Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faith in troubling times

I seem to be dropping off the mark recently. I apologize if this blog is turning into more of a diary, but I don't think it was my objective here to just be talking about faith issues in some academic/abstract sense. I meant to engage the stuff of staying alive in our faith, and living our lives with the strength and grace of God in us. So I consider my difficulties in doing that as important as my insights.

I seem to be in a bit of a draining situation right now, where the job that I have satisfies me little and my home situation is rather isolated and often tense. I've worked since March at TeleNoticias, a Spanish-language PR firm, and I moved home to Hastings, initially in prep to leave the city for an internship in San Francisco. After realizing I had to turn that internship down because of its low stipend, I found myself in the uncomfortable situation of living at home with no sense of when I'd be out, while being at a job I wanted to leave.

Since then, I've gotten significantly more depressed and tense, especially after my sister suffered another manic episode and was rehospitalized for the fourth time for her bipolar disorder. Since her release, my family's often been a battlefield between her need to be treated like an adult at 23, and my parents' desire to make sure she's not going to do herself any damage through excessive drinking or drugs. I've been in the middle of it, trying to be on everyone's side, which is kind of tough.

Where is God in this? I reached out to NYU's Episcopal chaplain John Merz last Friday and we spoke about it. He's actually been in a similar situation in his own family: his older sister is bipolar and his anger/pain with her and his parents is very similar to my own, and more intense than mine. Merz suggested the important thing for me to do was to find a way to move out of my home. That's actually the same suggestion given by my priest, and my boss.

I'm doing what I can in that regard, and in the meantime, trying to make sure I'm not getting fired from my job. It's very isolated work for me, being in an office all day by myself. My boss is helpful, but I can see he's growing frustrated with me as my questions are often vague. I think I'm giving him the impression that I don't understand very well what I'm doing, and that's often very true.

Today, he told me that I needed to become more of a self-starter and if I see projects going on, not only ask if I can help, but know the details of projects from the checklists I've got and ask where he is on steps A,B,C and whether I can help on them or steps D,E,F. David very much wants detailed questions and detailed informed offers to support him. It's stressful for me, but I'll work to get better.

I think God comes in forgiving myself for not being perfect, for being stressed, for being frustrated, and perhaps unprepared. God comes in helping me see that my work performance does not reflect my value as a man, and in remembering that my tense state of mind does not have to take over my soul as well. It's a damn tough thing to find balance when both work and home have the potential to drive you crazy, but I'm working at it. And I know that every glimmer of strength that comes through me is a gift from God.

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