Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Listening

I have never been very good at making decisions.  I've been afflicted by self-doubt and fear for more of my life than I'd like to admit.  Remembering daily to turn my will and my life over to the care of God has relieved this in recent years and yet there are still too many moments where I just feel immobilized by anxiety; the "right" answer always seeming elusive.

I should be in Kentucky right now.  Spring residency for my Master's program started last Friday and I was supposed to be there.  For the past month, I had been feeling increasingly uneasy about the upcoming trip.  It would have been my fourth residency and nerves had plagued me prior to each trip before but this apprehension felt different. I couldn't shake it and each time I've been before, excitement had always eventually edged out the worry.  But this time, even though I prayed through the fears, practiced positive thinking, talked my feelings out with others, still the feeling of foreboding persisted.

The week before I was to leave I felt like I was starting to come down with a cold.  I started popping the Vitamin C.  Then my knee started acting up.  I'm scheduled for knee surgery on June 3rd and had hoped everything would be fine.  As the week wore on, my cold grew worse, my knee swelled bigger and by Thursday I couldn't get around without my brace.  "I'll be fine," I kept assuring myself but the inner nagging continued. I reminded myself,  a cold is just a cold.  I have the brace.  I'll push through.

I could have pushed through.  I do it all the time.  I'm a pretty determined person.  Sometimes things work out positively when I do that and sometimes not.  I could have gone and slowly felt better while I was there or I could have gone and developed pneumonia and been unable to walk at all half-way through the week.  Those aren't just silly exaggerated concerns.  With a chronic illness, those would have been possible realities.

So, I started to feel a little like, maybe, God was telling me something.  But then my other voice was saying, "It's only fear."  So, I woke up Friday morning at three to leave for the airport.  My ten year old and eight year old daughters were both awake.  The oldest said she'd prayed that God would wake her up to say another goodbye.  I dressed, had a quick cup of coffee and hugged and kissed them goodbye.  As I hugged my younger daughter, I noted that she felt hot.  Very hot.  So, I took her temperature and it was 102.5.  She had a bulge in the side of her neck, as well.  She'd been complaining of a "stiff neck" all week but we hadn't noticed any bulge and she hadn't had a fever.  My husband said he'd take her to the doctor and go into work late, so we left for the airport.

I knew he had it covered.  That she'd be okay and well taken care of but by now I was seriously starting to doubt my decision to go.  It seemed like signs were coming in all directions that it was not a good idea.  I prayed in the car.  I texted my sponsor and a friend.  I asked my husband to exercise his husbandly leadership and tell me what to do. We parked at the airport and we walked up to ticketing ( I limped) and my sponsor texted back the simple words, "Follow your heart."

So, I did.  I cancelled my trip.  And something's happened in me since then.

We took Verity to the doctor who ruled out strep throat, ear infection, and UTI.  We were sent to a radiologist for an ultrasound and told it might be an abscess and if it was she'd most likely have to be hospitalized.  Thankfully, it wasn't.  It was just two very large lymph nodes reactive to...something. Five days later, we still don't know what they're reacting to.  She's on an antibiotic but each day her fever is higher than the day before and we've now been to the doctor three times.  Currently, we're just waiting for results of the latest tests.  It's been scary and frustrating but I know God's got it.  I don't fear the worst.  And I know I'm here because even though she would have been well watched and well tended while I was away, it would have been horrible to not be with her while she's so sick.

But there's more going on, I think.  The decision to stay, not fully knowing the entire 'why' of it was pretty huge for me.  I like to know things.  I drive myself crazy with the need to know things.  And I can't know all things.  God just doesn't tell me everything whether I like it or not.  And this is why I think I have such a hard time with decisions.  I like to gather facts.  I do not like to be wrong.  I like to be right.  One hundred percent right.  But, this time, I followed my heart.  And I felt peace pretty immediately.  For a couple of hours.  And in those couple of hours I began to make plans: alright, well, postponed graduation, so now, the kids and I are both on summer break and it will be glorious;  quality time and I'll catch up on housework and start cooking again, etc.  And then as the evening wore on doubt started to creep back in.  By Saturday, even though Verity wasn't on the up and up, I was regretting my decision.  It began to sink in what I'd "given up:" a much needed break, time to focus on just me, silence, solitude, creative enlightenment and for what?  To hobble around the house in the mess and the noise and the chaos doing laundry?  Like I do every. single. day? And I started getting a little comfy on my pity pot.  But then, I also got quiet enough to look at what I was feeling.  To identify my feelings without judging them, to sit in them, to move past them.  And I stayed quiet.  In between doctor's visits and keeping vigil with the sick child and entertaining the well children, I've been examining my life a bit.  Recognizing too much to write here, today.

But I'm going to keep looking at the awareness and I'm going to pay attention to what I'm trying to tell myself -- what God is trying to tell me.  Because that's what I'm most taking away from this experience at this point, that I can trust myself.  So rather than draw up an elaborate plan of what I'm going to do with my free time (which, one thing I'm realizing about myself is that I like to be busy and have plans; free time is slightly uncomfortable for me) is just spend more time be-ing.  Being still and quiet, without expectation.  I'm going to listen to what's inside.  And I'm going to make some changes in order to do that.  I'm going to deactivate Facebook as an "experiment."  I can't be inside my own moments if I'm always in someone else's moments.  But I'm going to come here and write.  I could journal and that's great for sort-of vomiting out all the swirl inside my head, but when I'm here, I come closer to God and to what I really need to say.  And there's a bit of freedom knowing that even though I post here, I won't be, after today, linking to Facebook.  So, now I can just write and send my thoughts out to space in a way.

I'm excited because this is overdue.  I've been talking over myself for a long time and I'm going to practice really listening instead because I'm beginning to believe I have something important to say.

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