Life is Mysterious…Soul Searching
I had my first anxiety attack when I was just 8 years old. I remember it vividly. It was a Wednesday evening and my father wanted to go to a new church, one that was charismatic meaning that prayer would be with voices and arms raised high to the Lord. I wanted to go with him so I lied and said I did not have any homework.
I always had a knowing or a feeling that my spiritual life was more important than the things of this world and even at eight I prioritized my spirituality over my schoolwork. In fact, I never felt like I fit in with other youth because I did not know any other kids my age who shared the desire to be spiritually connected the way I did.
I was a strange child. I was my father’s child. He and I would always explore new and different cultures and faiths and this night was no different. Coming from a traditional Catholic upbringing where church service was anything but loud and joyous, I found myself in a sea of sights and sounds that were unfamiliar to me.
Then, as I looked at the dove above the altar where I was used to seeing a cross, my senses went into overload and it happened. My heart beat faster and faster as sweat collected on my brow. I suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous.
The homework I lied about consumed my thoughts followed by a fear that everyone could see the guilt of my lie on my face.
How can I simultaneously be seeking out spirituality while lying to my father about my homework? It was too complex for my young mind to figure out.
This one night would become a metaphor for my whole life as I battled between doing what was right and expected of me for the world and what was right for the desires of my soul.
It wasn’t until I had my own children that I saw the battle rage in them. Which brings me to a recent event.
The Battle Continues
Carmen, my youngest daughter and child most like me, was at our home for Christmas. I was blessed to have all my children and my grandson there. It was a beautiful holiday and we all enjoyed each other’s gifts and company very much. Carmen was even featured in a previous story called “Steering in the Right Direction”, a poignant tale of the thoughtful gifts she gave at Christmas and a mystery surrounding one of them which made the gift all that much more special.
Anyway, when it got time for Carmen to leave and travel back home, she remembered that she had left her Bible at our home on a previous visit. We all turned the house upside down looking for the Bible and with every room we searched, Carmen’s level of frustration increased.
After an hour of looking virtually everywhere we gave up and by the time she left she was having a full-on anxiety attack. Her last words to us as she slammed the door goodbye were, “FIND MY BIBLE!”
The irony of the situation was not lost on me. Searching for something that should bring you peace was bringing my child to panic mode. Much like when I was searching for spirituality and lied to my father in order to find it.
The days passed and my husband and I continued to look. Carmen was calm now but every phone call ended or began with her asking if we had found her Bible yet.
To be honest, after a week and a half of looking I was starting to feel like I wanted to yell at someone and slam a door, too. Where could this Bible be? We had looked everywhere. Our cars, closets, suitcases, trunks, the garage and even boxes in storage. We finally declared defeat.
Then, one Saturday, Carmen called us with news that she hit a pot hole and damaged her wheel and rim. She had a client with her in the car when it happened and needless to say was having a very rough day. “Everything that could go wrong today, has,” she exclaimed.
We offered a sympathetic ear and went about doing what we were doing, which was dismantling Christmas. The painstaking task of taking down the tree and putting away the ornaments is my least favorite part of the holiday season, but my mind was less on my misery and more on Carmen’s.
I felt so bad for her. I hated that she was having a rough day. As a mother, I just wanted to rescue her, but I had my own issues. My house looked like Santa had exploded. With boxes of tissue paper thrown all about, I thought my house would never be clean again.
However, one box at a time was filled and put away and before I knew it the house was looking better. Then, out of the blue, my husband asked me where that brown paper bag belonged.
We walked toward it and looked inside and low and behold it was Carmen’s Bible. It must have gotten put in the Christmas stuff when we set everything up, only to be locked away with the holiday decorations that were not used and not to be found until we put everything away.
Naturally, we called Carmen and told her that we found her Bible. “Thank God,” she said. “I was having a really bad day and I needed something good to happen.”
I thought to myself how serendipitous it was that the Bible emerged exactly when she needed it most, but I also thought of how much this child of mine is just like me.
I was my father’s daughter and she is mine. We three imperfect seekers, seeking faith and spirituality through our imperfections.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 Life is mysterious.