"Do you think you'll spend the night in the shower?" I banter with Hannah trying to move her towards bedtime. She yells out, "wait, mom, I have this idea and you can turn it down but I am kind of excited about it and thought we could do it tonight instead of reading." I step into the steamy room with heavy feet she can't see behind the curtain and tell myself "show up Ashley" and then I respond, "tell me about it." The curtain flies open and her eyes are big and she asks if we could take the new journal and the new pen that dad brought home for her today and begin writing a story together. She already had the names of 3 characters and the basic plot of some orphans life in the orphanage. "Yes, I want to do that," I take a breath and act cool not teary and finish my sentence, "I'll grab two cups of tea and meet you in your room."
We sat on opposite ends of her daybed and began creating a story together. I loved her face. I loved her imagination. I loved when she told me the word I picked was not the right one. I loved when she told that we needed to use ( ) "these things" to the part of the sentence I wrote that doesn't totally fit into the flow. I tried not to jump across the bed and hug her so tight that we were doing something together that felt so grown up and also felt like so my love language. I love to tell stories. I love to write. I often limit my imagination though and I loved that hers was big enough in places that I couldn't see out beyond all my brain walls. I felt the warmth of tangible delight that was soaring through the room.
Ten minutes later an equally tangible but way way less lovely picture was also soaring through the room. When I returned to the family room, I asked Stephen what he was doing as his eyes were intent on the screen, he let me know he was really trying to figure out our budget. And something in the next sentence was about how we need to figure out how to make ends meet. Enter PANIC, HYSTERIA, and SHAME in unbound form spewing from yours truly. It was like ugly vomit. And I couldn't stop. And Stephen let me carry on in my ugly. My thoughts ranged from, "how can we still not make ends meet in Charlotte? I've got to get a job, this is ridiculous. I am going to sell out and get whatever work I can, dreaming is stupid. We HAVE to have money to survive here because our house is a money pit that has endless needs and in order to get any relief from the humdrum unbeauty I need to get out and do stuff and stuff costs money. and my clothes are old, my jeans have holes and my shoes are ancient, its nearing Christmas and our house looks like college furniture collection, and we have family coming and parties to host, and we can't be out of money and spiral and spiral and spiral....." I told you it was ugly.
Not only do I sound and feel heinous but I have spewed venom towards the one person on my team in the world. I shot daggers at the person working his butt off to bring provision and delight to our family. Shame shower now ensuing. So like all smart people, I listen to his response and then I escape. The super sucky part is that his response was a reminder that we committed to each other to starting these conversations in gratitude. Gratitude for health, home, children, etc. etc. etc. We committed, just like a week ago, to trusting that God has provided for us every single year of our lives and that we sit in a position of incredible wealth compared to much of the world. I'm now drenched in my own stench and he is totally right. His words aren't condemning or unkind. They are frustrated, which makes sense, but they are also gracious, it is still an invitation. I say, "you're right," and I escape to my room.
And here I am this morning contemplating how on earth I go from a room of utter delight and blessing to the next room and spew venom. Why was that switch possible so fast? What on earth is in this body? Ache, longing, desire. and heaps and heaps and heaps of discontent. That I don't have answers today to make right. The story doesn' wrap up in a bow. The story is that I am in a throw down wrestling match with myself wanting to understand more of what tipped my hand so fast. I am twisting and turning wanting to know that when my head knows my heart and body don't follow. The divide is too great a gap right now and I have to tread the water to bridge them more closely. And I don't think I like what's in the water.
To be continued.