Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I can't do it



I can't do it.

For me, four liberating words.
It's 2:39 a.m. and I can't sleep, can't seem to get comfortable, my inner jungle drums are pounding furiously if that makes any sense to you. (It barely does to me but I find it a most satisfying and interesting phrase so I'll stick with it.)

I drove up to my wife's family reunion in the Sierra mountains today and had a good time, most of the time. I didn't eat too too much, got to say hi to her relatives I enjoy, and sat in my new portable camp chair out on the deck, overlooking the San Joaquin Valley.

I like being up at that cabin (her dad's home) except for the altitude which makes my breathing more difficult.

I didn't spend the night there so I drove back to town and here I am in my office, somewhat agitated and also wheezing from not taking all my diuretics today. (Long story.) After getting up a few times I snapped on my bed light and pulled a book off my stack of nightstand reading. It was Anne Lamott's "Plan B."

It's been a while since I've read Anne and I'd forgotten how piquant she could be and how savory. Not to mention damn funny. She's everything I want to be in a writer except a possessor of a uterus. If you've not read her work before, Run--don't walk--out to your bookseller and get her book "Travelling Mercies" and read it cover to cover. At times she can be too Earth Mother, let's-all-eat-a-big-bowl-of-togetherness-flakes for my taste, and I absolutely disagree with her politics, but when she talks about God's grace-and she does; a lot--she is so on the money, so descriptive and evocative, so full of God's grace, she's damn scary. But in a good way.

In her book I read the chapter on the difficulties she faces raising her then-13 yr old son Sam, how maddening, terrifying, sublime, joyful and mysterious parenting and children can be. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

Her writing ignited a light bulb in my head. I realized one of the reasons for my discomfort tonight was my unconscious expectation I would or should be able to handle all the crap Life is flinging at me right now through the bars of the monkey cage.

- Eventually fatal heart condition
- Grief and rage over the disabilities I face because of my health
- Impending bariatric surgery
- Impending massive lifestyle changes in diet, exercise and attitude
- The necessary work of marriage.
- Step-dad to a 16 yr old w/ Asperger's and typical teen attitude.
- Anger at myself for the hypocrisy I see in me when I try to parent my step-son.
- Grief over never having kids of my own.
- Prolonged status as the villain in the family drama between R. and me.
- Impending conclusion to the writing of my novel and then the painful, frustrating process of casting it upon the editorial waters.
- Grief over feeling isolated in this town.

My list is my list, it's not to be compared to anyone else's, nor their lists to mine. My list is what I carry around inside my head.

And I can't do it any more.

I can't keep all those plates spinning. I don't have the energy any more. I'm too fucking tired. And I was too proud, too stupid to realize this years ago and thus save myself a shitload of grief.

So here's where God's grace must show up. All those plates are wobbling and moments away from crashing to the floor unless Jesus puts His fingers under them and gives them a flick. I dunno, maybe some of those plates *should* crash and break. That would make my life easier.

I don't know any more, apart from this: I know I can't do it any more. And that God is the only one who can. And in that is my freedom. I CAN'T do it. My limitations force me to face myself in the mirror they force me to come out empty-handed.

See, my metier has always been competence. I've usually been good at whatever I do and I'm smart enough I can see 10 seconds further down the road than normal people. So I have little patience with those who struggle with issues or areas I do not. So for me to hear the sound of my motor sputtering because it's running out of gas is particularly terrifying. So I get to meet my fears on the same level as everyone else does their own. My own limitations force me to face the fact I'm not any better than anyone else. My limitations knock away my blinders so I finally see the real me, the one everyone else but me sees.

Anne Lamott would have said it a hundred times better, funnier, and put in some nice bits about flowers and nature, so for the sake of quality control, she should write this blog. However, she's got a son to raise and books to write, so you, Gentle Reader, are stuck with me.

Okay. I'm off to bed, I've lanced this wound and it bled out all this text stuff which I arranged on the blog screen in front of you and which you have done me the honor of reading.

I pray you run into your limitations sooner rather than later and that Jesus is the one who flicks your plates spinning, and you let Him be the one to catch your plates--or let them fall.

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