Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If it Stays

"The paradox... and are you okay if the ache doesn't go away?"
A simple question from a trusted friend, whom happens to be my sister. We were talking about traveling, how I long for it, desire to board an airplane and cross oceans to explore new places. I admitted I didn't know how it would happen anytime soon. I couldn't see it on the horizon, and that was upsetting. And yet realizing there are beautiful and meaningful things right here where I am, as well. I admitted I didn't know how to reconcile my longing and my reality, supposing it is an answer that must come from Someone more than myself, but right now it just hurts. And then this question. What if it stays? What if the ache doesn't go away, doesn't get 'figured out'? I admitted: I don't know. But I also believe that I don't want it to go away, either.
When I was a young child I remember telling my mother that I wished I didn't have nerves, because then I wouldn't feel the pain of falling off my bike. I had probably just taken a spill, head over handle bars, and was dealing with a scraped forehead and bloodied knees. In the moment I probably was hurting pretty bad. But in her wisdom she explained how important those little pain sensations were. If I didn't have them, I could possibly have a huge injury and know nothing of it. After working in health care for a few years, I am grateful that my nerves feel pain. I have encountered many patients who, for whatever reason, have neuropathy. I always want to break things down, and when I break down that word, it is a combination of:
neuro: A prefix meaning nerve
-pathy: A suffix derived from the Greek "pathos" meaning "suffering or disease" that serves as a suffix in many terms, sympathy (literally, suffering together)
It is a condition of suffering of the nerves. But the word almost makes me think of the word 'apathy,' so basically, not caring. Numb. Desensitized. Paralyzed. Anesthetized. It sure would relieve the pain to have this condition, but there would be no feeling at all. No pain, but also no pleasure. Nothing. Void. This is no way to exist.
When I think about the frustrations I experience in relation to this, I realize I would much rather feel pain than feel nothing. I would much rather endure the painful longing, than not have a reason for it to exist at all. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking for a second that if I didn't care, if I hadn't seen, if I didn't know, it'd all be easier or better. This is a fleeting thought, though, and in the deepest part of who I am, I do not believe that to be true. Because when I do care/see/realize/feel/experience, then I know I am alive, that I am living. I have decided I am okay if that ache remains...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zebra Sweatshirt

She sat across from me with bright pink hair, a small smile and a zebra print sweatshirt slightly peaking out from under her black leather jacket. She looked much different than the seventh grader I remembered, but as our conversation pranced from one subject to the next, heavy and light, serious and comical, I began to see her emerge. The exterior that might have caused untrue assumptions was just that, the exterior. Not too deep below that surface was an intriguing, passionate, opinionated young woman, strong in her own right, wise beyond the years she'd lived through. She reminded me of myself, who I sometimes long to be. Unafraid and uninhibited, though convicted and stalwart also. She also reminded me of what I'm passionate about. What I'm inspired by. What I have felt I've somewhat lost. That is to say, she reminded me that I love young women just like herself and pray that they succeed. That the deep dreams embedded in their hearts would be realized, never shot down. And that they would grow and learn and thrive into the magnificent beings God has intended them to be.