After Joy died, I think I really felt done.
It wasn’t just her death. Being a mother with little ones in this world is pretty tough stuff. It’s hard to navigate in a world that seems increasingly bent on self-annihilation. I was just exhausted and discouraged.
It seemed that for all my trying to make my home a heaven on earth, it apparently still wasn’t good enough for an angel to live there.
(Of course, I know that’s not why Joy had to leave, but sometimes, when I am feeling sorry for myself, that’s what I think.)
So, I thought I would just kind of enjoy what I had in my little home fortress with my children and try to make time stand still and keep out the world at all costs.
Partly, it’s a good thing–it really is a good thing to keep “the world” out of my home…mostly because, generally speaking, the world is confused.
Just watch television and you’ll see. Totally confused.
Do people in real life really act that way, just randomly kissing people? (To be honest, I could never find that many good looking people willing to just kiss me randomly over morning donuts at work….)
Or disrobing with mere acquaintances?
Or expecting to get high end office jobs by walking in and being cute? Or thinking that they can just take a vanilla cupcake, chicken, avocado, and fermented Korean sauce and turn it into a palatable appetizer?
Anyway, the world is confused and I don’t want myself or my children confused.
So, I locked myself up in a tower of sorts, and I found myself trying to create a world of my own.
Which is also good.
It is good when the tower is a refuge. But there is a fine line between a place of refuge and a place of retreat.
Retreating is not so good.
Because the world needs people who will fight for good, not retreat into towers.
All the great men and women who ever lived have known that…and many of them had the ability and the wherewithal to build their own towers and retreat and wait out the storms, but they didn’t. They turned their retreats into places of refuge and went out and fought for good.
They realized somewhere that even though they, themselves could possibly escape the mundane and live a relatively peaceful, pristine life, that they were part of the human race, and that in order to contribute to it, they must choose to intertwine their celestial ideals with the daily “rabble.”
Even the temple has plumbing. And garbage. And dirty laundry (literally, not figuratively). Because they let ordinary, stinky mortals inside.
I was doing everything I could to just bide my time in something as close to heaven as I could replicate. I was cleaning and cleaning and baking and candle making and improving my talents and trying to do all of that as an excuse to hide from the world.
But, at some point, I ran out of room. The tower had become too small. The outside world beckoned–all the best parts–and I started to think that maybe I should go and see.
I wanted to believe that I could make a world within a world–and that we could all be content there.
But there were the lights. The wonderful things that are out there, the possibilities…so much to discover and find and overcome and conquer. It was all out there…waiting.
Sometimes I would feel the pull and tug of what was out there, the tower would start to feel a little claustrophobic; so I would try to increase the size of my home or land to compensate.
But, deep within me, I knew I wanted to go. I wanted to jump. I wanted my children to be able to go with me.
Out there are people who need us. And we need them. And most of them are good. And we can help each other feel loved.
That’s what we are here for. Not to be in a tower learning how to be great at everything for our own benefit and self-satisfaction.
We need to share.
I once said we can’t run for the hills, even though the world is falling apart. How funny that I figuratively did just that.
There are times when we take a break and step away from the world and take time to grow our children or our goodness or our morality–whatever needs tending–but we can’t just stay there…I think we have to go back and get out and be part of the great drama that is the destiny of the human race. The world needs good more than ever before.
I guess that’s why we need to always be moving, changing, growing. Never stagnant. We need to see when we should be in our fortress and when we should fight and dare Out There.
For so long, I dreamed of living in the country, maybe having some chickens, lots of land, and a farmhouse…I got my dream. It’s scary to have a dream come true, because, well, what happens next? (Start video at :33 and end at 1:29)
When Joy died, that dream was fulfilled. For the last five years, I couldn’t let it go. I kept holding on because I didn’t know what else to do.
Now I have to find a new dream. I just didn’t want to because it meant facing the reality that she was gone, and with her, many of my dreams.
So, here I am, on the verge of a new adventure, in which I must uncover the next step in realizing my ultimate destiny–to return to God.
First of all, it’s not in the country living (which I love).
It’s not in a big house where I can have my own little kingdom (which I am now used to).
It’s not learning traditional “homemaking” skills (in which I am now marginally proficient).
It’s not in having goats or chickens (even though I really love chickens. Sorry goats, you stink and make too much noise).
It’s hard to leave a dream behind and seek a new one, but I am doing just that. Or rather, we are doing that. We are a family, and we are in this together, and the dream of chickens in the country was ours and so this new dream will be ours, too. We are taking the leap: (John is portrayed here as Eugene)
We’ve already started by doing things I had never dreamed I’d do–not even when I wasn’t being drop kicked by the SMeE. I never thought I could take children to the Magic Kingdom in the summer and stay for the fireworks.
I never thought I could live in a city again.
I never thought I could consider suburbia again.
I never thought I could find joy in something so consumer driven and insanely loud as DisneyWorld.
I never thought I could handle humidity.
So, here I am. And, I haven’t even really begun, yet, but I am my own worst enemy. Within seconds of landing, my first act was to doubt myself. I’m telling you, I think every woman alive has her own inner Mother Gothel to deal with, constantly filling her with self-doubt, fear, and needless, irrational guilt. (Again, John is pictured here as Eugene:)
I know I can do this. I just need to have faith that I can and realize that this new dream does not negate or diminish the old one. I sometimes wish I hadn’t spent so many years “living in a blur” trying to hang on to something that was gone…I guess when I saw the lanterns at the Magic Kingdom, I realized that even though everything is different, Joy was there, blinking in the starlight, letting me know it was time to really see, time to have a new dream, time to let the old ones go up to heaven and join her while I remain on earth.
And that, while earth isn’t always heavenly, there can be majesty in the tempests, and beauty in the fight.
(For the record, I just want to say that I think Tangled is a great grown up fairy tale movie. I don’t think it is suitable for children.)