Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The End of the Road

On May 1, I moved back home to live with my family. My plans were to drive around New England for a few weeks, return home and find a job, and attend Regent University in the fall. But lots of stuff went wrong. The fact is, it's going to take a lot more than a bottle of pills to heal me from years of undiagnosed food allergies. I'm like a building that looks okay on the outside but has severe termite damage on the inside. So even though moving back home gave me the rest and freedom from stress that I needed, it simply made the truth more obvious: I need MORE rest, MORE freedom from stress. In other words, working full-time, outside the home, isn't an option for me right now. So that has an impact on finances, of course. And college, as we all know, has a cruel effect on both health and finances.

God recently drove the point home by requiring my car to need a new transmission. My symbol of independence is currently stranded at a shop in Purcellville, over an hour away. Do I want to save my funds for car repairs or for college? That's a no-brainer. So college is out for now.

Over the last year I've watched my plans for the future dwindle away to nothing. I used to think my life had no meaning if I had no vision or capacity for changing the world. Remember the lesson from Patrick Henry College--God wants to USE you!! In a MIGHTY WAY!!! Wanna know how God's used me? By not using me. He's tied my hands and cut off much of my connection to the wide, wide world. My focus has shrunk to this week, this day, sometimes only this minute. The people I touch in any meaningful way are the ones I can encourage, in some small fashion, as I encounter them in the daily round of cooking meals and going to church. Some days, life is bliss: reading, putting in a few hours of work, trying a new recipe, being with my family. Some days, the lack of distractions (going to work, buying clothes, hanging out with friends, envisioning a magnificent future) is agony.

Henri Nouwen writes about creating "space" for God in our lives. He shows how spiritual disciplines like solitude, prayer, and contemplation carve out empty spaces in our lives for God to fill. He sees these emptinesses as beautiful and gracious, contexts in which we can encounter God. And he is right. The maddening emptiness that I face has proved to be the opportunity for Him to hold my attention. He has directed my thoughts when, self-directed, they have merely whirled in confusion. When I have given up all hope for meaning, the meaning has come, and it consists of being in His presence.