“So… your adventures are over.”
“Oh, no. To live…to live would be an awfully big adventure.”
Yes, yes. I just quoted the movie Hook. It is what has been in my mind though, in regards to all that I shall write about. It is meaningful to me. Maybe you will see why.
This decision happened soon after my last blog. Over a month ago, now. I just felt like I needed to sit with it for a while. But people have been asking here and there, so I should let it be known.
Turns out, I won’t be going to Brazil after all. Hmmmmm….. I think the best way to explain will be to basically say what I told Heart’s Home. Below I am copying the email I wrote to them. Edited, though – mostly I added clarifying info. But, as a nutshell, to those of you not interested in reading too much (but anyone interested in woundedness, psychology, the subconscious, the working of the human heart and mind, and how Christianity can be hijacked by woundedness and evil, read it. You may find it interesting…): I am 30 years old. I have been roaming around from place to place, from job to job, from experience to experience, all of my adult life. I have never felt a desire to stay anywhere. There was always a feeling like Tom Petty’s song: “It’s time to move on, time to get goin’, and what lies ahead I have no way of knowin’.” And I would look for the next thing that felt right. Well, since fall and winter, I have grown to love it here more and more: my job, my coworkers, my friends; I am in love with the nature here, the simplicity here, the culture here. It took me a while to notice because I had never felt it before, but, I had a desire to stay put. “Whoa!? What?” I’ve never felt that before. And I was too scared to trust it at first because – well… I can’t quite articulate why, actually. But it was. And I had to have a total breakdown of sorts in order to hear this part of me, which caused a pair of scales to fall from my eyes.
The following is a more detailed explanation of this decision, which I sent to my friends at Heart’s Home.
I am writing this email to tell you about some further discernment that has happened within me. I shared, with you N., a little bit on the phone, when you asked how I was doing and what I was thinking, where my heart was, if there were any doubts, etc. I spoke of how happy I have found myself in life recently: in this job, in this community, in this town, in my church here, and how that had actually caused questions in me.
Around late summer was when I started searching for the next step in life, I knew I wanted to somehow serve through relationship more than I was at the farm. I didn’t have a sense of “home” where I was. I didn’t feel like I could put down roots quite yet in life – which is a way I have always felt, anywhere I go. I felt very strongly a need to do something new, and to move towards meaning – and so I followed that desire. Almost immediately, I stumbled upon Heart’s Home. Gosh! The mission and charism is my heart exactly. I had a hard time believing that the fact that I found it at all, when I was looking for the next step in life, could be anything other than a powerful sign and indicator that it was what I should indeed do.
When I found myself growing in a feeling of “home” in my job and community, I found myself also questioning whether I wanted to go to Brazil. However, I told myself, in these moments of questioning, that I had so much wanted to move towards meaning in my life and that my current happiness was merely circumstantial. What if things changed and I wasn’t as happy here? Would there still be “meaning” for me here? I reminded myself again and again that my happiness in the moment didn’t necessarily mean there was fulfilling meaning. (Btw, I had recently read Victor Frankyl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, which deeply impacted me and was a great grace in my life this past summer). I knew I was drawn to Heart’s Home and wanted to do it, and I didn’t want my own desire for happiness get in the way; I wanted so much to be there for others who were struggling, because I know struggling too. And I just desire so much to somehow bring light and love to people, especially people who are alone, who don’t know God in Himself or in the love of others. So I kept on pushing through, knowing that Heart’s Home is something I was deeply attracted to, and I knew it would be a beautiful school for my soul.
All my adult life (the past 12 years) I have gone from place to place, from job to job, from experience to experience, never feeling in my heart a desire to stay anywhere, be it a job or a community. Apart from college, I have never stayed anywhere for more than a year. It was just the way it was – I couldn’t create in me a desire to settle anywhere, so I just kept searching. Last week, it hit me like a ton of bricks, that finally, at 30 years old, I have found a job and a place and a community that I love and actually WANT to stay in. It’s a new feeling; I’ve never felt it before. It was hard to recognize and believe. This feeling really started growing in January, and has been growing ever since – causing great interior confusion about my decision for Heart’s Home.
N., after I talked to you on the phone, I found myself unable to make concrete steps towards fundraising or even learning Portuguese – which I had started a few weeks ago with great enthusiasm. I ended up talking to my mother about it all. She is a beautifully Catholic woman, who knows me through and through, who has been 100% supportive
of me doing Heart’s Home. Throughout the course of our conversation, I realized a few things.
1) In the beginning, I simply desired to do Heart’s Home. It was beautiful. I needed a “next step” in life, and my heart was deeply attracted to it. However, as my heart also became attracted to the idea of staying where I am, I started to experience real internal conflict. I started to see that ‘fear’ was creeping into my decision making somehow. A fear that, I was selfish for wanting to stay b/c I found happiness (and maybe even meaning?) where I am. There was a fear that I would not be doing God’s will if I stayed. A fear that I would make the wrong decision and ruin God’s plan for my future if I didn’t go. Basically, a strong fear that I was selfish and that I cannot and should not make choices for personal happiness. I noticed this thought pattern to be a trend in me, which has been there since my conversion…a belief that, when there was a decision to make, between two good things, two good things that I want, that my natural and simple, this base desire for my own happiness was totally untrustworthy, selfish and bad.
2) Once I recognized that fears had somehow entered in, I knew I wanted to work through them, because I did not want fear to be a part of my decision. Originally, it was not a part of my decision. As I said, it only creeped in once there were two goods to compare. Once there was another good to choose from, that is when the fear popped up. In talking to my mother, I realized something huge in me. That a very deep childhood wound always prevented me from choosing for happiness. As a young, young child, I “knew” that happiness was impossible for me because – to me – happiness is love, to be wanted and loved, 100%, and this wounded place in me “knew” I would always be an outcast and would never, ever be fully loved or wanted. I JUST realized, when on the phone with my mother, that I think a strong drive must have arisen deep in my subconscious at an early age: a drive to protect myself from choosing happiness, only to be devastated to find out, again and again, that it was a hopeless thing to desire. Because, again, my most wounded heart, my most core wound, believed that I would never, ever be fully loved or wanted. The presence of this drive, this thought process was completely subconscious and hidden from me. What I know now is that, when I had my conversion, this place in me very easily took on a spiritual mask, hijacking some beautiful truths of Christianity and twisting them, telling me that God’s will for me would always be the harder thing; would never be the thing that my heart desired at a simple place. This would prevent me from choosing for happiness, from choosing to aspire for, hope for, move towards what my heart desires most, purely and simply. And this prevention, my subconscious-wounded-self must have figured, would protect me from being devastated when I would, most assuredly, find that my deepest desires would never be fulfilled, since this is what it has been telling me since such a young age: “You will never be accepted, you will never be beautiful, you will never be wanted, you will never be loved completely, and thus, you will never be happy. You are doomed. So do not hope for happiness. Do not try for it.”
Before I saw all this for what it was, I was merely aware of the fear and shame I felt in wanting to choose to stay, to follow this simple desire: “I am happy here. Maybe it’s my home. Maybe it’s what I want.” This was a very frustrating tension in me, and it was so very familiar, for it has been with me all throughout my years of discerning religious life and discerning what it was I should do with my life. I hadn’t felt this subconscious pull in years, but noticed it immediately in the turmoil I felt when talking to my mom about my confusions. It was all too familiar. And all too sick. My mom prodded and questioned me, “Where does this come from? Why do you feel that way? When did you first believe these things? How old were you?” Etc. Etc. And then it all came at once. I wept, feeling the pain of this childhood wound in a way I had not in years and years. I had actually forgotten how much I had hurt and how much I believed this horrible “truth.” At that moment, I felt like scales fell from my eyes and I could see the interior confusions in me for what they really were.
Once I saw this subconscious lie and defense mechanism for what it was, things became much more clear to me. I realized what a huge deal it is, that I finally and really, truly, want to stay in a job and a place, when I have never, ever in my life felt that way – not even at home with my family in CA (which is crazy to me!). I finally feel like I may have found a home/job/career path/future for me, and a town I could settle in. Once the fear and block were removed, I found a freedom and joy – not to say ‘no’ to Heart’s Home, but to say ‘yes’ to trying this new adventure of at least attempting, to settle, put down roots in a place that has begun to feel like home. And I have been longing and searching and searching for a home and a path my whole life. I don’t know if this is it for sure, but I feel like I at least have to see it through, this desire to stay where I am. (Hence the Hook quote, btw: “To live…to live would be an awfully big adventure.”)
I hate changing my mind in front of everyone. I feel like I have done it a lot in life. I know I shouldn’t care – but I do. Anyhow, something that has helped me greatly in that is this. My own prophecy of sorts. I read in my journal, something I wrote in September, even before I found Heart’s Home, but when I knew I wanted to do some sort of work helping people. After writing about how I felt peace with this new decision I had come to on this September night in my cabin on the farm, to leave Green Edge soon and pursue Meaning, which for me, involved relationships and somehow loving and helping people, I wrote this: “This quest for meaning….it will never leave me, actually. So, maybe I have nothing to worry about. If I stumble upon something that gives meaning and purpose to my existence here and decide to stay, I don’t need to feel like I missed the boat, nor do I need to beat myself up for not following through with something I decide to do. Wow – how freeing! Just always follow where the quest for meaning leads me and guide me. How beautiful. How CL (Communion and Liberation). I mean, THIS is correspondence. I mean, gosh! ‘Meaning’…that’s ‘logos.’ Logos. That’s Christ. Follow the meaning and I’ll be ok.”
Heart’s Home is beautiful. For what it’s worth, you can be a missionary until the age of 35. I have 5 years to possibly do it. But also, I want to still take part, to help and donate. I want to read all the same spiritual writing I would if I were there. I realized that, I am so drawn to the charism, but I am somewhat already living it, as best I can without the support of a religious community, right where I am. I feel that this past year has been such a school for me. God has tested my true Christianity: “Can you unconditionally love? Without judging? Without fear or anxiety (because a person may not Catholic or living a perfectly moral life) being a block to truly unconditional love? Can you trust in my mercy and love, and just love them and pray to me for them?” I live in an area with many non-Christians but feel a strength to authentically love Christ where I am, in me and in these people. I LOVE the charism of Heart’s Home! It is my heart! I am more than a little sad to miss out on the communal and prayer life that a mission would have provided, and the lessons I assuredly would have learned, but I also feel a great peace in my decision to stay where I am.
I was nervous to write this email. I felt shame. I feel sorry. I didn’t want to disappoint you two. But at the end of this email, I am glad to see that I feel okay. I don’t feel a fear of disapproval. But I am sorry, so very much, for such a late discernment, after committing! I am truly very sorry about that! I would love to include Heart’s Home in my monthly tithing, and to get a list of the spiritual reading that is done in Heart’s Home. I would love to stay in touch, too. I would love to stop by and visit, if I ever found myself in New York. All these things! I want to live the charism. Now that I am settling in my community, I plan to do things that I have wanted to do for a while, but haven’t done because of a feeling of transiency: e.g., taking Communion to the sick and homebound, and volunteering with the hospice in town. I had been thinking about that for a long while, and am eager to look into it now that I am staying.
Friends, thank you so much for the gift of your hearts and lives to Heart’s Home. I feel grateful to you, and great awe in the charism, and I know it’s a share in the Lord’s gratitude to you as well. I am grateful for your presence and love with me, personally, over the course of the past few months since I visited. Even now, I sense your unconditional love – something that all your friends do too, and something every human craves, and fears is not theirs. And that is a miracle in this world.