Baring the Soul

Reviewing my last post, “When the Tough Times Are Part of You,” I realize I neglected outright to mention how autobiographical was its description of chronic struggle against a brain that seems determined to revel endlessly in its misery. I also neglected to mention how poor a job I often do at following my own advice to dwell on the positive and surrender control to God.

Reviewing my last several posts, I realize how much of myself has gone into the description of spiritual-emotional struggles–and how little of myself I seem to be putting into the actual narrative. Virtually no personal stories of any length appear, and probably 90% of the “what it’s like for me” sections are written in the voice of a generalized “we.”

Why so little detailed personal narrative? A dislike of stories? Hardly. My natural writing style? Maybe, but is that adequate excuse? Virtually all the popular Christian nonfiction authors I know–whether they come to their readers primarily as peers or as mentors, whether they write as storytellers or as list-makers–regularly include accounts of their own struggles, misadventures, and triumphs.

Fear? Fear of making myself vulnerable, of exposing my weak spots to someone who might shoot at them? Of reopening old wounds in my heart? Of offending someone I know personally and who might read this? Of losing respect–or of losing control?

A distinct possibility.

As a child I was the shy kid at school, one of those the emotional bullies considered to exist for their sadistic amusement. At home, my temperament all too often collided–sometimes explosively–with those of other family members, and as a firstborn child I suffered “the stigma of the oldest” that automatically prejudges against the more experienced and physically stronger. I don’t claim–as some people rightfully can–that my childhood was all hell or that I was ever seriously abused, but the battles did leave their marks. Not least in a determination to never again give anyone anything to criticize, and to fight all out against whatever remotely resembled earlier hard experiences–manifested to this day in obsessive perfectionism, vulnerability to anger and frustration, and a bitterness toward anyone who “makes” me uncomfortable (often in the most trivial ways).

I am still trying to force my life to make up for the perfect childhood I feel I was cheated of.

This has not been an easy post to write, and it is not an easy post to end. Looking for a note both conclusive and (at least somewhat) cheerful, I know better than to promise that now my wrong attitudes will dissipate forever–or even show immediate obvious improvement. I won’t lie and say I’m anywhere close to consistent rejoicing in my struggles–or that coming to realize growth pains are a lifelong thing makes me like them any better. I could put in an inspirational quote, but they all too often sound simplistic and not-much-real-help when all I want–however sinfully–is instant and permanent relief from the battle.

Instead, I give you the words of Job 23:2-4, 8-10 (New Living Translation):

“My complaint today is still a bitter one, and I try hard not to groan aloud. If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his court. I would lay out my case and present my arguments…. I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out pure as gold.”

 

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2 Comments

  1. Jerrie

     /  March 4, 2013

    Katherine, your words are refreshing once again. Those of us who follow your posts probably long ago identified how these are words from your heart and experience. Only those types of words really stand the true test of an audience who examines everything and who trusts in the covering of Christ to care for all the baring of our souls.

    Reply

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