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.


Anonymous said...

Lee Ann, thank you so much for these thoughts! I have so often felt this way over the past year, staying at home while my friends graduated, got married, and went on to jobs and grad school. Staying home to make dinners, clean house, and do homeschooling with kids seemed so insignificant. Thank you for reminding me that these things are also valuable - and that God cares more about our hearts than our ideas about what counts as MIGHTY action. :) I pray God gives you rest and healing in these next months.

Laura Marshall

AvocadoDiva said...

Lee Ann,

Your attention has the right focus. It is so encouraging to me to read about this season in your life. But do remember that it is a season. :-) I think God is using you in a MIGHTY way like Laura said. And He may yet use you in a mighty way like the folks at college were always talking about. But that isn't the point. If we get caught up on HOW and to what extent God is using us, we move our focus off of Him and more onto us--how is God using ME? You know more than anyone (except my hubby) how much I struggle with this--so please consider this encouragement from one of a good friend in the trench alongside of you. *gasp* I'm back to the war lingo again!! AhHHH!!!! save me, Lee Ann!!! :-P

sarah said...

Lee Ann, yes! This is truth. I, too, came out of PHC convinced that I had better possess a vision, NOW! I, too, ran against dark circumstances that forced me to seek God deeper than ever before.

I want to tell you that you have a lot of wisdom. I remember all the way back to Politics & Literature, that J-term with Dr. Mitchell - you did not speak very often, but when you did, it was worth listening. God has used you already, and He will continue to do so every day. I do not doubt that you and I will both find the visions that God has for us, smack dab in the valleys.

Janice Phillips said...

I rediscovered your blog and scrolled through it on my RSS feed until I found this post. Last year (in Aug), I too, faced my own set of health issues and moved home with my family. Some of your posts about lessons learned hit home quite aptly. Thanks for sharing.