Answers

Answers. plural noun. According to my desktop dictionary, “A solution to a problem or dilemma; a thing said, written, or done to deal with or as a reaction to a question, statement, or situation.” In this post, I have none.

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image via Pinterest

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve been feeling unsettled this semester.

It’s made me a bit angsty. I’ve become extra-introverted. Homework has been unmotivated drudgery. Untangling my emotions enough to write is really hard work. I’ve been grasping for answers that will fix my issues.

And I’m still waiting in the middle of the mess.

Most of the time, I write about experiences from the rearview mirror, when I’ve gained perspective and have a sense of humor and can conclude with a neat little lesson. Today, I’m looking myself in the mirror. The regular one, that shows me right now, in this moment. Today, I’ve got no lessons. No neatness. No answers. And I’m sharing it, because I hope and pray that I’m not the only one who feels like this.

This is the girl I see in the mirror today.

She gets cranky with winter, so much cold and biting wind, and longs for summer and diving into warm waters and sitting in the sunshine and baking the cold feet that never seem to warm up. She wants to go outside without zipping a jacket up to her chin and see something other than eternal, blinding white.

She sits in Christian Theology, daring the abstract terms to make sense at 7:50 in the morning, drinking tea that she’s learning to like, grasping and waiting to figure out what exactly she believes, when she too will have all of the right answers like the professor lecturing from yellowed notes, drawing redemption promised and applied on the whiteboard in barely visible marker.

She tries on too many outfits in the mornings. She attempts to dress like a hip young professional three days a week and to avoid blowdrying her hair. She wonders if she’s getting too vain, if people are noticing the scabby spot on her nose from a cold and too many Kleenexes.

She wants to hug the little boy at her placement tight, the one who comes up and leans his head on her shoulder and quietly asks her to read with him, shows her when he gets a scratch, dark eyes desperately seeking hers and strong, small brown fingers finding her dry, pale ones.

She thinks about writing, wonders what shape hers will take. She tries to concoct story for a Fiction class, where her imagination is critiqued and her emotions are stamped with a grade. She tries to form words that make sense and beauty. She’s pretty sure she’s doing it all wrong. She questions her place, her audience in a world of mommy bloggers and Christians with all of the answers and people who somehow have time to write every single day when she’s just trying finish her homework and remember to make lunch. She wonders if she’ll ever make a difference, if her words will ever reach audiences of people she’s never met. She wonders what she has to do to get there. She wonders if that’s really what she wants.

She contemplates art. She thinks that right now she’s making some crappy stuff, something that not even abstract artists would approve. She doesn’t know how to fix that. She hopes that other people are wondering the same thing, that voicing the scary and unfinished is worth something.

She realizes she doesn’t have any answers. She couldn’t write a post advising singles on surviving Valentines Day because she wobbles between cracking snarky comments about couples and desperation to find a valentine in her mailbox. She couldn’t create a list of 4 ways to get more out of reading your Bible because she forgets to most days. She doesn’t quite know what it looks like to live with God, even after reading a book and leading a Bible study about it.

She’s trying to wait in the unsettled, to remember the quotes recommending patience and to let them sink into her soul. She doesn’t really like it. She hasn’t figured it out yet. So she clothespins paper hearts to yarn in the window of her dorm room. She writes grammar tests and grades homework. She skims theology books and sneaks YA lit on Saturday mornings. She eats Honey Nut Cheerios and browses blogs and stays up too late on weekends. She keeps on living. She doesn’t really know what other choice she has.

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11 thoughts on “Answers

  1. I think one of the greatest threats to this in our own lives is assuming others have all the answers, and we don’t. Even your professor doesn’t. 🙂 We have gotten good at pretending we know the answers.

    Also, for whatever it’s worth- this feels like art to me, and it is good. Keep writing, dear.

  2. What makes this post so powerful is that it is coming from your heart and it is resonating with people in all stages of their lives. I could relate to most of it (except the trying on outfits in the morning). I don’t know if you remember I started reading a book called Glorious Mess. Life can be messy, but it can also be glorious in the middle of the messes. Sometimes the answers (or even the questions) can be elusive, but we can find refuge in the Answer in the middle of the storm. Dad

  3. Yes, yes, yes. In both the artistic and Christian communities, there’s strong pressure to seem like we have everything together. We need more people like you who are willing (and brave enough) to admit their uncertainty, because I think if we’re honest with ourselves, all our lives are rough around the edges. Thank you for such an honest and beautiful post, and please keep writing!

  4. I appreciate your candid ability to spell it out like it is! I’ve been contemplating recently how if I knew all the answers to life, I wouldn’t have to trust God, and if I didn’t trust God, there would be no adventure. Sometimes living in the questions–really living and appreciating–is all you can do.

  5. Hi Anna! You don’t know me. I’m just a Mom, and a friend of Brienna’s who FBed your post. Your honesty is raw and winsome. We are all where you are in some way. It takes a lot of maturity and humility to write as you have. I thank the Lord that he’s drawn you to writing. I know as He leads you that you’ll be used by him as you have today in my life.

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