The Deep and Hidden Chambers of the Human Heart

When I began to think about having my own blog, I read a bit of advice about how to start one, how to keep it going, and how to increase visits to your site.  One thing I heard consistently is that one should have a “target” audience.  That is, blogs should have a predominant theme—be it parenting, politics, sports, or popular culture.

I knew then I was in trouble.  For one thing, my interests vary widely, and the thoughts that rumble through my head, like a runaway circus train, reflect that. And, naturally, those thoughts sometimes end up in my posts. In other words, sometimes it’s the lions that escape from the circus train; sometimes, it’s the clowns.  Besides, the blogs I like the best tend to be about a little bit of everything.

But some of you may have noticed that my posts tend to swing in a very wide arc—from happy to homicidal, from touchy-feely to just plain touchy.  Perhaps you’ve thought I should rename my blog Dr.Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde.  Maybe you’ve thought that the menopause I wrote about here was making me a little…moody. 

Well, no.  My kids and husband will tell you that I’m actually a very even-tempered person (perhaps even to the point of boredom) —not prone to moodiness at all.  But clearly, there is a dichotomy here. 

Years ago, I used to read the comic Cathy (back when she was a single girl and so was I). Once, describing herself, she said:  Brain of a cynic; heart of a Precious Moments figurine. Heh.  That’s me.  OK, I don’t really care for the Precious Moments figurines, but you get the idea.
Long story short:  The past twenty years have been very, very hard.  I have no desire to rehash it all here, and I’m sure you have no desire to read it.  So, trust me on this:  We’ve been rode hard and put up wet. 

So, I’m angry.  I’m sad.  And weary to the bone.  And sometimes I veer dangerously close to misanthropy.  But somewhere, in the deepest chambers of my heart, is the spirit of a cockeyed optimist.  There are so many things in my life to be grateful for.  And I am.

Though I am angry at God, I see Him everywhere.  Especially in nature, so that explains my sometimes enraptured essays on the natural world.  What I’m working on is seeing God in other people.  That’s hard for me right now. 

I pray every day that God will heal my brokenness.  I know He understands and forgives me for my anger.  After all, the Kingdom of God is for everyone.  Especially the brokenhearted.  In Isaiah 61, the prophet speaks of Jesus coming to “bind up the brokenhearted.”   In Psalm 34, I am reassured to know that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  And Lord knows, I’m crushed in spirit.
So, please bear with me. Some people drink to deal with pain, some smoke, some take Valium.  I write. Sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter.  But always the truth, as I see it.  It eases my heart and quiets my mind.  Jesus said that the truth will set you free, so my writing has to be honest and true if I’m ever going to loosen these chains that bind my heart.  So, for now…I’ll keep ranting.  I’ll keep raving.  I’ll keep rhapsodizing. 

I hope you keep reading.


21 Responses to “The Deep and Hidden Chambers of the Human Heart”

  1. rhea Says:

    Thanks for the post. Writing is such a great way to help loosen those chains. I enjoyed reading what you had to say.

  2. colleen Says:

    My blog theme is whatever I’m writing about at the time. No, really a part of it has to reflect some of the daily journal stuff or I wouldn’t be interested in it. I’m created a record for me as much as anything else. My favorite blogs are also those that have a wide range of subjects. It’s the writer and his/her sensibilities that I am drawn to.

    Now you have me curious. Mostly I want to say ‘heal well.”

  3. jennifersaylor Says:

    Count on me to keep reading.

    Whenever I think no one could possibly care about me writing about my yard or my loneliness or my classes, I read Dooce or some other good personal blog, and I realize that what really counts is something to say, said well. You do that (and you are doing it) and you can write about Audubon Guides and we’ll all be gobbling it up.

  4. lucky pennies Says:

    Amen to what everyone else said. And as your daughter, I can testify to the fact that you are absolutely the most evenly-tempered person I know and have ever known. And you sure as hell are never boring. Like Jennifer said, you could write about anything and we’ll enjoy reading it.

    And as your daughter, I can also testify to the fact that I have inherited your tendencies as a cyncical, yet optimistic, realist. We love some parts of the world, but we still tell it like it is, harsh as it might be. You have to harden yourself a little when you’re faced with an even harder world.

  5. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Beth, I’ve been MIA on comments for a few posts, but trust me, I am still reading. And I will keep reading. As you said, many of the best blogs vary widely in their subjects. That’s one of the wonderful things about the medium. Our blogs can be whatever we want them to be, because they are an expression of us. As humans we are a widely varying species. That’s one of the great things about us. I think your varied interests are part what makes you interesting.

    We’ve talked about my thoughts on God and your healing, so you know where I stand on that. I have always felt that written expression is very healing. In fact, I have this dream of combining my counseling background and my own interest in writing and someday leading workshops in Writing to Heal. The only problem with that is that I, too, feel broken and I don’t think I’m the one to advise anyone on wholeness right now.

    Sorry to ramble on my comments. Mostly I want to say–we hear you, we read you, we support you.

  6. CountryDew Says:

    I hear ya! My blog isn’t themed, either. Sometimes I wish it was, but then it wouldn’t reflect me – Gemini that I am, flighty and unable to stay with any one thing for very long. Write on! If you’re doing it for you, the traffic doesn’t matter anyway.

  7. Sara Says:

    I love this post. One thing I can’t stand about visiting the blogoshere is not REALLY knowing the people whose blogs I’m reading. It can be very one dimensional. I’ve struggled with what to put on my blog as well. I tend to want to stretch it to the limits and lay my heart open wide but then afterwards I occassionally feel raw and vulnerable when no one seems to relate, ie “no comments”. You’re being brave when you let us see the real you. I say go for it. I love your style of writing and am enjoying “getting to know you” by way of your blog. BRAVO!

  8. June Says:

    I add my name this list. First, about the blog’s varied topics. As you know, my blog takes a shotgun approach too. I can’t imagine being focused only on one subject. And also, about you counting on me to keep reading. I enjoy your posts a lot and I feel like you’re a friend – albeit, a virtual one. By the way, I’ve ordered two more Audubon guides: the one on wildflowers and the one on butterflies.

  9. ronbailey Says:

    As long as you, keep writing, we’ll be here reading!

    And forget the whole theme thing – I’ve tried it dozens of times and never once made it work. My blog is about whatever I am thinking about at the moment.

  10. marion Says:

    Someone who has NOT been broken, bashed, hurt or snubbed is probably the most boring person around. When I lived in Maine, 3 hours north of Bangor, people would say: Well, would you want to drive to Bangor with her/him?

    That was the real test of character. Could you stand this person for 3 hours each direction?

    Maybe that should be a test for a husband or boyfriend.

    And blogs that reflect many interests are the ones I read and enjoy most.

  11. Shannon Says:

    Dear lovely and amazing Beth,

    I don’t often go into my spirituality on my blog as I think sometimes people can discount your political or environmental take on aspects if you proclaim. I’m a card carrying member of the ACLU, leftest, crunchy Mama that is also really involved with my church, faith, and believe on putting my action where my mouth (and prayer) most times is. I’m also extremely highly accepting of other people’s faiths, beliefs and actively study and glean knowledge from philosophy and theology. So….you might not have gathered that from my blog………I don’t really follow advice on one topic of posting…..I keep expanding what my header actually says to just fit what I feel.

    So anyway……

    Today in my Women’s Sharing Circle we talked on the topic of fear and understanding why we are challenged. Almost all the women were able to say that after getting through it, sometimes again and again and again in a relentless roller coaster nature, that they came out stronger in faith and spirit. Topics on the table were job loss, losing a child, family splits, interfaith relationships. I mean serious heavy stuff. One thing that we kept coming back to is the asking of “Why.” Many times it came down to “Why Not” in that all of these things encompass life.

    Sometimes I’ve felt in my life so far that it isn’t fair that I have to be constantly evaluating this- – in my own stories of near and far- – -and then I hear somebody else’s and realize that we are all a river of stories. It’s whether or not you are going to listen to them in your spirit and/or tell them.

    Maybe you are an old soul that is on her final genesis before true enlightenment. Maybe you are a phoenix rising from the ashes to spread your wings soar beyond what your earthly cares have given you. Maybe God has touched you in ways you don’t understand yet and you’re still working on peeling the layers back.

    What I see in your writing so far is a very real honesty and way of looking at the world that trancends the mundane. Maybe your WHY is so that you can now WRITE IT. I think you have novels inside of you waiting to come out…….and I think that your level of experiience in life can now journey into the printed page and into the hearts and minds of others. I think that you have the “it” which many writers aspire to, be it trained or untrained.

    I’ve read your entries so far and wondered if you were actually a Sharyn McCrumb or Barbara Kingsolver writing under a pen name to play with us mere mortals. You go beyond the entry and dive into feelings. I think if you also have this many people writing and responding to such a new blog that you need to have faith that you are capable of powerful things.

    Funny, one of my pastors did an incredibly poweful sermon a couple of months ago where I felt that God was speaking directly to me. It was about friendship and spirit. The major theme is that folks need folks, families need families and women need women. If you want to walk on water, you have to get outta the boat……and maybe your blog is doing that for you in creating a unique chain of communication for yourself that goes beyond what you might normally experience. Maybe it’s a way for you to resolve some of your experiences and be able to fully understand them and move forward.

    Yeesh- – – I so rambled- – – sorry!!!! Your post was just very moving, and I so related to it. I acutally look forward to hearing more of your story. I want to know the next chapter. Shannon

  12. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Maybe some days you mistrust people, but you are still a word lover … and misanthropy is such an excellent word, my friend. I use words to get my feelings sorted out and, if I were not allowed to write, I would not be me. You have a lot of followers already, to look at this line of comments before mine. I have you on my list of blogs, so I can visit here regularly. Thanks for sharing your joys and your struggles, you words and your photos. I’m still looking at clouds, hoping for sundogs.

  13. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Beth, you are a genuinely nice person … so I am passing along the Nice Matters Award. Come fetch it from my other blog:

  14. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    To all my kind commenters: I am truly overwhelmed by your responses…and very moved. In fact, as I read them, I definitely felt those chains around my heart loosening just a bit. So, thank you. You have no idea what these mean to me.
    My confession: I have printed out your comments and read them over and over. Yes, I realize that that might seem a little…pitiful. I don’t care. Because when I feel despair at the state of the human race, I can look at those comments and know that there is still kindness in this world.
    And I’m grateful for it.

  15. marion Says:

    Thanks for your nice note…I wondered why my comments weren’t showing up. Just wanted to add this: I have this enlarged & printed out & stuck to my bathroom mirror, so it is the first thing I see in the morning & the last thing at night, brushing my teeth.

    A friend gave this to me when I was going through a difficult time. (And I, too, came up from a poor background. If you’ve seen the movie A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, you’ve seen my childhood. Except we didn’t even have real furniture…I covered orange crates with fabric to create places to store my books and clothes.) I grew up to represent a US Senator & run her district office, among other accomplishments.

    Proverbs 3: 5 & 6

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

    In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

  16. bluemountainmama Says:

    the first thing i thought of after reading, was this verse in 1 peter, chapter 1:

    “….though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

    He WILL bind up your broken-heart…. i know first-hand….

    i really like your honesty….

  17. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Wow, Beth. Look at those comments! Testimony for you girl. Take a step into the world, let us see your heart and we will embrace you. These comments are a reflection of your greatness, your energy, your grace. Read them over and over and know how you are seen.

  18. ben (aka guitar maniac) Says:

    Man. I really hate to tell you, but I’m already the same way. (It’s the price you pay for an “old soul”) But this experience with a world of wounded souls is actually what made me change my mind about a lot of people… Because after all, I think most cynics, most rebels, most people like that are just broken optimists anyhow. And I can’t imagine that God, in his omnipotence, would deny people like that redemption.

    Rock on.

  19. Queen Winabel’s Parade « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] with one thought, which triggers another, then another, until my thoughts are taking off like a runaway circus train.     Perhaps you have noticed […]

  20. Wednesday Says:

    I was looking for picture of Monarch butterflies when I found your page. I began to read while scanning for the needed pic… returned to the beginning… thoroughly enjoyed your writing. Your page is beyond the common practice of a “blog”.
    It is a breath of fresh air.
    Thank you.
    Your words “So, I’m angry. I’m sad. And weary to the bone. And sometimes I veer dangerously close to misanthropy. But somewhere, in the deepest chambers of my heart, is the spirit of a cockeyed optimist.”

    expressed my current dilemma, care and giving (too often paying the price) or strong and irritated (city life, seems increasingly loud, selfish, thoughtless, destructive (no place for a life form))… I’m not angry with God, my supposition is that I have “free will” to make of it what I can, I’m disappointed that I do not seem to be able to make it easier… in fact while I become more settled in my mind over it all, I seem less able to “cope” with what needs to be handled. How we can heal what went wrong so long ago and if any one person can make an effective difference… It seems to me that those who try will soon be overwhelmed. And still, I expect it will be healed. I’ve had personal expereince with that energy, and it is endless, boundless… will prevail.

    Thank you of this too….
    “I pray every day that God will heal my brokenness. I know He understands and forgives me for my anger. After all, the Kingdom of God is for everyone. Especially the brokenhearted. In Isaiah 61, the prophet speaks of Jesus coming to “bind up the brokenhearted.” In Psalm 34, I am reassured to know that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

    Thank you for reminding me, I feel “refreshed”… Your thoughts, feelings, so beautifully expressed, your honesty… your conversation entertained and touched my heart…. I wish you well, if the rewards would come in equal measure to those, like you, who give so much… Wednesday

  21. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Hi, Wednesday. I appreciate so much you reading my post. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to think that something I wrote almost two years ago still might have meaning to someone who happens upon it, as you have. As you say, I sometimes wonder “if any one person can make an effective difference” and if my small efforts really have meaning for anyone beyond my small circle. Well, reading your kind comment, I realize that perhaps my small efforts do mean something. Thank you for reminding me of that. And, as far as healing, well, I think that is a long, slow process but that it does take place. It’s very much one day at the time for me and recognizing and being thankful for the abundance of my blessings. And always remembering that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

    My best to you on your journey. God bless you.

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