A visit. Presence of mind and clarity

This past month I have had some aha-moments. 

I’ve been looking forward to Conrad’s parents’ visit for quite some time. We hadn’t seen them in a year and a half. And I believe they have a positive effect on Conrad. They are wise and trustworthy. They are godly and loving. And on a few occasions when I wanted to drop everything and leave the states, just because it was too hard, I couldn’t picture facing them with such a foolish decision. Out of respect. They are a guiding line of integrity and high standard. Because they are real and honest and perfect parents with their small imperfections. 

Conrad completely went into his own world, accompanied by dad. They are two geeks who talk science, engineering, botany, politics and history. They complete each other’s sentences. And dad doesn’t need to try hard to respond with enthusiasm to all the geeky things conrad is into. 

They both worked on their computers every day. And I took care of the loose ends of life in Altmann abode. Kindergarten runs and meals, shipping and invoicing, housecleaning. 

While I like to be invisible, occasionally, I don’t like to be the one who fills in the blanks of life. I like my own show. I remember preparing meeting for board of directors and thinking I want to be the one giving the presentation, not the one making the binders and preparing the conference rooms. 

Mom had been struggling with depression and currently she is on effective medication. Medication that keeps her leveled. But as we talked about, this medication prevents the low lows but also steals away the joy, the pure spontaneous, live in the moment and pour your heart out joy. 

A lot of people struggle with depression in this world and because I can regulate myself and be leveled without the help of medications, I only get a glimpse of how that might feel. I came to believe that coasting emotionally is not so hot. But then again, I make some choices and within a short time I can decide with my own mind to let loose and let go. Surround myself with things and people that bring those things in my life. The mind is a powerful thing. Even Jackie, while on one hand she can irritate me silly, she is so funny and kind and genuine, if I choose to say yet to her and enter her world, she rewards my time a thousand fold with delicious memories of fun and color.

I have tried to control my journey into understanding my mind these past few months. 

Why does it feel more shameful to feel mental weakness than physical weakness? Is it just me?

I have put undue pressure on my writing, feeling that it’s too transparent, too vulnerable and the glitch was in my fear of other’s expectations, or reactions to what I have to say. 

There was also the acute awareness that I am not a polished writer. That I write from the heart and when I do it pours freely and lively. It is pure spirit and little personal contribution, intellect or preplanned structure. I feel that I could not write at will. But I return to the essence of writing. I do not speak out of self, but of what I pour in, or ounce my spiritual and  intellectual thirst with. 

This week I received so many subtle encouragements, from the Word of God. On Sunday morning teachings, though worship, Friday night prayer concert, and Brian’s Lemudim vision.  

“The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructedtongue, 

to know the word that sustains the weary. 

He wakens me morning by morning,
he wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” Isaiah 50:4

I have been virtually silent for months. I chose to give myself that sabbatical and not worry about my absence in the media. It is actually refreshing and so alluring to remain under the radar.

 Truly, social media is addictive and the way I discovered to taper off it was to not post much and thus not expect or look for reactions. 

When mom and dad left a few days ago, Conrad was emotional, Jackie said goodbye in the parking lot, sad but braving though it. Upon dropping them off, returning to an empty home, I got all hot teary like a brim filled bottle. I was exhausted and I felt sad for what Conrad is missing out on. The mundane companionship of his parents which obviously bring out the best in him.  

But then I felt sad for myself. For missing out on some great connection opportunities with mom. We’ve both been coasting. We’ve had outings together and she’s asked some great questions. We’ve talked. We’ve attempted to solve the problems of the word. (Like in the old days) while playing cards at night, after putting Jackie to bed, I would go off on tangents and be all verbose and deep and to my great delight, both mom and dad would listen and follow; they are on the same page and they are interested in my mind and my opinions. That was so refreshing. I’ve toned that down too. So few people understand or care to understand the turmoil of my spiritual wrestling, or political views, or social challenges. 

Today conrad listened with more presence and engagement than usual. We had a good and constructive talk about this weekend’s pride parade in cluj. And my visceral stance, my intellectual opinions and my heart. And how I’m so hurt when I’m put in the same pot with every other christian whose actions make me cringe. The spirit convicted me that when I am harassed with pervert images from these parades, I put a whole group in the same pot as well. I have prayed for courage, wisdom and the right words at the time of need, to speak on the matter. And my prayer continues. It will never end. I want to be an ambassador for Jesus. In the best way possible, to my own apparent detriment if that’s the price to pay. To keep bridges, to keep my integrity and to keep loving. 

The world is falling apart under my pwn eyes. Right is wrong and wrong is right. I was complaining that we lack leaders on almost every level, in homes, in communities, in churches, in the work place, in politics. But to despair is not a viable solution. To rest easy just as an alternative to desperation is not a solution either. “We will have trials and tribulations in this life.” We’ve been told this. Meanwhile, we got cozy in Babylon and made the standards of a fallen world our own standards. That will not do. God calls us to integrity. To bravery. To pour over his Word so we can distinguish between right and wrong. To spend time with Him in prayer. And pray wisely, not for our own benefit and success, but for the Kingdom. 

I have a clearer vision about my responsibility as a parent. The small actions and words from daily life, the mundane witness of principles and acting with courage… the loving with God. Oh, to have your kids be known as the kids with principles. Just by default. The incorruptible ones, the ones who stand up for the weak, and can silence the bullies with kindness. 

The world is dark and scary and overwhelming. It’s always been. It’s just different now. We can’t hide away in a presumably safe place, out of fear. 

There is a time to recharge and replenish. There is a time to connect with the One. If I’m ever this drained, I shall start the clock on 40 days of wilderness, or communing with Abba and fasting of the mind, and thus not carry the burden of retreat to recharge. 

I stayed in acute awareness to hear what God had to say. And he was not so bad and clear. But I actively waited nonetheless. I had no other choice. Life was still unfolding, and while I wish I had more spunk, more energy, more to give than I had, I journeyed alongside mom in silence for a while, focusing on our breathing, like the thousands of steps upward daily, steps we’ve taken on the many hikes our men took us on. I treasure those days, those hikes, those moments of silence together. I was in trance. And so was mom. Or maybe my extreme empathy made me believe we felt the same without proper confirmations often. 

This summer vacation is just starting. It will be filled with a diverse group of friends. From a baptist church I love, from my bible church in Silicon Valley, and the childhood church, with friends from the Balkans who focus on reconciliation, and “renewing our minds”, to serving our children though the magical world of CS Lewis, Narnia 2. We will hike, and kayak, and climb many peaks. And we’ll continue to prepare our hearts for the adoption of our second daughter, come this Fall. May God bring her home soon, safe and sound. This is always in the back of our mind, and at the subtle surface of our hearts.