Archive | July, 2011

Facing My Desert Place

20 Jul

A reminder to myself that this too is also a desert. I took this in Arizona in Nov 2005

We all have seasons when we’re in the desert and little makes sense. Even Robert Frost, who I just found out wrote a poem funnily enough that he entitled “Desert Places.” (I wrote mine below before knowing about his). We ask questions. Why is this taking so long? Why do I keep hitting a wall? What’s wrong with me? These are common thoughts I usually face when I’m in a desert season. This last time, I decided to write a poem about it so that I could clear my head. As I wrote, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to sort out all of the emotions that were coming at me at once. What I wrote is below. Writing is like therapy or a good long run after a bad day. And here it is:

Desert Place

The desert place is dry and cracked,

Caked like wet cornmeal clumped.


The desert place is lonely and wide,

The end of a sad movie that makes no sense,

But percolates in my mind for days.


The desert place is deep and real,

Echoing toward the conclusion of a stretching season.


It’s vast and hot, brown and red.

Every step is trudging,

My mind is ever judging who I am, who I will be, how I will live through.


The desert place has questions unanswered, fears unfaced, stones unturned.

I stay awake there, wondering if my parched mouth will taste water soon.


The desert place is angry.

It’s long like war, frustraiting like traffic, and painful like an unhealed heart.


I wait there. In that desert place. My feelings fail, for they are too intense and the tears come quickly, shooting down my cheeks, carving hot paths before dropping off the cliff of my chin toward oblivion and for what?

My eyes close so that I can remember what it’s supposed to feel like to trust. I go back to those altars that I once made so that I wouldn’t forget. For times like this where I must sit and wait and bear it. Tomorrow may be more blazing heat. But I can hope for rain.


Wednesday Night Musings

13 Jul

She is displaced. Not in her home by the field where the corn used to grow. Not in the yellow house. Not under the trees that were planted there, rooted there by her sons, long since moved away. Her husband, long since gone. Her sister, gone though not too long since. She grew there. She truly lived there. She mowed the lawns. Tended the cows. Taught thousands of children down the road at the school while living in her house. Held reunions. Cooked  Sunday chickens and pies and birthday cakes and holiday cookies. Watched her children’s children grow. She is displaced. In a home that doesn’t look like hers. Not filled with old knickknacks or dear things. Old books that smell like musty memories that were read by real readers a century ago. No plush green carpet. No farm town touches. No trash barrel in the back with trash to be burned or cereal boxes repurposed for something else since she still lives as if the Depression hadn’t gone away. She eats meals at specific times. Talks to people who don’t know her. Can’t watch her old TV from the couch in the den. Can only imagine the off-key piano played once a year when family comes. Can’t feed the stray cats that all come around. Can’t wonder about the neighbors or drive into town. Not for now at least. She gets better. She heals in a place where she has constant care. It’s not her place, but it is a place.


He is displaced. He never found the roots he wanted. He wanders, waiting for someone to notice. He has family. They worry and hope he comes back, but he doesn’t seem to stay very long. They don’t know him. He won’t let them. He is restless like drifting wood, floating down a lazy river. Stopping until he gets what he needs, then moves on to something bigger and better. Always some promise in the distance that will come with time. Is it real? Is it imagined? What would it be if he stayed for dinner? What would it be if he stopped running and told his version of the truth? Or let people in. When did it get so scary to let people in? Is his cloak so dark that he won’t allow them to see? He drifts, displaced.


I am displaced. My soul wrestles. My heart waits. I am like a gangly bodied teenager, looking fully grown but still growing. Will I learn to breathe where I am? Take the time to see? Notice the little truths and beauties around me? Will worry win the war or just the battle? My body out of sorts is coming back to being whole. My voice is healing. I would long to be alone to think. Sacred moments to myself. How do I steal away? How do I write what I know? It’s only so long until I return to the words. Always the words. They guide me, poke me, know how to dwell within me until they burst forth. I remember what it is like to question everything. Analyze it all to death. Giving people advice about life seems to be my specialty lately. And can I, from this displaced place, stop pretending I don’t have anything to say and just say it?

Yes He’s My Ex, But He’s A Person First: Possession Issues

2 Jul

We label people. We do. And then we define what their relationship is to us. My “best” friend. My “ex-boyfriend.” We do it when we want to quickly explain how someone fits into our world and more importantly, how they “belong” to us. I don’t believe that anyone ever really belongs to us, though.  We can buy into the whole “Jerry Maguire” line of “you complete me” but I don’t believe that creates a healthy picture of what a relationship is supposed to look like. The moment we start thinking that we need someone to complete us, we get into trouble. The moment we start seeing someone we once shared a relationship with as “belonging to us,” we really become stuck. Then we begin to think we own them and their choices. We think they owe us something and we have, through our language of possession, created a tie that doesn’t need to be there.

I learned about this issue of possession the hard way. Several years back, I believed that one of the guys I dated could only be defined to me and my friends as just that: “my ex boyfriend.” In doing this, I made it known to all of my friends that they should not befriend him and could not “choose” him over me. If I’m honest, I hoped that they would want to forget about him all together.

While I understood that they had a friendship with him outside of me (because we were all part of the same community), I expected them to drop that as soon as he became “my ex-boyfriend” out of some kind of loyalty code that I had made up in my head to equal “friendship.”

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it isn’t fair. It is actually VERY selfish. I’m not proud of those years when I believed in this odd code of conduct and I even almost lost one of my friends over it. I thought her loyalty should be to me after the breakup because to me, my hurt was so heightened that I wanted him to hurt as much as I did. I tried to hurt him by attempting to claim all of our mutual friends for me.  By creating that unrealistic and unfair expectation, I forced my friends to choose. It put them in a completely awkward position. I was not wanting the best for the guy that I had dated or for my friends and in the end, I lost.

Luckily, I learned through this that we are not called to “possess” people with whom we are in a relationship.  Through controlling behaviors, unrealistic hopes that we can change a person, or through physical ties that connect us to a person too soon and too deeply, we can begin to believe that we can “lay claim” to a person and call them “ours.” But what if the relationship doesn’t work out? Then where are we?  Suddenly this person that I thought was “mine” was out of my life completely. The loss was devastating. I had over-shared and put too many expectations on a guy who was just a human and not capable of giving me everything I needed because I believed that he would complete me. (I’ve found the only one that can do that is God and so it became a situation of misplaced hope.)

In the end, we do not own someone who we dated and we cannot expect our friends to completely drop the person just because we are desperate for someone else to share in our pain. I am saddened and appalled that I ever believed that my friends were only real friends if they stopped talking with the guy that I dated in favor of me. When you break up, it’s not about sides. It’s about people who once shared something, hopefully learned a lot, and have decided that they are not the best for each other. It should be okay for people to part ways grieving but also wanting to want the best for the other.

In a call to maturity, I hope for a community where people can date, break up, and remain in that community cordially, while wanting the best for one another. I won’t allow myself to get stuck into a place where I have to “claim” people out of some belief that I own my friends. I won’t buy my friends’ loyalty to me in some power play intended to thwart the happiness of someone I once shared time, love, and hope with. That is not who I am or who I would want to be, especially as a follower of Christ. Surely my commitment to following Jesus, which informs all of my decisions and guides me even in my darkest of days will also inform me of how to love, even when it hurts and even when it is costly.  It is in that place of love that I learn that Jesus wants me to love my enemies, especially if in some way I’ve twisted it in my mind so that my “enemy” is now  someone I once loved…someone I somehow started believing was not a person with feelings and a soul but rather whom I too easily and selfishly labeled: “my ex boyfriend.” In the place where I can let go of labels and remember how to love my friends, the guys I’ve dated, and even myself, I find a new kind of freedom that I have never known.

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