Now that I’ve become a “church” employee, I’ve been busy and Sundays aren’t my day of rest, but of go-go-go (6000 steps in 2-1/2″ heels before 11am? Anyone?) answering questions, and making lots of quick decisions. I start Saturday afternoon, making sure all the Sunday School curriculum is ready to go, making one or two last minute trips to the local dollar stores and running into the grocery to get fresh cream for the coffee on Sunday morning. Preparing slides (and more often forgetting to email them to whoever is on slides) and on. and on. and on…
So, typically, I take Sunday afternoon off. While Dearest Husband takes the kids to Gramma’s and Grampa’s house to play with cousins (and eat two meals – yeah!) I plan a nap, a walk and journalling time. I was really looking forward to journalling because I actually got to sit in the sermon yesterday and I needed to do some processing.
Except I couldn’t find my journal.
I looked on my desk (which is quite the feat most of the time) and I looked in my bedside table drawers. I looked in the living room, throughout the office, through the piles on the counter the kids use when they clear the dinner table. I searched. I even looked through the car. Through all the bags I could think of using.
My fear was multiplying. Not only am I extremely vulnerable in my journal, this particular one I bared my soul and processed the desire to escape this world on more than one occasion. I processed TWO psychiatric hospital visits through this journal. I don’t write in it a lot (it requires a lot of effort to be vulnerable for me, even with just a piece of paper) but my worst fear came to fruition. That those private thoughts that I put on paper, to get out of my body, to own and to give up… they were no longer in my control.
I started fighting tears as I searched the kids’ rooms, terrified that they’d find a frustrated moment and hold on to it, even though every time I go through the process of writing out a frustration – God is good and helps me to see with His eyes. With his Merciful, Gracious, Unconditional Love. But the fear gripped me.
The last time I’d remembered seeing it was at the Gather Rise conference the week before, and I decided it must have slipped out of my bag in one of the many times I stood up. I called Dearest Husband and he encouraged me to be brave and when I would go for counselling on Monday (which happens to be at the church where Gather Rise was held) I’d just ask if anyone had turned in a journal. Dearest Husband was sure no one would really read the journal…
And I couldn’t wait. I had planned all morning on writing, so I moseyed off to the nearest bookstore with a large journal selection (and connected to a Starbucks) and fighting tears, biting my lip, I picked up a couple dozen different books. They can’t be spiral bound because then I can’t write comfortably on both sides of the page. They have to lay flat. They can’t have stupid writing on the front. They can’t be too expensive….
Eventually I bought a Leuchtturm (which I have used as a bullet journal in the past) and decided that it would work with my experimenting with lettering in my journals (copying Bible passages or poetry) and I could add habit trackers and gratitude trackers more easily in the back…
So with tears in my eyes I ordered a special coffee and started writing. And as I wrote I realized it wasn’t just the vulnerability that I lost hold of in my missing journal. It was the process. It was the promises that had been given to me as I wrote when overcome by the Holy Spirit. So many promises that I had held so tightly onto.
And then the sorrow really started to drip. In the Starbucks. With the super long line up facing me. Oh. Biting lip. The promises that had gotten me through such hard times, that I have bookmarked and highlighted and read over and over. Gone.
After a couple pages of tears I packed myself up and came home, where I fully intended to crawl into bed and cry. But the process of writing out my fears and sadness left me less empty than I had expected and I started some laundry.
Then the kids came home.
And it was on the dining room table, underneath “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”
So now I face my demons with a year of my past at my left hand, full of processing major depression and promises of hope for the future – with a brand new journal to explore the cultivation of this heavy soul.
I am grateful that my vulnerability and promises weren’t lost that easily. That they are written in my heart – and they are still here. I’m grateful for the promise of empty pages and I’ve been released from “finishing” last year’s journal. I would pick it up and always remember where I was when I bought it (in the psych ward) and I don’t need to have that constant reminder every time I make my confessions how fragile this soul of mine is. Because I have strength, I have faith and I actually have hope. I know that there is freedom, but it’s not something I’ve grasped yet. Something I’m working through…