That old anxiousness creeps back in from time to time. It is anxiety that has followed me around for most of my 44 years. It is the fear of missing something, it is the fear of not missing it at all. The absence of “care” on my part or on the part of someone else. We’re home from Liturgy today because three of the four kids are sniffling snotty messes. We’re home and I’m tired and conflicted and feeling the old anxiety creeping back in.
The image most kids have entering High School or Junior High is that of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. We all go through that time of adjustment I suppose, wanting to fit in but not wanting to change to fit into that hole. In my case I don’t see most situations as a matter of pegs and holes. The whole system is confusing, it’s just not as simple as all that. If it was, I’d hone down my square edges and wedge myself in as quietly as possible but through my corroded lens I see a tight fit puzzle, already filled, already complete. There is no room for me in it, no space left just waiting for me to fill it. It is as though I’ve reached the wrong puzzle altogether and I’m an extra piece, sitting off to the side, trying to be a part of a game that is content, complete, closed.
I recognize now, after all these years, the shortsightedness of that corroded lens. I recognize now that nothing is ever truly complete in this life and that nine times out of ten I make myself the outsider because taking my place in a larger picture is a lot of pressure. If I commit I begin to realize that people count on me to be there. If I commit I begin to fear that no one counts on me to be there. It’s a catch 22; wanting to be wanted but worrying about being wanted.
This comes at a time in my life when I’m working hard on not being a “know it all” any longer. It’s a hard habit to break, let me tell you. Over the last 20 years I’ve built up this defense mechanism of knowing it all, or at least knowing enough to convince people to keep calling, the keep holding a space for me at the lunch table, to keep in contact one way or another. It’s nice to be wanted. It’s comforting to be sought out. Becoming Orthodox though, has unravelled me where this is concerned. Certainty is no longer a goal I seek, knowing it all is no longer as attractive, planning ahead for success or failure has been turned on its head because the definitions have changed. What does it mean to be certain? What does it mean to be successful?
Life is puzzling at times, relationships are confusing at times, church is intimidating at times, but faith is not some flat picture resting on the card table in my dining room waiting to be completed. Faith is breath and life, bread and oil, trusting that there will always be a place for me at the table, trusting that there will be someone waiting with an embrace, trusting that this corroded lens can be cleaned and made clear.