Honestly, honesty is one of those subjects that bring out the worst in me. I like to think I am an honest person but my reality reveals me in a world of fabrication, exaggeration, and denial.
I make junk up.
For instance, if you call me and I am sleeping...I will try to make you believe that I am not.
"no. not asleep. just resting here. with my eyes closed. but I was about to get up anyway."
Now I can see how a person might want to pretend to be awake if they are caught napping by their boss in the middle of the workday. But tell me the sane reasoning behind feigning alertness when you are awakened at 7 am by your dad (or some other crazy morning person) who just randomly calls you before you have had your morning pee.
Am I trying to hide my slovenly nature? Is this an attempt to claim admiration? what?
How about this...I am driving in my neighborhood and I see this car with a wild paint job. Days later I see another car with a wild paint job. Might even be the same one but you don't really think about it. Another day, same neighborhood, crazy paint job car is spotted by my kid.
I might find myself saying "I know!! What is up with all these crazy paint jobs? I see these cars everywhere!"
I clean up the house. I do it every day.(see that may or may not be the exact truth)
I pick up shoes and clothes and other stuff. I get irritated at a kid seen dropping his coat on the floor. I might be heard saying "Get your coat off the floor! I picked up your coat at least four times today!!"...whether or not that is the truth.
I am supposed to be at a family function at 3pm. It takes 1 hr to drive to said function. I will get caught up with something and actually leave my house at 2:25. I will wait til I am in my car before I call family member and tell them..." We're on our way. Be there soon!" I will say this in such a way as to lead the listener to believe that we are almost there instead of revealing the reality that we just left and we will be at least 25 minutes late.
I know I am not the only one who has a problem with this.
"I will be ready to go in 5 minutes."
"Mommy just needs to finish this up. It will only be a sec."
"I'll be right there."
"Please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can."
(this one could actually be truth in some parallel universe. Problem is, I live in denial about how soon "I can" really is.)
What is the matter with me?
I am going to attempt a little self psychoanalysis here.
I hate conflict. I hate for you to be upset. I hate for me to be upset. I don't want to look bad. I want you to like me. I want you to believe the best about me. I do not want to admit that I have failed or fallen short of the "norm". I want to live up to your expectation. I want to exceed your expectation. More is better. My reality is not good enough.
Will the world spin off its tilt if I tell the truth? Will my technicolor life fade to gray if I reveal the unexaggerated facts? Will I physically shrink as you think less of me based on my realistic time approximations?
Let's try it.
"Yes, I was asleep. It is 7 am. I will be up at 10."
"Cool. I have seen that car a few times now. Maybe they live near here."
"Pick up your coat if you want to live." (ok...that is as truthful as I can make it)
"I am going to be 25 minutes late. I am just leaving. I am sorry to be late."
"I don't know how long this will take. I will try to be quick."
Learning to live in reality. It is a hard thing.
Note to self (and others) --
Face your own limitations and understand that your denial of the physical laws of nature (ie; time, distance, money, personal accountability) does not bless the ones around you as they wait for your super powers to be revealed.
Topic two...for another day....
Making promises you can't keep.
this is the one where I get all snarky (and say a bad word)
--does Jesus hang a stocking
this is the one where I apologize (but I might not really mean it)
--here's me with a little more grace
and this one is where I get all misty (but don't make you witness it)
--singing loud for all to hear
and sick is as a colorless rainbow
completely useless in its existence
unless of course one sees the benefit of white celled war
one hardly knows just how to set a peaceful cap
on sniffles rife with snot
and coughing lungs all blown apart with rifle shots
amongst the dire need for sleep
will this day end
one questions yet again
while watching one and nother of the group go down
a viral epidemic with a piteous grip
it holds the family captive
they moan and groan
and wish for retribution
but it will not be found
for I am sick...
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
I want to give you a short rundown on something I have just found out.
It seems that there is a biotech company called Senomyx that works with food and drink companies to find ways to enhance flavors in their products. If you look at their website you find that they are noble in their desire to reduce the amounts of MSG, sugar, sodium and other additives in products. They do this by using "isolated human taste receptors" that will react chemically with these new flavor enhancers in ways that taste tests alone would not.
What they fail to mention is that the isolated human taste receptors are from Human Embryonic Kidney cells (HEK) from a healthy, electively aborted baby.
They are using aborted human fetus cells to research ways to make your food taste better.
Read that again.
Some of the companies that use this technology...
Ajinomoto (leading maker of aspartame)
Firmenich (perfume and flavoring company)--think fruit juice, jelly, yogurt, etc...etc...etc...
I am really distressed.
I realize that I have no TV and maybe I am way behind the times in this issue...still...this is just so horrible.
I did not want to write this out as a crunchy granola eat healthy or die propaganda letter. I just wanted to let you know. Because I figured you would want to know.
Here is a link for a website that I do not necessarily endorse it just seemed to be a pretty concise summary with some links and further information.
Seems every year that my children drill me on why we don't "do" halloween. And every year I have to explain why while feeling a burden to educate them but not creep them out too much.
So...we talk a bit about ancient beliefs, all hallows eve, dead walking around, bad spirits wanting to inhabit, costumes to try and fool the spirits, tricks cuz "hey we're in costume we can get away with it", treats to ward off tricks, devil worship, creepy costumes vs nice costumes...
blah blah blah.
Then we talk about how creepy it is to go house to house begging for candy... from strangers.
I mean seriously, if you are young enough for that to be exciting then the practice is just confusing and dangerous...if you are old enough to understand why it is confusing and dangerous then you need to go buy your own dang candy.
Candy that yer mean ole mom will take away from you as soon as you hit the house.
Plus, even if you are a fairy princess or an angel or a teddy bear you are likely to be met by a bloody serial killer, brain eating zombie or demonic alien hooker witch...these visions combined with a sugar high are sure to be a deadly dream combination.
I hate halloween.
I hate the Spirit stores that open up each year and make me try and get my children to look the other way until we get past. (it almost never works)
I hate the general love of all things gross and evil and bloody. I hate that it comes right up into your everyday living space and sticks its demonic tongue out at you.
You can't buy cereal or tampons without someone with a machete buried in his head telling you to "have a nice day".
And why do waitresses all think that slutty-witch is an appropriate costume for an otherwise family friendly eating experience? sheesh.
I hate halloween.
I think sugar is pretty much evil in any amount outside of the barest of moderation. I don't go down the candy isles.
I just pretty much wear the "don't even ask" look while at the checkout line.
Don't get me wrong...I like candy. I even buy candy. But when we have candy we eat it.
So we don't have it much. got it?
I refuse to let my children go door to door begging for poison so that they can bring it home and be mad at me for trying to do what's best for them. sigh.
I hate halloween.
I don't have the strength today to talk about devil worship and how the church seems to have embraced it with a sweet "but it's all fun for the kiddies" mentality. Another time.
I hate halloween.
Ask me next year and I betcha I will have new reasons. Seems the list keeps growing.
for nothing else can satisfy
like lips speaking softly
yours on mine
a dance of flesh on flesh.
No words are needed
for the language of the kiss
communicates fond wishes,
imparted upon parted lips
in sentences too deep
for verbal utterances.
the culmination of a thousand looks
eyes closed we see much more
than sight alone can tell.
and having met,
the longing grows far dearer
I search for loves sweet ending
eternal new beginning
in your kiss.
Change is good, right?
Really the change is happening in me. And since I am becoming something different it seems natural that how I react and interact with my life is also going to change.
So let's get down to brass tacks.
What is changing?
I am learning that I have built my life on an elaborate series of untruths.
(I am sure we will see additional posts about this)
One thing that has recently been revealed to me is that I think my people are Awesome.
with a capital A.
The basic untruth here being that I need to live in Awe of them.
The ugly truth here...I put people on pedestals. Wayyy on up there. In my desire to believe the best in people I have inadvertently held them up with my esteem to the point that the only way they could go was down. And down they have come. Over time. All of em...
One by one.
It isn't as tho I think them perfect. No. I see that they have faults. It is just that their faults have not directly affected me so I magnanimously allow them to remain in view so as not to heroically brand my loved one.
Hero worship is dangerous. Everybody knows this.
So they get to be imperfect. But still awesome. After all, I love them...so they must be all that.
But then, inevitably, they do the deed that affects me personally. Their fault hurts me. Or worse, someone I love. And they fall.
Sometimes I reach up and yank them down. Either way...boom.
And this falling...it hurts us both.
It hurts me because it feels like betrayal. Personal. And painful.
How dare they? If they reveal that they are not what I have believed them to be then they must have been perpetrating an untruth. Lying to me.
Leading me on with promises.
Sure, my expectations may have been absurdly unreal but they were a party to it.
They stood up on that height and went along with me on with my distorted reality trip.
(they are very multi-taskual you know)
But they have been found out.
Now I know them for what they really are; liars. And that stings.
I am now hurting.
You know, I really don't get their hurt...because I have been supremely fair in my pedestal building. They may have known I was building it and may have been working extra hard to keep themselves within the confines of the platform... But I gave them lots of room! I mean, I allowed them their various imperfections. I knew they had their faults. I even let them keep their faults on display. As long as it didn't affect me or mine they were free.
Ok, so maybe they had no idea how high they were being held. Maybe they thought it was just a small podium. Just a little adoration footstool of shiny thoughts. Me in love. Maybe they were ok with that. What is the harm in a little bit of lofty expectations? If you get tired you just step off.
If that is the case, surprise surprise surprise, that first step is a loo-loo.
They crash and burn then brush themselves off and look up to find my looks of disappointment...disillusionment...disgust even.
No longer are they high and lifted up. They have been found out.
Maybe I can see how that would hurt them. I can give you that it could possibly be unfair.
It's not right you know...putting people on pedestals. But I do it. Have done it all my life.
If I like you, I like you a lot. You are wonderful.
Do I like you because you're wonderful? Or are you wonderful, because I like you?
(lyrics loosely from a song I heard once.)
I want to like you. I want to create a cushy place in my heart for you where we can be friends together and never disappoint one another. I know you will fit there. Not like all those other cretans. (from the urban dictionary: someone who is an idiot and lacks gravitas)
They have shown their true colors and abandoned me. No. You will be different.
You are wonderful.
Feel that pedestal rising up like a barbers chair? pump, pump, pump...
You might feel it happening and protest. But I am quick. I rush in with assurances of our mutual imperfections. This makes you feel better. What you don't know is that your protest just accelerated the pump action on my hydraulic pedestal raiser upper.
Being aware of your weakness makes you just that much more awesome.
There is no winning with me. sigh.
Here is how it goes...
We meet, I fall in like, you live up high while I tend to your needs, you fail here or there but I don't take it personal, you try to let me know your weakness, I reassure you, you let me down directly, your pedestal crumbles, I feel terribly hurt, appologies and forgivenesses, I help you re-assume your pedestial position....
I am so tired of living this way.
So what has changed? Rather, what is changing?
Well, I am now aware of my predilection for pedestal permutation. It is a harsh taskmaster for my heart. Assigning you a level of awesomeness and watching you from below is tiring. It does feel empowering in a way because it is like creation. Sick.
You become my plaything. My opus.
And when you crash...I fail. Because really, your failure is a reflection on me. I created you after all.
That is excruciating, exhausting, and again, supremely unfair to you (and me both).
I mean it! What a rip off that I created you, this awesome monster, and I am the one who gets all in a twist when you act as yourself (but in a way that offends me) and pulls you off the beauteous pediment I so graciously appointed for you. sheesh.
If I were you I would not put up with it any longer.
If I were me I would stop being such a dumbdonkey going around creating complex situations for epic failure.
And that is what is changing.
I am going to try and stop doing that.
I am going to try living with you on the same level. I hope that this will allow you to make your mistakes in freedom. No more being bound by my expectations. You just get to be you.
You might see that I don't treat you as carefully as I once did. You are a grownup. It is time I let you act like one.
Think of it this way...for the first time in our relationship you can really be free to be yourself with me. My goal is to see that and learn to accept it. Let you be you and let me be me reacting and interacting with you and let you be you reacting and interacting with me. Simple right?
I think we will get along better after the initial adjustments. We will both have much more energy if I am not constantly having to reinstate you up on that shiny column.
You can just trip and fall (and I can laugh) and we can move on.
Maybe none of this makes sense. It does get rather complicated. Or maybe it makes a load of sense because maybe you are also a pedestal pusher. I don't know. It is just a peek at me. For myself mostly.
Cheaper than counseling.
Now maybe looking at this makes you irritated because I am so arrogant as to think that you care what pedestal I have you on. Well go ahead and get glad in the same pants you got mad in cuz you can't control it.
But I am gonna try to not do that to you anymore. No promises or pinky swears.
Just me trying.
That is the best I can do for now.
to make things better
breathing is a minefield of regret
sunlight blinds your hope
and comfort bleeds
ones who seem to have it figured out
have left you shockingly alone
tho they surround you with their bodies
and their hands feel warm
their prayers point coldly to a door
where Heaven waits
while you look
for the key
you know the right
and everybody tells you
just exactly how to get it done
but you know...
that what they say is bogus
cuz if they're right
they say to trust
but you are doubtful
they say get still
but you can't stop
they say reading holy words will bring you comfort
but the ones you find just damn you
and that brings sweet relief
because at least it asks for nothing
so you wake up to another day of darkness
jump through hoops
and beat your fists on walls
then feel the guilt
by your lack of self control
you did it wrong again
all your whining and complaining
must have surely sent Him packing
they say (those ones who know)
and tapping holy fingers
rests in peace
til you calm down
then one small thought breaks through
(when) fits of rage
are all you have to work with
one small thought is all it takes
(when) unfairness seems to rule your life
one small thought...
a murmur really
that sounds crazy sane and right
So cry your heart out baby
weep the worry
rivers down your Papa's heart
when it all comes crashing
throw your thoughts
and hurl the doubts
then climb up on the shards
of broken dreams
and flow your tears
and He will call to you
tho you may not hear
He will whisper
and He will cry for you
when all your tears are gone
and lost among the ashes
when you feel emptied
among your dread
raging with you
stronger than defeat
able to withstand
when all the right words
lose their meaning
and the weeping
just open up and throw your head back
so the howls can tumble freely
He will hold them safely
while He weeps
and draws you closer in
This said as the last word in a story about a precious birth.
I still don't get it.
When someone says something like this I always have to think about how unfair it is for all those people who have lousy births because they didn't pray enough.
That thought always feels evil to me.
If you have read any of my past musings you know that I am having some rethinking in the faith/church/prayer/God department.
By this I mean: everything I ever thought about any of that is now being re-thunk.
Prayer is a huge re-think for me. I am actually to the point that I can no longer say "I will pray for you". I tell ya, that feels really strange.
I am not going into all this again. (did I just hear a big PTL?)
I just wanted to tell you my new phrase.
I shall tell it in a short story.
Last night an ambulance pulled up in front of my neighbors house. Her sweetie was taken to the hospital. His health is precarious on a good day. Today it was even worse. She was shaking and headed to her car to follow the ambulance. I told her to call me if she needed anything. As she drove off I felt bad that I did not say "I will pray for you". I could have. But I didn't.
Later I took that up with God.
(Here you might say I prayed...I will say I talked/communed/hung out)
I didn't ask God to make John better. I didn't ask Him to guide the doctor's hands. I didn't ask Him to give peace to Pat. In my "prayer" I just sat with Papa God and loved on John and Pat.
I took a few minutes to think about what I was praying about and what I was not praying about.
And, I figured out that what I was actually doing was trusting.
Trusting that I didn't need to tell God what to do or how to do it.
Trusting that He was there and would take care of everything.
I really didn't need to say "please take care of them and send the right people and guide the doctor..." and on and on and on.
I could think of lots to say...believe me. And all those words...for me...bring seeds of worry.
This quiet trust brought so much peace.
I was trusting them to Him. And trusting Him to them.
I was trusting with them. And I am sure for them at times.
I am sure that this is exactly what some people are doing when they say they are praying. But I am also sure that many prayers are not trust but worry. Then there are the prayers of ordering and begging and cajoling and micro-managing....And that is ok. He can handle all that.
I just don't want to do that any more. I want a new word.
So this is what I am going to say when the moment calls for me to use the "p" word.
"I will trust God with you." "I will trust God for you." "Let's trust God together for this."
If you can forgive my arrogance and ignore any thoughts that I am judging your theology (which I am not) can you give me your opinion on this new term?
What does it say to you?
I am really interested to know.
and then she hauled off and whacked him good.
I bet it felt really good too. At least to her. He had been bugging her all day...as is his way...and she had had it up to here.
I didn't see it coming. The hitting. I had heard rumors on other days and heard scuffles in other rooms but if it had happened before, it was out of my sight. People would get a lecture as I looked down my proverbial nose and shook my verbal finger. But you know, I didn't see those incidents happen. Everything was dealt with after the fact. And honestly, it is easier to deal with minor stuff that way.
This, right in front of me, had to be dealt with. Now.
So I do the drill. (and here, dear reader, you get a front row judgment seat in our court o justice)
"HEY...what just happened here?"
the brother sits stunned
the sister finds many multiple things to stare at that are everywhere but in my general direction
"did you just hit your brother?"
the silence, is deafening...tap tap helllloooo is this thing on???
"did. you. just. hit. your. brother?"
a slight upward motion of the head
sigh. "what has happened that you think it is ok to smack your brother?"
"he was messin with my Belle doll and he wouldn't stop" sniff, sniff...
innocent indignance jumps in..."I was just making her do flying leaps off the coffee table, we were having fun"
I address him first...
"have we talked before about being a bully? about how if you are the only one laughing then that is not playing...that is bullying..."
"so, were you treating her with love and respect?"
"then you were wrong. what do you need to do?"
"uh-not do it anymore?"
"yes...but wait a minute"
now I talk to her...
"I know brother was seriously bugging you but when you hit him were you treating him with love and respect?"
"would you like it if someone hit you because you were doing something they didn't like?"
"does it show that you love your brother if you hit him?"
"what do you need to do?"
"I'm sorry" she mumbles to the floor.
"It's ok" he grumbles.
And there it comes to a screeching halt.
"stop. wait a minute. this is not ok. it is not ok that she hit you. it is not ok that you were messing with her stuff when she told you to stop. this situation is not ok and saying sorry doesn't make it ok."
they both blink at me now.
"I do want you to forgive each other. That is very important. But it might not happen right here and now. Maybe you need some time to think. We will come back to this. But I want you to know it is not ok to treat each other like this."
and we go on.
We haven't revisited it yet. They may have forgotten it.
Or have they? Kids have a way of bringing stuff back up at the strangest times. I am just gonna see how this plays out.
So why am I telling you all this?
Well, (you knew I had a reason)
I am exploring a little something in myself. A little something I have a little trouble with.
A little something I like to call forgiveness.
I would swear on my bottom dollar that I have had no trouble with forgiveness. In fact, I was always the kid that would get upset and then calm down and be the first to forget what I was upset about. I was also the kid that could just brush things off. Didn't let it bother me.
Chose to pick my battles.
Easy going. Peacemaker. People pleasing. Passive aggressive. Stuffer.
uh yeah. it's a slippery slope people.
ok, let's back up a bit.
I grew up with the teaching that if someone did something bad to you they would say "sorry" (usually) and you would say "that's ok" and you would hug or whatever and that was it.
Now, sometimes they would not say sorry.
But you still had an obligation to forgive them. If they came back to you later and said "sorry" you could say something magnanimous like "it's ok, all forgotten" or "pshaw, I don't even know what you're talking about" or "hey, we all make mistakes". You might hug, or cry, or whatever...
Today I am just here to say bull puckey to all that.
I am here to confess that I never meant it. Not one time.
When you said "sorry" to me and I said "ok" to you I was lying.
I never once forgave any of you losers.
I thought I did. Does that make it any better?
I didn't plan your untimely demise. Well....ok maybe sometimes I did.
But I didn't put a hit out on ya.
I just took the not okay-ness and stuffed in a dark interior corner (somewhere near my appendix) and forgot about it.
I just went on with life.
Then one year all that stuffed stuff decided to take a little party trip to ulcerville . For those of you who have never taken that trip, let me tell ya, it's a hoot.
Nice girls gone crazy and willing to bare her emotional headlights for just a couple of anger shooters and a promise of fame. woohoo!
When stuff that you have stuffed starts unstuffing you might want to run for cover. And if you are particularly responsible you might warn your loved ones. In a pinch I guess you could yell
Heads up people.
There might be crying...and yelling. Cuz when you realize that all those "ok'd" things are not ok you are gonna feel really ripped off. You are going to start looking for some doorsteps to lay blame on. You are going to feel victimized and brutalized and then you are gonna feel pissed off.
And well you should. You didn't deserve any of that.
It was not ok. It is not ok.
It has not become ok over time nor will it proceed to ok if you don't address it.
But it is there. It doesn't go away. So what are you gonna do about it?
Well I don't know. I am not your counselor. I am not even your advisor. I do not have this figured out. I just know that I am just now learning to identify that my life has been filled with not ok things. I am learning to identify them and call them what they are.
And that, feels good.
So, maybe you too have identified some places that are not ok...and not forgiven. You know you need to forgive. All the health professionals will agree. I am not a health professional. Nor do I play one on tv...I, like you, am just a schmo who needs to learn to forgive or die a shriveled old prune.
Nobody wants that.
I need to know how to go from not ok to forgiveness.
At this point I don't even know the difference between the two. Let's explore that a bit.
OK means fixed. Over. All right. It means that what you did is excusable. Not as big a deal as we thought it was. Certainly retrievable. Retractable.
OK sometimes means that my feelings in the matter don't matter...or are put aside for the greater good.
The greater good being...your feelings.
Yeah...I'm sitting here thinkin....that really RIPS!
Seriously, I am awwllll worked up about this.
How come your feelings get to trump mine? Why do I have to make nice and put a cap on this situation when you were the one that did the wrong?
What's it gonna hurt you to say the sorry? If you don't mean it then it is just a word. If you do mean it then it might sting a little to say it but you deserve a little sting.
You wronged me and you should bear the brunt of it. You should feel some of the hurt.
Why do I, as the wronged one, have to alleviate your pain with my forgiveness?
Be honest here...isn't that the way you were trained?
What would have happened if your sister said "I'm sorry" and you crossed your arms and turned away??
I thought so.
Such an act would not have a passed unnoticed.
Mom woulda been on you like a duck on a junebug.
"now what do you say?"
"I for...give youuuu..."
"See! now isn't that all better? Everything is ok now."
here's me sticking out my mental tongue. nyaaaaaaa!
(for a kid...sticking out the tongue is kinda like flippin the bird...they just don't know it yet)
It's not ok!!! My arm still hurts. My feelings are still bruised and I want to poke you in the eye.
But I forgave you so it has to be all done.
This situation is not over.
Just like sorry can be just a word...forgive can be nothing more than a word. You can mean it or not. Thing is, true forgiveness is way more than just a moment on the audible spectrum. I believe that forgiveness really comes when we realize that what has happened is not ok and we are choosing to do something about it.
We choose to be no longer passive, letting the unfairness of the situation take our power.
We decide that we will act for freedom. Both for ourselves and for the one who harmed us.
In choosing forgiveness we free ourselves from the weight of hate.
In giving forgiveness we free others from the weight of our hurt.
Sometimes, and I want you to listen carefully here, it takes more effort to drop a weight than it does to carry it.
We have to realize that forgiveness is not a word, it is an action. Seriously, think about it. I can say "I am jumping now" and I can think it, wish it, decide it, faith it, and fake it all I want but unless I put my butt in gear and put some umph behind it, I aint leaving the ground. Same goes for forgiveness. It is going to take some physical effort on your part to make it happen.
Don't get me wrong, God can (and does) do miracles in the forgiveness department. He has ways, that guy. But generally you are gonna have to put some kind of effort into forgiving. And I believe that to develop the muscles it takes you are going to have to do some major reps. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and...to be translated...I forgive and I forgive and I forgive and I forgive.
(maybe Jesus wasn't talking about 70 different transgressions but the same one being forgiven over and over and over and over and over...) (Matthew 18)
Oh my goodness...this is the first time I have ever thought about this scripture in this way!
I was always a little puzzled thinking "what a big loser! why would you be friends with someone who would sin against you so many times??!" duh.
I tell ya, exercising that forgiveness muscle 70x7 for every time you get ripped off is gonna make for one heckuva sixpack. whew!
I got a little sidetracked there and maybe a little too lighthearted.
We have established that forgiveness takes tenacity. What I wanted to talk about is how forgiveness takes courage.
To look at someone who has hurt you...most likely betrayed you in some way...and say to
them "I forgive you" and really mean it to the point that you can feel the blessed release of it...well, that is just almost too hard to think about.
The thing that makes it so very hard is that you have to accept that what happened was wrong. And then you have to move on. And let them move on too.
Let's go back to where I talked about wrong causing hurt and hate. Hurt and hate are burdens.
Big old bulky packages of poo. Weights that are either carried or left behind. When we forgive, we relieve the burden. Put it down. Leave it behind.
And in that action we also turn and lift that same burden off of our perpetrators shoulders too.
Now here is the sticky part...sometimes, I don't want to relieve them just yet...or ever.
I want them to feel the weight.
But, the stinky part here, if I require them to carry the weight...I will carry mine too.
That's how it works.
If I require them to carry my hurt I will continue to carry my hate.
So, practically speaking, it is in my best interest to forgive. It lightens my load. And the bonus, the mysterious part that only God understands, is that while they do benefit...we benefit more. Our heart gets better(maybe not all the way at first). Our stress reduces. Our compassion increases. We see our past better. We see our future brighter. We grow. We get lighter. wow.
And we never once have to say it didn't matter. We don't have to lie down or roll over or take it anymore.
Forgiveness does not mean "i deserved it"or "you had a good reason" or "it's no big deal".
We get to say "dang that hurt! You hurt me. It matters. I matter. That was not ok!"
and then, while recognizing the wrongness we can say the words and do the actions that bring forgiveness and while that does not make the action right, it can stop the perpetual wheel that keeps bringing the wrong around to be wrong again and again and again.
God has given us the power to put a stop to the pain. I wish it were instant. Sigh.
Here is a couple of things I am discovering...it makes my life make so much more sense....
I have always been soooo sorry when I have done somebody wrong. Like, hang my head, sackcloth and ashes, I am not worthy- sorry.
I think that some of that comes from the fact that this is the action I wished to see from those that had wronged me. I wanted them to prove the "sorry". No lip service.
and while I was much too mature and christian to require it of them...my heart wanted them to grovel.
So when I screwed up...I grovelled...or hid. Because that is what my heart required.
You are judged as you judge others???hmmmmm....my heart has been a very harsh judge. ugh.
Another thing I am learning is that forgiveness takes time. People might tell you to be quick to forgive and that might really be the best way but I do not believe that it is always possible.
Maybe we can forgive in layers. I don't know.
If that is how it works then right now I can forgive your lack of self control that resulted in a bruise on my arm but I am gonna have to get back to you about your underlying control issues and how that makes me feel like a toad.
Mostly tho, I just want to be able to take a little time to heal. I might need to process (and think of all the things I coulda/shoulda said at the time) and get to a place where I can let you be free of the pain you caused me. Don't hold yer breath.
It will come. But I won't be rushed.
In simple terms, I am learning to forgive. Yes, I still have major problems with it. But I am learning. I am learning that people are going to rip me off on a regular basis just like I am going to rip other people off. And that is not ok. But I can recognize the wrongness and decide not to hold it against them.
I can hope that others would do the same for me.
One last question. What if they never say “sorry” ?
I want you to think about this...in light of what we have been talking about...does sorry really matter?
Sure, it might help. But does it really play a part in your action of forgiveness?
Just something to think about.
your life story don't mean nothing
to my used up heart
I just try to get through each day
and that has to be enough for me
so go away with your big stories
and your promises of rescue
from the life at least I understand
why do I want to trade it for
some unknown world that sounds too good
all I hear are words of empty praise
for a man I never heard of
from a stranger I have no reason yet to trust
you don't know where I been walking
don't be actin like we're long lost buds
put away your papers and your leather covered book
I don't want or need your good intentions
in my life
stuff your agenda in a secret place and lose it
I don't see the need you see in me
and I don't care to have you point it out
if I don't know you
I don't give a flyin flip about your God
I probably have heard of him before or known him long ago
but that was then
I got to deal with now
what he is to you is really none of my affair
and what he is or was to me is none of yours
if you really want to meet me where I am
find out where my heart hangs out
don't assume you know
because the pity breaks into your comfort zone
don't pretend that we're the same
or that I am like the last poor soul you came across
get to know me
it will not be easy
with my wicked ways
live life with me awhile
and see what I see everyday
then introduce me to the one you love
I bet we will have already met
but silly he is not
he is a thinker of ethereal things that skip along outside the boundaried mind
my son is such a one that focused men would tend to disregard him as distracted
when fact is that he does not idly dwell in nothingland
but takes his journey's road through ethan-world
because the colors there are brighter
my son is such a one that learned men might wonder at his wit and call it half
tho in reality the concept of intelligence
to him is nothing more than folly
he seems to sense the need to think inside the box
but such an act would be as difficult for him
as life is for conformist folks who dare to try and dream outside
my son in younger times could call upon creative muse
and dance his way through childhood games
in ways that made attention paying grown-ups awe
while other children chose to be a tree
this child would chose instead to be the leaves in process of revealing their fall color
when others played charades by being butterflies or bacon
my son became his views of water dripping through a straw
my son cannot quite seem to grasp the concepts of mundane and ordinary
his thoughts instead refuse to leave the realm of the bizarre
he sparkles up the daily grind
with questions that can blow your mind
and often seems too hard to find amongst the wreckage of the logical
he dwells, my son, in all his glory
challenging convention while his spirit soars
refusing ropes that hold him down
from one thought cloud to another
and I suspect he watches with a smirk
for all with ears to hear
I was just a big loser.
One day, I was particularly distraught about how I was unwilling to be like Heidi Baker.
She is this awesome missionary that loves on kids and does fabulous things abroad in dangerous countries and she seems to be really happy and fulfilled.
I moaned to God about how I was just a big wienie and how could He possibly love me when I couldn't even pretend to answer His call like Heidi Baker and go "seek and save".
Well, in the midst of my tears my Papa God whispered something to me. I am sure He had to repeat Himself because I was quite in a dither and not listening very well. When He finally got my attention I was shocked by what He said.
"I never asked you to be like Heidi Baker."
Well, that stopped me in my tear-stained tracks. I got really quiet and began to listen.
God began to lay out this picture for me about how He had called Heidi and how she was able to serve Him in joy because she was following Him. He talked about the trouble that starts when we get sucked into looking at other people's missions and taking them on as our own.
That'll suck the life right outta ya.
Then, He started pointing me back to my life. I started seeing my little family and how we go about our days loving Jesus and learning to be in relationship with Him. I smile when I think about this because raising my children is honestly the love of my life. I am good at it.
I am full of joy in it.
To use the words of Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
I could feel the pleasure of Papa on me. Really feel it.
I listened for a while, and then I started getting all verklempt again about how I wasn't doing enough.
(I am a stubborn one. )
To which He kindly told me to just knock it off.
Once again He said something to me that changed my life.
"When you get really tired and feel like you need to do more just think about this...you are discipling 5 people 24/7. This is what I have asked you to do. For now, I think that this is enough to keep you busy."
He is really smart like that.
My job...my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to introduce my family to the Lord God of the Universe. I have a limited time. I will not do it perfectly. But if I am able to show them what relationship means I am hoping that they will leave me well equipped to do whatever it is that the Lord would have them do. All while really enjoying His company in the journey.
I believe that all other missions are peripheral.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and all your strength.
There might be a reason He listed this first.
I love my job.
and hopefully I swim below the cloudless skies
and wish for wonder but instead find repetition.
Again I think I found the answer
tho the question keeps eluding all my sense of right and wrong.
Does it matter if I judge for pity sakes
and leave the grace and mercy up to God?
Constantly reminded of my lack I pull for shore
the great grey mist my goal.
Can I choose my path by choosing not to follow yours?
Your actions mirror fears I see reflecting back on me.
I do not want your life. I fear it actually.
Your closeness can point out the place
of you is really distaste for myself.
Observation and reception
can weigh heavy on my heart.
Your intentions and considerations
tangled under words and tone.
I will not be consumed because you let me down.
My love for who you are does not completely cover what you do.
Reason is not excuse.
My understanding does not grant you freedom to destroy.
So no, I will not let you batter me.
I will release your life and choice to you and keep mine for myself.
But I will love you still.
Forgiving is a living thing that breathes and sighs and shouts.
Still reaching out
wants to let you in.
And hopefully the wonder will appear
Open theism has a basic belief that the future has not yet been written and while God is omniscient He chooses to not know how it will all work out. Gah!!!
---I need a BIIIG God. I need Him to know everything about my future. I believe as Christians we are filled with power but I do not want to be the determiner of my future.
That said I do believe fully that trusting my Father means there are plenty of opportunities for Him to ask "what do you want to do honey...it is ok to make a choice."
I used to think that I would perish outside of the center of God's perfect will. I now believe that His perfect will is vast and often there is more than one center.
I also believe that when I get out of that will He follows me (in that my core belief is that He never ever leaves me).
He follows me and brings me back. He is bigger than my mistakes.
I am very thankful for that. ----
I wonder if the Lord's prayer is the exact answer to what I have been struggling with for prayer in general.
I struggle with the need that we seem to have to use toooo many words.
I imagine that the disciples were being hassled because pious people had observed that their slacker rabbi did not pray like the elders taught. I imagine that there were plenty of examples of proper prayers and proper pray-ers. There had to be much teaching on what to say and how to say it for the most impact (on God..and others).
With the Lord's Prayer, Jesus seems to be extending his teaching on the Sermon on the Mount where he quite pointedly called out the differences between the old, traditional,ways and His new ways.
So maybe He is telling them here that prayer is not what they used to think it was.
It is simple. It is trust. It is knowing that Father has this alll under control.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Submitting yourself to the Maker of heaven and earth and saying to Him (and to your own heart) that you like how he does things and you would like Him to continue as it pertains to everything about you.
So what is that will that we want done?
Ahhhh...there it gets harder.
I used to be paralyzed by searching out the will of God. Really struggled. Full of fear that I was gonna miss it. I would meditate on the scriptures about sheep knowing the voice of the shepherd. I would assure myself that I was a friend of God and He wanted to tell me His business and I just had to listen.
I would dwell on all the things I knew of God and get really frustrated that the Bible did not tell me where God did his grocery shopping or how long He prayed when He went into the garden and did He cover His head or not??? sheesh.
I would get all worked up because I needed to know what He would have me do. How could I possibly stay in His will with Him if I didn't have a clue what He wanted me to do next?!!
Now, I am one that believes in words of knowledge. I have felt the power of the Spirit to just know stuff about people. A lot actually. But for myself. No.
I would like some life answers for myself thankyouverymuch.
Then, and I don't know when it happened, I just began to relax. I think it happened when I quit going to church. (another subject)
God had always been in my daily life. We hung out. I would live in peace on every day but Sunday. It took years to really figure out that the main message that made Sunday hellday was "here is another way to get it right cuz you are obviously screwing up all the other ways you have tried".
Or to be interpreted in the common vernacular "you suck".
I never felt that way except on Sunday. sigh.
Anyway, back to relaxing. When I quit having to hear God through the static of "Christian" regulations I began to realize that He had been speaking to me all along in such a simple manner that I had totally missed it. His will is just so simple.
He lives there ya know. In love. And every day He invites us to dwell with Him there.
Get this...when we walk in obedience we are naturally walking in love. When we are choosing obedience we are choosing to dwell with Him where he lives.
Yeah, that points back to love. Which points back to Him.
When we dwell with Him we dwell in peace.
Which in the Hebrew...shalom...means wholeness. Peace means wholeness.
That peace that God gives us...completes us. The fullness of God dwelling within us.
His Spirit in us.
When we live in relationship with Father we are choosing to live in His will. It becomes as simple as waking up in the morning. We get up. We brush our teeth. We go about our day. He goes with us. We go with Him.
In His will... if we are paying any kind of attention.
It is too simple for any words. It is living. And it feels like choosing our own way.
It feels indecent and slovenly.
But it isn't!
When we want Papa's heart we get it! His Spirit guides us so completely. We know what He wants. What He is thinking. We just do it and it becomes not just second nature...but first nature.
And then there are times when we aren't walking in obedience. We miss it due to laziness or out right rebellion. And even there...He walks with us. We are going to deal with consequences for our mistakes. But we are never going to be alone in them. He is going to be there to pick up the pieces and bring us back on track.
I really hope I am not filling you up with a lot of churchy words here. It is the last thing I want to do. To be all wordy and useless.
I want to walk with Papa in such a way that I feel His heart beat as my own. I don't believe that doing that makes me disappear. I believe that He created me just the way He wants me and as I grow and change He smiles on me. When I mess up He heals me. And He continues to use me as His. My weaknesses do not scare or surprise Him. He put them there.
He has a design for them.
And I love love love that my heart is continually changing from one that uses those weaknesses as excuses to one that knows that those weaknesses are surely exchanged for His glory.
So in simple words...to find the will of God we need only look for Him. Ask Him where He is wanting to go today. Listen to His answers. Know that sometimes His answers are no more complex than "brush your teeth". Then we move on with the day trusting that He likes our company even more than we like His.
God knows our future. I am sure of this. His amazing freedom lets us choose the path we take and He walks right along beside us...whether or not we are walking in His perfect will for us.
Yes, read that again.
And you wanna know something else? He has this ability to walk with you, know your future, be in your future and work out your future for your good according to His purposes...no matter how bad you stink at your present.
Love Him. Obey Him. Do what you can do today...even if that means that you really mess it up.
Your Papa ain't goin anywhere. He knows. And He has it alllll under control.
Yes, I am one of those people.
So they were talking about seeds and the fact that most seeds available in the market today are produced in one of like 6 (or some small number like that ) facilities.
Get that? There are only a handful of seed producers out there and all of our food is essentially coming from them. Is there a problem with that?
Slowly but surely likes and varieties of plants are being put out of production because they do not meet the real or perceived needs of the consumer in a way that brings in revenue for the seed producers. If it don't sell, we don't sell it.
Well, duh...that only makes sense.
The problem starts when the consumers are left with only a few foods that have been bred for color, taste, longevity, size, texture, blah blah blah to the eventual death of the supporting plant.
Ok I am quickly getting out of my league in sustainable food producing knowledge...let me try again.
In order to make consumers happy and ultimately turn a profit, seed production companies have dwindled the variety in their stock down to the very few best sellers. This has led to a shortage of gene stock among the plants. As plants are bred for certain qualities fewer and fewer stains are introduced. The resulting plants are "purer" and also weaker.
God has designed creation to thrive on diversity.
Sidenote...you know the beautiful strawberries you enjoy so every summer?? Well, every 5 or 6 years they have to have an entirely new breed ready for planting because the old breed will have completely worn itself out genetically and some bug or virus will move in and decimate the entire crop. Strawberries in the wild are not naturally the size of golfballs...did you know this?
So are you following ?
The big companies are the big companies because they make the money. They stay in business. They stay in business because they know how to please the consumer. The consumer has a very narrow idea of what they want. Usually they want bigger, cheaper, faster. The big companies provide this and the customers are happy and they keep buying from those companies and the result is that the gene pool for everything we eat is growing weaker and narrower.
That is a scary thing.
So I am watching this documentary and all of a sudden I feel this parallel.
Big companies=mega churches.
Money=money (and people as commodities) .
Go back and read that section again but insert mega-church in for seed producer. And etc...
Let's put that together and sprinkle a little anti-organized-church angst on it and see what we get.
I started thinking about mega churches. I looked at the trend we have going for churches to get bigger and bigger.
Bigger = success.
More butts in the seats=you are obviously doing something right.
Church goal becomes ...more butts in the seats.
So what happens when you have 10,000 people under the tutelage of one pastor? You get 10,000 sheep (church-goers) grazing in one pasture which leads to over grazing of that pasture for one thing and serious intestinal distress to the sheep if it turns out that that pasture has a parasite or there is a drought...or etc.
Again...What happens when 10,000 christians gather under one voice?
I am not talking about the voice of Jesus here. I am talking about the voice of Jesus as interpreted by Brother Jojo and his desire to touch the world with his ministry.
Maybe Bro. Jojo is a beautifully gifted preacher. Maybe he really hears from the Lord. And maybe he has a day like any normal human where he is feeling a little angsty and he has his panties in a wad because Jojo Jr. smart mouthed him on the way to the sanctuary and now he feels like he has a word from the Lord to the congregation about submission to your elders and discipline of the laymen when in reality the word from God was about parents not antagonizing their children but he missed that part because his self righteous button got all stuck in the on position.
Maybe that day turns into a week and a sermonal series as the "Amen" section gets warmed up, because they do do that sometimes. And maybe church leadership starts clamping down on feedback night because they feel the word coming down from the Pastor about getting things under control.
Whew. I think I need a drink.
Ok. What about that? Do you see that in a mega church scenario Bro. Jojo has unwittingly influenced 10,000 christians with his parental angst?
Maybe you think that was a little simplistic.
Maybe you think "well, mega churches have programs and small groups and other things where fresh thought (food) is introduced".
But do they really?
Or do the small groups feed from the word as presented on Sunday by Bro Jojo?
Is the teaching in the classrooms fresh thought?
Or is it curriculum approved by the leadership for the good of the body (of 10,000) under the leadership of Bro Jojo and his angst?
Could this scenario be viewed as a parasite...or a drought...that will be directly infecting and affecting 10,000 sheep in the very near future?
Could that be a problem?
So that is one illustration...but it doesn't really address the stuff I started ranting about.
Yes, I got off subject. Surprised?
Anyway...I started ranting about seeds and how big companies are narrowing the gene pool in response to what consumers want. Lets explore that for a minute or ten, shall we?
Again lets say that we are dealing with 10,000 people. These people are products of society. Generally, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, these people are sheep.
Sheep in the way that they follow one another, are easily led, gullible, delicate in constitution, susceptible to disease and predators, short sighted, picky, persnickety, and ornery.
Sheep want what they want, when they want it, in a form that is easy to get and they don't really care much about the dangers presented in getting it.
People=sheep. Sheep=people. In mass....bahhhhhhhhhhhh....
Pastors (shepherds in the biblical sense) in their good hearted way want to keep the sheep safe and happy. Pastors in the human sense are very easily influenced by the need to get more. More is better. More Butts in the seats= doing something right.
So, to keep the sheep happy, I think it would be really easy for church leadership to cater to what sells. Shorter sermons...smiley faces. Lighter topics...smiley faces.
Wait...am I proposing long heavy sermons...gah! no!!!
So length and topic are not the main points here.
The main point is about weakening the gene pool.
Let's say that the sheeple are really on top of things. They like pithy, heartfelt sermons that speak to their hearts on a deep level and motivate them to good deeds and higher living.
Now lets say that Bro. Jojo is really that kind of preacher. Let's forget about his angst and concentrate on his strength.
He is really really into helping the poor. His sermons move the people out into the world to help the poor. It is wonderful the things they do to help the poor. 10,000 people hearing sermons every Sunday about helping the poor.
And every homegroup in that church is about helping the poor and it's all so amazing.
Except for the fact that this body of believers has absolutely no skill whatsoever in welcoming anybody into their fellowship. They really suck at it in fact. Newcomers just mess with the chi of the organization.You are constantly having to show them what to do and waste time teaching them technique and proper care and handling of the poor. And children, well, if they can't pull their own weight they might as well play in the street. (except poor children of course cuz they are wonderful)
Do you see?
It is wonderful what Bro Jojo is teaching. But it is one sided. It is always going to be one sided.
And even if the leadership is working together they are still going to come to a consensus for their body that is going to be "one voice".
If we continue to condense our churches into mega communities we are going to start losing our voices. We will, and have already begun to, let the majority rule. We have let our interpretation of scripture come from a few "professional" voices and while that message may be big and shiny and polished it may not be the healthiest way to consume.
But without a diversity of thought and idea and heart and experience and voice we are going to find ourselves all thinking alike. Our thought/food is going to be super bred to only what we want to consume. As the choices of thought get narrower our ability to think outside the box will shrink.
We need think about this.
If you have 10,000 people hearing one sermon you may come away with 10,000 interpretations of that sermon but you still have one central train of thought. In the way that mega churches are designed you will have those 10,000 people breaking up into 1000 groups of people that may talk further about that sermon but still...that one sermon is the core topic.
That one sermon...even if based on a word straight from God is still presented from one man's view.
That is pretty limiting on the vastness that is God.
And that is if they really do home groups well. Mostly those 10,000 people will pay their dues, punch their attendance card and leave having not really thought about the sermon at all much less apply it to their lives. hmmmm....
So what is the flipside?
Let's say there are 10,000 people in small groups meeting in homes not necessarily influenced by one pastor. 1000 small groups doing community stuff in their homes and neighborhoods. 1000 different words from the Lord being discussed and implemented in the lives of the 10,000 people. Say each small group has 10 people. That means there is actually a potential for 10 different ideas and words from God to be presented and prayed and batted about and worked into the lives of those 10 people. 10 ideas. 10 words from God. Not one as interpreted by Pastor Bro. Jojo...ten. Ten words.
(I know I could be exaggerating but let's just go with it) 10 x 10,000 ideas and words that have been developed to a working point.
wow. that is a lot.
If that seems too grandiose...let's not be so optimistic...what if each small group was really kinda narrow minded in that they only wanted one word each week. That is still 1000 words to work from instead of O.N.E.
I know...there are a million ways that this is ignorant and obtuse. I know that I am not exploring all the ins and outs of this vast topic. I am talking about one side of this thing. Something to think about that doesn't necessarily cover all the aspects.
It is just one idea that may be stupid... but it is also possible that it is something worth thinking about. Because all I am saying here is that I never really thought about this before. So I am thinking. That's all. Just thinking about seed...
“Ya wanna take a little ride in my doat tart?” he said.
Her curls bobbed up and down as she climbed aboard his goat drawn cart. She didn’t mind his lisp. She was just so pleased to get to ride in that cart.
A flick of the reins and a gentle, “Dit up doat” put the little wheels in motion.
They rode together in silence for a while before the young lad whispered to his companion,“can I have a little kiss?”
“Oh no!” she wailed, her curls bouncing once again. She had answered quickly, maybe too quickly, for she found the cart drawing to a halt.
“Whoa doat!” commanded the boy.
“Det out den” he said to her as she unhappily climbed out of his goat cart.
“Dit up doat,” his final words floated to her on the breeze.
It wasn’t long until he spied another pretty young lady walking along the lane.
Again he asks the question, “Ya wanna take a little ride in my doat tart?”
Again an eager lass climbs aboard.
It isn’t long before the young boy whispers his next question.
“Can I have a little kiss?” he blushes.
She blushes, also embarrassed, but maybe a little flattered . Still, what is a proper young lady of five supposed to do? She lowers her eyes and shakes her head.
“Whoa doat!” Another heart gets broken as the boy stops the cart.
“Det out den” his heart is heavy this time as he says the words.
“Det up doat”, the words send the little goat steadily onward.
He is about to turn around for home when he sees a pale blue dress at the top of the hill.
“Det up doat”, he clucks and urges the cart faster.
“Whoa doat”, he says and hurries through his next question.
She is climbing aboard before he can get the words “doat tart” out of his mouth.
A quick smile greets him as she settles herself into the cart.
This time the cart doesn’t stop.
His request for a kiss is met with a perky peck on the cheek that almost makes him drop the reins. A broad smile warms his face as he tightens his grip and sits a little straighter in the seat.
“I wish my brother was here” he sighs, and dreamily guides his little goat cart down the hill.
(I never could quite figure out why he wanted his brother to be there…)
This was the first of many stories Papa told me when I was a little girl. His stories always seemed so long ago and far away.
“Could he really remember that far back?” I thought. The 1930’s did seem like a hundred years before my time.
I guess it takes getting older to make one appreciate how close childhood really is.
It must be just yesterday that someone asked me for a little kiss in the cloakroom of my Kindergarten classroom. Almost 40 years ago. A lifetime of lifetimes to my children. My stories seem to fascinate my kids as my Papa’s stories fascinated me. It didn’t really matter when they happened. The important thing to me was that they had happened to my dad.
Somehow, ageless, stories live on. Time may fuzz the details a bit but that doesn’t really matter. It is the thought, the memory, the telling that is important.
The stories are important because they are alive. They live in the teller. The spoken word brings life to events. Firsthand knowledge passed from teller to listener. These are not merely chronological events. Not data to be stored and retrieved for information sake alone. These are happenings. Life changing, mind altering happenings. We hear and we learn. We see through the eyes of the one who’s gone before. We get to sample a piece of life not actually lived by us, yet amazingly and intricately a part of us.
Around a campfire or tucked into bed, on the boring stretch of highway or around the dinner table we tell what we know to each other. We teach one another about family and humanity, successes and mistakes, laughing and loving and living. We open up the stories of ourselves to find that we are wrapped up in the stories of others. Our common ground is found in our uniqueness. No one has our story, but everyone can tell a tale based on the one we just told. We were created decidedly different but absolutely dependent on one another. The stories we tell become our link to one another. A knowing as we are known.
An open invitation into the secret places of the heart. In open hearts we find a place of true community, pictures painted by the words of testimony. We come together to share ourselves with one another.
We learn about each other and that seems to draw us closer. Even the stories that are sad, or unlovely in some way seem to draw us in. We accept the vulnerability of the teller. We get a glimpse of who they were at that time. We also begin to recognize the similarities and differences between the teller then and now. We actually get a picture of their lives.
As we listen to the story we find that the voice imparts a color to the tale. Body language brings a depth to the story that cannot be given to a written page. Excitement or hesitation paints hills and valleys as memories draw details for the listeners to see. The true beauty of the tale emerges through the telling. We find that this picture can never be reproduced in exactly the same way. This is a precious gift. It cannot be taken back. Once spoken it is a timeless, priceless, endless treasure.
We have shared a part of one another and we find that these pictures truly are worth a thousand words.
I got it as a small child when I had a high fever. Most people don't notice it. It is such a part of me that I forget about it sometimes.
There are people in my house that take it upon themselves to remind me.
My children think it is funny to talk about my lazy eye. They ask me to show it to them. They bring it up in conversation.They refer to it at the dinner table.
Sometimes I laugh because what they say is really funny. They get to me that way.
Sometimes I laugh because I am completely astounded at their sheer audacity.
What am I supposed to do?
Have I taught them nothing about manners and respect? Do I call further attention to my eye by yelling at them to stop?
Should I beat them?
Mostly I say "hey! that is not cool. We do not go around calling attention to others by pointing out the ways that they are different or odd."
They mumble something about being sorry. And I truly think they are. I try to keep it low key because it doesn't really bother me and I feel like making an issue of it will only compound the problem. We address it repeatedly...because it comes up repeatedly. Eventually it will sink in.
For now, lets face it, lazy eyes are just funny.
See, I can poke fun at this because it doesn't bother me. I don't remember being mocked because of my eye.
I was mocked because of my buck teeth. Then I got braces so that really isn't an issue anymore either.
(I did make my first child a bit neurotic because I would pray to God and command her teeth to line up in the name of Jesus...until, at the age of four, she asked me to please stop praying for her mouth...sigh)
So the Bucky Becky thing isn't really an issue.
Not. at. all.
Well ok, maybe a little bit.
Wanna know my real childhood issue?
Are you ready?
You heard me. Baseball.
I come from a ball family. Dad was a great catcher. Big brothers were constantly on the field, baseball, football, soccer. Big sister was a mean basketball player back in the day. Little sister could smoke em in Softball.
You might be wondering why I would even step onto a ball field. Well, when you come from a sports family you just do these things. There really is no thought about other options. If you say "I'd rather not play" you will be looked at like Grandma saying "these cinnamon rolls probably aren't worth eating"...nonsense. Of course you want to play.
C'mon Beck! Let's get on out there and hit some balls!!
I remember standing with a bat in hand at Pile-High Stadium (we played in a cow field).
Everyone was so encouraging to me.
"Come on Beck...you can do it. Keep your eye on the ball!"
Now you might just be thinking...which eye?
Think it all you want but don't ask it out loud. Even tho it doesn't bother me I might get irritated.
Don't get me wrong, I would laugh.
And then I'd punch you a little harder than necessary in the arm with one hand as I slapped my knee with the other.
But seriously, which eye? I have this little depth perception problem. I have a really hard time tracking a flying object that is hurtling towards my person at 50 something miles per hour.
Anyone with an ounce of athletic ability will say that such a thing is easily overcome. I beg to differ.
Well, I guess I can't really argue. It is that pesky "ounce of ability" that ruins my position on this matter.
See, I have not one ounce of said ability.
Nor do I want any.
Even tho, as a child I wanted more than breath itself to be able to knock that ball into next week.
But I just couldn't do it.
Honestly, I really should get points for chutzpah. (hoot-spa)
I would stand at the plate every Sunday afternoon and and beg for God to "please for everything that is good and right, please please please let me at least make contact with the ball".
I don't think He ever said yes.
I think I would remember.
I do remember feeling the humiliation of having the other team motion all the outfielders inside the baseline.
Yeah...that'll stoke your confidence.
The pitcher would walk forward to about midway between the mound and the plate and lob a gentle one right at my bat. I believe a toddler could have hit that ball.
A toddler with two good eyes that is.
I am ok with the fact that you are snickering.
I was mature enough to know when to swing the bat. I was just not capable of swinging it a straight line which is what was required to actually hit the ball.
I would swing mightily. And the ball would laugh as it hit the catchers glove. Nobody else laughed. They were busy yelling "good try Beck! Watch the ball, Beck! You can do it Beck!"
"Keep your eye on the ball Beck! " they would chorus and I would watch...as the ball danced its way past my bat two more times.
I knew how to watch the stupid ball ok? I just didn't know how to hit it with the stupid bat.
The very best thing about baseball was each time my at-bat was over. My torture had ended.
I did not step away from the plate in humiliation hanging on me. I stepped away in relief. I was done.
Praise God! (even tho He didn't say yes to my plea.)
I would return to the sidelines and read my book while my teammates took their turns at ball smacking.
I was free...until the next part.
Actually, the other part of baseball was not nearly so bad. In fact you might say that it was kind of payback for the batting humiliation. This part was called "in the field".
Now, when I say in the field, I mean in the field. That whole depth perception thing...yeah...I was no better at catching balls than I was at hitting balls. In fact, if you can believe this, I was even worse at it. At least I had an inner desire to hit the ball with the little stick.
In the field I had no desire, not one, in any part of my body, nope, no desire to catch that ball.
This is why they put me in the field.
Because they knew.
They knew from experience that should the ball come towards me I would duck. Or move out of the way. Maybe,on a good...really good...day I might stick my glove out but you can bet yer bottom dollar I would be praying hard for that ball to land anywhere else.
Picture me, wayyyy out in the field in my polyester shorts and buck teeth squeezing my eyes closed while holding a glove bigger than my head out in front of me and chanting "pleasegodpleasegodpleasegod-not-in-the-glove".
He always answered that prayer with a yes.
Then the ball would bounce and roll on past and I would open my eyes to see the rest of my team windmilling the air and shouting "GET THE BALL BECKY!" and I would turn and chase the bouncing ball and pick it up and throw it towards the infield and it would fly.
About three feet.
So I would (sort of) run up to it and pick it up again and it would go another three feet. And I might do this one more time before some big boy would lumber out and pick the ball and launch it all the way to home plate. Which was a good thing because that was where the runner was heading by now.
I think they should have been smarter about putting me wayyyy out in the field.
There is always gonna be a ringer on the other team that can knock it right through the hole and every man on that team knows just where the hole is...look for Becky...
I think the decision to put me out in the field was a calculated risk. I might miss every ball that flew at me but at least if I was out there...nobody would trip over me.
Thank goodness for small favors.
I mean that so seriously.
In the outfield is peace. No sweaty bodies barreling toward that tiny tiny white island that you defend. No hard flying objects launching toward your head every few minutes. Nobody breezing by you as you try and locate the ball visually while it jolts and bounces from glove to glove to glove.
Every glove except yours, that is.
Like Ferdinand in his field of flowers I could reflect on life and witness from afar the ludicrous antics of the sportsmen infield. My sanity assured me no contusions, concussions, dislocations, or even rash. What's a little verbal harassment between friends (or siblings)? I could face it all if it meant that the ball, and my body, would not, under any conceivable circumstances, ever, make contact.
And in my peaceful reflection I could laugh. These people would get so stressed out about that little ball.
What is up with that anyway??
Veins would bulge. Sweat would drip. Knees would bloody. Life and limb would be continually sacrificed to the baseball "gods"...all in the name of either stopping that ball, or launching that ball.
Silliness I tell ya.
I chose to rise above. To exist on a higher plane.
Maybe my utter failure at hitting the ball allowed me a certain superiority in my self preservating aloofness.
Nobody expected me to shine in the field. I was free from all preconceived notions about ability or might.
I could write my own ticket. And I did...
I chose to be cool. Too cool to care. Let the commoners do the dirty work. I had flowers to smell.
Baseball nirvana?? (Nirvana- in the state of being free from suffering)
But it would have been sweeter with one good hit.
The following is a record of a faux paux. My faux paux. Not my finest hour.
Read it all in one breath (or out loud) as if I were telling it to you face to face. It might actually make sense that way...
why did I say it?
you feel like it is a safe place...you want to contribute to the
conversation...hey, you want people to think you actually know something.
You bypass the fact that you are sitting in a room with a teacher, a
lawyer, and an engineer...
you do get credit for first saying "forgive my ignorance" but after
that you just blurt out what you discover later could be the stupidest
thing ever said.
at least it wasn't world politics or anything like that...then again
maybe world politics would have been a better venue because you could
have taken refuge in the dream that maybe YOU are the ever-elusive
undiscovered political genius of the current age...ahh, that would
have been nice...to leave them guessing...wondering at your wit.
Now you know that they are wondering all right...wondering at how you
go about your day with only half of one. (wit that is...)
Again I will state that it wasn't or at least shouldn't have been a big
deal. But it is...a big deal...
because I am kicking myself...because I am sitting here...in a soon to
be puddle of tears...agonizing..."why oh why God? why did it have to
me...revealed....unveiled....uncut...LIVE and in full view...
maybe I thought it was a word from the Lord.
maybe it was...and he is giggling now...like when your kid says
HEY LOOK AT THAT BIG F*** when you have been trying and trying to
teach him to say Big Truck but he just cant seem to say that TR sound.
and you giggle...because he is young and precious and cute...and you
are horrified that he will say it really really loud in public.
Or you giggle secretly when your same precious offspring says....and
this time IN PUBLIC...
"hey mommy look at the kids with the chocolate heads" (meaning of
course the African-American people just down the isle from you in Target)
you want to die...but you giggle inside because again...he is so young
and cute and innocent.
So I am going to claim that for myself...last night I was fully
operating as my young, cute, innocent self when we were talking about
glass blowing and I said...
"pardon my ignorance (which I really didn't mean exactly but was trying
to cover my behind JUST IN CASE but I was thinking I really did have a
word from the Lord or better yet my own personal genius...yes I admit
it, I thought I had pulled it out of oblivion, or out of the vast
resources of my fertile intellect)
I said..."I think the word for that is fromage. "
yes folks...you so highly esteemed to be learned and intelligent...
fromage. go look it up if you must but I think that EVERYONE here
knows that fromage means
cheese! good grief!!!! not a fancy french word for shoe, or donkey, or
and a common word to boot.
I feel so pitiful, so low, so humiliated.
I just needed to share with you all... to find comfort and solace in
your love and understanding. To be here with you where I can count on
you to help me find the pieces of my shattered bleeding heart.
I am confessing my arrogance...and revealing the pale white underbelly
of my pride...it will lead to my downfall...
can you restore me...
is there any hope?
I love you all...
In case none of that made sense here is the short of it...
I was sitting in a room with some very intelligent (as in book learned) people. We were talking (these highly intelligent people and I) about glass blowing, specifically when they make these little glass animals. And the word fromage came to my head...so I said it.
one almost unrecoverable tragical thing about this whole thing...
the smarty smart lawyer man to whom the fromogenous comment was directed tried to save me. He looked me smack in the eye and said "well, if it doesn't mean that (glass-blowing) it could mean cheese." and I nodded me head and said "sure, ok"...and I didn't pick up on it. Not for a second. But the word just bounced around my head...fromage...fromage....fromage....until finally hours later it exploded into a drippy splat of fromogarious goo as my brain woke up from soundest sleep and uttered "CHEESE". Oh sweet potato soup...what had I DONE?????!!!!!
I have yet to recover.
I can't say that every day. Some days pile up so discontentedly that it feels smothering. Other days feel whiny and at odds in a "I am so bored" kind of way. Still other days feel like they might want to be contented but are hesitant to own it.
Today, I am content. And I just want to say it out loud.
You know...it is good to share contentment. In these days of wanting to be real we can almost be afraid to admit (even to ourselves) the times where the mundane is truly satisfying.
I think those sighs of peaceful nothingness and everythingness are truly gifts from God.
When our eyes are open to the fact that it doesn't really take a fantasmic day of uber fun to make a heart feel glad....we can find that regular is nice. And it is so much easier to get to.
So what is contentment?
Contentment is looking at your situation and deciding? declaring? realizing? recognizing...that's it...recognizing that it is ok.
Your situation is ok.
I am gonna say that contentment comes easier when the situation is easy.
( I am a genius. You have been suspecting this haven't you?)
But what about when things are hard?
It is nice and easy to feel content when the bills are paid and the kids are healthy and dinner is on the stove.
But what about feeling content when you don't know where the paycheck is coming from? What about when your husband has a debilitating illness? How about when everyone is whining and you haven't a clue about what to fix for supper or even if you have food to fix it with?
Yeah. That stinks.
I do not know how to be content in those situations.
I think that only Jesus has an answer for that. I have seen some pretty contented people with some dire circumstances looming over them. Doesn't make sense at all. Yet it is there.
How is that?
How can some types of people find satisfaction and contentment in things that other people would find torturous at best?
I want to tell you a little bit about my mom and what she taught me about living content.
My mama was one of those types that could be content even if she was to find herself without her dentures in a gum chewin contest.
She spent the last 10 yrs of her sweet life here on earth completely consumed with contentment. And this in the face of literally bone crushing illness.
Now, I am not saying that she didn't ever complain. She did. But not much. She would let you know she was hurting. Times were when she couldn't help but holler. But she never had a "woe is me" mentality.
And if you asked her, she would lead you to believe that her life was good.
Ok. not to be cruel but you need to know some of what she faced in order to make that last sentence fully carry the sarcastic weight with which it was intended.
(she said it seriously...I wrote it sarcastically)
She was diabetic, and that progressed to bone degeneration in both feet, gangrene, firey nerve pains in her feet and legs, kidney failure leading to dialysis, congestive heart failure, blindness, random hallucinations, frequent blood sugar flatlines...on and on and on.
It wasn't good. It was anything but good.
But all she would admit to was that God continued to provide everything she needed.
Gosh that is irritating. I mean inspiring.
(I would say that right to her if she were here. And she would smile. Except I wouldn't say gosh. Cuz that would be cussing.)
Ok now I am all misty.
I think...that part of her contentment came from her ability to find the happiness inside of her situation. So many times I want to look beyond my situation to a better situation which leads to an insipid longing for something that is beyond my grasp. I don't think she did that.
She faced much hardship in her life and she didn't let it crush her. She didn't let it mould her in a way that openly displayed her diploma from the school of hard knocks. She took her hardships and learned how to find life among the knocks. Good life even.
I think that she really believed it when she said that complaining didn't help anything. (I heard her say that...believe me.)
I know...that she found her center in my daddy's love. He is a lover. He loves her every day of her life here and beyond. She knew that. Maybe it is more accurate to say that she found her place in the center of his love. Either way...she was blessed.
I know...that her children loving Jesus brought her a contentment that all the pain on earth could not take down. We are gonna all be together again soon. That kept her very content.
I know...that she really and truly trusted God with her happiness. She believed with everything in her that He had her best interest at the core of His heart and she could live on that knowledge and understanding. She understood things I did not get at all.
So knowing what I know I go back to what I think. My mom found contentment IN her circumstance. Where have I heard that before?
She didn't look beyond or through her life here to glimpse something waiting for her in Heaven.
She absolutely trained herself to be content with what had been given her here. She had learned to base her contentment on the reality of the unchangeable things like love and life. Real life. Her present circumstances did not affect her contentment because she knew that those circumstances would soon change.
And you know what is really sweet about her contentment?
It wasn't dependent on her living here, or her dying here. She was happy with the prospect of either one. Where have I heard that before?
I know this...
At the end of her stay here I was given the blessing of asking her if she was ready to go home.
My sister and I had talked to her about our love and about taking care of our daddy. She couldn't really talk but she was listening and I got to ask her...
"mom, are you ready to go? Are you ready to go home?"
Her last words to me ...
"Beckie, do you mean Heaven?"
"Yes, mama, are you ready to go home to Heaven?"
"Oh YES!" she said.
and I know she found contentment in those words too.
So today I am content. I say I learned it from my mama yet I hesitate to belittle her accomplishment with my puny life of ease and finding satisfaction in my bliss. I hope that I can honor her by remembering her lessons when my own tough times come along.( I ain't foolin myself into thinking I am exempt. )
Right now all I can claim is that I whine much too much. I get afraid to admit my contentment like it will jinx me for something worse. I also get lazy and malcontent enough to dismiss my ease as complacency and forget to be thankful for the everyday. Neither or these attitudes are glorious.
I want to remember her and be happy where I am. Content.
She taught me that it is possible to live and love through anything. She taught me that circumstances do not have to define your happiness and that satisfaction can be found even in moments of turmoil. She taught me that your regular life whatever that looks like is worthy of thanks. She taught way more than I actually learned.
Just let me leave this as a testament to her wisdom. If I get really quiet I can hear her say the words.
Be content in your circumstances...whatever they may be.
It is good to be content.
I wrote this in response to a very sincere question about why the "faithful" are leaving the church. I posted it anonymously...cuz I am a chicken. I post it here now because I am trying to be braver.
Read it fast because I may take it off in a moment of sanity.
Dear Concerned Pastor,
I am going wayyy out on a limb here to answer you because you said you really want to know.You said it in a way that seemed sweet and honest and I just felt compelled to answer. So here goes.
I am one of the faithful that has chosen not to attend church.
(wait right there…I could put in so many quotation marks it would make your head spin so I am going to try to write this without “…”. )
I am not going to blast you. I think you have a right to your belief and opinion. I just want to tell you briefly (or not) why I no longer go to that place on Sunday that people have taken to calling church. I simply do not believe that the things that happen within that organization are the things that the Lord intended when He spoke of the body and our need for it. I believe that the church exists. I believe that it is the body of Christ. I believe that I am a member of it. I love getting together with believers and talking about God. I also love getting together with unbelievers and talking about God. I love talking to God. I love talking with God. I love it. Every day. Every way. I do not buy any talk about wearing certain clothes…acting with certain reverence…or setting aside special time to be my Lord. (whew…that was really hard to type without quote marks) He is with me. I am with Him. Constantly. He does not care what I am wearing or how I am physically positioned: ie kneeling, standing, bowing, or waving. He does not care what day of the week it is or if I am dedicated enough to be with him before a sturdy breakfast or long-suffering enough to stick with Him even if it means cutting into an even sturdier lunch.
I see the need to be with my family. My church family. I really see the need for that. I want to build relationships. I want to know people on a heart level. What I get in Sunday-go-to-meeting is back of the head relationships. I want to help people in a real way that sees to their daily needs. What I get by giving to the organized church is a real time face lift to the big building fund. I get tired of funding the marble sink ministry. Wow. That even shocks me to see that typed out. Harsh.
I want real fresh bread. The Word given from a heart that has been asking for and rolling around in a current love affair with the Father of creation. What I get are sermons that tell me a million ways that I do not measure up to the God that loves me enough to change me into something better than the way I am. Yet He is the one who made me? ! I know, sin, blah blah blah….I totally get that. Separation…yeah. No. I don’t buy it. I do not go to the thing we like to call church because I found that I would come home every Sunday and spend the afternoon de-toxing my children from the garbage they had stuffed into them about God and how unreachable He really is if we are honest with ourselves about how despicable we really are. Yes I said garbage.
Just to be perfectly clear here…I believe in Jesus. The one and only Son of God. He is the only way. Truth. He is the only way. I cannot get to Heaven on my own. Only by claiming the Truth, His truth, am I set free from the power of sin. Whew! I looove that. Freedom. I breathe it in deep. And I reject the things that “church” as we know it has come to stand for. Namely, pulling yourself together enough to gather once or more a week with other of the self proclaimed worthless faithful to be shepherded by a strict code of pseudo scriptural ethics into a legalistic highway of superiority and right. All this…I reject.
I could write so so so much more. Any little topic here could be batted around for hours. Do I think you are going to hell and leading others there? Probably not. I don’t know you. Who am I to say anyway. Am I going to hell for not being in church every time the doors are open (I used to believe that was the only way to fly.) Am I? Not if Jesus has anything to say about it. Breathe it in. Freedom.
I know this was harsh. I sincerely mean it when I say that I could look you in the eyes and say this to you with love. (even tho I don’t know you) I come from a family of pastors and church-loving-go-every-time-the-doors-open-folks…I love them all. I think they need to do what they think is right. No slamming. They get freedom too.
Aren’t you glad you asked?
ps...Here is a little part two…(don’t be scared)
You point blank asked…so I point blank answered. I realize that because we have no relationship you do not have the benefit of knowing my lifelong history of going to church and my lifelong process of searching for the truth.
I do not have the benefit of knowing you and where you are coming from. I just have a blog entry. And I responded in anonymity. That is not fair to you or your readers.
Ultimately…I stand by my words. But I stand by them in love and acceptance of you and I being in different places. I think the church organization is in a bad place. I think that it needs to be addressed. But it should not necessarily be taken on without the love relationship that comes from walking beside one another. Bless you in your journey for truth.