Not The Center Of The Universe

 In Articles, General
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uthor Note: I wrote this about 3 years ago and recently found it again. I questioned whether something composed of deep melancholy has a purpose here? Could it even be of use at Open Table Faith? Isn’t this material better suited for a personal blog? (Which I think I gave up on somewhere around 2011!)

But I offer it to honor one of our deepest goals: that we value honest conversation, and we are not afraid of how we feel. In a time I questioned most everything about my life – including my relationship with God – I wrote some honest words. Maybe they spark some conversation now. Maybe they just make you less afraid of how you feel. Either way, I think openness and faith are served.

A good part of me hates all these days. These frazzled, fractured days of great need and too-tight scheduling. Days of difficult relationships in the nearest places, a professional calling that comes with huge weight and price. These days are tear-stained struggle and disappointed expectations. Sleep that’s interrupted, then another round of the same. The words of my prayers are unintelligible in these days. I do not know what I feel or what I want to change — and still I yell at some Heavenly Father for my own misunderstandings. God is getting it ALL.WRONG.ALL.THE.TIME, on purpose, with my life.

I hold his teary, snotty head against my shoulder, balance his little body against my chest, and switch which arm bears his weight. One-handed, I put a filter in the coffee pot, measure the grounds, pour the water… We dance across the kitchen, and my heart breaks.

My heart breaks that this toddling little boy is NOT the very center of the universe — no matter how willfully he wants to put himself there. That I’m nowhere near the center, either. Of my own or anyone else’s, it seems. How very cold and immutable that feels, today. When all I want is a measure of sun.

My hearts breaks at how frustrating life is inside my family, right now. My youngest child rails against every perceived misunderstanding – even when it’s on his part. He speaks with words I can’t decipher, doesn’t know what he wants, capriciously changes his mind — but still thinks I’m getting it ALL WRONG, ALL THE TIME, on purpose.

My heart breaks at how very much he doesn’t understand. And how harsh and unjust so much of it will seem, once he does.

My heart breaks for all the rules and hard truths I’ve been handed. That do not seem to fit or help, anymore.

He already knows how to laugh and reason and love. Why do I think he needs to learn how to suffer, too? Why do I insist on teaching him to wait?  I wonder, while the coffee drips, are the lessons I think he needs not his to learn, yet?

What lessons are mine, instead?  I want to teach him that he has ENOUGH, even when he doesn’t have EVERYTHING, RIGHT NOW.  But I can hardly feel that, myself.  I don’t have enough and some days I HATE it.

A good part of me hates all these days. These frazzled, fractured days of great need and too-tight scheduling. Days of difficult relationships in the nearest places, a professional calling that comes with huge weight and price. These days are tear-stained struggle and disappointed expectations. Sleep that’s interrupted, then another round of the same. The words of my prayers are unintelligible in these days. I do not know what I feel or what I want to change — and still I yell at some Heavenly Father for my own misunderstandings. God is getting it ALL.WRONG.ALL.THE.TIME, on purpose, with my life.

So I hear my smallest self say.

The body in my arms drifts off while I stare out the window, at a moon still visible against a thin day. I try to picture the kind of God who set our moon and stars in place, who moved across a chaotic deep and ordered all of space. Who imagined all growing things — seeds and cycles, babies and families and seasons of life. I picture that God holding me in place, the very same way He keeps the planets in orbit.

He does it by imagining me, too.  Me at my beginning; me at my end; me at my best. I don’t even remember how to talk to God, today, but I still wonder if God notices me, here in my kitchen with an emotionally wasted toddler heavy in my arms. I wonder if God’s heart breaks, at how very far away I feel… adrift in some meteor field where I constantly crash into rotating chunks of my own doubts and missteps and crumpled-up joys.

I suspect God sees me here. It stings, but I suspect God loves me, right here. With a love that will not let me go.

So I stay in orbit. Keep rotating through this band of bumping, bruising rock. I spin and collide. I move ahead, battered. Very occasionally, I glance at a sleeping child’s wet eyelash and notice how very many shiny things litter the Milky Way.

Sure, there’s a chance I’m headed through prettier rocks I’ll still dash against.  But maybe… Just maybe… when I glimpse something bright, beyond the crushing routine of this everyday, I’m seeing stars not birthed yet. Seeds of things still to be. Goodness imagined by the Imaginer of All Good Things.

When I hold a needy little boy in my kitchen, sway him to sleep, and allow my heart to break, I can imagine there will be more, and better, days.

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