Monday, October 13, 2008

An Attempt at an Update

I don't know why I've been in such a funk lately. But several of you have inquired and expressed support, so I'll try to do a bit of a "heart-dump" here.

I had a full day off today. We got the federal holiday, and I was looking forward to it. I had all manner of ideas about what I might accomplish over this three-day weekend. But I didn't do any of them.

Late in the last afternoon at the end of this three-day weekend, with me having accomplished nothing useful, and Scotty and Jamocha hiding out of sight, a phrase came into my mind: "a household of depressives."

I know part of it.

There is an important document I need to write: the Discernment Committee report for a friend and fellow parishioner whom I believe is called to the priesthood. I am completely psyched-out by it. I fear I won't do justice to his ministry and calling. And the paper is already about 10 days overdue. With every passing day, I am more overwhelmed by my inadequacy. ... I didn't feel this much pressure about my Master's thesis ... which was also late. :(

Our diocese's relationship to Lui: A lot of the planning is on my shoulders for the December mission trip, and these issues seem way too big for my shoulders. People are asking me questions that I just cannot answer. I feel completely inadequate to the task. Other stuff is happening in the diocese in the run-up to Diocesan Convention, about which I feel the need to speak, but I don't think I speak as cogently as I should.

Dreary anniversaries: One day this week, something tweaked in the back of my head, and I consulted my calendar. Indeed, it was one year ago (Oct. 9) that my mother died. My sister [God bless her!] and I continue to talk. I think we're still both processing that. We're now at the tail-end of the logistics: Closing my mother's small bank account. For some reason, my sister and I both seem loathe to do it. Like it's the last small link we have. Stupid, I know.

And then there's all the crap happening on the U.S. political stage and the Anglican Communion, both of which increasingly look like farce. And in the global economy. I am in awe of the bloggers who can keep up with it all and make cogent comments. Me, I just feel a paralysis settling in.

Here's one that should feel exciting (and did for a while): A meeting is being held in New York next week with TEC groups and dioceses that have relationships in Sudan. My bishop has asked me to attend as his representative (because he cannot attend). I am deeply honored, and I will attend. But this arose with very little advance notice, and I find myself strangely anxious ... particularly about the travel logistics. In my previous job, I used to travel all over the country at the drop of a hat. My wings have been clipped since I've been here in Missouri, and now I'm amazed at how intimidated I feel about this forthcoming trip. Weird. Me, the fearless one?

It feels like I've lost my nerve about everything. And I don't know how to recover it.


Blogger FranIAm said...

You have written a lot here... I read it in my reader and then came over and re-read it.

There is little that I can say without sounding trite. I will say that I think it is good for you to express all of your feelings.

Some of them I relate to- I once stopped traveling and then had one trip and I was a mess!

Love yourself as dearly as God loves you dear Lisa. That is all that I can say.

You are always held with many prayers from afar, that never changes, so please remember that.

10/13/2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Lisa, I hope this helps. The bishop just came to my church yesterday and when he met with us as a vestry, I am convinced he is committed to working out something positive with the Lui situation. He would not ask you to go if he did not think you'd do your best..the best you can do AT THIS TIME.

Notice how I couched that. You cannot influence the outcome, you can only do your best. I understand the "losing your nerve" thing. It is similar to the fear I get about "frozen sections"--when the surgeons send me something from the OR they just took out of a patient and they want me to freeze the tumor and look at it right now. What happens next to the patient in the OR is totally my call. Sometimes I break out in a cold sweat during a frozen section and wonder, "is this it? Is this the time I'll lose my nerve and I'll never be any good at this again?"

I get over that by TRUSTING MY TRAINING. Everything I know about your involvment with Lui tells me YOU HAVE GOOD TRAINING. When you can't totally trust yourself, trust your training! God will sit with you on this!

10/13/2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger Barbi Click said...

I agree with both franiam and kirkepiscatoid. and I will add one little bitty wait, two...1. you know I love ya! For real. and also know it ain't about us, honey. It's all about Jesus.
Breathe deep, Lisa. It is all right there within you. Trust God and the rest will come.

10/13/2008 7:28 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Fran, thanks for dropping in. Not to worry about sounding trite. God knows ... what I wrote here was way beneath trite.

Apparently you've fallen under the spell of TELP & Co ... with that "God loves us" stuff. [vbg] Oh, how I wish I could feel it in my bones!

I am grateful for the prayers, m'dear.

10/13/2008 7:42 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Kirkepiscatoid, I keep hoping there will a diocesan meeting where you and I can meet in real life.

You, I know our bishop is supportive of the companion relationship and of me.

Thanks for talking with me about your experience. That's pretty much how I am feeling.

10/13/2008 7:45 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Barbi. (And of course I love ya, too!)

But writing the discernment ctte report isn't just "about Jesus." It's my abysmal failure to write a document that must be written ... and must be written well. A vocation hangs in the balance.

About the rest -- the Lui relationship and the NYC meeting -- I do agree. And your words are comforting on that.

Thank you, my friend! for the reminder!

10/13/2008 7:49 PM  
Blogger Suzer said...

Delay is not failure. It is simply your brain taking time to process things. It may feel stagnant and frozen, but I suspect God is there helping work things out somehow, but it's hard to feel it when God feels a million miles away and your normal "self" doesn't feel right.

I second (and third) Fran and Kirk and Barbi.

I'm glad to see you back blogging a bit, my friend. I've started again, too, but who knows how long it will last. :)

10/13/2008 9:35 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Suzer. Yes, "failure," "stagnant," and "frozen" all feel true. I hope you are right.

I am pleased to hear you may return to the blogosphere. Sometimes, it's hard.

10/13/2008 9:53 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

A prayer from Texas.

10/13/2008 11:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Lindy.

And I'm drawn back to Barbi's comment that "it ain't about us, honey. It's all about Jesus."

Maybe I need to focus more on prayer and less on my ability.

I'm grateful to all of you who are visiting. It's a comfort to know you're still listening.

10/14/2008 6:47 AM  
Blogger Caminante said...

When one is down in the pit, as the psalmist calls it, it is hard to see out or even imagine getting out. The anniversary of your mother's death is a strong marker and surely must contribute to the increased sense of feeling overwhelmed. I don't have suggestions (when I have been in the pit, suggestions just make me all the more cranky) but I do have lots of prayers for you with all that is on your plate.

I hope you will see my bishop, Tom Ely, next week in NYC. He is a super ally. In fact, despite the pronouncement from the Archbishop of Sudan this summer, Vermont is giving another chunk of money to the church there.

As for the ordination letter, those are hard to write no doubt. When I am stuck, I just write down whatever (the Mad Libs approach) and then fill in the blanks and shift words. Then at least I feel as though I have done something (i.e., I don't strive for perfection on the first draft).

Last thing: so the kitteh is hanging on by two claws. But even if it falls, it will land on its feet ;)

Kirkepiscatoid: ah so you are a pathologist? So is my big brother. I asked him about how he handles those moments and he said he always remembers that someone's life holds in the balance and he is the one who decides. It is sobering.

Suzer, same URL for your blog?

10/14/2008 12:04 PM  
Blogger --Susan said...

No words. Just hugs and prayers.


10/14/2008 12:36 PM  
Blogger Leonardo Ricardo said...

Just keep walking through it...don´t look around´ve probably got overthetop of whatever it is you´ll need for anything/everything.

When panicked, hand it to God.

It works.

10/14/2008 9:30 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Caminante. You're right: Wise words sometimes don't help much. And -- much as I'm trying to self-aware -- I don't much trust myself these days.

If your bishop is there next week, I'll see him. And, like yours, our diocese continues in strong relationship with the diocese in Sudan. I've come to believe that the way to overcome hate is to love 'em more.

The huge pressure is indeed the "discernment committee" letter. Back in April I agreed to chair the discernment committee for a man of whom I am very fond. Others agreed to be scribe and editor, and I was greatly relieved. Things fell apart in the last week so that I am now stuck with chairing the committee and writing the report. I never counted on having to write the report/letter. And it's all the worse because this is a man in whose vocation I firmly believe and about whom I care. I could write the report more easily if it didn't mean so much to me.

Thanks for letting me blather.

10/14/2008 10:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You put your finger on it, Leonardo. I am in a panic. A desperate panic. And you remind me nobody does good work in a panic. I need to do something about that.

Thanks for that insight.

10/14/2008 10:37 PM  
Blogger David said...

Lucky Lisa
calling you that is only an appreciation of all the love, support and very real wisdom awaiting you when you had the courage to name all the stuff that is overwhelming you.
I'd second Fran (second time I've done that today, kirke & barbi.
If I could make to suggestions:
1) those people asking those questions, how about asking them to take responsibility for finding the answers, as you've got more questions than time already
2) for that discernment doc, might you try visualizing it as a conversation you're having with the committe about your friend, and take notes on what comes to mind, or tape yourself.

hugs 'n prayers


10/20/2008 8:25 PM  
Blogger Liz Zivanov said...

Barbi's #2 point is really on target, Lisa. Maybe for you it's not about Jesus, but consider it might be about the Holy Spirit and how She can guide you. (Remember that Jesus called Her our Advocate?) This is about how the Holy Spirit has guided the discernment process and will continue to guide you as you write the report. But ya gotta trust Her, even when you're feeling so low, and get out of Her way! Following on Caminante's suggestion, just write, write, write and let Her take your words (you have received from God the wonderful gift of communicating with the written word) where She may because it really isn't about you in this process -- you're "only" the vehicle by which the Spirit speaks to the vestry. So trust Her to do that through you, take a deep breath and center yourself in her love, let that breath out, make room for the Holy Breath, and write, write, write.

What you write with Her guidance will be just what it needs to be.

10/22/2008 1:21 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Barbi, Caminante, Liz: OK. I'm hearing you. I will try to take your counsel. But "letting go" is very, very difficult for me. I've done a ton of writing in my time ... but mostly professional writing. "Letting the Spirit guide me" is a whole 'nother kind of writing.

10/25/2008 9:33 PM  
Blogger Liz Zivanov said...

Point well taken. It's not easy to give up control, and one's writing is very personal and unique. But think about it in the sense that you and the Holy Spirit are doing this together, jump in, and trust Her to keep you not only afloat but paddling in the best direction. And try not to second guess Her. Not sure how else to explain it but you and I have talked enough about sermon writing that you probably get my drift!

10/27/2008 1:24 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

Lisa, my mom died exactly 10 days before yours did.

It's weird, isn't: this in-between kinda space? They're not quite here, but not really gone, are they? [I've also had the 7 year anniversary of my divorce. That ain't fully passed, either :-/]


10/28/2008 9:03 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Liz, I've heard enough about your sermon-writing that it should help me. I hope it will

JCF, my heart goes out to you, too. I can't believe how present it all still is to me.

10/28/2008 9:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm thinking more, Liz, about what you said. I have a hunch I'm getting bogged down in all the details.

Let's put it this way: I am still reading the commentaries. Now I realize I need soon to set them aside and just listen to the Spirit.

Sir Philip Sidney perhaps said it best in his "Astrophel and Stella":

But words came halting forth, wanting Invention's stay,
Invention, Nature's child, fled step-dame Study's blows,
And others' feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
'Fool' said my Muse to me, 'look in thy heart and write.'

That line comes to me often: "Fool, look in thy heart and write."

10/29/2008 7:57 PM  
Blogger Liz Zivanov said...


10/31/2008 2:24 AM  

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