Friday, May 20, 2011

This life...

I hate MS.  Oh, how I hate it.  Right now, I want to shout that from every bloody mountain top in the entire world.  Better yet, the whole flaming universe!  I have been trying to figure out the name of a plant in my yard.  It is the same as ones I had in my last home--yet another blessed surprise of my new home.

I got them from my writing student's mom.  They were so big and beautiful. I divided them and passed many on to others.  They were variegated, which is my favorite type of leaf.  When I spotted similar chutes coming up amongst the ferns I was thrilled, though they do need to be moved.

Someone has called a few times and I simply cannot talk to her.  I cannot face explaining things.  But I thought if I described the yard, it would soften my needing not to talk for she is a truly amazing gardener.  So, I sat there staring at a photo trying to remember the plant I discovered in my yard.

Nothing.  Nothing came to mind.  I tried Googling it.  Nothing.  I finally called Bettina, though I could barely keep my terror inside, to ask her what the plant was.  She told me.  She let me say how much I HATE MS.  And she went back to her evening because she knows she gave me what I needed.

I have hostas in my yard.

I have a brain that used to fly in the highest academic clouds with such ease but can no longer access words and processes that are as familiar as my name.  And I oft cannot tell you what that is either.  Or how to form letters.  I struggle to decipher the buttons on elevators.  There is so much.

I hate MS.

I also hate dysautonomia. 

A week of new medications have only served, once again, to make my innards worse.  Worse.  I am so bloody weary of roiling guts and innards agony.  Five months in just six days I will have been battling my digestive system.  I have been sipping on Gingerale wishing the morrow really was the day my Good Shepherd was coming to sling my broken body across His shoulders and take me home.

I hate fainting. My doctor told me last week that I need to be more proactive and prosaic about it. She gave me a script: "Hi, my name is Myrtle. I faint. It's just this thing that I do. When I am horizontal, it resolves itself. So unless there's obvious blood or broken bones, don't worry." I stared at her slack-jawed. It's just this thing that I do. Nothing about hating it in her script. But I do.

And I hate that when I try to talk about how I feel, what I am experiencing, inevitably someone tells me that they, too, forget or they, too, have rotten insides.  I do not mean to diminish their experiences nor the kindness behind their words, but their words diminishes my struggle.  That is how it feels to me.  Their words hurt.

So often, even with my best friend, I find myself hiding from her my confusion, hiding from her that I am not following her words.  She will know now.  I have wondered if she already does.  Even with her, even with the one who has given me love in myriad and many ways, who reminds me more than any other in my life that I am forgiven, who has never, ever made me feel the bother and who has let me speak my deepest fears...I still hide from her.

I hate this.  I truly do. 
I wish I understood better the theology of the cross.
I am astounded by two acts of mercy:  You statements and covenant friendship.  When I find the words, I want to capture both here.

In one of the books on my shelves, there is this idea of unmaking.  It is a fearful, fearsome thing.  A thing of death.  Sometimes, I feel as if I am being unmade, only in my case, death is actually life.  For I have died in my Baptism and though I understand it not I have been risen and hidden with Christ even now, even this day, even unable to say that I have hostas in my yard without Bettina to tell me.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Thank you...

...Sunshine and Bettina!  I appreciate very much the encouragement on the loss of my hair.  It is such a hard thing and a small thing that is not so small to me.

Bettina found a link to green dye that is in the United Kingdom, but it gave me the two Google search terms I was missing in all my own searching for the stuff:  alternative hair dye or special effects hair dye.  The latter led me to a website that was most informative.

In short, to go green, I shall have to go blonde.  Hmmm....can you picture me as a blonde?  It is not clear how long I should be a blonde before I take the next step.  Don't blondes have more fun, though?

It has already been a long, hard day.  My appointment was so difficult that I did not use the time out of the house to do anything and instead came straight home.  Amos, as usual, was beside himself to have me return.  Today, though, he was even more excited and even more reluctant to be out of my arms.  Right now, he is curled in my lap with his head across my arm, making typing hard.  Every once and a while, he gets up, licks my cheek, and then settles back down.  It is as if even though he is in my lap he is making sure that I truly am back home with him.

Amos is white...does that mean he could be green, too?  Hee. Hee. Hee.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

"Just wear the dumb hat"...

"Just wear the dumb hat and get over your endless self-torment."

This was an anonymous comment I received Maundy Thursday.  In tears, I called Bettina as to what to do with such a hurtful comment, and it was her husband who promptly advised: Delete it!  I did.  Bettina then told me that I should at least change my settings to prohibit anonymous comments, if not make them moderated.  I had not thought about doing so when I opened this blog up to comments, for I frankly do not expect anyone ever to respond.  Even when my words seem like an address to a public audience, they truly are not.  This is where I work out the things in my head and where my life can be captured for the day that is coming when I will no longer remember it.  Come fire or flood or theft this small collection of bits and pieces of my life will remain.  Plus, it was, more than a decade ago, a gift from someone whose pen I greatly admired who actually likes the way I craft my words and asked that I share them.

The few comments I have received have been like getting a remote hug (a phrase my realtor-turned-angel has introduced into my vocabulary).  So, reading this was particularly jarring.  It came along with a second anonymous comment that mirrors so closely what someone I know wrote that I am fairly sure who penned the words, which magnifies the hurt all the more.

A new friend explained about trolls on blogs with their ill intent and advised to ignore the words.  My dearest Manna also advised the same when I asked if she got such on her blog.  I have struggled to heed their advice.

Dumb hat.  Hmm...why would someone advise me to wear something he thought was dumb?  Is she agreeing with me about my concerns and confusion as to why the wearing of hats was so lauded, especially on the day that marks the beginning of the Church's celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness.  Period.

We believe, teach, and confess what our righteousness before God is this: God forgives our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following. He presents and credits to us the righteousness of Christ's obedience. Because of this righteousness, we are received into grace by God and regarded as righteous. [BOC, EP, III, 4]

Oh, how my heart sings at these words even though I struggle to truly take in this magnificent truth!  For me, I do not wish one large emphasis of Easter to be on something that takes away from this focus.

...get over your endless self-torment.  Who would write such a thing?  I think, if I did not have it on very good authority that I am not actually tormenting myself, I would be crushed by such a thought...for good.  If I thought that I was the author of my doubts and despair and weariness, I would truly leap off the nearest cliff. 

For the most part, what I battle is the fruit of the sin of others against me.  I have been embroiled in uncovering that fruit, but the process seems as harrowing as that which set me on the journey in the first place.  A process difficult, lonely, and ostracizing, especially since I weep a lot, drown in confusion, despair much, and have been quite ill to boot.  In short, I am not much fun to be around, weak, weary, and walking through darkness.  But I do not wish to speak of the psychological as much as the spiritual.

What I also battle is that which Luther reminds us all, that our wily foe is ever vigilant and oh so very good at his job.

Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations, which every Christian must bear. We bear them even though each one were alone by himself. So every hour that we are in this vile life, we are attacked on all sides (II Corinthians 4:8), chased and hunted down. 

While we live in the flesh and have the devil around us, no one can escape his temptation and lures. It can only mean that we must endure trials—indeed, be engulfed in them (II Timothy 2:3).

We Christians must be armed (Ephesians 6:10-18) and daily expect to be constantly attacked. No one may go on in security and carelessly, as though the devil were far from us. At all times we must expect and block his blows. Though I am now chaste, patient, kind, and in firm faith, the devil will this very hour send such an arrow into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy that never stops or become tired. So when one temptation stops, there always arise others and fresh ones. 

If you try to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent’s head (Revelation 12:9). If it finds an opening into which it can slip, the whole body will follow without stopping. [LC, Part III, 105-6, 109-11] 

I think that while Luther bible-thumped this point all throughout the Large Catechism, it is not much taught in church.  I chuckle when Luther writes, when the devil...say....  I chuckle yet I crave more.

I have been advised to blatantly say:  I am a bit fragile right now.  I need you to be gentle with me.  Funny, I tried that myself for a long while and did not get much gentleness back.  Mr. Anonymous is as un-gentle as you can be.  Many have been so even while purporting to be gentle.  It was proffered that I didn't know what I needed, and yet it turns out that I did.

The devil is persistent.  His words are both an incessant, seemingly inescapable whisper that only you can hear and a deafening roar that seemingly drowns out all else. 

Luther knew this, oh, so well...understood with great intimacy the anguished soul bowed down beneath the weight of sin and our utter inability to be godly or holy in and of ourselves and yet seek to know there is something about us that God might find the tiniest bit worthy.  We desperately seek because a God who loves you despite knowing every moment of your life and every thought in your head and every feeling in your heart and every desire of your soul, a God who does all the bloody, terrible, impossible work of gaining righteousness and then says, Here I did this all for you so take the credit and ride to victory, seems utterly incongruous with everything that is in this world.  The Gospel is simply not believable.  Our sin precludes us from grasping the Truth.  And when the Holy Spirit comes to us and gifts us with the faith needed so that we actually might believe, our enemy brings his entire kingdom to bear against us in order to lure us away, tear us away, to do anything to keep us from that gift and all it entails.

When talking about grief, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, the founder of hospice, noted that people story their way through it.  They tell the story from different places--sometimes before the loss or after or in the middle--and they tell it many times.  Those around them can grow weary of the story, but if you listen to it 39 times and then refuse to hear it again when 40 times was the number of tellings it takes to process the loss, then you negate, in a sense, those 39 times of listening. 

Robert Coles, a psychiatrist, has this most wonderful book, The Call of Stories, that explores how we live our lives through storying.  He is admonished to start listening to his patients when he bemoans that things are not going well.  His astonishment at that advice practically leaps off the page.  You sputter with him that listening is all he does!  Yet once he started truly listening, the proverbial scales fell away from his eyes and ears and he discovered the power of storying and the myriad ways we use stories to navigate our lives.

If someone is wounded or grieving, you do not have to bind up their wounds, to heal them, for that is the vocation of another, both physically and spiritually.  But you can listen.  Dr. Yahnke writes about listening sacrificially.  I like that idea.  Things do ease in the telling, when the telling is safe, when the telling is received without judgment, when repetition is not noted, when the telling is welcome.  Things do ease in the telling.  Remarkable that they do.

Words matter.  The Word matters.  The devil is quite patient in telling his story, in speaking his words.  I guess I am saying that more of what needs doing in this world is actually listening to the stories others tell.  Listen long enough for the scales to fall away so that you might hear what lies beneath.  Listen and then leave the person with the only Words that matter. 

Tonight my Good Shepherd sent me both gentle words and Words to say when the devil tries to speak nonsense to me from someone who has been willing to listen.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!