In spite of the good things life has been bringing lately – good food and laughter with friends, a weekend up north with new skis and perfect snow, the chance to regularly spend time babysitting a beautiful three-year-old – I'm dry. If you could look at my heart right now you'd see rough gray skin, not the soft new pink that means I'm growing. I open my prayer journal these days and the only words that come are the ones that have been written on me countless times over. I am frustrated by these words because I feel that I have drawn everything out of them that can be expected of me. Stubbornly, I don't want to go back to them.
And yet... exfoliation does not cease to become necessary simply because you have done it before. Perhaps that is life: a continuous refusal to let ourselves fade out, a continuous rejection of the easy path, a continuous affirmation of the reality that the ugly parts of ourselves must be a challenge rather than a cause of despair.
I've hashed it out here many times and at great length, but I could give it to you in a few sentences:
I believe that God is all-powerful and all-loving. In the face of my suffering, it is sometimes hard to feel that, but I choose to believe it because I know it is true. Therefore, I must also believe that he allows me to suffer for a good purpose, even if I cannot see it. Therefore, I must trust. That makes my goals for this time simple: learning to trust God and discerning his will for us.
It's one of the basic rules of writing that it is best to use only as many words as are necessary to say what you want to say. I've always had a hard time with this rule when I write, so perhaps it makes sense that I want more than the words above, that I feel like I deserve more. But when I am completely honest with myself, when I can pull my mind and my will away from the rule of my feelings, I know that these words are enough. The goals may feel simplistic but the truth in them, like holiness itself, is made complex and elusive by my flaws.
I want to keep traveling; if I cannot have the joy of motherhood in this time I want at least the joy of spiritual discovery. But perhaps that itself has become a sort of god for me: I seek it for its own sake, rather than for the purpose it serves. Unfortunately, it does me no good to keep traveling if the travel does not transform me. I am small and weak, and perhaps that is why the same words must be written on me over and over. The One who has power to write them uses them to block me in so that I may see that the only way out is up.