Monday, August 3, 2015

Dreams and Doubts, Thanks and Trust


Every since Peyton wrote about what's going on with his faith/doubt/uncertainty, I've probably alluded to it in like three quarters of the posts I've written (at least). But I haven't written a post just about it. I have a good handful of incomplete posts I wrote during some of my darkest, saddest moments and I have no idea if I'll ever click publish on those, in part or in whole. There's a myriad of good reasons to share them and there's a myriad of good reasons not to. But....I did want to sort of give an update on where I am and how I'm doing (on my good days, which has lately been most days).

Several years ago I wrote a post "Being Married to a Dreamer". This is sort of more on that and sort of something else.

The first time I learned about Peyton's wild dreams was with New York and it was actually over a decade ago. For those of you who thought it was an easy, if reluctant, yes- well, no. Back at MC I wrestled really hard with if it was something I could do. I had never lived further than thirty minutes from home and honestly I never wanted to. I was terrified by the thought, actually. In fact, in my counseling sessions I went to in order to deal with my anxiety, it was quite often a topic. I knew Peyton enough to know that he probably would compromise for the sake of my emotional health, but it wouldn't be fair at all to him. It was such a very integral part of the life he dreamed of for himself. I spent a lot of months, and years, really consumed with it.

Fast forward a few years and we had made it down the aisle, had Annie, and were in the early planning/dreaming stage with New York. Peyton revealed that he thought he might not be happy being a pharmacist indefinitely and I struggled as he thought about (down the road) leaving it to become an elementary school teacher. I remember telling Minnie and how she seemed a little irritated with Peyton. I know she just valued comfortableness and predictability (in as much so as you can have those things when you have an oops! pregnancy like two months into marriage and have a spouse who is constantly talking about moving twelve hundred miles away for an adventure). But I was at a new point in my thinking with all this. I told her I was going to just "go with the flow" as my beloved grandmother used to talk about constantly (her flexibility was a character trait that was so damn wonderful and one I so admired and aspired to). I told her that I'd entertain Peyton's ideas and engage him in conversations but that I thought the chances of it all coming to pass was small (not the case with NYC- I knew that was happening, but he's had a lot of other flutterings through the years).

A few more years found us actually living in Brooklyn and Peyton started talking about hiking the Appalachian Trail at some point. I got a little anxious, but at this point I had evolved even more in my thinking. Rather than just entertaining and engaging, I was leaning in. Again, though, with the comfort of reminding myself that half this shit might never happen. It's funny because just this month Peyton is starting a new schedule that will allow to be at home with us four days out of the week. I mean, how many thirty-somethings haves that? I firmly believe that he is going to be exactly as present in every stage of the children's life as he needs to be and that the Lord will provide for us in that area. Right now, at four and six, he's extremely present. When they're a bit older, he may be gone on a hiking trip for six months. Or, more likely, we may decided to make sure we are in the physical and financial position to all hike the trail. I'm not overly worried about it. At all.

Speaking of. Our simplicity journey has been trying at times, but I'm choosing to be flexible, to lean in, and to say "let's see how it goes". We'll try one car for awhile and see how it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. We'll live in this house until it's very clear we've outgrown it. And then, if we need to, we'll move or build an addition. It's not worrisome to me anymore.

There is something that's harder, though. Being married to a dreamer is vastly different from being married to a doubter (I'm using the term loosely, I think "uncertain" or "skeptical"  is really a more articulate descriptor than doubt).

Still I think many of the lessons learned and many of the sanctifying things experienced previously in our marriage are helpful in this context. While I'm not "leaning in" in any sense of taking up these ideas (in fact, I feel like my faith is probably stronger than ever), I'm learning a lot about rest, about letting God carry me, and about trusting His timing (which we know that a thousand years to us is like a day to God and the excruciating moments that seem to last forever are just a blip in the span of eternity and even the span of mine and Peyton's lives). I'm learning that when my anxiety is managed, I give Peyton space to think and grow rather than exacerbating the problem and putting pressure on him to be something he can't be right now.

Not only that, but I'd like to take it a step further. First of all to thank the Lord.

I read this from Brennan Manning and I thought "Damn, that's beautiful" and subsequently "Damn, that's hard". But I want to. I want to be able to thank Him for everything. Even for this.

And I want to be able to trust Him. Recently I read this introduction to a book (actually one recommended by one of our wonderfuls priests in NYC):
"For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. And while nothing said then convinced me one way or the other about the doctrine of predestination, my teacher said something about surrender that I’ve never forgotten.“Can you say you would surrender to God’s sovereignty and his glory even if his purpose for you was to use you as he used Pharaoh?” Mr. Erlandson—Erlo, we called him—asked.  He was balding, and wore glasses and a green suit. The class notes he typed up for us were thick with footnotes and footnotes to the footnotes.“I had to come to a place in my life where I was willing to be used even as Pharaoh was used,” Erlo continued (and of course, nearly twenty years later, I’m paraphrasing). “I had to trust in God’s love and glory and sovereignty more than I wanted to be saved.”" What does trusting in God’s sovereignty really require of us?
My word. I don't even know. I'm not sure I want to know. But then I do. Yes, I do. And I may just have to see what trusting in God's sovereignty really requires of me. 

[As an aside, I don't agree with all the theology, I don't think. I don't even understand it. But, I mean I'm pretty sure Pharaoh didn't "surrender" to anything. Either way, it was thought provoking to me in the sense that maybe one can come to the point where she trusts in God's love and glory and sovereignty so much that she doesn't spend too much time worrying about who is and isn't saved...even if it's one of the three people she loves most in the world.] 

I've already shared this, but if you're like me it's worth hearing on repeat. Our beloved priest in NYC said in a recent sermon "The profundity of the Christian message is not your experience. Because at the center of that story is you. Our story is "I am weak. My life is a disaster. Let me tell you where my strength is found- in God's grace". Ultimately, I can still find a lot of joy if I remember that I'm not at the center of this story. And at the last church we visited here, the pastor preached on David and his sin with Bathsheba. What if David was at the center of that story? It would be an entirely different ending, yes? Praise God he is not! Even before Christ was born, He was at the center of the story of this distance ancestor of His. And praise God I am not at the center of my own story, nor is Peyton. Jake (the priest from New York) ended his sermon by saying "All of us have wounds that are gaping, but Christ promises to be sufficient." Jake's favorite word, I think, is "profundity", and if that's not a profound word I don't know what on earth is! 
So, in case you missed the great work I think God is doing here:                                                                    being incredibly anxious about anything outside my comfort zone > going with the flow > leaning in > (learning to) thank and trust the Lord
I will end with this stanza from a favorite hymn:
Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.
It's a day-to-day thing, but I have no doubt that He will free me (and is freeing me!) from the fears that long have bound me and that he will grant me (and is granting me!) courage for the living of these days. 

1 comment:

Deidra said...

So beautiful Denley and all of it so true. The best place we can be is where we are when we realize our weakness and God's strength and He loves that and I have come to believe that is when He manifests Himself to us the most. The older I get the more of my weakness I see and I fall in humility and His feet to only say, I am totally dependent on YOU - and thankfully He is there. If He were not, I do not know, I do not know where I would be. And He is there with all of you. And loves you so much in your searching............