Monday, March 24, 2008

Unanswered Prayers


"Thank you, Jesus."

That's a little phrase that Justin's best medical school friend uses when something shitty happens. It's kind of a joke, but also (for me and Justin at least) a pithy truism--why should we only thank Him when things go our way, rather than thanking him for less obviously positive situations too. If we only thanked him for things that went our way, we might as well just thank ourselves, don't ya think? And the opposite is true as well.... if we blamed the crappy moments of our lives on ourselves what would that be saying about Jesus's place in our lives.

It's a very confusing scale. Seems easier to just thank him all the time and let it go at that.

So, thank you Jesus, for letting my heart break so many times, for letting us lose our first child during pregnancy, for letting me learn that the friend that I worried about was safe but just not thinking of me, for placing Justin in Los Angeles instead of a more adventurous place for us, and for having me spend an hour and a half of my time doing something that was not on my schedule.

Thank you, Jesus.

Because, of course, as that great country song goes, "One of God's greatest gifts is unanswered prayers."

The bruising patience I had to endure in waiting for true love and not settling for some poor substitute who was willing to fill the space I have for a lifelong partner led me to Justin, and he and I both know heartbreak and what it takes to have a mature and healthy relationship. We found each other halfway around the world when we could easily have met earlier--what with living between 0.5 to 15 miles apart from each other for much of our lives--but we met when we were ready for each other, and that gift has brought such sweetness to our lives.

The grief of mourning our desperately hoped for, worked for, prayed for dream child nearly destroyed me. But it also taught me a lot about the meaning of motherhood without actually having a child in our lives. This gift of this knowledge makes our life together now so much more full than it would be if we had a baby. This gift of knowledge gives us time to weave our lives into a stronger tapestry of marriage and joy. Possibly, the time and knowledge we have been granted may make us very healthy parents in the far far future, but it is also totally possible that we will enjoy incredibly healthy lives without raising children. Either way we are better for it.

The pain of having unknowingly spent much of my time with a friend who did not sincerely care about me, momentarily disillusioned me about having relationships with women in general. I am glad to know that she is physically safe and how she feels, even if her emotional retardation (and again I use the word advisedly) got in the way of my own personal growth and care. Thank you Jesus, because over the past few days you have given me so many reminders that I do have healthy, reciprocal, balanced relationships with people who are open and honest and true friends. Thanks for Oakley's visit, for Brian's enduring friendship and lunch date and for Tiffany's surprise presence today when all I expected was a cup of coffee and what I got was a refreshing reconnection with a smart and thoughtful woman.

Tossing us back to Los Angeles means putting us in a place we both already know and does not give us the adventure of living together outside Southern California--we won't be exploring the wet, green, yummy forests of trees and buildings in the San Francisco area, we won't be roaming the museums of Chicago and enduring the windy snowy winters or the humid summers so far from home. But that means we have the gift of remaining close enough to San Diego and closer to our families. That means that we don't have to live in an I'm-about-to-give-up-all-these-sunny-days way, because we're just relocating our umbrella on the beach. Also, he's going to one of the most amazing programs for Emergency Medicine residency in the world, so hurrah for family and achievement and friends all in one.

Allowing clinical depression, the recovery and dive back into work, and the relapse to disability to disconnect me from my world and then try to reconnect to it has sure been a lot of work. But having to give up everything I knew: teaching, journalism, winning, working, giving, giving, giving, achieving, achieving, achieving left a gaping hole in my life. Sounds awful, but it is not. Really, it is only difficult. And even that difficulty is a form of a gift because I get to choose what goes into my life this time. The first time I built a life so much of my structure was driven by what I perceived I needed to do to fulfill the expectations of others. Meeting those expectations took on a life of its own, a life for which my body was only a vehicle. I became this Amazing Accomplished Thing built on a foundation of accomplishment and stacks and stacks of more accomplishments. Does that sound human or even interesting? It felt like dying a slow death but not telling anyone about the diagnosis. One day, I'd just collapse and someone else would have to take the job of being the Amazing Accomplished Thing. Giving me this chance to rebuild myself really gives me the opportunity to remake my existence, to create myself as I am instead of as I should be.

So thank you, Jesus, for not giving me everything I believe is good for me.

Thanks a lot, Jesus.

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