Growing up in the Evangelical Christian culture, I had a sense of what might be called linear history instilled into me. That is, everything that happens is part of a plan orchestrated by God and is ultimately being used to achieve his purposes.
Not only does this belief shape Christians' basic concept of human history, but also their understanding of people's personal stories. When misfortunes fall on people, Christians' go-to words of comfort reflect and enforce this belief:
"Everything happens for a reason."
"When God closes one door, He opens another."
"It just must not have been God's timing for things to happen right now." OR "We have to trust God's timing."
"It's all in God's hands."
Up till recently, I, too, clung to these mantras, even though I battled and resented them at the same time. With every job or internship refused me, every club I was rejected from, every guy who didn't return interest in me, every desperate prayer that went unanswered (or answered "no", I suppose, as many pastors love to remind us that "no" is an answer to prayer), I tried to console myself with the assurance that it was all part of God's plan. Surely something better was around the corner.
I always felt a desperate hope that sometime soon I was going to have my big break of sorts...maybe the guy I liked would finally ask me out. Maybe my blog would suddenly gain a thousand readers. Or my music. Or I would find inspiration for my great novel. Or find some work or club to be a part of where I could finally make friends and have projects and a feeling of fulfillment and purpose.
I still find myself waiting to finally break out and become recognized, empowered, accomplished. I still have those thoughts that come to find without prompting...
"Maybe today, while you eat lunch, some handsome man will approach you and strike up conversation, enamored by your beauty."
"Maybe college didn't work out because I'm supposed to become some great artist."
"Maybe my friends here at home will form a band with me."
"Maybe my sister will quit her job and start a business with me."
"Maybe college didn't work out so I wouldn't go on the conveyor belt to a brain-sucking job."
But lately I'm starting to think that maybe life isn't a straight line to a destination with perfect little plot points along the way that make the character develop like one of those diagrams you filled out in writing class in elementary school.
Maybe life is just a scatter plot of random points: up, down, forward, backward. A seismograph of raggedy big and little waves, constantly moving, changing.
Every time I felt like I finally had turned a corner this year and was going to start my champion run towards greatness and recovery and normality and success and fulfillment, I felt myself yanked back around some new yet strangely familiar old corner.
This medicine should finally get you back on track. Oh, wait. It leaves me sitting on a church pew, dying inside surrounded by twelve of what are meant to be my closest friends.
Maybe if we take you off the Klonopin you'll feel less tired. But, like, do it in less than a week. Oh, wait. That leaves me literally shaking all over, trying to laugh with everyone until I become paranoid I said something stupid in front of my friends. Then I totally spiral downwards as worship starts and I hear the words, "He loves us, ohhhh, how He loves us, oh how he loves." I stop singing and shut down inside.
he doesn't love me. And I sure have my doubts now about whether He loves me. I notice that he seems to notice but doesn't do anything. And it's a little his fault anyways that I'm upset. But I grab my phone and slip out as soon as the opening prayer ends and everyone transitions into practice mode. I head for a sound-proof practice room in the music suite and dial home and ball my freaking eyes out and mop up enough snot for a daycare of three to five year-olds with head colds with my sweater. I have to call a friend and ask them to bring my stuff outside from choir practice so I can remove myself to my room as discretely as possible and lie to my roommates that practice let out early.
maybe now that I've dropped out from school. Maybe now that I've had the summer off. Maybe now that I'm starting classes. Maybe now that I've applied to this local school that seems to offer such great, personable service. Maybe if I go on this medication. Maybe now that I'm going off the medication. Maybe now I'm finally done with withdrawal. Oh, wait. Now it's getting worse. What will I do without something to help these dark though and anxious obsessions? Because now I feel like I did just a little over a year ago...at the edge of slipping into that hole again.
And, after all, didn't I then find out that he was almost-dating the Other Girl and lose grip completely and fall down into darkness. And aren't I still upset over how he wrong me, over how no one wants me, over how I don't have any chances.
To me history just feels like a Circle Game, as Joni once said. For me, I doubt these dark cafe days will be only a phase.
And what more will they keep me from accomplishing? Enjoying? Loving?