Monthly Archives: January 2013

Frustration

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I know I’m not the only one who wrestles all the time with who I am.  We have all these views of ourselves — positive, negative, indifferent … one day, I am superwoman, doing it all and making everyone happy. The next day I am a spiritual vagabond, hiding in a corner of my house and heart, venomously striking out at everyone and anyone who wanders a bit too close.

It’s our human condition, right?

So I pick up a new-to-me author. I like his stuff. It’s not edifying or holy; quite the contrary, he bills it as NSFW because of the language, but it’s guttural, fast-moving and filled with interesting plot twists and turns. It has characters that are beautiful and repulsive all in the same paragraph. I can’t figure it all twenty pages in, which is how so much fiction is nowadays. I’ll link to his stuff here, as long as no one decides to be my Jimminy  Cricket and tell me why I shouldn’t like his stuff (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/)

I want to write “like that.” OK, maybe not JUST like that, but I want to write real and gutsy and bold and stop worrying about how someone in my sphere of real life will judge me or my family or my faith or whatever because of what I write in my fiction. I want to stop being afraid of the ramifications of my writing on real life. The answer, of course, is to go underground with a pseudonym and write away. Create a fictitious on-line persona that won’t tie to “real life.” I wish it wasn’t that way, but too many people think they “know” what I should and shouldn’t do because of my husband’s profession or how I should somehow conform to the comfort level inside their little boxes. This is my desire.

How do I act on it? What do I do? Make dinner. Do dishes. Blog. Anything to avoid actually WRITING anything at all. I fill my days with activities — good activities — things that make the people I love happy and those who stand around me looking in … I don’t know.

I say it all doesn’t matter. But I’m a liar.

See, the “good” things in my life need maintenance and they are time-consuming and hard work. I try to tell myself it’s a “season,” that there will come a day quicker than I realize, that I will have “time to …” whatever. But I’ve come to the realization that I’m probably just intellectually lazy when it comes to my writing. Afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid to expose my inside for fear of rejection or of disturbing the “status quo” which is the residing monarch in my neck of the woods.

And all it would take was for me to make a freaking decision to be true to what is in my head and heart. But then the wrestling match begins, and I think about the “what if’s,” and wish for a world where I could really write what’s inside my head, damn the torpedos and full speed ahead.

I know. The answer is to “just do it.” But it’s a whole lot easier said than done. Part of the problem is, again, that proverbial human condition. The one that says, “Well, EVERYONE has stuff they can’t do because it’s NOT RIGHT.” (emphasis on words that are used to manipulate and “say” things without really explaining anything). There are people in this world who act, and there are people in this world that talk. Most of us are both — we act on certain things, we talk about other things, and we spend our time in the middle being beaten to death by the desires and the realities of it all in our journey. And like Job’s friends, there are plenty in the crowd who have determined they have the answers for US, while somewhere deep inside themselves it’s a ruse to avoid dealing with their own stuff.

And you know who you are.

So, today’s entry is simply stating the obvious: I need to decide what I’m going to do. I can’t have it all — no one can. I’m frustrated and fearful and emboldened and frozen. And I want to break free … but I don’t quite have the courage I need.

Today is just one of THOSE days.

Now off to make dinner, and go watch high school basketball, both of which are good things … great parts of my life … and definitely the easy choices right now.

 

 

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I Have This Friend ….

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…usually, we start stories with the above epithet when we want to talk about something personal, but dread the scrutiny that accompanies the revelation of some piece of ourselves. We are all so … self-guarded …aren’t we? It’s refreshing to find people in our lives that open the doors of their hearts and don’t fear to give us admittance.

Yesterday, in church, we had such an occasion. And “old” friend came. He and his family are investing and anticipating a huge move that changes the way everything in their lives looks. He was there to invite our congregation to walk along side them as they take this huge risk … opportunity … however you look at it.

In the process, he revealed things that brought him from point A to where they are now. And then, he began to tell stories of where he personally had come from, his story and how God had given him chances and experiences and how those things had led him to where he was now. He then brought in the idea that fear keeps us from so very many things. I could see him listening close to the “voice inside his head” before he spoke.

He encouraged those listening to take away this thing: True faith can be defined by whether or not at our core we believe and accept this one thing:

God loves me.

Looked at initially, this oversimplification of faith could be analyzed and broken apart and thrown to the curb. But upon deeper exploration, he is right. What do people struggle with? Is it the externals? The “shoulds and should-nots” that tend to define our perception of ourselves and others, but do little to define what’s inside? I know people will argue with all of it. And I’m still working through a lot of it in my own head.

The question hit me. I’d had a horrible morning. Nothing life-shaking, just little piddly things that frustrated me and pushed me over the edge little by little by little. I began thinking how this simple question … do I believe God loves me … does lie at the foundations of what I think, how I perceive, what I know. Like I said, it’s a place I’ll be revisiting and not a place I want to talk about today.

But my friend, in his self-revelation and exposition on various things also showed me something else. He’s leaving for a mission field, taking his beautiful wife and adorable children and going to a foreign land. But he’s not your “traditional” type missionary (and anyone who has spent any time in the evangelical movement of the church knows what “traditional” missionary means). It’s not my place, nor do I have time to explain all that’s different, but I did think there was an interesting slant to it all. But the fact that he is gambling his entire being … all that is important and precious to him … on this opportunity to open doors for people in these countries to, in their own way, experience God and share the story to those people important to them.

I have two young friends, both of whom were in service yesterday. Both of whom have ties and inclinations toward the area of the world my “old” friend is traveling. It’s interesting to me how things line up, and how coincidences ring true with hints of the supernatural and divine appointments. Both of these young people were touched by the words my friend spoke. Both, I believe, sensed a bringing together of people for more than the superficial happenstance that was the service yesterday. What it all means remains to be seen. But there was the ever-so-faint smell of temple incense, something holy and unseen, that surrounded the things that happened around me.

I don’t know. While it may not make a lot of sense here, in my head it does.

There’s this praise song that came out a few years ago. A certain young lady sang it in a choir my kids were a part of, and I always think of Grace when I hear it to this day:

I see a generation
Rising up to take the place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees, we’re on our knees

I’m not given to “churchy” stuff. I try hard to not trivialize my faith. It’s something I fight hard to maintain, and most of it is very private, experienced in my inner life, because I’ve found what I feel and believe makes a lot of people I love and care for uncomfortable. So when I say that yesterday, I felt it, I don’t say that lightly.

Yesterday, the juxtaposition of the natural and supernatural was palatable and real and I felt like a spectator to something going on of which no man could orchestrate or control. I appreciate this, because often I feel like “the church” (i.e. organized religion) has been reduced to organization and control and man-inspired and desired outcomes. No hype. No agenda. It just happened out of obedience and transparency and willingness and faith — not fear.

It left me with a lot to think about.

The Mixing Bowl

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I made my first batch of “artisan” bread this afternoon. It was good. I was surprised, because I’m a novice bread baker. But it was better than I expected.

While the bread was baking, I washed the big bowl the bread rose in. It’s one of my favorite bowls. It’s stainless, and the curve is perfect for keeping stuff in while mixing. It’s part of a set endorsed by a famous cook — something I never would have bought for myself.

The truth is, the set was a wedding present for a friend that we forgot to give. It was awkward, because it was someone close to us, and  the fact that I never got around to giving them the gift was a point of embarrassment for me for a long time. Eventually, we moved away, lost touch with the family, and I decided (after moving the gift three times) I would keep the set and begin using them.

The bowls are the type that will last a lifetime. They’re sturdy, meant to take a lot of wear and tear. They’re dependable, and they are my go-to mixing bowls.

Unfortunately, the marriage that they were attended to bless didn’t last so long. In many ways, the relationship seemed doomed from the beginning. The courtship was brief, and it came at the end of failed romances for both parties. It got ugly, and got ugly fast. There were children involved, and a there-and-back bouncing of emotions and encounters and brokeness across the board.

And I was there. There were things I said, but so many other things I didn’t. We talked, we prayed, we believed strongly that two people who “loved Jesus” could work it all out. But in the end it came down to selfishness which gave way to despair which gave way to abuse which gave way to a marriage that broke and took two people, their children, and everyone who loved them down with them.

Why do some marriages make it, and some don’t? I know there’s no hard and fast rules, no magic formula. I’ve always said that it’s a day-to-day decision, and I’ve learned not to judge anyone else’s crap, because I need to focus on cleaning up my own, thank you very much. But the deterioration of something so full of hope and potential still confounds me. I think about how one life touches another, over and over. In the heat of the pain, the anger, and the neglect, we forget that fact. Our influence. The way we are interwoven with others in our lives. It’s a reality of our lives … it “is what it is.”

And I have often stood on the sidelines, wanting so desperately to “do something.” Anything that would help my friends. Anything, in turn, that would help me understand.

I think about these kids a lot. In fact, every time I use my mixing bowls, I remember them and how my culinary addition began as an ill-fated wedding gift for a marriage that couldn’t make it. It makes me sad. Reflective, like the stainless bowls.

 

Happy New Year’s Day! Project365

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I have an unwritten list of things to do this year. 

One is blogging more regularly. I’ve missed it. I’ve stopped because … well, just because. I have “solved” the problem with blogging in my head and life, so I’m looking forward to whatever comes this year.

Another idea (thanks to a young “old” friend of mine) is this project — http://content.photojojo.com/tutorials/project-365-take-a-photo-a-day/. I just signed up, and am planning to do a photo a day to document our lives this year. I know, I already post profuse amounts of photos. Since I’m not very artistically talented (words are my thing, and always have been), I use photography to express that side of my head. 

So, I’ve already tagged some friends. What do you think? Are you up to the challenge? Check out the website, and if you do it, friend me on their site (it’s under hippylostintime). 

Happy New Year’s, everyone!ImageMy first project365 photo … DH cleaning up after making caramel corn to accompany the spiced cider bubbling on the stove …