St. Margaret and Seeking Peace

I’m tired of being angry.

I’m angry all the time. Angry at the world. Angry at my (lack of) parenting skills. Angry at how little time there is to think or reflect or write anything meaningful. Angry at racism. Angry at the church. Angry at scarcity and shame. Angry at the copious amount of dandelions peppering our lawn, and one more thing on the to-do list for this suburban life. Angry at sexism. Angry at bigotry and prejudice, violence and oppression. Angry at my exhaustion.

I’m tired of being angry.

Since the twins turned 9 months old I’ve been on a generic form of Zoloft for post-partum depression. The dosage is much less these days since diet and some exercise, and of course, the occasional sleep, lunch with girlfriends, and massages help a great deal. But, it’s still there, like an undercurrent, a discordant melody, and I suppose, one of those realities that will remain in my life for a while. I’m always in recovery from something, I think, but I was reminded that almost anyone who is breathing is likely in recovery no matter what side of those steel bars you are on because maybe the fences around our houses are prisons in their own way. I’m in recovery from a handful of struggles and ailments – the latest being a depression that looks more like anger than numbness, and one that has seeped into so many facets of my life.

I’m tired of being angry.

But, some anger is good, I hear people say sometimes, anger can give you the fuel you need to do the work. To bide the course. To keep the steam going and stay in the fight. Anger certainly does that for me in some things but if it becomes inert and stagnant it turns into cynicism rather than something useful. And I think for me it’s come to a head lately.

Because I’m tired.

Not just the “I haven’t had normal sleep in over five years” kind of tired. Not just the “long run of the day is killing my feet I need new Brooks” kind of tired. Not just the deadlines coming out of my ears kind of tired. Not just the emotional and physical exhaustion of keeping up with the schedule of children – mine and college-aged. I’m tired of maintaining anger as if that is the only nourishment for this life. I’m hungry – seriously, on my hands and knees famished – for something else.

I’m longing for peace.

It’s constantly chasing me down especially these last couple of years, and lately it comes to me in snippets and morsels, like crumbs tossed off a table or scraps that have fallen off the kitchen counter. Like flashes of light on my periphery as I grope my way through the darkness trying to find a way out. Like the sound of a melody I once sang without even thinking about it but now I can’t remember the notes or words.

Thankfully, it’s persistent, peace won’t give up on me.

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A friend from high school sent me this lovely artwork last week. It was born out of dreams and stories, conversations and revelations about St. Margaret.

St. Margaret of Cortona came to me as I contemplated more intentionally working in spaces that provide not only hospitality, but also solidarity with those labelled homeless in our community. One such place is the Shalom Community Center, and as I’ve blogged already it has become a place for me to simply be and serve, to receive and learn. St. Margaret of Cortona is the patron saint of the disenfranchised and the marginalized, and she came to it after losing the love of her life. But she’s not the only one. St. Margaret of Scotland was a Reformer in her own right as queen of Scotland. She was faithful in her work and ministry through helping to enact numerous ecclesiastical reforms, being spiritually and religiously devout through attending church services and personal prayer, and finally, caring for the orphans and poor. The other St. Margaret is a bit more provocative but important to me – Margaret Cho. A rare Asian American female comedian I have grown to admire her moxie in connecting art and politics. She is unabashedly who she is – something so refreshing in light of the culture of our childhood upbringing. All these Margarets advocate for a bigger dream and another possibility, and reflecting on their stories has nourished my heart. And, this gift, this icon of St. Margaret stands as a guide.

I realize though that more significantly all these Margarets embody the possibility of a life lived in peace and in pursuit of peace, a life that is rooted in peacemaking, and what I am seeing as an expression of wholeheartedness. I want to follow in the way because this is the way of Jesus.

“Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges in my life right now is knowing I am enough. Who I am is enough for the writing, the very periodic speaking and preaching, the parenting, the mentoring and ministering, the living. I try too hard to do too many things awesomely, I realized this last weekend. I think it made me see how much this stems from a fear of scarcity, of not being enough, and that ultimately, it is what fuels my anger. Living in pursuit of wholeheartedness, in peacemaking within myself and thus, outside of myself, this is what I need for recovery – recovery from anger and self-loathing, resentment and ingratitude, bitterness and jealousy.

I’m often paralyzed by this – whether it’s feeling acutely that lack, or feeling in crashing waves that anger, or feeling hollow from the absence of peace, and it was enough to throw me off when it came to any kind of expression lately. But, I will take a cue from St. Margaret. To listen and wait. To trust those scars and markings of the journey on my life. To keep on seeking and living that peace because it will sustain my life.

Being a peacemaker means cultivating more than just an aura of sleepy calm. It means embodiment of Gods promise in the midst of chaos.Click To Tweet

12 thoughts on “St. Margaret and Seeking Peace

  • April 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm
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    Mihee, thank you for your candor about the significant challenges you face, ones we all face. Knowing we are enough is an ongoing process of forgiving ourselves and modifying our expectations of ourselves. And letting go of anger at the injustice, unfairness, wrongness of life on this plane is very difficult. Anger that interferes with joy and yes, with a sense of peace, does not serve us well as we strive to serve. Your thoughts inform my own struggle and I am grateful to have read your piece..

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:03 am
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      Thank you, Wendy. This is such an ongoing process, but thankful for all those moments of experiencing peace that remind me of who I am – the work in the DR is one such that I hold so close to my heart. Of course, so fitting! I love the Foundation for Peace.

  • April 19, 2016 at 8:56 pm
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    Yes, I think if we are honest about it, we are all in recovery from something.

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:02 am
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      Recovery from life, yes!

  • April 19, 2016 at 10:09 pm
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    Your observations bring a sense of reality to the Superman mentality of “I can do all things in Christ”. Any notion that God’s work on earth needs me is an abuse of the Gospel. God loves me in my failings and if I happen to stumble over something that is Good, so much the better.

    Mike

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:02 am
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      “God loves me in my failings.” Yes. Thank you.

  • April 21, 2016 at 2:48 pm
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    I have some observations which may sound harsh but which are well-intended
    You are way too focused with skin pigmentation over character. You hate white colored people, and though you have married one, the hatred is damaging you, as hatred always does. Focusing on the brotherhood of humans, I suspect, will bring more contentment.

    Concentrate on your own sins and weaknesses, combat them, tell us how you do it, and you may not feel so tired.

    • April 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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      I will simply say: your observations are completely false and inaccurate. Though you may read this blog you really don’t know me at all.

  • April 22, 2016 at 1:01 am
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    Wow. Perhaps Resurrection has just found you! Thanks for your honesty. May the PEACE of Christ be with you and may you discover that you are enough.

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:01 am
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      Thank you, Catherine – and to you, sister.

  • April 22, 2016 at 2:17 pm
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    Thank you so much for this piece, Mihee. I never, ever comment on blogs, ever, but this piece (and the one from after Easter) feels almost like I could have written it (only not so well). Me too. Me too. Witnessing.

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:01 am
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      Thank you for hearing me and seeing me. And for being you in it! So encouraged.

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