So we come to it.
We’ve been talking about our passions and goals in life and what it takes to see them accomplished. I promised that I would contemplate the matter and return with some honest truths about my heart. This entire week has been one of revelation for me, leading up to a point of utter, frustratable clarity last night.
As I lay in bed last night, I thought of the image of a puzzle. When I put together a puzzle, I begin with the end pieces. I end up with a rectangular frame with nothing in the middle, and a mountain of puzzle guts somewhere outside of that frame. It occurred to me that this is how my life, my goals, and my desires have been – a framework with a mound of confusion that doesn’t look like it will ever make a complete picture. That moment can be both thrilling and infuriating. Putting the first piece inside the frame is always the hardest moment of puzzling, I think. The puzzle of my life is far from complete, I’m sure; but it seemed to me last night that I was finally beginning to see the details of the picture. Suddenly, things I have carried for years without any clear idea of why I was carrying them began to make sense. I think I said “wow” more times last night than I’ve ever said in the course of my entire life up until that point.
So where is my heart?
If my life is a puzzle, then the sky is music. It is the part of the picture that is the most difficult to make sense of because each piece can look exactly like the previous piece and yet be so completely different. It is the backdrop to everything else in the puzzle. Music will always be my passion. I will always play my guitar and my piano; I will always write music. It will always be healing for my soul. What else it may become, I am unsure. I do know, as I said in the first of the Where’s Your Heart blogs, that I am compelled to pursue “the theology of music,” which I still have no idea what it is or how to pursue it. But as I’ve said from the beginning, I’m not sure whether this is a musical pursuit, an academic pursuit, a theological pursuit. I think it’s just a personal pursuit that will expand over the course of my life.
Writing is also a passion of mine and someday I want to publish a book. What book? Good question. I never knew that I enjoyed writing so much. I find myself wanting to write memoir, fiction, poetry, prose, you-name-it. And what could make more sense than me loving to write? Have you seen my journal collection? Someone remind me to take a photo and show you my journals.
Music and writing are personal loves that I will never stop pursuing. They are passions that no one else need recognize in my life. I am content. I write and make music because I am compelled to do so, not because I want to make a living at it. I would go crazy without these two things in my life.
But as far as making a difference in the world, my heart is with people who are broken. My heart has always been there. Many of you know this already. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make sense of it. I knew right out of high school that I wanted to become a Social Worker. What I didn’t know was how much it would take out of me, and how much I would need to have my own life on track in order to help others. I haven’t been very vocal about this aspect of the story, but when I dropped out of college in 2001, I had already changed my major to English. I was so exhausted with the idea of dealing with other peoples’ problems because I hadn’t even begun to address my own; so I did the only thing I knew to do – I changed my major. Now, as much as I love reading and writing, I loathed those classes. I can’t quite tell you why. Perhaps it was because I knew that I was avoiding what I really felt I should be doing (Social Work). Needless to say, when the financial problems became unavoidable, I gladly dropped out of college. I was so desperate for space to breathe and think and figure things out. I, of course, had no intention of taking so much time away from school. I fell into some destructive habits, and before I knew it I had forgotten why I even wanted to be in school.
But I remember now. My heart is with people – which is hilarious, actually, since I am about the least people-ish-person I know! I am not outgoing or comfortable with people I don’t know, and I am often awkward around people I do know! I pretty much keep to myself, which is therapeutic in its own way. I digress! My point here is that I love people.
I was out with Shana last night, which was such a treat! I haven’t seen her in ages. She has grown up so well. I found myself thinking over and over how proud I was of her. But as we spoke about a particular situation regarding a third friend of ours, I began to sink into an ocean of both compassion and anger. Oh, I wasn’t angry at any one individual, but more at the situation, at the foolish choices they were making, at the desire to drown problems in alcohol and other destructive behaviors, at the lack of resources available to them, and at the sense of despair that I knew certain persons must be drowning in. It was that sense of indignation that kept me awake all night wondering who in the world would possibly step up and help these individuals. And the frustration of knowing that you cannot force someone to receive “help,” but that they must choose for themselves that they want something different than what their life has become.
But the thing that broke me most of all was the knowledge that there are children involved – young children, who will grow up confused about who their actual parents are, unable to cope with stress in healthy ways, afraid to function in relationships, incapable of keeping a job, unsure how to battle their own demons. And so the cycle will continue. On and on.
My grandfather’s choices crippled my father.
My father’s choices crippled me.
Who will my choices cripple? For this reason alone, I thank God every day that I am not a mother. Does a parent have any chance of not passing down the same devastation to her children if she refuses to look at the devastation that was handed to her? If she refuses to deal with the hurts and fears and abuse of her childhood? I am doubtful. I know that some adults get beyond it without too much trouble. I am thankful for those individuals! But I am skeptical as to whether these things don’t somehow affect the relationship of the parent and her children. I’m not just speaking of mistakes, because we all make those. I guess I’m speaking more to dysfunction and abuse, manipulation, neglect. Somehow these things have grown cyclical in our culture. Can we survive such a cycle?
So that is where my heart is. When people are ready to break the cycles of abuse and destruction in their lives, I want to be the one that says, “Yes!!! You can do this! Come on! I’ll be here for you!” I’m not sure yet what kind of career I might want. My desires in this regard are vast. But I will begin with going back to school and finishing my degree in Social Work.
So I will sing. And I will write. And I will write about the theology of music. And I will go back to school.
This is a good start, I think!