Friday, April 13, 2012

Dwelling in the Desert, Part 1

There is a "travel challenge" making its way around Facebook. It lists the top 100 places you should visit, and then I suppose you see how much traveling you still ought to do before you die and you feel bad about it. I haven't done that challenge, but I carry a mental list of places I want to go: Italy and Jerusalem with my husband, Washington D.C. with my kids, London and New York with my mom and sister, Las Vegas with my friends. One place definitely not on my list is the desert. It's SO hot. Weird creatures live there. It's wide open and it's scary. I don't wanna go.
But somehow, I landed smack dab in the middle of a desert anyway. I had no intention of going there. It wasn't on my calendar or on my "to-do" list. I've been there for a while now. And I'm here to tell you that it is every bit as uncomfortable and unpleasant as I thought it might be.
My desert, of course, is a different sort than what comes to mind when you think "Sahara." My desert is emotional, a little bit physical, and very, very spiritual.
I woke up one Friday morning in February and I couldn't get out of bed. I wasn't sick, at least not physically. I cried for no reason. I could not bring myself to do the simple everyday things that make my world go round. I didn't cook. I didn't hang out with my boys. I didn't hang up clothes or run errands or drive the kids to activities or write lesson plans or call friends or wash my hair or anything. For three days I stayed in bed. It was the only place I felt safe. My sweet Hubby took over my responsibilities and allowed me that time to be sad and scared. On Monday, I knew that I had to get back to life whether I felt like it or not. I also knew that my heart was sick and that I needed help.
I found help with a Christian counselor who I've been seeing for several months. At our first meeting, she just let me talk. Well, to be honest, she asked me a bunch of questions that I answered honestly but quickly. See, I have a "safe zone" when it comes to talking about myself and especially when asking for help. My husband, my parents, and a few close friends are in the zone. Pouring out my deepest thoughts to a total stranger took my anxiety level through the roof. Telling her about everything was unbelievably hard.
"Everything" includes, but is certainly not limited to The Sickness and how it has turned my life 100% upside down. (There are other issues, of course, that are ongoing and un-blog-able.) Cancer came out of nowhere and knocked me down to the ground. Then, just when I was getting my second wind and was trying to move on, it took me down again. It moved on, but I believe that it is just temporary. Now I know that it is after me and that I can be blindsided at any time. It takes an enormous amount of effort to pretend that I'm fine, to act normal, to keep my worry and sorrow to myself, and most of all, to protect my family. Basically, I am killing myself trying to control something that I have absolutely no control over whatsoever. And, in the back of my mind and in the deepest part of my heart, there is a little nagging voice saying, "Where is God?"
For the first time in my entire life, I couldn't find Him.
"Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" (Ps. 10:1)