Today this verse is resonating with me. Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a broad place…” The psalm talks about rescue. I have never been pursued by a hoard bent on my blood, as David was rescued from. But I do know the sensation of drowning in the details of my circumstances. I know the feeling of suffocating in the overwhelming hum of demands, fears, and anxieties. It’s amazing how each one, small enough on its own, works together to create my own hoard of personal daily demons. Even a house-mom needs rescue. Even a part-time working mom with three healthy babies enjoys the promise of broad places. I want to have these broad places inside me where my situation can’t touch them. I want to walk around with this expansiveness inside my chest.
I can’t be who everybody wants me to be. I’m skilled not brilliant. I’m passionate not a force. I have energy for now. I am creative but slowly. I’m disorganized. I can’t multitask. I’m not big BIG picture. I’m not fine detailed. I’m Barbara. I draw pretty pictures not daring ones. I love showing people the love of Christ. I want to live every moment. I hate not having enough energy. I hate letting moments slip by. I hate thinking about the hours of television that could’ve been a novel. I hate leaving art projects undone. Why can’t all the projects be finished instantly? I’m disgusted by the idea of leaving something undone when I die. But I find it improbable and most likely inauthentic to who I am to ever finish everything at the same time. I want to meet Jesus now. And I’m frenzied for living another day. I love my bed. I love to climb in. I hate to get out of it. I love being in my mind. I love being creative, letting my mind work. I love it when my thoughts keep me up till four solving problems, unable to rest when beautiful visions are being built. Yet I scroll down my phone clicking back and forth between email, facebook, twitter, and wordpress, just to make my mind be still so I can sleep. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what God wants me to offer. I find out in the second. This is it. This is what you have to give. I’m tired. I’m crying. I wish others could see life as I do sometimes. It’s a gift this, the view, the creation, never bored in my mind. What would I do without characters talking, images parading. Just images, just stories, nothing grand, nothing that will affect the tides of politics or social justice. They’re not even true. They’re fiction as true as I can make them. I love stories. Some crazy story this, me, here, now.
Well, you can say a little prayer for me this week.
I’m doing well. I mean, I knew this was going to be difficult, new job, joining anew the workforce, making my crazy dreams for children’s ministry at City Church of San Francisco a reality. And it’s not so insanely difficult. Indeed, I am at times overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. But then I just turn around and get drunk on the overconfidence of my amazingly heady ego and get stuff done. It’s dizzying being Barbara. (And imagine how my husband feels?!)
I feel like an apostle sent out on the boat. I am supposed to go to the other side. But the other side is not the destination. It never is. The other side is merely the end measure of the destination, the destination, and the point of all of this, being jumbled up somewhere in the length of this crazy ride over the time it takes to get there.
I am on a boat going to the other side. And I can’t tell which Bible story I’m in. I don’t feel like I’m in a storm, so maybe I’m in the one where the apostles are just not making much headway. Whatever, the wind’s against them or something. And Jesus has in mind to beat them to the other side just by walking across the water. Maybe he thinks they have it under control?
But they’re struggling after all. And so he goes to them, just right across the water and in the face of the damn wind he goes. And there’s me, Peter, the rock, saying, “Command me! Pick me! Let me do this job!” And Jesus says, “Ok, c’mon.” And there I am, Peter, sinking like a, well, a rock. I’m sinking like a rock at my own request.
“Save me!” “Command me!” “Save me!” “Command me!” “Save me!”
That’s me this week. It’s dizzying. And yet, it’s surprisingly secure. I am commanded. I am saved. I am being commanded and being saved.
I commanded. I saved. I am commanding. I am saving. I am. I am.
I am happy to follow-up and tell you that the elementary school rehearsal yesterday went very well.
I am back, as they say, on the horse. After careful review of what is going to be rehearsed on Monday I have asked for another go at blocking and choreographing the scenes. The director kindly assented.
All of this may not seem like much, but it is indicative of much growth.
Let me tell you a story.
When I was in second grade I inadvertently won the privilege of standing in front of the entire school and reciting a poem. I hadn’t known it was a contest.
So, after the kindergartener and the first grader went, I got up on stage in front of all the K-8 graders in my school and recited my poem. I then sat down to watch the rest.
I will never forget what happened then. A fifth grader got up to recite her poem. She trembled and stuttered and burst into tears and ran off the stage. The girl may or may not have vomited. It certainly looked like she was going to.
I was mortified for her. How embarrassing! I didn’t even know that sort of reaction was possible. It was horrifying.
A couple more lucky speakers recited and then, a few moments later, everyone applauded as the teacher announced that the girl from fifth grade was going to try again.
The teacher said, “How brave of her!”
I clapped for the girl, but I didn’t buy it. The girl had run off the stage. “Brave” was something they said to trick her back up there. And I remember thinking, with my advanced second grade wisdom, that if that sort of thing ever happened to me there is no way you’d get me back up on that stage.
My heart found nothing brave or admirable in that moment.
Now, I am significantly older and, as with most things, when you practice not being perfect every day you just get better at it.
My inability to fail prevented me from doing a lot of things. It’s taken a long period of indoctrination to reverse it. In fact, I now find a special pride in my ability to fail miserably, experience rejection, and try again, even if it’s an elementary school production, even if it’s a novel.
So, here we go, keeping on, practice, practice.
Oh my goodness, people.
I was in charge of blocking a scene today. One whole scene and musical number, one hour of rehearsal, all mine.
I was bold. I was confident. I went over it. I went over it again. The director called. I told her I had it.
And I totally and utterly bombed, failed, miserably, absolutely miserably.
I’m not sure what happened. For one thing, the stage was much smaller than the one in my mind. Everyone was terribly squished. And then after I blocked their song I realized – they’re just standing there.
It was the most uninteresting thing I’ve ever seen.
And my chest starts to tighten and they’re looking at me as they say their lines and their parents are all lined up against the back wall watching me.
And a voice in my head says, “Barbara, I think you’re supposed to be telling them something right now.”
But I can’t open my mouth.
And then the voice says, “Oh my gosh, you have no idea what you’re doing.”
And then the voice begins calculating, “You have volunteered to be the assistant director and you know they have no director next year. You have as good as doomed yourself to this sensation for the next ten years until baby graduates from fifth grade …”
The voice was very unhelpful. My mouth had gone dry and I wanted to cry. I’m pretty sure what I had was a panic attack.
The director was there. She stepped in. She was having trouble reading my expression. She kept saying, “I don’t mean to step on your toes here.”
I shook my head. It was all I could do. Holy hell!? Was that a panic attack.
The director was very kind. She appreciated my “framework” and filled in the details. She fixed it. And she gave me a pep talk.
It is now 7:30 and I am curled up in bed in my pajamas. I will be watching a French movie and falling asleep soon after. Nothing else is getting accomplished today, nothing.
And tomorrow I’m preparing the crap out of my script for Wednesday.
And here comes the unhelpful voice, “But you thought you were prepared today.”