The subplot, which is really the main plot, may be emerging. My writing mentor encourages me to make things up as the little two-year old, the creative voice that lives in the back of my mind, describes to me what she’s now distracted by, and now, and now, and now. To let her take charge without reining her in for purposes of coherence. No, it’s not that there’s no structure or method to the madness. It’s more like the structure and the methods serve only set up the vast and well-appointed play yard within which she explores and entertains herself chasing shiny objects and running rabbits down holes. The whole thing is kind of magical and mysterious, which both enthralls me and scares me away. When I’m with her in the play yard, I want to stay; there is nowhere else I want to be. The problem is stepping into the play yard. I know I won’t come out anytime soon, and what about all the other things I must do?
There’s the guilt list. Yes, the duties of the household that I bargained with my husband to define. He does all the grocery shopping, cooks our dinner and cleans up afterward every night, and 90% of the time puts our youngest to bed. In trade I clean the house, do the laundry, create budgets, take care of the bills, plan vacations, and make sure everyone is wearing underwear that doesn’t have any holes. So, he carries a load daily, but these are things that he likes to do because it relaxes him. I carry a lighter daily load except for a couple of days a week when I take on the whole of my list and get it done in one or two fowl swoops. Sometimes I wait a little longer than I should and I start noticing my daughter’s drool drop marks on the hardwood floors, a sure sign it’s time to get the Swiffer out.
Then there’s the health list. I’m getting older and must work in new ways to maintain enough energy and function to meet the demands of the day. It’s not like it used to be when I could run a half-marathon on a weekend, hit the gym five days a week, and work 60 hours as a consultant dealing with stress-filled client environments. I felt good back then. I had energy. But there was damage being done that I didn’t know about. Now, I live on arthritis strength Tylenol and am off high cholesterol foods. My next joint replacement surgery is in three weeks. These things take more time and energy than I want to give them, but it is what it is.
Then there’s the seeking of purpose list. I have felt disconnected from the church for a long time, a place where at one point I felt myself a part of something beautiful. It’s been … maybe twenty years? Yes, a long time. I long to be a part of the body of Christ … it is my greatest heartache and source of tears. It’s likely the reason I keep myself so busy with endless projects, looking for my place … the place God intends for me. Maybe I’m in it, but I struggle to accept it. It seems like such a waste. But then … He has the right to squander me, and I certainly don’t have a clue about what He might be up to.
Yet, today I will venture another try. There is a home-based church in the area I grew up near, an area that is economically challenged, troubled in spirit given the current societal climate, and yet displays a beautiful authenticity and simplicity that feeds my spirit in ways I haven’t experienced since the mid 1980’s. As has been the pattern for too long now, when I expressed my desire to get involved, I was referred to the leader of women’s ministries.
Okay, let me just say this. When someone says, “Oh yes, you should get together with Shirley. She’s the leader of women’s ministries,” I cringe, feeling the downward pull of disappointment take hold, leading me into hopelessness. I’m sorry. I’m not a women’s ministry type woman. Period.
I’m disagreeable, intellectual, quiet, not at all neurotic, I’ve never been pregnant, I’m not a yoga pants mom, I don’t hang out with mom’s and never did playdates, and I don’t care about most things that church women care about. And I’m not going to fabricate a personality only to mirror back to the church ladies what they expect/want to see in me in order to accept me. For this, I’ve paid dearly. The last church we attended for any considerable length of time, the pastor finally told me that I had been boxed out. The women couldn’t figure me out. So, they shunned me.
God loves me and accepts me, I know that. What I don’t understand is why He doesn’t open a door for me to serve Him from within the body.
Again, today I will venture another try. I am meeting with a woman from the church, a woman who introduces herself as one of the founders of the church and who last week preached a message where she described herself as the smartest and most talented of five children. I don’t think she was joking.
I own my cynicism, okay? As much as I’d like to be all open and optimistic, my radar has identified her as the requisite woman in power at this church. And it’s always the requisite woman in power who first makes me her project, fails to get the results she wants, and then boxes me out. I don’t know why, really. All I know is that it feels unfair. And I don’t know why God has allowed it.
My husband says maybe this time it will be different. He’s right. Other than her boasting, I liked her message. It was different.