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My Cross

alec vanderboom

I am not normal.

I've faked normal. I've faked competent. I've faked pretty, and quiet, and emotionally sturdy and low-key.

Inside the heart of a 'over-achiever' there is nothing. There is a bland, dull ache of a flat grey sea. Because I felt like nothing, I had to constantly be "doing something."Achievements were once my currency. I collected them like other women collect new shoes. There was always some interesting humanitarian project I was involved in, or some new art flick I wanted to talk about.

I couldn't talk about myself. I didn't know myself.

I couldn't talk about you. I was sort of afraid to have intimacy with you. You might discover that I'm a big fat fraud and reject me.

I couldn't be silent, next to you. Because silence is stillness. Silence is holy.

So I had to talk. I had to talk a lot. I had to talk about some grand-big-gigantically important idea that would mutually engulf the both of us. I had a lot of big ideas. I had a lot of late night chats over steaming cups of coffee.

When I was 25, I stumbled upon the biggest idea of all time--God.

God somehow makes everything very small. Very still. Very intimate.
I know that God cares about what type of linoleum my husband and I chose for our kitchen floor. The Incarnation is that "nitty gritty" about all the little details of my life.

Right now, I'm doing some major soul gardening. The little tricks. The little sins. The little lies I tell myself don't work anymore. The little coping tricks are gone. I've cut out getting angry at others as a distraction from my grief. I've cut out over-spending. I've cut out distraction with work, volunteer activities, and busy-body friendships.

It's just me.

When its just me--and not the glittery stuff that distracts me from looking inside myself--I'm finally able to feel. Most of my first feelings are not happy, right now. Most of my first feelings are grief.

It's good, this grief. It's holy. It's healing. It got me to buy a cello--I could tell you exactly how I felt in the 4th grade when I learned that Orchestra Class had started without me. The tears that I cry are little hidden pieces of me that are coming back up to the surface.

I wish this wasn't the place where I am at age 38, while I'm the CFO of a small nation of little ones. But my cross is my cross. I didn't choose it. I can only choose to carry it well.

I didn't get to cry at 4. I didn't get to cry at 14 or 18. When I was 20, I flew off the handle into some mortal sin and lost my connection to the Holy Spirit. At 25, I came back to God in humility. At 28, I entered the Catholic Church.

Ten years. It's taken ten year to get down to this level of vulnerability to say to God "Do you really love me for me alone? And not for what I can do for you?"

He keeps saying yes! He gave me a cello. He gave me fresh Madelines I now bake from our oven. He gave me a husband who rubs my head and tells me I'm gorgeous in little notes on our breakfast table. "In the midst of my affliction, my cup overflowth."

I think the hardest thing about stay-at-home motherhood is the mental cross. It's not the pregnancy. It's not the nursing. It's the nakedness of being alone with the Infant Jesus, day in and day out--no distractions. No award dinners. No funny jokes with co-workers around the water cooler. Day in, day out. Intimacy with God.