Yes, it is!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Just Don't Know...

about a lot of things.  I'm just so confused about so many things.  I keep searching but I'm just not sure what I'm searching for, really.  Actually, I know I am searching for acceptance, love, and peace within.  Why do I continue to have anxiety about so many things?  And situations? Ugh, my life is just a plain mess.  I talked to a close friend and admitted to her that it has been a struggle for me to live each day.  Don't worry, I'm not thinking the "unthinkable".  It's just that I feel internally like each day is such a struggle to get through.  It's a daily fight with life.  What is it?
I thought part of the solution was that I needed a break, desperately, from the daily life at home.  Free from whiny, fighting, hissing, spitting, hitting kids.  Free from a day of appointments for one of the kids or me.  Free from having to figure out what to cook for dinner.  Free from having to try to keep peace in the household.  Just a free weekend away from the stresses.  So, I signed up to go to a women's conference in Branson.  I had never heard of this particular conference until last year.  It consists of well-known speakers in the religious world.  I'm not familiar with most of them but I must admit that last year, I enjoyed those who did speak. And the best part of that weekend?  Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W Smith.  When I heard that Casting Crowns would be the headliner this year, I jumped on board and pre-registered to come.  Even though they are a religious group, I LOVE Casting Crowns.  And after reading an excerpt of a book tonight written by one of the and members, I now realize why just I love the group.
So I was looking forward to this weekend of getting a break from home life and to hearing Casting Crowns.  Boy, was I mistaken.  Perhaps I should have not gone after all.  Maybe the events from Thursday night was a sign that I was not supposed to go. Thursday night was beset with anxiety for me when Tim started to stress over being with the kids by himself all weekend. He started to complain that he had so much to do and so much homework (he's finishing his MBA).  He asked again when I was leaving and when I was coming back.  I could just tell that he was stressed about the idea of being a single parent for the entire weekend.  And that, in turn, stressed me out.  And I began to worry about my children.   I was so close to just forgoing my plans.  Then I thought about my friend, K, who was also going.  I couldn't cancel.  We both already paid for our part of the trip.  And it was non-refundable.  I was so torn.  Do I feel guilty for leaving Tim alone with the kids or do I feel guilty for making K lose her money because I canceled?  I finally decided that Tim was going to have to pony up and be a superdad for the weekend.
So Friday morning, K and I met up with the other ladies who were riding the bus.  K and I discussed driving my car to Branson but we decided in the end to go ahead and ride on the bus.  Now I realize that was a mistake although the ride to Branson went smoothly.  Once we got to Branson, everyone and their own little groups went off and did their own thing.  Good.  It was like that last year.  Since I was fairly new to our current church last year, I pretty much was a loner since I hardly knew anyone.  This year, my friend K accompanied me.  I'm so glad she did.
Things started to get a little edgy for me when K and I arrived at this little country restaurant that I was looking forward to visiting again.  Tim and I visited it in 2007 when we came to Branson and we really enjoyed it.  So we got there and a good portion of the group from my current church was there.  But, there was no place to sit with them. So, Kat and I ended up sitting toward the back of the restaurant by ourselves until our hotel roommate, R, called me.  I told her where we were at and she decided to come join us.
When we returned to the hotel/conference center, K and R got separated from me but I texted K and I told her I would go and find us a place to sit.  As I was coming down the stairs, one of the people from my group came and grabbed me as I was trying to look around for my friend, K.  This person, W, took me into the restroom, where people were streaming in and out, and she got into it with me about the status of my faith.  Then she told me she knew I was irritated,  Sure, I was.  Even though she insisted she knew it was her that I was irritated with, that was not entirely the case.  She went on to say that another lady from the group told her that I said I was irritated specifically at her, W.  I was starting to lose it by now and my anxiety level was increasing as people came in and out of the restroom.  It was obvious to these total strangers that something was going on.  I don't even remember most of the conversation except that my brain started to hear that I was not saved and the prayer I said as a kid doesn't count.  And that I was going to hell. I'm sure those were not the exact words used but that's what my brain heard.  During this exchange, my friend K was trying to call and text me to find out where I had gotten us seats.  That was causing me more anxiety because I was so afraid that she was going to think I was ignoring her when I was actually being prevented from responding back to K.  By this point, W had taken my phone because it was more important that I listen to her.  It's too bad that she didn't realize that she had already lost my full attention after the first sentence.  Incredibly, I don't dislike this person, in fact, I like her.  But I dislike how it was handled, in public, and K was getting frantic when I couldn't respond to her right away.  When I finally was released and able to sit, I was such a hot mess that I could not enjoy the opening singer.  And it was difficult to fully enjoy the speaker as well.
After the night's events were over, K and I went down to the fitness room. We also enjoyed the hot tub where R joined us.  It was relaxing.  I thought all was well by the time I went to bed.  Unfortunately, I did not sleep well.  I remember waking up just once and sitting up because I felt like I couldn't breathe.  But this morning, K told me that I actually woke up and sat straight up in bed at least twice.  I don't remember doing that.  I woke up this morning feeling as if I had not slept at all, maybe just a catnap.
K, R, and I headed downstairs to listen to the first of 2 speakers this morning.  Both were excellent.  The first speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, is the only speaker at this conference who I have heard of.  And she was funny. So was the second speaker.  As tired as I was (I felt like falling asleep), I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing both of those speakers.  They were FUNNY.
Our group leader had made reservations at a restaurant for lunch after the morning's events.  The restaurant is located at the Landing in downtown Branson, just a couple blocks' walk.  Since reservations were made for the entire group, K and I headed over there.  I really wasn't looking forward to it knowing that the restaurant had a limited menu this weekend because of severe flooding along the landing.  The only choices were sandwiches and salads.  Okay, fine.  Being that I don't eat red meat or pork and their salad comes with barbecue sauce, (who puts barbecue sauce on a salad?)  I decided on the chicken sandwich.  The waiter then broke the news that the restaurant had just used the last bit of chicken a few minutes prior. Okay. So, I settled on a bowl of broccoli. There wasn't much else that appealed to me with such a limited menu.  I tried to be a good sport about it anyway.
After the lunch, we had a few hours break before tonight's concert with Casting Crowns.  I walked around downtown Branson for a bit and enjoyed looking in some of the antique shops.  Then I went back down to the Landing before coming back to the hotel to walk/run on the treadmill.  Then before I knew it, it was time to get ready for the concert.  I was so excited but theexcitement fizzled quickly when I got inside the conference center to find that a lot of people were saving 10, 20, 30 seats for their groups.  There was a huge digital announcement advising that saving seats was not permitted.  So much for christianity.  I think next time, I'll flout the rules and save myself 5 seats so I can spread out and be comfortable.  Yeah, I know, attitude.  But it pisses me off when you have 1 person saving all these seats and those of us who are pretty much on our own have to just go directly to the far corner.  Don't even bother trying to get closer.  Well, some from our group got very good seats for their group of friends.  When the concert started, I decided to just go up there and stand near them as I took pictures of the band.  They had a good view and not too close to the stage.  A lot of other people were walking up there closer to the stage to get pictures. So what was wrong with me standing near people from my church?  I was not trying to get their seats, I just wanted pictures. I especially wanted to get the violin.  I absolutely LOVE the violin.  I could listen to a violin player all day long.  Suddenly, one of the girls from my church group decided to take it upon herself to tell me that I was ruining the worshipful atmosphere.  What the hell?  I was ruining the worshipful atmosphere in the middle of 5-10 thousand women?  At first, I wasn't sure I even heard her right so I said, "Excuse me?" She repeated it.  My anxiety level shot through the roof again.  I just went back to where I had been sitting and grabbed my stuff and left.  So much for enjoying one of my favorite groups.  It was very upsetting, especially knowing that I am being looked down upon and judged.  I'm done with it now.
But the night ended okay.  I got to have a real conversation with a famous person (well, at least in the religious world).  Liz Curtis Higgs was so fun to talk to.  We talked about one of her books "Bad Women of the Bible."  I really need to read that book.  It sounds really good.  And perhaps I should be in the next chapter if Liz should ever update the book.
I bought one book tonight. It's "Lifestories" by Mark Hall, one of the Casting Crowns band members.  I haven't bought any books lately but this one caught my eye.  Since I didn't stay for the concert, I read a good part of the book right away.  In the foreword, Steven Curtis Chapman says this about Casting Crowns member, Mark; "One of the unique aspects of Mark's songs that has endeared so many people to the music of Casting Crowns is his ability to make you feel like you're listening to the heart of a good friend. "  Then later in the same paragraph; "He (Mark) can offer you encouragement, and you know it's coming from a place of hurt and hope that has been lived and not just imagined for the purpose of writing a song.  You never feel like you're getting 'preached at,' and yet his songs contain some of the most profound sermons."  Wow, that's awesome.  And that, folks, is exactly why I love Casting Crowns.  I can relate to the words, they are encouraging, and most of all, I don't feel as if I'm being judged and preached at.
Speaking of judgment, I enjoyed the chapter titled "Does Anybody Hear Her?"  The words to the bridge of that song spoke volumes to me.  I don't know why, perhaps it's my inner girl still seeking unconditional love.  The words; "if judgment looms under every steeple, if lofty glances from lofty people, can't see past her scarlet  letter..., and we've never even met her."  In other words, the stereotypical picture is "she's a lost cause.  She's a bad influence."  Stay away, don't even bother.  Mark says, "Do you see the danger there?  Suddenly she went from being a person with hurts and needs to being only a bad influence with carry-on baggage.  Failure is not a person.  Failure is an event..."  Wow, just wow.  Why do I still feel like such a failure as a person?  This is one book that I must finish.  In fact, I need to read it again and again. The parts that I have already read are powerful.  Even though I had not planned on buying any books or anything else, I am so glad that this book caught my eye and I bought it.
Okay, now I need to try to sleep.  I don't look forward to the ride home but I'm just going to try to drown out the noise and try to immerse myself in my new book.


Tina said...

Thank you for sharing this. There are many of us who need to hear it. Sometimes because we are the ones judging, sometiems because we are the ones being judged. I too love Casting Crowns!!! I pray your trip back was better, and look forward to an update on the book!

Samantha said...

Tina, thank you for the encouragement. I will certainly try to update on the book. I am thoroughly enjoying it. It's pretty powerful. I haven't been able to read a lot at one time which is probably good. I haven't gotten this much into a book like this in ages.