The Mud and the Stars
Once a year, at Christmas time, I hear from a dear friend. This year, when I first got her letter, I waited to open it. I knew it would be full of good news and I didn’t want to envy her. I wanted to be happy for her with a heart that was full of pure intention
This morning, I read and responded to her with a happy and open heart. I’m convinced that it required a grace that I don’t posses on my own.
I found myself taking a clearer look at the circumstances of my life as I wrote the letter. I am sharing some parts of the letter here because I feel it is important.
This isn’t about me, although it seem it is. I know how hard it is to find the good in others or in bad situations and I’m sharing why and how I struggle with this to encourage others. If I can manage this, I’m pretty sure most people can. I’m not all that strong, or kind.
So often I hear people complain about money and all that they don’t have. All of them have a lot more security than we do. Poor people don’t usually complain a lot. They are too busy getting through the day. Many people have sat in judgment of me, or us. Andy and I are often blamed for our own bad situation. While I know that our choices or lack of effort is our responsibility and that it can have a negative impact and that it has a negative impact, we are human and we are struggling with challenges that threaten to crush us and to especially crush our spirits. Given this, I think it very important to appeal to hope, to faith and to our capacity to love. Life isn’t a dry run. It is the run. It’s the test. All this practice is part of the test. Find joy where it is given. It can be hidden. Find it.
I had to find my joy before I could respond. At first, I felt small and jealous. I was missing the point. In time, I grew beyond my small edges. This is what I share today. It’s raw and honest and I am grossly uncomfortable sharing it. Here goes:
You’re letters help make the season bright! So happy to hear how well life is going and that you await the joy of more grandchildren.
We soldier on. Most days it feels more like battle than a joy but I’m beginning to believe that God gave me what I could handle and that there are lessons here that I need to learn.
Foreclosure is a long and painful process. As of yet, I have not solved the problem of future shelter. Hoping to be able to get through the winter and the worst of the weather before contemplating a tent in a nearby wood.
Dear God, please send me some options. I’m taking a beating down here and am starting to lose it. Yesterday, I had several moments when I acted from my broken pieces, I didn’t rise above the fray but contributed to it. I’m sorry. I want to be so much better than I am.
I frequently label the fray, the mongrel hoard. Usually, this is done in the caverns in my head. It’s those petty moments of retaliatory thinking that make me shed a light on the depth of my resentment. Wow, is that an ugly thing!
How I prefer cooperation over conflict, kindness over cruelty, generosity over selfishness. How I long for unicorns, pink castles, lottery winnings, pigs that fly, an end to all war and the whole world singing as one. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.”
Real is often dirty, rude, messy, some times heartless and cruel. I can be all of those things.
I sit in the mud puddle of life and I look up at the sky and the stars. Their beauty makes me cry. It also helps me get out of bed in the morning. It boosts my spirits and drives me to paint a smile on my face and create fun morning songs for my children.
Yet, there are days or moments when I forget about the sky and the stars. All I see is the mud and the other people sitting beside me and I hate all of us. I question the whole Christian premise that “Christ died for our sins.” Really? Honestly? What was God thinking? We’re not worth it. We’re a disaster
It’s a really good thing I’m not in charge. It’s time to leave philosophical/theological questions to greater and better-paid minds. My energy needs be applied elsewhere.
In this darkness, my children are another very bright spot in my life. ….
And my dear husband, Andy…this last year we’ve watched as numerous couples in our circles have split. It frightens both of us. We know how stressful troubles can be, how easy it is to blame the other, to not work together, to grow apart. We don’t always like each other. Our communication is less than perfect. Single life can beckon like a beautiful yet deadly siren. Together, we are better than when we are alone. I said, “for better and for worse, for richer for poorer, for sickness and in health.” I have a commitment to honor. He is also one of my best friends. That is another blessing.
While I can’t judge the relationships that split, I still feel shaken and sad. They may have the best reasons for parting. It isn’t the path I want to travel. Life in the mud puddle is hard enough without losing my partner and a dear friend. This can be easy to forget.
From my mud puddle, I see the sky and the stars. My life is a mess. That sky and those stars remind me that it is also beautiful and that there are blessings right beside me in the muck and mire. The beauty overhead gives me hope and something to reach for. This is a good life. There is much be to learned and much to do.
At the end, I can say, “I did what I could. I didn’t give up without a fight. I fought to find the good in others and in myself and in situations that looked like hell.”
God must love this broken person very much to give her so much. I am blessed.
It just doesn’t look like much from the outside.
I love you. Your letter forced me to sit down and write out my heart and soul and I’m so grateful for what you inspired in me. You are a treasure. Your letters are a treasure. Enjoy those wonderful children and grandchildren. I am so happy to hear from you and to know that you are doing so well
Have the Merriest Christmas and a New Year full of miracles!