Today, as I ran typical Monday errands and brought Z to the Senior Care home where he continues to volunteer; bought milk, bread, toilet paper and other essentials at WalMart; and ran in to the chiropractic office to have my adjustment; I suddenly had this sense that I was living inside a bubble, going through the motions and biding my time until something happens.
Here I am. This is my life. Each day is ticking by one by one. Yet, strangely, I am completely disconnected from my actions and my feelings.
It could be that these are further symptoms of my mental illness, of course, as I have shared with you before about my struggles with depression. But it seemed deeper than that. Then clearer than I can hear my own voice inside my head, this question was asked of me: Are you biding or abiding?
The voice was that of the Holy Spirit, I'm certain. There was an urgency upon me then, to understand what this question meant and to answer it for myself.
When I was home again and the groceries were stowed, I sat down in front of my computer. I pulled up my favorite reference for word definitions: the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. You can look up any word contained within it at this link.
bide, v.i., to dwell; to inhabit. 1. To remain; to continue or be permanent, in a place or state.
abide, v.i. ...to be, or exist, to continue; to dwell, rest, continue, stand firm, or be stationary for anytime indefinitely. 1. To rest, or dwell.
Upon first seeing these definitions, they seem so very similar. Almost identical in a way. They both identify a state of being still.
Other dictionary resources gave similar clues about these words. It wasn't until I began consulting the Bible that I really started to understand the question the Lord was asking me.
When S first left home, I found myself biding my time. It felt a lot like the other times she'd run away from home, in which she returned not long after. At the time, the wait was excruciatingly long, but it was not weeks and months.
While the clock ticked by in the early days of June, after she departed, I fell into a holding pattern. I was frozen and waiting for the shock to dissipate. Household chores were at a standstill. Normal routine went by the wayside. After all, we were -- as a family -- used to the way things ran around here with our seventh family member. It felt like we needed to wait for her return to truly get back to normal. We were in a state of grieving and crisis and nothing else really mattered.
Logically, we knew this could not go on indefinitely and there would be sputters of forward movement. We tried to do a lot of fun things with the other kids to take our minds off of the absentee family member. We took a trip to Colorado. We went to the movies. We ate more meals out than normal and had much more ice cream and frozen yogurt than we usually do.
These were all bandages, in a sense, though. These weren't regular life. They were distractions. For the kids. For ourselves.
This act of life that was occurring, truly was, in essence, the act of biding. I, for one, was waiting. I was waiting for S to return so we could go back to normal. Even though I knew in my head that this was the new normal and that as time went on, should she return, things would never go back. Not that we'd really want them to be the way they were before anyway. That way was broken.
Endless waiting like this -- biding -- is really a waste of our time. Not that there wasn't good that came from these weeks. Not that our children did not enjoy the extra attention and special treats. There was rest amidst this waiting period, as well. The emotion of everything has been exhausting and to find moments of rest amidst the heartache is a blessing.
However, the failure of biding my time, is that there was no real forward movement. No growth. I was stuck. In biding, I was refusing to budge and to adapt. I kept telling myself what I needed to do to get one foot in front of the other to make it through each day, but by the end of the day, my feet were in the same position they had been at the start of that day. I was on an infinite treadmill loop and I didn't even realize it.
I had forgotten a most basic principle of my faith.
"Be still and know that I am God."
I have not been called to wait or to waste my time hoping for a situation to change or improve or return to normal. I have been called to be still and abide in Christ.
To abide in Him, the emphasis is not on waiting, but on continuing on and existing -- dwelling in him. Living in Christ.
The life I was living when S first left home was empty and pointless. It wasn't really living at all. Biding time is a slow, deliberate death.
To abide is to continue to celebrate each day as the blessing that it is. It is to cleave to our God and trust that He is always living, breathing and moving amidst every situation. He is at work even when we can't see the changes happening. I have said that to myself and to others in recent weeks, but truly knowing and believing it is something else entirely.
This is not to say that I need to make forward progression of my own power, but that forward progression is at work because the Lord is at work. I can be still. I can find the rest I need to deal with the emotions of having a child leave home and go into the world. I can lean not on my own understanding in this situation, but know that God is mighty to save. He is saving me, He will save her and He will save each of us if we want Him to, in spite of every difficulty we undergo.
I can get off the treadmill and keep walking.
How can I do this?
Amidst everything, I continue to battle against my chemical imbalances and the lies that swirl in my mind about my inadequacies and often frustrating circumstances. These will not disappear until the Lord decides a time when I may be healed from such distractions. But in spite of all that, I can make the choices every day to isolate myself in the crazy or to reach out to Him for reassurance and direction.
Yesterday, our family -- the six of us -- took a drive to the mountains. We stopped in Las Vegas, NM and took our time wandering the train tracks and looking for smashed pennies. We went by Charlie's Spic and Span and bought fresh-made tortillas and doughnuts (yeah, more treats). This is one of our favorite places in town. From there, we drove up to Mora where we visited Victory Ranch. We learned about the alpacas and got to feed and pet them. We took a scenic road and passed through Angel Fire and on over to Taos where we played at a park and then had a mediocre meal. (See pictures of all this stuff on my Instagram by clicking the link.)
Along the way, we stopped so I could take pictures of the green hillsides and cloudy skies. We experienced some mild car sickness in the curvy mountain roads. C and I had good conversations, we sang to the music together and sometimes we were just quiet. At our restaurant, I found our table to be a particular source of comedy because of a giant post positioned in the middle of it. There were no other seats because Taos was bustling with activity due to a festival of some kind that we tried to avoid (not wanting to do the 'crowd' thing). So we made do with our funny post-table and C and I had some good laughs about how the post wasn't big enough to block us from all the obnoxious things our older boys were doing on the opposite side of the table. (It was all in good fun - we were glad to be spending the day with our kids.)
It's been weeks since I remember feeling so alive and in touch with the experiences we were having. It was a long and tiring day, but it was really wonderful! I'm so glad we went.
This was the first time since S left that our trip didn't feel like something we were doing while biding our time, but instead it truly was an opportunity to abide -- to live, to continue on and to rest in Him while enjoying the company of one another.
A few days ago I began disciplining myself better about reading the Bible every day (again). I am praying more deliberately. I am asking those closest to me to keep me accountable to living my life instead of just waiting for life to resume.
This post is not one of advice or even resolution. I am likely to slip back now and then and just space out and wait as life clicks by like I started to do this morning while running errands. We all do it from time to time. My hope and my goal is to be more aware of the difference between biding and abiding and to find ways to accept my calling to abide in Him consistently so I can stop wasting time.