Archives for posts with tag: trusting God

The week before my birthday, I received a bill in the mail from AT&T for phone numbers I did not recognize. Then a letter declining “my” application for a store debit card. Someone had gone on a spending spree in my name. Reviewing my credit report, four more stores were revealed—including a shop I had never heard of—and nearly $3500 spent on stuff I will never see. I am oddly grateful for the identitytheft.gov website outlining exactly which steps to take when someone gets a hold of your information. The companies, for the most part, made it easy to contest the fraudulent cards. The most difficult challenge was simply getting through to a human being. Truly, automated phone trees are a work of the devil.

In the pages and pages of forms that have since followed, there is one question that arrested my attention. It has come up twice already, and may come up again, causing me to really think about this strange ordeal. “Are you willing to press charges and/or work with law enforcement if charges are brought against the person(s) who committed the fraud?” Yes or No.

How am I to respond to this violation? Aside from placing additional protective barriers around ‘my identity’ am I willing to work towards prosecuting the culprit(s)? Put another way, am I willing to participate in churning another individual through an exceedingly broken system of (in)justice? What does it mean to press charges? I certainly do not want another person to be violated as I was, yet what assurance is there that if I were to press charges someone else would be ‘saved’?

In the midst of mind-numbing legalspeak, this question requires more exegesis—parsed out and reframed, it is more than a question of wanting to see justice. It becomes a question of active participation even beyond complicity. Parsed out and reframed the meaning emerges from a different angle. “Are you willing to work with law enforcement” is a very different question from “are you willing to press charges”. If I cannot say yes to one, how can I say yes? Even my willingness to provide what information I can prompts me to wonder to what extent am I now participating in the (in)justice system?

Receiving a bill in my name for merchandise I did not purchase is infuriating. I feel responsible, like I have somehow done something wrong. And while I have now begun the process for ‘correcting’ my information, I have no idea what all this will impact in the future. Will I regret not pressing charges? I don’t think so. I don’t know what hand life has dealt the perpetrators that incited them steal—which is not to claim them to be Noble Savages in today’s economy. I simply don’t know. So, I pray protection over others from becoming victims, and I pray that the thieves encounter Jesus in a life-changing way, and soon. In the meantime, I’ll continue to fill out forms and monitor my information.

Black Hole, part 8

I work in retail. Any time we leave the building we have to do a bag check. Since I’m in the office, I have the privilege of scanning people’s bags. The insides of bags can be fascinating, though I have yet to make an earnest study of them. The other day I scanned a purse and saw a bunch of lemons. So, I made a comment about whiskey sours to which my young coworker said, “Not likely, I’m pregnant!” She’s only about ten weeks along and hasn’t announced anything. But in that moment, when it was just us looking into the contents of her purse, I provided the perfect set up for her to share the good news.

Recently I’ve been preoccupied with grad school rejection letters, needing to prepare a presentation, and trying to figure out if the acceptance with partial funding is viable. Yes, I received one enthusiastic acceptance to a PhD program, which makes me smile. Yet that one acceptance pulls on a tangle of decisions the likes of which, in all my years of knitting, I have never seen such a mess. My smile quickly fades. There is a possibility that grad school won’t work out, taking me to yet a new level of barrenness. There is a possibility that I will try and fail. There is a possibility that my husband will let go of a good thing here for something mediocre there. What is the next faithful step when staying is good for one and leaving good for the other?

What does not factor into our decisions is the thought that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be surprised by a bundle of joy. As I approach my 40th birthday, limitations of mortality significantly reign in any such hope. Our hearts have given up. To be honest, we simply cannot give any consideration to the ‘what if’ of children. Perhaps that sounds like an excuse, yet sometimes I am relieved that I have not had to subject a little person to my emotional shortcomings. Speaking with my future advisor, she asked if we have children and I said, no. Her next comment about that making a move simpler is true, albeit that much more painful. Sometimes I wonder what life would look like if we were parents. I must admit, it would certainly be more complicated. Sometimes I almost start to think it’s nearing time to take measures to avoid an “accidental” pregnancy. But that’s another level, and neither I nor my husband are there. Not yet.

But before the relief of a simpler life settles in, I feel the backlash of conflicting emotions. Becoming a parent is taken for granted in social discourse. Of course it will happen…eventually. Even the few infertility bloggers I started following in the last year have since become pregnant, along with so many acquaintances ten years (plus) my junior. I have hidden various Facebook friends and try to limit my interaction there to simply once or twice a week. Sometimes the voyeur gets the better of me, though, which usually results in getting smacked in the face with a baby announcement or newborn picture at the top of my news feed. Pregnant women are everywhere. The shopping center where I work is a maternity mecca. There is no escape. And so I am faced with two choices: bitterness or a deep dive into grieving that leads..somewhere.

Giving up is the very thing Americans are taught to never do. But for my health and sanity, it is time for me to give up on the wish for getting pregnant and having children of my own. Since we have already decided assisted reproductive technologies are beyond our means, the next faithful step through the black hole of infertility is just that: through it. Grieving, giving up, finding a new hope, God willing. Death is an essential element in new life; I am reminded of this especially as we draw near to Good Friday.

And so we have this hope: that God our Creator will form in the rubble of our hearts seeds that, with tears from grieving, will sprout and grow something new and wonderful. May it be so, and may it be soon.

IMG_0529

DSC00771Minivans and suburbans troll for parking. Pedestrians walk in clumps with fistfuls of flowers. It’s graduation day. This year I, too, got to enjoy the flurry of excitement. Family and friends (who may as well be family for all they’ve put up with from me) came to my seminary graduation. After four years of immersion in theological and ministerial training, the end called “commencement” arrived. I had been eagerly anticipating this day for years–even before enrolling in seminary. Yet with the end that is a beginning, comes its share of confusion, uncertainty and loss.

A year ago I had a plan. Four years ago I had an entirely different plan. Next year, God knows. And that’s been my answer to the well-intentioned yet horrible question, “what’s next?” God knows when I’ll be in a position of ministry in a church. God knows when I’ll apply to grad school for doctoral work. God knows what’s next, not just for me but for my family as well. When we cannot plan out our next month, it’s rather silly to presume to know anything. Which is why, as cheesy and simple-minded as it sounds, the only option is to trust God, most especially in and through transitions.

My first quarter at seminary were my last months working at a large financial institution that failed. While I hadn’t worked there for long, less than five years, I felt the upheaval change brought onto my coworkers. Anyone who had participated in the employee share purchasing program watched their earnings shrink to nothing as anxiety and fear for their job position multiplied. Some jumped ship early. The rest of us took advantage of the “transition services” offered. Transitions are strange things. I’ve known people who flourish in transitions, while others careen through with eyes half shut. And at the end of the day, there is no getting around them. Occasionally we can manage them, but more often they pounce upon our comfortable routines, disrupting our sense of self and stability.

Transitions are crucial movements in life and in writing. A good writer can carry the reader through the most disjointed transitions by maintaining connectivity between before and after, showing change and trajectory. Similarly, difficult transitions in life seem to utterly sever any relation between past and present-future. So, how do we make it through? How do we keep any sense of integrity when our world flips inside out? Remembering.

One of my favorite passages in the book of Joshua comes when the Israelites are preparing to cross the Jordan, chapter four.

Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”

Stones of remembrance set up to provoke questions from the next generations. Stories repeated and passed along from elder to younger. This is how we weather transitions: we remember that someone has been here before. We do not change jobs, or leave grad school, or move from point a to point b on our own. There is a story of someone having gone before us. The terrain is likely different, and the environment more chill or more menacing–but someone has gone before us. God has gone before us, and continues to go with us, a fact both irritatingly simple and absurdly profound. Trust God.