Friday, November 4, 2011

What I've Learned

I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.
-William Faulkner 

My Newest ATC
A week after its passing, I hadn't been quite able to name it or figure out from whence (or W/whom) it came...until I tried to write about it.

I was writing to tell you: it had felt like in-over-my-head sandwiched between two slices of anxiety slathered with sin, impending gotchas, and consequences. I'd been edgy like a teenager about to get busted...unfortunate, because I hadn't known what I'd done wrong.

I'd stepped away from some of the noise and tried to determine from whom I should seek forgiveness. One person had come to mind, and I'd sent an e-mail.

I'd prayed, requested prayer, and read my Bible. I'd made careful (and sound, I think) decisions about to which human voices I should listen, and I'd listened hard.

The bad feeling had persisted, anyway (and for days), until I'd knelt in front of my couch and begged God: "If the bad feeling is coming from You, Father, please make it go away, or reveal to me what I can do to make things better. If the bad feeling is coming from the enemy, please make him get behind me."

After my prayer, I'd felt pretty much like my old self but still hadn't understood what I'd experienced, and I was writing to convince you: while I'm prone to feeling deeply, I'm nearly always in touch with the source of my emotions. To feel troubled and not know why? Not so much like me.

I was writing about a planning period in the middle of the year I taught sixth grade. This lovely, retired teacher (the New Teachers' Mentor, or some such) had come in and asked how I was doing; I'd burst into tears; and she'd recommended prescription medication. Weeping, I'd looked at her and said: "I don't need medication; I need a new job."

It's very Brandee to understand why I feel the way I do and to own both my emotions and the source of them.

But as I was writing this to you, I remembered having--about 12.5 years ago--an experience very similar to this recent one. I'd been completely overwhelmed and anxious then, too.

I'd just learned I was pregnant. I'd planned my pregnancy and wanted my baby, but I'd felt completely unworthy of the gift of him, also very insecure. I hadn't felt ill-equipped, per se; I'd known I could mother him. I just hadn't known if I could mother him as well as my heart wanted. The responsibility had felt crushing, and I'd felt half crazy with self-doubt and even--to a certain extent--self-loathing.

My ex-husband hadn't known what to do with me, so he'd flown me to my brother and sister-in-law in Hawaii: an incredible gift, but watching these beloved young people parent, beautifully, my older nephew (not quite a year old, at the time) had compounded my problems to a certain extent. I just hadn't known if I could prove myself worthy of my baby.

Since I didn't struggle in this way with either of my other pregnancies, it had been a long time since I'd thought back to my early pregnancy with Cade. I've learned so much since then. I've learned that, indeed, I can very rarely mother anybody as well as my heart wants, but it's ok: I have my great moments, and God redeems the rest. He's given me children for reasons that, probably, have as much to do with my weaknesses as with my strengths. I grow and progress slowly, right along with my babies. And it's alright.

The source of my recent misery was neither God nor the enemy. That trouble--I understand, suddenly--bubbled out of me, alone. And the reason for it? I'm pregnant with a book, and I've never been pregnant with a book, before. I feel unworthy of the God-given gift of it and frightened by the God-given responsibility of it. I don't doubt my ability to write my friends' story; I doubt my ability to write it as well as my heart wants.

I'm just going to have to trust: I will have my great moments, and God will redeem the rest. He's given me this project for reasons that, probably, have as much to do with my weaknesses as with my strengths, and He plans to grow me.

I will read aloud to my friends, tomorrow, Chapter One. And they will tell me what I need to know in order to write Chapter Two.

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