holding courage

it's been a rough week. last sunday, we learned that kirk's best friend's dad died quite unexpectedly. it has been a week of mourning with our friends. at school, i had papers and presentations due almost every day of the week, with still two papers to go this weekend. it has been a week of treading to keep my head above water. throughout the week, different situations popped up that made us feel half in california and half in florida, not fully present in either place and still not fully knowing how all this will play out. it has been a week of perplexity and surprise.

i keep trying to find a still place, but i'm pretty unsuccessful most of the time. i shared with one friend this afternoon that i feel myself breaking, being asked to give something over but not being quite sure what that something even is. i told another friend today that i feel such shame for being in this place, that i feel myself heaping the pressure on my head and shoulders to have things worked out, put together, waving proudly with a flag in my hand from the top of a very high hill.

but that's not the way i feel at all. i feel a bit lost, a bit broken, a bit like God is trying to take my favorite stuffed bear from my hands. that's what the breaking feeling feels like: an awareness of a comfort in my arms that is not God's comfort but my own stuffed bear, worn down from being held, with matted spots from my tears and one lost button eye. it feels like he wants me with open hands and open arms, nothing in between us, when that comfortable bear in my arms makes me feel so warm and secure.

it's hard to believe right now that God's presence will fill up that space in my empty arms.

heather has been talking about death-to-self lately, both on her blog and in my comment space. when she first mentioned it to me, i accepted it warmly and quite optimistically. of course death-to-self is good when it comes from God, i thought, and it feels so good to feel him move through us when it's him moving and not ourselves. and i have sincerely experienced that as true. except that as the day and week wore on, i began to see glimpses of the self that still needs that death right now. the pride and the self-dependence. the seize for control and the lack of faith.

these things will hold me back if i do not let them go. and yet still i won't let go. and so, the breaking. i'm breaking. i am trying not to break, and yet still i am breaking. and it makes me feel so sad.

so tonight, i am trying to hold courage in my hands, instead of my warm bear. perhaps tomorrow the courage will be replaced with God himself. tonight, that is my hope.