The Struggle is Real

I laugh a lot. Jokes, my own misfortune, my husband’s consistent silliness, my roommates’ jokes, my co-workers’ laments. I am blessed with laughter. But within that laughter lies a new type of anxiety. The world around me is filled with concrete, homeless people, and the mentally ill who roam the streets without help. Trash litters the streets and entitled people behind the wheel of every car swerve around me. Here in the Oakland, gentrification takes over, block by block. And many of the people around me are just as concerned about how their pants fit as they are angry about the political climate.

And I. Can’t. Breathe.

I can’t find the freedom I once so easily enjoyed. Are times changing? Is it my current city and surroundings? Is it the constant protesters outside the windows of my office? Or am I struggling to look for and find my God who has been so easily spotted in the past?

I have been spoiled. Spoiled by community, safe places to live, a family who loves and adores me. I have been spoiled by good friends always ready to listen, to pray or just to be with me.

Where is my God?

Am I too weak to find Him here? Do I not have the strength and the faith to be a leader amongst the heaviness that keeps me up at night? Do I just need my mommy, literally and figuratively?

I thought I was strong enough. I thought my faith was deep enough. But faith was never meant to be practiced alone.

Where is my God?

I was taught to see You in the homeless man. In the road-rage-filled hipster trying to get to his organic leaves. I was taught to see you in the beauty of the sky, in the sound of the waves and in the depth of my heart.

Where is my God?

And why can’t I find you in those things? The heaviness of the world around me crashes in and I am not strong enough. I do not have enough faith. My God is by my side, I know this, for without this deep understanding I would have given up, gone home, crawled in a safe place. But I can’t see my God. I can feel Him close, but one gust of the wind and I live in fear.

Where is my God?

Fear my car will get broken into, again. Fear my husband won’t make it home from work because of an accident or crime. Fear that the big earthquake will finally take us all. Fear that I will be hurt or my family will suffer.

Where is my God?

How can I find You again? How do I experience you in THIS place? Where I am now, where I live and breathe and with who I am surrounded.

I can’t breathe.

But I can. Everyday I get up and face the day. I walk in and out of responsibilities with the strength I have left. I contemplate going home to the ones I miss so wholeheartedly that it hurts constantly. I ask my God for help – for reassurance, for whatever it takes to make it through the day.

I am surviving.

But I want to live freely. Here, where I live, while I am here.

I want to breathe.

And I do. One step at a time. One prayer at a time. One exhale at a time. I breathe, with my God offering me each next breathe.

But the heaviness looms and my energy is sucked up by staying above water. How do I go on?

I stop. I wait. I ask. I seek.

I breathe, and hope, and take my next breath.

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