Back in the day, if you were a Mac user, you learned that every now and then on the old System 6 that you needed to defragment your hard drive now and then, or your files got all wonky, wouldn’t open, or even worse, disappear.
This week, things, for lack of a better term, have felt like my hard drive is fragmented. My week moves from “The thing I know the least” to “the thing I know the most.” I suppose I AM grateful it runs that direction rather than the other.
So far, chaplaincy is a weird mix of the very familiar (how hospitals run) to the very unfamiliar (being where the patient wants to be, not where their diagnosis says they should be.) Then I go home and be an online student for two days (I’m getting the hang of being an online scholar, but I still occasionally have a time management problem), and then I go home to being a hospital pathologist for two days, which, of course, is incredibly familiar.
The hard part is finding a little down time between the role switches.
What have I noticed in these weeks?
I have noticed I pray in the car a lot. A thought will pop in my head on the road. I’ll talk out loud in the car to God about it. I hear the words I’m using…”I don’t know, God…” “How do I work through this one, God?” “I know I’m projecting, God, but this is how I’m feeling and I need to work through this….” “Dang, God, why do I have to feel so LABILE in all this?”
I noticed I also have taken up the habit of when we do prayers of the people on Sundays, or intercessions at Morning Prayer, that I pray for “all those I saw this week in CPE,” and “all those who died while I was at CPE,” as well as the intercession I’ve been praying aloud for two years now. “I thank you, God…for enough.”
When I am feeling fragmented, I don’t really believe it’s enough, or maybe more specifically, that I am enough. But this week when driving home from CPE, I said, “God, I’ve been thanking you every week now for a long time for enough…but I’m scared as hell I’m not enough for all this. I’m afraid I’ll falter. I’m afraid some catastrophe is going to come out of the woodwork and bite me in the butt. I just get this grip of fear sometimes because I know how “not enough” I am.”
And then I heard it.
I would never tell you I hear the voice of God. That sounds too much like schizophrenia. But I think sometimes God-words in big block print pop into my brain now and then. This week, here is what the big block letters said:
“OF COURSE YOU FEEL THAT WAY. YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH. THAT’S WHY YOU HAVE ME. I NEVER EXPECTED YOU TO BE ENOUGH. HAND IT OVER TO ME! SERIOUSLY, I CAN TAKE IT!”
I found myself pulling over in a gas station parking lot, sobbing. “I’m worn out. This is an impossible life. I see myself coming and going. But then something happens like that woman yesterday who taught me that just sitting and being with her was enough, I didn’t have to DO anything. Just when I feel I’m on the brink you always show me something that tells me it’s where I need to be in THIS moment. Oh, God, I know how to DO. In fact, I am awesome at do-ing. But I still have trouble just BEING. So much of who I am has always been what I can do. Help me to see that sometimes, my just be-ing is all you expect from me.”
The answer came within 48 hours. I found myself in a situation where I was really feeling someone else’s stress–someone who I generally stay away from their personal stress b/c there’s a boundary there. But I could see it like a thick cloud (I had felt the clouds gathering for some time now), and how it made me react. So I named the elephant in the room. I knew they could not say anything about it to me, but we at least sat with it–and that felt like it was enough. In my prayer time I could at least acknowledge that I most likely did not cause it, cannot cure it, and it was beyond my control–that it was in God’s hands.
Inside this feeling of fragmentation, I at least know there’s an intact hard drive, and I have to trust that this process is silently rearranging the files so I can get to them again. I have to trust there will be a positive ripple effect in others. This is not easy for me. Yet I think this is where I need to go.