Monday, July 15, 2013

On being wanted...{Lord, do I gots issues}

Disclaimer #1 - Mom, if you're reading this, this is no way a reflection of our current relationship {all good!} but is a brutiful-ly honest look inside my issues.

Disclaimer #2 - Despite my seemingly confident and capable exterior, I'm a rather raw ball of paradoxical emotions at any given time.  If you're reading this and you know me in the IRL, I probably don't want to talk further about what I'm about to write - unless you're cut from a similarly broken cloth and wish to say, "Hey, me too."  This is for the people who haven't opened up yet - to let them know they are not alone, as I feel an odd compulsion to bare my soul tonight.

Ok, now that the legalese is out of the way...

From my earliest sense of awareness, I always felt unwanted.

Maybe it had something to do with hearing the words "mistake" or "accident" when the question of my conception arose in conversation.  Maybe it had a lot of something to do with, at age 5, hearing the family lore of how my Real Dad left town, having stolen my 16 y/o mother's paper route money to get the hell out of Dodge, just a day after I was born.

Shortly after my mother's younger sister {then 11} dropped that bomb on me, my biological father returned to town and approached my mother about wanting to see me.  I can't recall if he was clean yet and my mom had doubts or if she knew for sure he was still drugging it up, but regardless, she told him no, and then tried her best to warn me that he wanted me, but couldn't have me because he had done some bad things that made it so he couldn't be with me, especially alone.  He might take me, kidnap me, and that would be very, very bad.  All I knew of him at that point was the 9th (?) grade yearbook picture of him, in which he was wearing hideous seventies fashion and had longer hair than I'd seen on any man I knew personally.

One night, I was playing at my grandmotherly next-door-neighbor's yard.  Her daughters were the same ages as my mother and aunt (which was unusual in that there is a 10 year split in age), but at this point in my life, I was only aware of her 12 y/o daughter, who would play with me on occasion.  The elder daughter and her husband were visiting, and being close friends of my mom's from the past, they knew me, but my six-year-old self did not recognize them.  When her husband said, "Hello, Heather" and began walking toward me talking about how big I'd gotten, all my terrified little brain could say was, "Unknown Man Knows Your Name And Is Gonna Kidnap You!  RUN!!! SCREAM!!!!!"  So I did, horrified at the prospect of being wanted enough to get stolen.  The nightmares began shortly after that, in which my yearbook-picture father would break into our house, freeze my family members into stone (like Medusa - yes, even at age six, I had a major interest in Greek mythology) and leave with me, kicking and screaming into the night, which is usually where I'd wake up.  I vividly remember having these nightmares repeatedly for at least a year.

So on the one hand, feeling unwanted was lonely and painful and yet, a feeling to which I grew accustomed; on the other hand, being wanted was a terrifying and sinister thing to avoid.

I know the sense of being unwanted was heightened as my siblings came along; I was not my stepfather's child, but they were.  Later, this sense rose to a climax for me when I was 12, and my mother had been gone one weekend with nary a word to anyone about where she was.  Upon her return, when I tearfully asked her why she would do such a thing, why she would have scared us so much, she told me I was the reason why.  That because I was born when she was still so young, she hadn't gotten to fully live and have fun, so she took the chance to do just that. She was still flying high and didn't mean it.  Or at the very least, she didn't mean to actually say it aloud, but her inhibitions were out the window.  And some things just can't be unsaid, particularly in a young girl's head.

Implicit in all of it was that I was a burden, that while I was unwanted, I was still there and dealing with my needs was an obligatory drag.  Exacerbating these feelings was the fact that all the family drama and dysfunction often left my parents unable to meet many of my emotional, and sometimes physical, needs; over time I arrived at two mantras to live by:
1. Nobody wants you
2. The only one who can take care of you is you
So I set out to make people want me by way of achievement.  For many years, the praise of my teachers was, in large part, what fed my need for love and acceptance.  I was strong and confident because I relied on myself to feel good and make things happen for myself.  {Later, a keen awareness of this pattern's unhealthy extension into my adult life, by way of my career path, was ultimately what lead me to quit working out of the home and work on just being with my God, husband, and children.}

While still a perfection-seeking, worth-is-determined-by-merit-thinking slave, I met my would-be husband, and through him, Christ.  Just like in my marriage, my walk with Christ is often {needlessly}complicated because of my brokenness and life-long patterns of distrust in others' ability to give me what I crave: acceptance and a sense of "I chose YOU."

I also run into trouble when I try to do everything myself.  It's not so much that I think God CAN'T do it, because uh, you know He can do the impossible {except that if I'm totally being one hundred percent truthful, that doubtful thought may have crossed my mind a time or two}, as much as it is I don't want to burden Him with my concerns and needs and risk Him looking at me with Reluctant Obligation as opposed to the Unconditional, NOTHING Can Separate You From The Love of Christ LOVE, {NOTHING!} He's shown me so freely over the years. I fear that He'll become one of the many who've let me down in life if I trust Him or bother Him too much.  Which is crazy, if you think about it.  He's Unending Love, Boundless Joy, and Abundant Life.  There is no obligation, no burden too heavy for God.  And over and over and over in Scripture we are told that He is nothing if He isn't faithful.

But there you have it - that is my default, maladaptive coping mechanism, to bottle up and soldier through with the insistence that I CAN SO DO THIS MYSELF BECAUSE I'M AFRAID YOU'LL LET ME DOWN IF I LET YOU  SEE THE CHINKS IN MY ARMOR.

So, when we started to struggle with finances this spring as a result of my job loss - I hit the job seeking hard.  I would get a job and help get us out of this hole, and it would soon be a distant memory.  One month passed.  Two..  Three..... Four, and well, we've been really struggling with What Does The Future Hold?  Especially as we got behind on our mortgage....again.  {After the medical bills from four years ago peaked simultaneous to the impact from recession, we entered foreclosure status a couple of years ago and worked very diligently for 18 months to finally secure a loan modification last fall.}

Last week, we were pushing 45 days late with the mortgage when Seth got paid.  On Tuesday his paycheck was $1,000 less than his previous paycheck before it had been, roughly $500 less than the average we try to budget for. We were devastated. A few essential bills (car insurance, student loan, phone, tool payment) and groceries came out and 2 days later, we had $29 in the acct, plus a bit of cash ($40ish) to get us through the next two weeks.

On Thursday, independent from any job application or pitch, I got a call from a former consulting client asking me if I'd work with them.  I was thrilled and my psyche got a much needed dose of "they want me!"  I also was convinced that this was God providing just what we needed at just the right time.  I praised Him and shared with our elders and ministers just how dire things had gotten, how God had heard us and asked them to join us in celebration at His provision.

Then I got a second call.

Turns out there'd been a slight change of plans sometime between the staff meeting where the organization decided to invite my help wherein one of the staffers had been instructed to call me and the actual making of the call, but it never got communicated.  The higher ups decided to go with a PR firm instead upon further thought but had not yet informed their staffer of the change.

And just like that, my case was proven.  See, God, see??!!??  You let this happen, You got my hopes all up and then?  NO GOOD!  Why should I trust You?  You're like all the rest.

And He was like, Wait. For. It.....You'll see.

Whatever.  So I sent another e-mail, saying, roughly, "Well, no dice.  Uh, Habakkuk 3:17-18?  I dunno what's going on, but please keep praying."

Friday, I got a call from one of the recipients of my e-mails saying, "I hope you don't mind, but I told our benevolence folks about your needs.  We can help you, we just need a number."

All this time, I've been trying to get us through on my power.  Refusing to Just. Ask. For. Help.

Not out of pride as much as thinking our needs were too much and how dare I ask for That Much?  Also, the Hardship Olympics show up in my head, you know, when you do that thing that's supposed to cheer you up, but it really just makes you feel guilty and worse, when you think of people who have it worse off than you and need the help that much more? Yeah. I do that.  A lot.

Anyway, today I talked with our church's benevolence ministry leader, and told him our number.  It was large, and humbling to admit the level of help we needed.

But God provides.  Abundantly.

The key is to Just Ask.  Ask without shame.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
 Lord, I hear You saying, "See, my child?  I can give you what you need, want to give great things to you, just ASK ME.  I love you, my dear, for I CHOSE you.  Knit you in your mother's womb, it was no accident - you are because I wanted you to be."

I hear you loud and clear, and feel your love and hope you know how much I love you back.  I know now this whole job fiasco happened so you could show me this.  You had a purpose, and I get it.  Thank you for being faithful, for placing my feet on solid ground, and helping me to work through my weaknesses - through which Your Power is made perfect.  And thank you for all of the sweet friends who've been walking with me and my family at this time.  I love them all so much too.

You're pretty amazing - ya know?  Bet you never heard that before! ;o)

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