Wednesday, March 21, 2012

From Spring to Spring

It was the year that my estrogen went AWOL, my middle morphed into Jabba the Hut, and I got to see a psychiatrist, because menopause will do that to you. I came face to face with my own failure as a mother, hit rock bottom, and found God waiting there for me. Life marches on. We change. Hard years teach hard, but good, lessons. Here's hoping that, along with being older, I'm a bit wiser this spring.

In the past year I have learned:
  • What I can (very little) and cannot (most everything) control.
  • That if I do the same jigsaw puzzle enough times (Presidents of the United States), I can recognize most former Commanders in Chief by their specific facial features. "That's Grover Cleveland's nose!"
  • That I CAN listen to a sermon all the way through if I am doing aforementioned, or any other, jigsaw puzzle. Currently, card tables are not set up in the sanctuary, so my Sunday morning attention span is limited.
  • That I could totally fall in love with a dog that looks like a dingo crossed with a bat and doesn't even have floppy ears.
  • That puppies make bigger messes than toddlers, if that's possible.
  • Why my husband was so wise in forbidding me to homeschool all those years.
  • How to walk two dogs at once without being turned into a human wishbone.
  • That anything I try to save onto my hard disc (AKA my feeble brain) is rapidly deleted once more info comes in or I've had a hard day, whichever comes first.
  • That "I don't understand" does not mean "I want to understand". Counsel accordingly.
  • That, as a 48 year-old woman with long hair, there is a fine line between Convention-Defying Free Spirit and Creepy Mormon Sister Wife.
  • That maybe nursing school isn't the thing for me.
  • That I'm an INFP, except sometimes I'm an E and sometimes an S, but I'm ALWAYS an F. Sigh.
  • That I can can learn so much about God from watching CSI:Miami.
  • That there is a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth.
  • That Tina Fey and I both think that if we worry about something enough then it won't happen.
  • That I can fall in love with a grandchild the size of a gummy bear.
  • That you cannot assess the character of someone if you are busy defending them.
  • That it isn't about ME.
  • That maturity is partly about learning how to manage your biology.
  • That I can go to God for help even when my circumstances are my own damn fault.
  • That I don't have to understand everything.
  • That if I don't write something down immediately that thought is gone... forever.
  • That the estrogen patch can be a girl's best friend.
  • That I was an arrogant fool to believe that I could parent any better than my mother.
  • That technology hates me.
  • That there is such a thing as a talking smoke detector.
  • That when your newly licensed daughter is driving up a busy road at rush hour in a truck that is about 2 blocks wide, it is best to just shut your eyes.
  • That I CAN remain professionally silent when someone serves up schlock like "If you can believe it, you can achieve it." Gag me with a spoon.
  • That I can't lift 70 pounds.
  • That a large dog can clean up an entire crock pot full of spilled chili and the result will be an even larger dog.
  • What the inside of a horse's mouth looks like while it is eating my camera.
  • That those people who appear to really have it all together really DON'T. (At least I was supposed to have learned that one.)
  • That most people can't relate to people who have it all together.
  • That the Island of Misfit Toys is a fun place to live.
  • That eventually people will quit complaining about the Facebook change until they make another one.
  • That Wii bowling is a lot easier than regular bowling. And a lot less noisy.
  • That in all likelihood they will NEVER tell you what they are looking for when they stare into the open refrigerator.
  • That corn dogs were never meant to go in toasters.
  • That even if someone disagrees with me it doesn't mean I'm wrong.
  • That our land line wasn't tethering us to earth after all.
  • That most things in life, or people, for that matter, don't fit neatly in a box.
  • That sharing at age 48 (especially when it means sharing a computer with a teenage daughter) is just as hard at sharing at age 4.
  • That I spend so much of my life doing things out of fear instead of conviction.
  • That online computer classes are virtually impossible for techno-idiots like me.
  • That sometimes "Honey, dump the narcotics down the toilet before I come home and take them" is a wise thing to say on a bad day.
  • That the gospel is never more beautiful than when you're the one that screwed up.
  • That I don't have to worry about what God will teach me this next year because he is God and I'm not.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


NOTE: This is one of those blogs that is more of a questioning rant. It isn't written as "writing" per say, but as thinking on cyberspace as I wrestle with this issue.

Transparency. We want it but don't know how to get it. I hear this over and over again in the church setting. Some of us desire to be real and to be open about our struggles but feel that there just isn't a way to get there. This has me pondering what are the obstacles to transparency.

What does it mean to be transparent anyway?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that transparent is:
a : free from pretense or deceit : frank b : easily detected or seen through : obvious c : readily understood d : characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.

In effect, being transparent is about being open and honest about who we really are. This, more often than not, includes sharing the things that get us down. The things that bring us to our knees. The things that make us wonder if we are the only ones.

When we can't be transparent we feel isolated. Shut off from community. Shut off from acceptance. And even shut off from God.

There have been times in my life when all I really wanted was a good bartender. You know, the person who pours you a stiff drink and then lets you unload your burdens on the bar for a spell. And you can know that he won't judge because
he has heard worse, much worse. That is when I came up with the concept of God as the ultimate bartender. But I digress.....

What makes it so hard for us to be transparent with one another? I think that if we are going to be able to achieve the sort of openness and honesty that enable us to bear one another's burdens, we are going to have to identify the things that make us shy away from this type of true sharing of ourselves.

In my experience, I have run across two (OK, three) major responses that send me packing and back to my Island of Misfit Toys. The first is condescension. The pat on the head. The coo of "oh, don't feel that way" or "you shouldn't say that". MY TRANSPARENCY IS NOT AN INVITATION TO YOUR CONDESCENSION.

The other is perhaps more common and comes in so many varieties. This is prescription. "You should", "you just need to"......Nothing makes me want to slap somebody across the face like hearing a "you just...." at the beginning of the sentence. Some advice in and of itself is good (praying, for example), it just may be that the person being transparent isn't asking for advice at all.

Advice comes in all sizes. Spiritual advice: "You must bathe yourself in the word." Dutiful advice: "You must make a nice home for him and make sure you are having plenty of sex." (Did I really just hear you say that?) Health advice: "You've got to go see this Wise Woman Wanda at Greenlife and get these herbs that will fix all that ails you." (I'm sorry, but dreadlocks do not qualify someone to mess with my hormones.)
Sometimes someone just wants to know they are not alone. They may want to break the silence of pain or abuse. They may just want to know somebody is there to walk this road with them. Prescriptives aren't helpful. In fact, they often shut down any transparency at all.

And finally sometimes, sometimes, you are open and you are met with silence and a deer-in-the-headlights sort of state. I once shared my testimony with a group of people in a church we attended in Atlanta. Nobody ever spoke to me again. It was quite odd. In my experience, testimonies were a great way to learn about somebody and see the ways God had worked in their life and to find out a way to connect with him or her. Sometimes nothing hurts so much as being met with silence.

What is wrong with just saying to the burdened soul "I can see this is really hard. I am here for you. I don't know the answer but I am willing to go with you to the Throne of Grace and seek God's mercy and grace with you. I need it, too." Something like that would go a long way toward helping someone feel, not like a freak of nature, but more like a broken and hurting child of God who is not alone in the world after all.