Friday, January 23, 2009

More on where we find ourselves

Yesterday I wrote on how we cannot escape damaging our world, based on an essay by Sherrard. Also touched on was how my ideals were wrong and/or have been changed. I wrote on the brokenness that I see in myself and in the world.

Today I want to explore where I went wrong (from what I can see anyway). Years ago when I was reading books such as M Beattie’s Co-dependant no more and the popular for a year or so Simple Abundance (I still own both books and do not disrespect the authors). However, one, Beattie’s books are honest and I feel that Simple Abundance was not. One author had gone through hell and the other author (of Simple Abundance) was denying her personal hell, though they were hinted at in her book and totally opened in her second book. I hurt for her, when I read in her second book how her marriage dissolved, how she totally remade herself again and for the pain I felt radiating from this second book. Somewhere, between reading these books and my own ideas intertwining with these books (I still believe in some independence of thought and that we are not mere constructs thinking imbibed only from current culture), I came up with an image of who I wanted to be.

Now I see how immature my ideas were, dear and young as they are. Not that I am now mature and know it all, rather the opposite. At a mere 32 years of age, I can say less and less about final things, save that I have found a Church that has withstood time, a lot of nonsense, evil and still can be found to give healing.

My current conclusions:

We cannot merely remake our worlds on an aesthetic, material and physical level and think we are okay. If you have been reading my blog, you know how excited I am about my new furniture. If you know me well in person, you know I dress professionally for work, that I wear long skirts with pants (grin) to church in the winter and, when in church, cover my head. If you have been to my house (or read my blog) you know I have a lot of icons, a few prayer books and other Orthodox books. I have made decisions on how I interact with my world, just as you have made decisions on how you present yourself in your world.

We can have a perfectly intact house, be up on popular culture, wear the latest clothes, have the right things, religious or semi-religious (some would consider the organic life, the Moosewood cookbook, and lulu lemon to be nearing this if they were honest) and be totally broken inwardly. We can even be so broken that we do not know we are broken. We can be in church and not pray; we can burn incense at homes by icons and be totally self-absorbed. (Being in church, praying at home with Icons and reading Orthodox books can help us participate in our salvation. This is however not the issue I am dealing with in this essay).

Redecorating our house, learning yoga or pilates, and eating well can help us. Being aware of our body and breathing can help us (might I mention that yoga that includes Hindu prayers I find to be spiritually dangerous). Exercise, eating well and being balanced in our care for our bodies and emotions are good. Living in a beautiful orderly house can give the feeling or impression of inward sanity.

But if this is all we have, we are fooling ourselves. This is where I went wrong.

Somehow I fell for a lie that if we had our lives looking a certain way, with certain things I could really have it made. No. We cannot save ourselves. We can, for a time, maintain a certain image of who we are (until physical aliments, or senility strike) but we cannot save ourselves. We cannot even become content or happy without help (or at least I cannot). A job and money, so I have learned in my post-student days, cannot take away an inward anxiety that comes from deeper causes.

This is the realization I am currently at. I, and others, are broken; we are in need of great healing. I have also realized that I cannot use my life as example to help others (God can use broken beings including me but I am talking about myself here, not God’s ability).

So where am I left?

For now: two things – one more questions about how I should live my life.

Two – hope in God. A God who, as Fr. Schmemann writes in his book, Great Lent¸ gave us Pasca. With the understanding that Christ’s resurrection changed everything. With the prayer that we will gain inward healing, with a prayer for God’s mercy for the world.


Victoria said...

thank you for this elizabeth. this is something I have been struggling with. my 'career' begun, my education (mostly) finished (?!), I am wondering what's next. hmmm. I'm not stating it as well as I would wish. perhaps I should ponder this a bit more. but I really appreciate your thoughts on this.

elizabeth said...

your welcome; yes, I understand. it took a long time to articulate this one as well as i did (not perfect of course) ... it does have something to do with finally
"getting there" and realizing that we are somehow not where we thought we would be.

I really appreciate that you read my writing V and comment. this means a lot to me.

Thank you.