Lately, I’m doing a lot of writing from our bedroom. We’re getting used to a new schedule and while I’m beyond thankful that there’s a routine, I’m still looking for my groove in the middle of the change.
I’ve found myself closing my eyes when I write because if I keep them open, they stick like glue to the law-enforcement blue strip above the dresser. The previous owner was a police officer and I suppose the color was curiously soothing to him, but I’ve never owned, purchased, or even been gifted anything in this lawful color and I hate it.
Writing is the place I find balance between the substance of who I want to be and the sparsity of who I really am. I’ve started closing my eyes because of the noise of what I see, the illustrations of my soul reflected on the walls of my home, the canvases of my relationships that distract me from the purposeful woman I’m determined to become.
As my mind is filled with lists of to-do and to-call, to-finish and to-get, I can’t think for all of the tos screaming loudly, me, me, me, pick me!
When we moved into this house, there was a hinged TV tray attached to the wall. We tossed the tube right up there and found that if we carefully extended it with just the right angle, we could see it from the shower. Exactly one time, I angled it just right so I wouldn’t miss a minute of Law and Order. I’m slightly embarrassed by this admission, so please remember that it was before DVR.
Apart from the strangely sexy Jack McCoy or perhaps the riveting footage of O.J. in the White Bronco though, there is absolutely no reason to justify watching TV from the shower and I believe that positively no one should have an extra arm reaching into their bedroom, so last year I asked my husband to take it down. It’s been begging for fresh paint ever since. Everyday I look at that lawful blue and am reminded of one more thing I haven’t accomplished.
After 43 years of living, 20 years of marriage, and 14 years of parenting, so much of life seems to be like that. Wherever my eyes land, I see worn out items in need of replacement, projects that have stolen days and sometimes weeks from my family, toxic relationships that I’ve invested in deeply, and more to be fixed than ever before. I’m searching for the scenes that look pretty or finished, something I can frame, hang up, and be proud of and I’m not finding many. In fact, the more I see the less progress I seem to make.
The house, relationships, even the paint on my walls looks so messy that closing my eyes is the only way I can think clearly, the only way I can see what really matters for all the landscaping, painting, and purging that beg to be finished in my home and heart.
As it gets closer to July, I’m thinking often about the trip that my son and I took to Ukraine last year. The water there smells stale and sulfuric with hints of liquid human waste and was one of the most unpleasant parts of the trip. I’m also spending a lot of time a different ballparks and because park bathrooms aren’t known for their water purification systems, I’ve been surprised to be often pleasantly reminded of our journey.
Ukraine was a two-week exercise in closing my eyes and apart from our crazy adventure in getting there, some the most peaceful days I’ve experienced so far in my life. With no cooking, cleaning, or volunteering, no ledger sheets from work, no tangible way for me to prove my existence apart from simply being with and loving people, I began to understand just how dependent I’ve been on my daily lists to infuse meaning into the deeper places of my soul that were meant for simply being.
The lists represent unspoken expectations that I have of myself, at times those expectations have been paralyzing. What I found while I was in Ukraine, was that apart from the lists, I still not only existed, but felt more alive. It was Truth that I found there about who I am as a wife and mother, who I am as a friend, and who I am as a Christ-follower.
I discovered hidden motives in relationships. The times that I’ve given in order to feel powerful and times that despite aggressively searching for honesty in all kinds of relationships, I was a huge liar, mentally constructing functional relationships out of mangled and sometimes irreparable friendships and associations. I identified events that I’ve taken part in hoping to extricate an ounce of significance from the satisfaction of my work. And most importantly, I learned Truth about the divine sanctions I expected from God as a result of my love for and service to him.
It’s now, almost a year later, that I’m starting to piece together larger, life-altering implications from Ukraine. It seems that the more I uncover truth about how I’ve avoided pain, the way I spend my time and resources to ensure that I’m as comfortable as possible, the more I see that needs to be reconstructed.
As truth bridles performancism, my home and relationships look more tattered and worn-down than ever.
I’m faced with daily choices of choosing honesty over falsified self-worth and authentic relationships with depth and substance over distorted intimacies. This means that I don’t pick up the phone like I used to while my inverted sense of responsibility for relationships begins to straight out.
Some of my hardest work is leaving my home in its glorified shabbiness as I choose to focus on the intangible and this means that my bedroom wall has a bright-blue, holey, rectangle as artwork and the patio is a wreck.
Searching for truth means sometimes embracing the fact that life, relationships, and sometimes houses have to seem worse before they get better. It’s hundreds of daily choices to bypass a fast fix in favor of the long haul.
I believe that our souls peak out through the windows of our eyes. The view either promotes security as we find that our daily choices match up with our unspoken life-code or turbulence as we witness incongruities between what we thought would be and the reality of our daily choices. Hope lies in the opportunities we have to change the view.
Do you have any messes in your life that you’re purposefully leaving undone? Maybe they’re messes you’re just recognizing. Could they be an opportunity for a different view, a new reality?