Howling in the Wild

“Watch the ones whose only option left is to lean into the questions. The ones who are uninhibited by the unknown because they’ve jumped into that gaping hole and found themselves, by grace, unswallowable. Watch the ones who willingly stand with Feist and say, “I feel it all” even when it scares the shit out of them. It’s not brave to have answers.”
      — Mandy Steward, Spiritual Wanderings
I am tired.

I am tired.

I don't know what else to say, but -- I am so, so tired.

It's why I haven't been writing here.  I am so tired that the words I know I need to voice will not materialize on my lips, will not take shape in the soft and incubatory depths of my brain.

I am tired of fighting for joy, for hope.  I am tired of fighting to keep the faith that seems to be running out of my hands like water.  When will my faith fight for me?  When will I feel God do some of the heavy lifting with me?

Part of me trembles that I would write such a thing, share it for all to see and judge.  

But another part of me is tired of putting on a good face, of rattling off the right answers.  Because my right answers aren't helping much at the moment, and haven't for a long while.  I've been waiting, clasping these right answers close and hoping that they will somehow resuscitate my flagging spirit -- but they don't.  They haven't.  

Did I mention that I'm tired?

What it feels like is dying.  An invisible, daily, internal death.  I feel like my soul is dying.  Can a soul die before the body?  

And again, I tremble to write this, because I have so much to be grateful for.  Things that I am immensely, unspeakably grateful for.  And yet my soul feels like it continues to dwindle away.  

Much-loved ones in my life, they told me that they were sad that my husband did not share with them his spiritual flailings until after he'd already committed to atheism.  But I am trying to let them in on my own flailings, on my expiring soul, on how profoundly tired I am, and no one seems to hear me.  Perhaps they are unable to, or this is a burden that they cannot bear.  

But I feel alone.  I feel alone when I am vulnerable, when I share my questions, and the response is that I already know the truth, that I already know what I have to do or believe or [insert your own fix here] to get through this.  They don't hear that the doing or believing or knowing that I have done, that I am already doing, is killing me to do because how little it helps hurts.  

I hurt.  I hurt.  I hurt.  

This is my prayer to God.  The God that I feel nauseous when I try to read of in the Bible, the book that I used to see as a love story to a wandering people and now I can't help but see as an dysfunctional, abusive, look-what-you-made-Me-do "love" story.  I don't want to see these things.  I go to the Word looking for Love, and my chest tightens with panic when I find codependency instead.  I hope and hope that this is because the Bible is the perfect, whole, healthy God's story written down by imperfect, broken, and unhealthy men.  

But that doesn't make it any easier.

My chest is tight as I write this, too, and I wonder if I dare click "publish" when I've finished.  What will the cost of these words be, in my church, in my family, in my online community, in my self?  

But I've been realizing something that has brought me to my knees lately, something that necessitates the pouring out of these thoughts.  

And this is it -- I don't trust myself.  

Not even a little.

I don't trust my decisions, large or small.  I need exterior confirmation on every one.  I am terrified of picking "wrong" (even though if it was a friend who was sharing these fears, I would tell her that there often isn't really a "wrong" or a "right" in many of these choices, just "different").  I don't trust my intuition, my inner feelings, either.  And because I do not trust myself (my self), I don't know myself.

I don't know who I am.  

And then it hit me -- if I don't know who I am, how can I possibly know who God is?  The God who makes my sticky insides a home.  No, not just a home -- a temple.  A sacred space for Himself, for He and I, for all of us together.

I don't know if it's possible to know Him, to love or trust Him, when I have not taken the time to study and know and love His artistic creation -- me.

I am tired of sublimating myself in the name of religion or God, of others' expectations or comfort, of my own fear.  I'm tired of living as a quivering shell begging others to tell her how to fill up and come out whole.

I am tired.  I am tired of being afraid of what I think, of what I desire, of what brings me happiness.  I am tired of feeling so profoundly broken.  I am tired of the unspoken but clear messages from every corner that I am responsible for the salvation for both my husband and my child.  I am tired of giving the right answers when those answers cut into my heart like glass shards.  

I'm finished.  Finished hating my God-made self, tired of ducking my head and saying what I'm expected to say.

I'm trekking out into the wilds.  I am on a quest for a new way that will not keep on leading me back to brokenness and despair.  I hope I will find my God there in the wildlands, and the pieces of me that others convinced me to leave behind.  I pray He will surprise me with His grace and freedom, and maybe a bit of how He's also a She, of how He made woman in His image, too.

I'm tired, yes.  And I'm not giving up the fight yet.  But I need another way to battle for hope, because when I look down I realize that the sword I thought I'd been using for vanquishing has been cutting deep into my own flesh all these years instead.

I'm tired of having my own blood on my hands.  

If you want me, you'll find me in the wilds, howling grief and hope and freedom and healing.  And, if you're brave and hurting, too, I wouldn't mind some company there.  Just don't expect me to speak only in polite, right-answer whispers any longer.  

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