Wednesday, January 26, 2011

“Thy hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments.” ~Psalm 119:73

“Abigail!” Lydia exclaimed from the other side of the room. “How about just one of us talks? Okay?” She’s been saying it rather a lot lately. The reason is simple: since Josiah has left, she and I have developed a distinct habit of saying exactly the same thing at exactly the same moment. Answering questions, commenting, offering advice, even making snide remarks. Far, far worse a connection than I ever shared with either of my brothers. It’s not occasional. It’s almost constant.

I’ve never in my life been such an emotional roller-coaster. I try to pinpoint it to a time, a place, a cause, but I can’t remember. Just when did I become so emotional? I say that, like it is true, but I don’t even remember. Perhaps I have always been this up-and-down.

Apparently, I ride with dignity. The other day Mom commented, “You are such a calm, logical girl. Very much in control of your emotions.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I shrugged.

I suppose that does make me appear unemotional.

This morning I felt strong, determined, hopeful. Two realtors were scheduled for visits and I had a plate of possibilities to pursue online while my parents negotiated. Somewhere in my heart of hearts I believe I must have been hoping we would find a realtor who could work with us to get us what we wanted.

But alas. Alas. Alas. The real estate system is set up like a trap, closed to all but the chosen club. And should one of those chosen club wish to break the caste system, to step out of protocol—well, he is sewn up into a straight-jacket that hardly allows such deviation from the norm.

At lunch Papa began to talk of online marketing ourselves. Trying to get our website better optimized to catch web-shoppers. I wilted. I don’t know enough to accomplish the competition necessary online and I don’t believe I will ever be capable of it. Top rankings in search engines requires money, the right website, the right smarts and…well, the right product. I just doubt that a private website for a single house is ever going to bump out established sites like and ReMax. It’s not because our site isn’t pretty. Or well organized. Or well-done. It’s just that people don’t usually Google for homes. They go straight to sites they know of, if they’re smart enough to know where to look. If not, they Google to find MLS listings. I know enough to feel pretty certain I can’t bring in the traffic necessary to sell our home by our website. I feel like I’ve been asked to compete in a barn-raising with a rusty hammer and a few bent nails. The other team, of course, has a truckload of power tools.

After lunch, I sprawled across my bed and cried. Covertly, of course. I cried out to God that my heart hurts. It just hurts. I plead to know when I will be through this—this grieving? Is it grieving? It feels like grieving. Am I grieving the loss of focus? The loss of depth in my relationship with the Lord? But the Lord has been with me. I have not lost Him. He has not lost me. He cannot lose me. Am I grieving the loss of my idealism? That perfect is so out of reach that I must struggle and fight to simply survive? Am I simply battling? Daily aware of a struggle I forgot existed. I don’t know what hurts. I just know my heart is heavy.

A walk in the sunshine and fresh air stirred me up and made me ready to keep fighting. I pulled on my jacket just to escape, to be free with the breath of the wind in my hair and the kiss of celestial fire on my face. As I walked, my spine prickled with determination. God is doing this! He has divinely purposed difficulty and even sorrow in my life to make me strong. Courageous. Because I trust in Him. Can’t I see how dependent He has made me? Pleading for ideas, for creativity, for stamina. Pleading for help to accomplish what must be done.

Dog-ugly is the correct descriptive to describe the hideous creature that came barking and snarling out of the woods at me. Rather a large bulldog of a mutt with a ragged mouthful of sharp teeth. Disgusted, I raised my arm over my head and pointed straight into the ugly beast’s tan-and-white face and shouted, “Get out of here! Go home! Go!” She stopped, taken aback, before beginning her charge again. I stomped and shouted my order, staring her down. She slinked backward and waited until I continued on my way, still wary, since I dislike turning my back on a hostile canine. “Go home!” I ordered one last time, as she slinked along behind me. She picked up her speed and made a sharp turn down a side-road. Probably home. I was attacked by an angry dog once upon a time in a land far away as a little girl. My Papa came to my rescue, shouting down my great white attacker with the authority that confidence and rightness lends. I’ve never forgotten the lesson and never been attacked since.

I returned home with a few new ideas pressing at my mind. There must be other holes in this wall I keep slamming into. And perhaps, just perhaps, if I slam into it enough, it will weaken—and crumble.

Either that, or I will.

During the second interview, I eavesdropped as I worked at my desk. “We’re not desperate to sell,” Papa told the realtor. “We own our home—it’s all paid for and we have no other debts. We don’t have to sell right away.” A comforting perspective.

While I stuffed sweet potatoes and seasoned chicken, Mom pinched together the crusts for a Colorado pie for the neighbors. We talked. And talked. From every angle of every plan to keep us through the next year. She’s an advocate of trusting the Lord. Which I know is right, but I’m not good at. I can always argue, “Yes. We have to trust Him. Nothing will happen without Him. But we also have to work hard. He wants us to grow by working hard and recognizing His work in it.” Which is true, too. How can I find that balance? Sure, the lilies of the fields don’t toil or spin…but if I don’t toil or spin, it’s laziness. The answer isn’t to quit toiling and spinning. It’s to get the proper perspective.

We sat down to pray for supper. My turn, and as Papa asked me to pray about what we’d heard today and our options, I was reminded again of a simple truth. Priorities. All day I’ve struggled to lay my head against the chest of my Heavenly Father and just rejoice that I am His. My mind is overwhelmed and occupied by responsibilities and preparations. How can I maintain my responsibilities while seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness? Some argue that my responsibilities are exactly that. But it’s not what I do that makes me godly, it’s Who I worship.

Now I am exhausted. And I just want to go to bed without journaling. Again.

Herein lies a sign that the Lord is teaching me perseverance and determination and discipline. I wrote anyway.

In days when I feel dry as the Sahara desert, it’s encouraging to see any little sign of the green growth of spiritual fruit. He will teach me perspective. He will guide me in prioritizing. He will give me wisdom. He will give me strength. He will use all this dry boring effort poured into stuff that burns up and takes wings to fly away to shape me into a worshiper.

Herding sheep taught David to praise.

Lord, this life o’ershadows me,

O’erwhelmed, I take my eyes off Thee,

But as I grope my way about

This is the truth without a doubt:

That though I take my eyes off Thee,

Thou never takes Thine eyes off me.

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