Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peace, Not Contentment

Twelve months ago today, I sat in a guestroom of the Americana Inn, positively vibrating with stress and foreboding that the decision to move to West TN was not the wisest one I ever made. But, you know, I was prepared. People always say "weigh the pros and cons" or "make lists of what's good and bad about this". So I did. I saw 6 pros--major ones. Things like being closer to family and there never being snow in the winter. Of those original 6, 4 came true pretty soon. I feel the truth everyday of better winter weather, close proximity to family, financial peace, and a chance to make a positive contribution to my alma mater while building my professional cache. Another pro just came true last week, when I finally decided on my church home. I'm really looking forward to being a part of the life of the family I have here.

But one pro turned into a con, and the balance between the two was already rather precarious. The cons are what they are. They have to do with the position and nature of the place I live, and the chance they will be otherwise is rather small. I never have been comfortable with decision-making, despite my rather assertive personality and clever mouth. For a good six months after making a life-altering decision, I usually am in agonies over whether what I did was right, and being a slave to crippling what-ifs.

What has helped:
1. Increasingly warm friendships. New friends. It may take me a while to make them, but when I make, they're stuck. My soul has selected its own society and then admits no more.
2. My therapist. For anyone who has ever wondered if they needed to go to therapy or anyone who ever thought they were a failure for going--you do and you're not. Sometimes I just have to get outside of my own head, or let someone else in it.
3. Kirkegaard's Fear and Trembling. This last year has come pretty close to being the third worst experience of my life. SK takes the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and explores it as a journey of faith for Abraham and what it means to undertake the hardest moments of our lives-- and it is helping me make sense of Worst Experiences 1 & 2 as well as this past year. My favorite passage:
Who gave strength to Abraham's arm, who kept his right arm raised so that it did not fall helplessly down! Anyone who saw this would be paralysed. Who gave strength to Abraham's soul, so that his eye did not become too clouded to see either Isaac or the ram! Anyone who saw this would become blind. And yet rare enough though they may be, those who are both paralysed and blind, still more rare is he who can tell the story and give it its due. We know it, all of us--it was only a trial.
Had Abraham doubted as he stood on the mountain in Moriah, had he looked about in indecision, if before drawing the knife he had accidentally caught sight of the ram and God had allowed him to offer it in place of Isaac--then he would have gone home, everything would have been as before, he would have had Sarah, he would have kept Isaac, and yet how changed! For his withdrawal would have been a flight, his deliverance an accident, his reward dishonor, his future perhaps damnation. Then he would have borne witness, not to his faith or to God's mercy, but to how dreadful was the journey to the mountain in Moriah. Abraham would not be forgotten, nor the mountain. Yet it would not be mentioned like Ararat, where the Ark came to land, but as a horror, for it was here that Abraham doubted.
Venerable Father Abraham! When you journeyed home from the mountain in Moriah you needed no speech of praise to console your for what was lost; for in fact you gained everything and kept Isaac.

4. Lucinda Williams. My father is an unreconstructed Bob Wills fan, and he and I agree that there is a point in your life when a daily dose of your favorite music becomes a life need.

So today, I claim peace, not contentment with my life. I have plans and I have a bright future before me.

Listening to Lucinda Williams, Rescue.

1 comment:

Holly said...

I love you, this is beautiful, and I am thankful for your perspective. And I'm gonna work harder to get on the "helpful" list :P. Come see me.