Tuesday, August 11, 2015

when your voice is muted

So there was this conference call.  
I had it on my schedule.  
It was a writer thing so it was kind of a big deal because I've felt called to do more writer things lately.
I told my husband that I would need to be available so he would be POD {parent on duty}.  

9pm on a Tuesday night.  No problem - or so I thought.

We happened to be on vacation at the beach and my 7 year old happened to be diagnosed with a really bad case of swimmers ear earlier that day.  There are plenty of things we don't have on the schedule that still wind up requiring our time and attention.  Can I get an 'amen'?

Nevertheless, I thought I had covered all of my bases.  The kids were in bed.  I had just returned with the needed medications.  I locked myself in our bedroom and was well into the call when I heard the cries and the frantic knocking on the door.

At the very same moment I heard the call moderator say
  In just a moment we will go live to a few people on the call.  
That was me!  
There were over 150 people on the call and I had offered to be one of the ones to make comments and ask questions.  In fact, I was the first person!

I was standing in the hall arguing talking with my husband, trying to listen to the call and give instructions at the same time.  Not only was my daughter crying in pain but her insulin pump alarm was also going off.  I was desperately trying to find a quick fix to buy me a little time to get through the rest of the call when suddenly, the moderator called on me.  At the worst possible time he called on me and - 
   I COULDN'T UNMUTE!

After his 3rd attempt at engaging me, he moved on to the next person.  
Horrified, I hung up the phone. I wanted to cry or scream or bang on the floor.  I was frustrated.  I was embarrassed.
Mostly, I was angry.  Fire-breathing dragon angry.  
Based on the time of month it was, my hormones may or may not have had a part to play, but regardless, the whole scene was very upsetting to me.  

I had something to say.  
There was a community I wanted to engage with and 
I COULDN'T UNMUTE!  
I couldn't be heard.  
What was going on in my real life world was so loud and disruptive and in need of my attention that I couldn't turn away from it to say what I wanted to say.  All anyone would have heard would have been the screaming and the arguing and the insulin pump beeping unpredictably!!  

Has that ever happened to you?  

Have you ever wanted to engage with a community of people that was just barely out of reach?  Have you ever had something you really wanted to say or do but felt paralyzed?  Have you ever had a question that you were so anxious to have answered but never had the chance to ask it?  Have you ever tried to bravely move toward something only to be pulled back in the other direction?    
It's frustrating.  

When I hung up the phone and ended my chance to engage on that call I wanted to completely throw in the towel.  I started thinking crazy thoughts like this...
That's it!  I'm done trying to pursue this writing career!
I'm done seeking out new community!
I'm done temporarily passing off my responsibilities at home to move towards dreams away from home!
I'm done!

But that was partly my hormones and mostly my irrational emotions talking.  I've learned to notice when my emotions start bossing me around and, as hard as it may be, I've learned to force them back into submission to truth.  

It's like one of those creepy little clowns that pops out of a jack-in-the box.  You're just gently turning that handle when all of the sudden he pops up loud and obnoxious and sets your nerves on edge and so you stuff him back inside his box.  That spring inside of him means he will put up a little bit of a fight and you will have to push hard, but you can get him back in there if you try.  I'm not advocating stuffing emotions but I am advocating putting them in their place.  They shouldn't be allowed to steal my attention and my focus and keep me from what is true and important.  

Emotions can be informative but they can't be in charge.

What is true and important is this - life happens.  And life doesn't revolve around me so when it happens it can sometimes be disruptive to me and my big plans.

Even though we plan and schedule and have agendas, there are unplanned moments and seasons that interfere.  It doesn't mean we throw in the towel on our dreams and our passions.  It just means we have to keep the mute button on for a little while.  It doesn't mean we will be stuck on mute forever, it means we have an opportunity to develop patience and perseverance until we are in the position to be heard from again.  

There is a good chance that our muted moments could one day be unmuted.  The situation that, in the moment, could not possibly be exposed, could eventually be woven into our art, our work, our passion.  Instead of being a distraction or a hindrance we learn how to use the threads of those moments to bring color and truth into whatever we are creating.   

In the meantime, we dive headfirst into the muted moments - even when we don't feel like it.
Just because everybody else in the big wide world can't hear us or see us does not mean that what we are doing is not of eternal importance.  It's a sweet reminder of our smallness.

When I hung up that call my emotions had completely taken over and so I had to look them in their little creepy clown-face eyes and tell them to go back in their little wind-up box.  I did this by breathing slow and deep over and over and saying something really spiritual like -
     God, I am about to go completely freako here so I need your help.

Just saying his name makes all the difference.  
It reminds me and my emotions that we are not in charge - He is.

As my heart rate and blood pressure returned to that of a sane and stable person I was able to reengage my muted life.  I was able to apologize to my husband and tenderly tuck my girl into the bed beside me and rub her head until she fell asleep.  And all the while I prayed desperately for gratitude over bitterness
joy over regret
surrender over control
...and it came.

Sometimes the daily work right in front of us seems to be an overwhelming distraction and an unwelcome obstacle to the work out beyond the horizon that seems so much more important and enjoyable - but it's not.  
It's all the same.  
The work in front of us can be woven into the dreaming and the passions and the desire we have to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  
We can choose to let it frustrate us 
or let it free us up 
to live just as well when we are on mute 
as when we are on display for all the world to see.