i am not in charge here

It feels fair to describe last week as traumatic.

A scant two weeks ago I lost a housemate to something, I may never know what – to something called “sadness” and probably my own failures and certainly those of  many other people. “Intentional community” of three suddenly downgraded to housemate-dom, friendship, whatever other words describe a dyad.

Three days later I lost my other housemate, my house, and a lot of trust to all the same mistakes, piling up like the snow outside and breaking everything at once after six months of trying and hoping and striving to hold it all together. The program is ending. Your housemate is leaving. You have 72 hours to find another place to live. I had weathered a lot of dysfunction, disappointment and pain on stubborn hope and the sense that everyone was still trying, but here we all suddenly stood, defeated.

How dysfunctional is too dysfunctional? Do some things, relationship-buildings, take longer than a year? Was our little family doomed to disintegration from the beginning? Maybe there will be answers eventually, but there is this to be said for the living-together brand of “intentional community”: like your real siblings, you share more experience with your housemates than you can really explain to anyone else.

So what does it mean to be the last one holding onto a commitment, like someone forgot to tell you recess was over and you’re holding one end of a jump rope alone? Was it foolish after all to care and reach out and pray so much for people who so often seemed distant, even unreachable? Or was it foolish not to care and search for patience and pray even more?

I already felt fragile, brittle in the February cold, and now these relationships were abruptly terminated or redefined beyond recognition. Nothing about the year made sense; it was Ash Wednesday and I had never felt so deeply that humans are all of us all dust. Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit and I had followed without knowing – but here I was, stranded.

Or so it seemed.

This year’s refrain, the Spirit’s voice sometimes frustrating me: you can’t do everything, you can’t fix everything, it doesn’t depend on you; an overwhelmingly supportive community at my worksite church, caring friends there, an over-and-above boss, and a devoted boyfriend – all buoyed me even in this chaotic sea.

Maybe I could have done more before it came to this. Maybe I will reach Judgment Day and all my failures at community will be replayed for me. But I doubt it. I am far more inclined to believe that such wonderings are mostly fruitless. I gave this year to God and God, I trust, has not dropped it. I asked for guidance and did my best and grew and tried some more, and this is what occurred.

And what occurred has overwhelmingly smacked me upside the face with the simple truth that I am not in charge here. I was not good enough to fix it.  No human was. Forces conspire. People choose. And outcomes occur.

And then solutions arise. Impossibly cheap, beautiful apartments appear out of thin air, and people rally to help you, and you warily believe some of your damaged relationships might come to something after all. The entirely unexpected news arrives that you’re going to be paid to attend the school you’ve been praying to somehow afford. And before you have the chance to even try to fix it, you find out you were never going to be allowed to fall.


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  1. Jacqueline in Atlanta

     /  February 21, 2013

    It’s called Grace. And your housemates get some, too, when they’re ready to receive.

  2. Rusty

     /  February 21, 2013

    It is never wrong or foolish to care. Our world suffers because not enough people do. Remember Tennyson telling us about loving and losing? The same goes for caring. We are better people when we care. It transforms us, if no one else.

  3. I’m adding you to my prayer list. I’m very sorry that you’ve gone through this. My door is always open.

  4. Ah, this is both sad and hopeful and my instinctive response is to want to hug you. Is that weird? It probably is because we don’t actually know each other. But I’m praying for you & for this next transition and all the relationship shifts.


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