I am off-center. For the last three days, I have gone to a local chapel to kneel before God just to try to find my way back. At home, I can’t pray, can’t concentrate on Scripture, and can’t locate the stillness. Plastic inflatable nativity scenes and snowmen, unwrapped do-it-yourself crafts, and new books seem to be crowding in. I want to be present and engaged, but am unfocused and distracted. I have checked Facebook, Twitter, texts and email more often in the last five days than maybe ever. And, there are fewer posts on each than normal. I have watched movies that remind me of a different time in my life. I am looking for something, searching desperately.
I wonder if I’m not the only one going through this kind of disconnectedness. I wonder if you too have wandered around Facebook in the last few days, updating your photos, reviewing the timeline feature, reading the “info” about your high school friends. I wonder if you have looked around at the new stuff you have and somehow feel less whole than when you didn’t have that stuff just days ago. There is such restlessness of soul it is hard to even put into words. Something is reaching out, but missing, like trying to grab the next monkey bar with sweaty hands. I am with family and friends, at home, with home-cooked turkey. Why are things just slightly off? Isn’t this the time when I should be most connected and grounded, most fulfilled?
Has something suddenly, yet imperceptibly, disappeared…or surfaced…or shifted? Where is the center? Where has it gone?
Maybe I was never on-center to begin with. Maybe much of my work, my ministry, my life is really about the affection, affirmation and acceptance I seek from other people. So, when I am not experiencing any of these, I am discombobulated and aimless because what normally keeps me afloat and seemingly on target is missing.
Henri Nouwen said: “When you experience a great need for human affection, you have to ask yourself whether the circumstances surrounding you and the people you are with are truly where God wants you to be. . . If you feel a great loneliness and a deep longing for human contact, you have to be extremely discerning. Ask yourself whether this situation is truly God-given. Because where God wants you to be, God holds you safe and gives you peace, even when there is pain. . . .
Every time you do something that comes from your needs for acceptance, affirmation, or affection, and every time you do something that makes these needs grow, you know that you are not with God. These needs will never be satisfied; they will only increase when you yield to them. But every time you do something for the glory of God, you will know God’s peace in your heart an find rest there.” (Keep Living Where God Is, The Inner Voice of Love, Henri Nouwen)
I have not, over the last number of days, felt safe or at peace. I have felt so far away from God. I think my center, much of the time, in my everyday work/ministry/living life, is me. And so when there is no work, ministry, or normal living, I feel off-center because the center is off.