The Grace office walls are painted, the new carpet is down, the furniture has been replaced AND my books are back on the bookshelves happily ready for my eyes to land on that one reference in my exegetical work for sermons that makes all the difference in understanding and illumination. Doesn’t that sound complex and important?!? *snort* It’s funny even to me how these books on these shelves feel a bit like old friends. I’m guessing there have been times in your life when you’ve gone into a library looking for a book and said to the librarian something along the lines that you can’t exactly remember the title but it was fairly long and it’s in general about God or windmills or subterranean flora, and that you’re quite immediately interested in it and you think the author’s name started with an “L” and you KNOW for a FACT that the cover was BLUE! I’m not certain if the greatest gift of a librarian is their vast knowledge of written work, the Dewey Decimal System partnered now with computer and social media research, or PATIENCE with us when our most certain detail about the book for which we’re looking is the color of the cover! I’m not certain what it is but somehow seeing the books that I know are there with the color covers I’ve come to know so well (yes, I know that’s an odd statement) settles my spirit.
We are living in anxious times, perhaps every generation has in their own way, and when you add a spirit with no small amount of intensity, a propensity toward passion and energy, along with a little dose of healthy sometimes unhealthy perfectionism, life seems more and less anxiety producing depending on the day. If you have some of those characteristics that are unique to you but also shared with some of the rest of us, I hope you know there is first, no judgment that something is “wrong” with you; second, there are tools that can be oh so helpful; and third that you are way not alone in this glorious life and world that we share. Two things have been most helpful to me, and understand I’m still on this journey of making peace with how I am as well as being open to new learning and new tools. The first helpful tool for me is having a licensed therapist who “fits”. Not too many years ago I would never have admitted that. Pastors are supposed to have it all together, most particularly with the “inner peace” that comes from a foundation in faith. Some days that’s absolutely where I am, and some days not so much. A therapist does not “cure” you in my experience, a therapist helps you to hear your life in different ways. Most often they will tell you that what you need to know you already have within you, we simply have trouble accessing that knowledge for different reasons and they can sometimes help us through those obstacles.
The second tool that has been helpful for me is my physician who helped me be ok with taking an anti-depressant at an appropriate level. I come at things from a “thinking” perspective. He was able to explain to me that at different times and stages in life, your body chemistry can change and that it affects how you feel and see the world. And that what the appropriate anti-depressant can do is bring those levels back in balance and make you more “yourself” again. That has been true for me, and I would NOT have believed it before experiencing it. Had I not trusted his wisdom more than my own bias against taking a “happy pill to solve all my problems” – the outward expression of a not very helpful stubborn spirit – I would be struggling more than I needed to be because of my certainty that I should be able to solve everything myself.
I have a foundational understanding of the goodness of life. God breathed, created, and called it “good”! And what I want most is for every human being to experience that goodness in themselves, in their family, neighbors, and friends, and in those they have yet to meet. And I’ve come to understand that if I want that for everyone else, it’s o.k. to want it for me as well. If my anxiety is getting in the way of living into the calling God has placed on my life which is much the reason for my joy, then I believe God invites me to be responsible for facing it, looking for tools to help in healing, and then sharing what I’ve come to understand with the possibility that it might help others around me.
I love life! I love to have fun! I love Grace! I love to have good food with family and friends. I love the symphony. I loved “Newsies” (broadway musical prod this summer with Pam Williamson music producer). I love Bud and two orange “don’t bother me unless I want you to” arrogant and entertaining cats. I love trees and birds and hope someday I’ll sprout wings and fly like one. AND, I love my books and the calm they bring to my sometime anxious days. I hope you know what you love, I hope you know what brings peace and calm to your spirit, and maybe more than all that, I hope you know you ARE loved by a most creative and grace-full GOD!