I’m in love with stories that have lots and lots of angst lately. I don’t do well with any sort of violence, but I want my characters to suffer deep emotional stress. There’s something so therapeutic about writing/reading stories where the characters are stretched far beyond their capacity to function and then things still work out ok in the end. Basically, I want my characters to at some point be so overwhelmed that they aren’t quite sure how they are still breathing–but I need to know that there’s hope for that level of stress to still get resolved in the end. I love that quote from Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks says: “Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out…” I can’t tell you how many times it’s run through my head in the past year.
Anyway! Yesterday I was complaining to the Lord that I’m so tired of feeling in over my head. I’m tired of fighting to breathe. And I got this picture in my brain: drowning. Now, stay with me here. So, drowning involves (at least some of the time) being in over your head, right? Now, keep that in mind and I’ll come back to it.
Because of my love of angst, I’ve felt the need to bleed on paper lately, so I’m tormenting some of my favorite characters (Lois & Clark) by writing a nice angst-ridden fanfic. I love the period right around when Lois almost marries Lex Luthor (“Barbarians at the Planet” & “House of Luthor”). Both her and Clark are pushed to the limit, and it sets in motion the beginnings of changes in both of them that are explored in later episodes. However, I’ve always been a bit dissatisfied because I felt like the writers of those episodes could have worked a lot more change in the characters. All that angst creates a great opportunity for people to re-evaluate their lives and their characters and then to change. Granted TV writers aren’t trying to wrap things up quickly so maybe they had good reason for dragging the whole thing out.
When I was thinking about drowning and how all the angst in my fanfic provides great opportunities for change, the picture expanded to include birth. I don’t know how much you know about birth, but I had issues with getting both my daughters well-positioned (highly recommend http://www.spinningbabies.com for that sort of thing!). Labor with a malpositioned baby is no fun for the baby or the mother. With my first daughter, she was malpositioned and then we went into the hospital and we were young and ignorant so when they said I needed to have my water broken for the safety of our child, we went along with it. Unfortunately, when they broke my water, my daughter was then wedged in. In the wrong position. On top of the umbilical cord. It was a quick way to an unnecessary C-section. See, the reality is that the amniotic sac and fluid are how the baby repositions itself to be in the best position for birth.
And here’s where drowning comes in. Being in over your head means that you are in plenty of water to be able to move around. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it feels wretched. Lord knows, I know it feels wretched. And yes, it means that you are 100% dependent on God to provide you with air. But my greatest fear is that I will get to the end of my life and I will have been stagnant–whether that means I’ve refused to change because I’m afraid of change or whether I simply become complacent or content with things I shouldn’t be content. Drowning means I have the opportunity to become someone else. I can make the 180 required in true repentance. Drowning actually gives me more space to maneuver. So from now on I’m going to work to re-phrase my thinking. Instead of asking myself how I’m supposed to keep breathing through all this or telling God how much I feel like I’m drowning, I’m going to remind myself that I’m being birthed. Instead of fighting against all that movement, I’m going to remind myself to be open to getting well-positioned.