Friday, April 18, 2014
Every couple of years or so I find myself searching for my calling. This is generally prompted by a major transition and often makes little practical sense.
For example: upon completion of my graduate degree, I accepted a full-time job in my field. This was a major victory for my ambitious side, with plenty of accompanying pride and excitement. But as I moved through this change, it felt wrong. Like even though I had won the prize job, I was veering off-course.
I started talking quietly about switching fields. The wildest thought was that I would quit the professional world and become some sort of spiritual healer. Slightly more realistically, I talked about pursuing another graduate degree to do some kind of alternative-medicine-bodywork. Over the previous few years, my alternative-medicine-bodyworkers (AMBs) had been a huge part of my support system. My husband and I would often travel from central to western North Carolina, spending many hours and lots of money on their services. They were my doctors, my therapists, my friends. They were my church, when I had no church.
All this because I was scared, and my arms hurt from computer use, and my body hurt from fancy work clothes, and my heart hurt from trying to act the "right" way.
It made some sense, then, that during a difficult transition I would want to fully enter the AMB world. In their world you could be funky and comfortable, and everyone's hurts were honored.
My AMB friends told me later that when I first started seeing them, all they could see was my emotional pain, and the real me was barely visible. It's true. I was desperate for relief from all sorts of pain. I had tried almost everything else and nothing had worked. But my AMBs believed in my pain, and they believed--they were certain--that I could get better, without regular medical care. I needed them to fix me, and believed that they could. They gave me hope. So I did pretty much anything they said, including purchase lots of their time and many bottles of pricey supplements.
As part of my prescribed path to health, I also made drastic changes to my diet. No refined sugar or alcohol for two years. It was healthy, but also rigid, which satisfied/exacerbated my compulsive tendencies. I was a terrible guest during this period, and often cranky (sorry).
Eventually my physical hurts did get better, partly due to all this AMB stuff and partly due to the simple passage of time. But my emotional/spiritual hurts were still there, and they are still there. With each major transition, I feel unmoored again, wondering if I'm on the right path.
Am I just terrible at change? Is my brain wired for periodic searching and discontent, or is there a message in here somewhere?
Today is Good Friday, the darkest day of the Week of Transformation (Holy Week). It's a day of remembered suffering and shared humanity. And so, on this day especially I ask: what good can come from hurts and brokenness--mine, yours, ours? What transformation do we really seek?