang. Right now, I just don't. I'm sorry, but I want more. Like maybe...Oh, I don't know...some ENJOYMENT!!!!! I so relate to the Israelites in the wilderness. If I had to eat manna and quail for 40 years, I think I'd be pretty sour, too. They had just seen God miraculously deliver them from the hands of Pharaoh through a series of incredible events, culminating in the parting of the Red Sea. They saw what God could do. They'd seen His power firsthand. What I want to know is, at what point do my complaints start to be valid? How much pain does a person have to be in before it becomes legitimate enough to complain about? At what point does my hurt become real enough to acknowledge? At what point do I have the right to say, "Huh. This kind of sucks." And it actually count?

I literally feel stranded on the side of the road with everyone passing by at a 100 MPH. And here's the thing, I certainly don't expect a bail-out. I'm not looking for solutions. I'm not looking for someone to wave a magic wand over my problems and make them all go away. We are in this situation, and we've got to just power through it. I just need some room to vent. I need some room to say, "EVERYTHING'S NOT OKAY!!!!!!" And for that to be okay.

And you know what? I know that we will be okay. I know that God will pull us through this. Somehow. Being around pain makes uncomfortable. And when someone's hurting, we just want them to stop it. It's a reminder that everything is not right with the world. But what I am learning through all this, is that when someone's hurting, they're not looking for you to say anything or do anything profound. They...I...Anyone who's hurting...All we really want is to know we're not alone. That someone gives a damn. That it's okay to vent a little bit. That is okay to be a frickin' human being. And that someone's listening.

They say pain makes you stronger. Bill Cosby says, "You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it." So, when all is said and done, and we make it through these less than pleasant circumstances, I am expecting to be the strongest and funniest woman alive!

Although, as I write this, Ren is watching a show about living life as conjoined twins, making all of my problems seem all of a sudden so...trivial. Of course!!!


Stephanie said...

It is ok for everything NOT to be ok sometimes. Hang in there, you WILL make it through this rough patch.

Mommy said...

I know the isolation part, not the 4 kids part. It totally sucks and especially when you don't have enough money to just get in the car and drive to civilization! Life is so hard sometimes and I struggle too with joyfulness during tough times. Just be real b/c you're not the only one and there is no way to know you're not unless you talk about it.
We still think you're wonderful even though life isn't perfect. As I struggled getting out of bed with tremendous pain this morning, I'm thinking a little "One Day at a Time" might be in order for us all.
Michelle :-)

Davis said...

Not to gloss over the actual content (about which I feel completely unqualified to comment), but I thought that this was a truly excellent piece of writing. The substance of it is weighty, nearly heart-breaking in its honesty, and then the irony expressed by the last paragraph made me laugh out loud. I apologize if you feel my literary criticism in any way trivializes what you're saying; that's not my intent. Just wanted to say I appreciate your writing abilities.

Angela said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Stephanie!

Michelle, you rock. Thanks for your encouragement and transparency.

Davis, I, in no way, felt that your literary criticism trivialized what I said. I was quite flattered that you thought so highly of it, actually. It was late last night when I wrote. I was very tired and had a rough day! I wasn't even trying! Thanks so much.

Elaine said...

Nothing like The Learning Channel to give you perspective on life. ;) "the boy whose skin fell off", "the girl without a face", the girl with two faces" and so on. Seriously though, seeing others difficulties can help us to gain perspective sometimes, but that does not mean that you are not allowed time to vent or be upset/frustrated/down right ticked off with your life. I mean, I know that some folks are starving in Africa, but what is left on my plate tonight can not help them, K?Sometimes I get mad for apparently no reason at all. You at least have some legitimate concerns. I KNOW that you are tough enough, brave enough and good hearted enough to make it through what your up against. I do pray that you will have SOME peace as soon as possible and some rejuvination to keep on truckin' on. I love you Angela!
Also, I'm not exactly sure what in your blog you think would have offended anyone, unless we've got some pretenders out there. No on can handle it all, all the time.

Scarlet Snow ::mike:: said...

Honesty always makes for a good read. You describe the relationship we have been given with God (Suz and I, I mean). He gets lots of calls on His complaints line from us. I shunned my happy church face years ago A. Taking that old thing off feels great, you have to admit.

Your post is what our song, "Inclined" is mostly about. Sort of like saying, "God, you watched me make this mess, now you get to hear all about it!"

Thanks for writing it. It was refreshing.


Kat said...

Angela, thanks for being real. You know you'll never scare me off! Ha. I'm with you in the sisterhood of painful processes aka life. Love you lots and I'm exited about what God is doing behind the scenes as you go through the muck and mire of everyday life and its overwhelming 24/7 stresses. Don't ever underestimate the pain of a customized trial! Not that God delights in our hardship, but... sometimes it feels that way.

What feels like random difficulty often contains the specific ingredients for great growth and maturity as we develop into the image of Christ.

"This fire will turn to gold, I know it's so. You won't waste our pain..." (That's part of a random song I sang in the midst of yucky circumstances--hoping in faith that something good would come out of all the pain.)

Amy said...

"But our plates are loaded, and I've never felt so isolated or disconnected in my life."

....Word, sister. I'm right there with you. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry in agreement with your post. All I can say is I love you. Always have, always will!

holly said...

or as the COPS themesong so aptly echoes in our ears yet:
"bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"