Friday, May 24, 2013

Betwixt My Lines


I wish to author some great masterpiece, be it literature or song or dance-craze choreography.  Bone-breaking, I’ve learned, is the latest to the stage.  Perhaps, I’ll bring bone-weapon wielding, permanent scar-inducing, blight your life forever, switch it up, switch it up.

My desperation to manifest begins to cross the lines of human language.
They still won’t get it.  But I get it.
I’ve always got it coming, so it seems.

I see my life in stanza.

Verse, verse, chorus.
Verse, verse, chorus.
Bridge...

The play through, the run, the birth pangs.
The play through, the run, the stalker.
Run and pay, start over.

The play through, the hard run, the good attempt.
The play through, the falling down, the surrender.
Run and pay, it starts over.

What I wish is love.
I was born with it even if I went away from it.
The going away was but for a while.
But there is no reproof from the going away, it seems.
You go, you stay.  Or you pay, in any case.

How many verses?
Where is crescendo’s peak?
What comes after the bridge?
I wish to pen my name, at last.






Saturday, May 18, 2013

This Is What Is The Happening

I don't know exactly what or why it's happening but it seems to be happening all around me.

It's in the updates, the tweets, the pics, the pins.  Sometimes it's an allusion.  Many times, it's "what she said."  A share.  A re-has#.

Me? I like (or have, for most of my life, found it inexplicably necessary) to be cryptic.  I am often speaking in code.

The bulk of my sharing is via facebook which ~ I know ~ is already considered archaic.  There's just too much room to sprawl out on facebook, too many letters allowed.  That's one part of The Big Problem, in my opinion - this drive to boil everything down.  To keep it nice and neatly contained.

Tell me quick in one sentence, please, 
or just show me a picture.  
I have things to do, my own things to worry about.

Does anybody know, yet, what I'm talking about?  Have I already written too many words?

Or maybe I've already made it too personal.  Maybe I shouldn't have made any allusion to "most of my life."  Anybody?  Anybody...

Anyhow.

There exists a myriad of reasons that I am always holding something back.  Some of it is that my proper manners restrict me from splatting all over the screen.  (Some of you think you've seen me do it anyway.  I promise you have not.)  Some of it is dysfunctional pattern.  Much of it is fear.  Much of it is [my attempt to] control. And most of what I've just said either has been written about before or needs to be saved for later.  (What's my word count?)

In a minute, I'm going to share some words that are better than my own but first I'd like to forget all about character counts and fear and the illusion of control and just speak plainly.

First of all, I was a citizen of the original Prozac nation, having it prescribed to me in my late teens, after Lithium and "a good talking to" didn't pick my butt up off the ground.  I don't know how it's possible but, in hindsight, it seems to me that I'd been struggling with depression from far too early an age (I can't even bring myself to say), and taking Prozac was like taking off sunglasses and seeing the world in color. For the first time that I could recall.  I'm grateful for Prozac.

2008, the year that followed my dad's year-long struggle with (terminal) lung cancer:  that was my Effexor year.  Effexor because it was the only drug out there which could treat both depression and anger.  For the record, it was not my dad's cancer that caused my anger.  My dad's cancer was just the pinnacle battle of that season of my life.  Those few years were dark and Effexor, unfortunately, turned out to be part of my battle.  I'm grateful that season is past.

Now, I woke up one morning this week and my first conscious thought was that I wanted it to be sundown already.  The sun was shining gloriously through my curtains in a way that negates the need for purchased art.  My lungs were full of clean air, my body whole, for the most part.  My man, who is the best man on the planet since Jesus, was in another room waiting to greet me for the day.  Healthy, buoyant grandbabies were due to arrive shortly.  But, please.  Please.  I just want to go back to sleep.

Not the cheesy, "oh, it's Saturday morning and I can't believe I'm awake because I just want to roll around in my comfy bed because this makes such a cute picture or tweet or status update,"

but because I am struggling.

Yes, I have blessings beyond measure.

Yet I am struggling.  Again.

I'm not scared to tell you what I've told thus far ~ that I've struggled with depression, that I've taken medication, that I've done therapy, and all of this more times than I'm telling here.  I'm not scared to tell you that I'm struggling now. There are other things, though, things that propagate my struggles, that I cannot or am not willing to tell you and for a myriad of reasons.

And I do have guilt, because I also have friends whose husbands have cancer.  Or whose grandbabies have cancer.  I have friends who have cancer.  Friends who've lost their jobs or their homes.  And this isn't happening just within my circle.  I watch the feed.  I know the stories.   People everywhere are struggling.

And that's really what I want this to be all about.  None of us face exactly the same struggles but none of us are alone, either, in the fact that we struggle.  None of us has a picture-perfect life, no matter how perfect the picture.  None of us should feel so obligated or so afraid of the alternative that we pack our struggles away, living less and less truthfully until we're really not living at all.

There are others out there and they are sharing unhindered and for that, I am grateful.

And now those better words I promised...

Kendi is one of the very first bloggers that I discovered and is my favorite fashion blogger, which I've shared before in An Exact Copy.  In her recent post, life, lately, she took the lid off her pot.  And then she shared about how much she was Overwhelmed by the responses she received.  Do not make any assumptions here.

Rachel is another of the first bloggers whose path I was so fortunate to cross.  She is one of the very best real-life bloggers that I know and Unlearning... is a perfect demonstration.  Plus, there's code here.

And here is A Miniature Clay Pot, saying better than I can say it myself, how it is that I, personally, am moving through this present season.  After The Rain, there will be color.

When I started working on this post, I honestly thought it would be just a simple, practical, "I struggle with it.  It's okay if you struggle with it too," kind of post.  I thought there would not be any of my usual points to God's artfulness or pattern-play.  But I can't not tell you that I'd written most of this before I read After The Rain.  So if you catch any of the specific relevance or similarities, hers did not influence mine.  Hers was an answer to mine.  

And that's just how it happens with Him.
 






















Right Here, let me say stereophonically that one of the reasons I don't share everything is because I have a great fear of causing harm to others.  The Lord knows that the blogging world, all of the social network, has been a vacuous arena of slop-slinging and emotional take-downs, especially of late to my way of seeing.  I will be posting this - as I always do - with a prayer that I do no harm.  Depression, anger, anxiety - these are difficult matters to navigate.  As I always do, I am sharing my own experience and with a deeply sincere desire to help anyone that I may.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Public Hearing


There’s a line that exists somewhere between acceptable public discourse and “hiding your crazy.”

There’s a point at which you’re sharing too much.

A boundary that can be crossed.

Apparently, I’m not so good with boundaries.

And that’s just one of the things I’ve heard - repeatedly - through the years.

But you know, it’s usually right after I’ve been brought in on something, have had some trouble or crisis disclosed to me, and then after hearing the same statements or rehashed ideas over and over again ~ whether in any particular conversation or over the course of good-grief-will-this-Ever-get-better ~ when I state my opinion or I ask my questions or I share what I honest-to-goodness believe and intend to be encouragement that I’m told I’ve crossed a line.

I also hear that I carry on a bit.  Thought I’d make an example with that previous sentence.

I hear that I’m too often thinking of what I want to say rather than listening. Thought I’d highlight that here with my use of I.

I also hear - repeatedly - that I’m abrasive.  And that, friends, is my favorite.

Gentle and quiet.*
Sweetly listening.

This is what I’m supposed to be, right?

Yeah, I don’t know.

And probably one of the coldest implications I hear is that I will never change.

Yeah, I don’t know.

Not that I was an exactly gentle and quiet child but I don’t think I used my words back then.  Not for most of my life, in fact.  Not properly, at least.  Certainly not the way I wanted to.  (Though, I can see that I didn’t actually know for most of my life how it was that I wanted to use my words.)

I’ve changed in that way.

I have, in fact, tried to change into the quiet, gentle listener but it always winds up looking as if I’m sitting on eggshells.  And then I’m accused of “treating someone like a child.”

There’s another accusation that doesn’t trouble me because I know the truth and this is that I do my best to be truthful.  I try to share my own experience of life without unfairly exposing the lives of others.  I try to share in a manner that displays the manners taught to me.  I try to hide my crazy.

But maybe I am, in fact, still on the wrong side of the line.  Maybe I’m still not using my words properly.

So here.  This is not self-deprecation but for the public hearing:

I am sometimes abrasive, sometimes curt, sometimes critical.
I am sometimes long-winded, sometimes crazy-acting.
I am often thinking of what I want to say next.
I am often thinking of how your story relates to mine and how mine relates to yours.
I am probably never going to be the keep-my-mouth-shut-if-I’ve-been-sought type.
I am usually thinking about how many of us are dealing with private struggles.
I am almost always thinking about how much better the world would be if we could all just stop being so critical of one another.
I am including myself in “we.”
I am doing the best I can.
I am not really always doing the best I can.
But I want to be.
And that’s the truth.


Is that really so crazy?






*“Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”
1 Peter 3:4-5
I hated to take a verse out of context.  I tried to expand this passage into the message but it became what it became.  I believe that much of 1 Peter 3 is relevant to the message of this post.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ask

The oldest g'baby and I talked some this morning about the process by which we call on Jesus.
Pretty basic stuff, really.
You know - if you're in trouble, ask Jesus to help you.


So this afternoon, we were getting ready for church...
When she got out of the bath, she asked me several times to wrap her in her towel but I was in the middle of something else and asked her several times to hold on a second.

Then she said, "Jesus, I'm in trouble. please help me."

For maybe a millisecond, it crossed my mind that I hadn't been "teaching" her right.
But then quicker than that, it hit me. She'd just called on Jesus and was I gonna leave her standing there cold?!

So there it is. Pretty simple, really.
If you're in trouble, ask Jesus to help you.
BE the help if He calls you to be.

And I need not worry about how she's learning it. Once she was all wrapped up, she started blowing kisses upward, and saying, "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sackcloth and Ashes

By the time I will have finished this, it will have become the most convoluted thing I've ever assembled.  Somewhere, I make a reference to "a month" but I've been coming back to this for monnnnttthhhs, not editing so much as inserting.  Or maybe I've been like some abstract artist, flinging my paint at the page.  I've decided not to erase or white out any of the seizure-like quality here.  By the end of it, I trust the thing will have been worked out between me and Him and I'm leaving anything past that entirely to His management.

I'll be amazed, quite frankly, if anybody even gets to here.
In fact, just the publication of this one might be worthy of a monument, some small altar.

Easily, this could have begun with

uuuuhhhhhhhh ummmmmmmmmm

and gone on that way for several more lines. 

For a month or more, it seems, I've been like this.  I keep returning here, only to sit and stare at just this many words.

There's something in my head, some emerging idea or barely grasped concept and it's just nearly a tangible thing like a splinter working its way out. 

There's an element of pain involved.

[Long, deep exhale.]  [Push forth.]

I facilitate a small group at my church on Wednesday nights, have done it for some time, six or seven years, maybe.  And yet, to this day, I've adamantly insisted that my group-mates not refer to me as their teacher.  (yep, I think this is it.)  I don't teach.  I don't lead.  I ask the questions.  I fa-cil-i-tate

And it's seemed reasonable to me, this model.  I've noticed that Jesus was frequently asking questions ~ ones to which His listeners already knew the answers.  If I am His disciple, then surely I'm "doing it right" if I'm interrogating people, right?!

And yet...

In my heart, I keep hearing "sackcloth and ashes."

I close my eyes, I see myself
kneeling in the dust,
rocking, wailing,
tossing the cinders.
Why am I so troubled?

I know why I am so troubled.

I take back what I said before about the white out.
I'm leaving the parts that show my attempt to dodge,
but deleting the attempts to close that loop.
This thing is really about just one thing.
One thing that plagues my mind.


Zion’s leaders are silent.
    They just sit on the ground,
tossing dirt on their heads
    and wearing sackcloth.
Her young women can do nothing
    but stare at the ground.
 My eyes are red from crying,

Jan Swart Van Groningen

my stomach is in knots,
    and I feel sick all over.
My people are being wiped out,
and children lie helpless
    in the streets of the city.
 A child begs its mother
    for food and drink,
then blacks out
like a wounded soldier
    lying in the street.
The child slowly dies
    in its mother’s arms.

Lamentations 2:10-12


I've made my excuses, have let fear, self-centeredness, laziness stop my tongue. I've been stone-cold when I should have been swift.  I've not taught the things I should have to whom I should.

I can't change my past.  I can only tell you about it.
And say,
See Here: 1, 2, 3...

Teach your children in the way they should go.
Teach them from their very first breaths, believing everything you've ever heard about the formative years and about their coming back to it after the rebellion.
Teach them, knowing that when Jesus said to "love your neighbor as yourselves," your children are among your very first neighbors.
Teach them as if their lives depend on it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Write, Schmite

I've said this before:  I really don't know why I write here.  I have, at moments, believed I'm under some sort of divine direction.  Other times, it occurs to me that I should just go back to writing in my journal.  Maybe that's all this is:  my personal, digital diary.

In any case, what I do here is record my experience, share my story and maybe, just maybe some insight.  I am always, always in the process of working something out and always, always need every bit of insight I can get.  It makes sense to me that if I gain so much from reading other people's stories, then maybe I can drop a grain of helpfulness for someone else.

In any case, we're all just humans on this planet, doing this life one way or another.  Some of us write about it.

I have a draft I've been working on for six months or more that's not so much about a particular thing as it is about my responsibility to speak about any particular, given thing. What I mean is that I've wondered if I might oughta be more forthcoming about things I know.  You know, less of the lyricism and poetry, more of the "See Here: 1, 2, 3" kind of stuff.

But something in the blogosphere recently has put me a'kilter.  And of all the things I think about, read about, am working out, I did not expect the subject of servanthood - or, more specifically (by God!), the subject of female servanthood - to be the catalyst for this kind of unravelling.

I mean ... there's gun control, gay marriage, abortion, greed, hunger...
A lot of stuff to think about.

I have thoughts about all of this stuff.
I have oh-pin-yuns.
gasp, oh Lord, I have convictions.
I have some stuff I could write.

...

hello?

"Female servanthood" probably isn't even the right ... "  ".

Please allow me to be vague...

Somebody wrote about it and I, personally, thought it was a great, grounded article.  It made sense to me, made me think for a bit.  I never - at any point - had the idea that the author portrayed herself as a scholar, as a theologian, as the only one having the only answer.

But somebody else didn't like it.  Mainly, I gathered, because it wasn't right.  And I mean, perfectly, like "your root meanings of Hebrew words aren't put together right" right.

Somebody else didn't like it because "nyah nyah, nyah nyah nyah."

Some of the finest, smartest writers that I've read showed up - and quick! - to point out the errancy of this woman's way....that way being a good and fair attempt at pointing out a better path for certain others of us.  You have doubts about that?  Haters hate?  Maybe I'm simple-minded or slow but I was encouraged by the article - not to be less than any man but to be more like Jesus.  And that's my favorite kind of encouragement in the whole, wide world.  I don't care a lick if that turns out to be simple-minded.

The negative responses from all the deep-thinkers?  It's had exactly the opposite affect on me.  Is that what higher education and IQs are really all about?

You know, I'm really grateful for root meanings and for people who study them and for folks who have alternative perspectives and are willing to share them and for the great "out there" of open discussion where everybody can tell everybody else to &*%^ off*... but in the nicest, most intellectual ways, of course.

But I'm also reminded of high school.
There were all the cool kids that I'd wanted so much for so long to join.
What was it that made them so cool anyway?
Was it really just their ability to find the un-cool-ness about everybody else?

Why?  Why would I ever want to be a part of that?

I don't even use Hebrew words.
Maybe that's why I'm not so much the "everyman's writer" as the "onlyman's writer." Maybe I should start locking this stuff up.  Before somebody tells me I'm not right.

By the way, can somebody please tell me the root meaning of the word "schmite"?




*Maybe this is one of those times that I should have just said "&*%^" but I happen to believe that there is such a thing as foul language (and I struggle with it sometimes, and am aiming to end that) and I happen to know that my resistance to blogging such language does not indicate my apathy toward starving children.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mantra

This will be very, Very hard for me to say, but...

I may, in fact, possibly have taken on more than I can handle.

There are women my age who are just now having their kids...or having more kids.
I've seen, continue to see, have heard references from throughout history of grandmothers taking care of their g'youngins while the baby-parents go plow the field.  Or whatever.

It's embarrassing, to be quite frank.  A little depressing.
I feel thin-skinned, see-through, tired.  Tired.

My tired mind starts looking for reasonable explanations:
it's the gluten.
it's the gmo's.
it's the government.
Then I start wanting to say to friends (and sometimes random people in the store, too, to be honest), "Hey, you know I work too, right?  That I do actual, sit-at-a-desk, earn-grocery-money, work?"

I want to say to my kids, "Hmph.  Don't think I've forgotten that weird, secret (latent-guilt-inducing) thrill that comes in getting to drop your kids off and goooo to work."

So far, I've managed not to actually say these things.  I think.
Did I already say that I'm tired?

Help does come, though.  For instance, this: Stuck In the Doldrums, Jen Hatmaker.  It was impressive how invigorated I was just in reading that.  I was just sorta wishing Jen Hatmaker could have come to fold my laundry too.

A friend asked if I was drinking my water and I answered a resounding, "yes."  Truth is, I probably need to be asked again and again in order to keep it on my tired mind.  I'm grateful for friends who keep me on track.

And that brings me to my greatest help of all.  I have found that some of what I thought would be my most challenging days turned out to be some of my most successful just by remembering to practice (a prayer of) gratitude.



Every time I print a contract,
thank You, Lord.
With every push of the vacuum,
thank You, Lord.
Every fold of a shirt,
thank You, Lord.
When I glue the zebra's leg back on,
When I brush the crumbs from the paper dolls,
When I change the diaper,
thank You, Lord.
When I can sit and listen and hold and love,
oh, thank You, Lord.
thank You, Lord. 


And He reminds me that this is but a season of my life.
And I feel a little less tired.
And a lot more aware of the ways that I am blessed.
Thank You, Lord.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Alleluia

today, i

- cleaned my bathroom (first time in over a month, i'm pretty sure)
- worked (one contract, one bill, one phone call still counts)
- washed some laundry (i'll fold it maybe next week)
- responded to an email (on the same day)
- sat on the porch with two g'babies
- made a movie(s)
- made a point
- listened
- lost my senses, then regained them
- had a moment of weakness, and overcame it
- survived an "episode"
- failed to do some things i should have
- got some things wrong
- focused on the things i got right

now, i am

- going to bed
- thanking Him for this day
- trusting Him for tomorrow

alleluia, alleluia

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Like A Stone

I remember waaaaay back in the thick of my drinking days being in a club one night when my friend nodded over toward another girl and told me that the girl's boyfriend had killed himself.  And that it was the girl's fault.

Even intoxicated, I felt deep compassion for the girl.  I wondered for the rest of that night and for a long time after what it must be like to be the girl whose boyfriend kills himself.  To be the girl that people only sideways glance at and call the certain killer.  To be the one who must certainly feel some level of responsibility no matter how it actually happened.  What must it be like to live with that?

And then I found out.

This is not a review of those events.*  I did my time, did the stages of grief, all that. God brought me through and I've already told all that I'm going to tell about that time for now.

That time did, as anyone should reasonably conclude, roll itself into the person that I am today.  In ways, I have discovered and claimed more confidently the person that I know I was created to be.  I am compassionate and observant and strong and capable (particularly in times of trouble.)  I tend to live apart from fear of judgement by others, apart from fear of crossing over the great divide, apart from fear pretty much in general...

With one, debilitating exception.

Where compassion and strength of will compel me to sometimes head straight into the trouble at hand and at other times compel me to walk away from it, that burdensome, bludgeoning fear of feeling to blame for someone else's end of it - that fear stops me in my tracks, clouds my vision, chills my bones.

This must be how it was for that girl from so long ago...it's like a stone that you can never heave away ~ that knowing that it can happen.  That you could be present. That you could be blamed.  You can work it out and come to truth about it in the aftermath but you never, ever want to have to do that again.




*Why I Believe In God

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Game Show Gurus

Our church has just begun a marriage series and at the latest service, my husband and I were called on - without any warning - to be "game show" contestants.   The goal was to determine how well we really know each other.

We each were asked,

What is the husband's idea of an ideal date night?

The answer choices were,

A) a tv movie and pizza rolls
B) roughing it in the wilderness, gazing up at the stars
C) dinner and a movie in Destin
D) car repairs in the garage while listening to the Beatles

I answered (B); he answered (C).
We giggled, rolled our eyes at each other, and sat down.

It might appear that we don't actually know each other all that well but the opposite is actually true.  See, I know that my husband loves to be in the woods and that he'd be perfectly happy for us to spend entire weekends tromping through the wilderness.  And my husband knows that while I'm willing to be anywhere that he is, dirt and weeds and bugs are not really my thing.  So his logic is that an ideal date for him is one that makes me happy.

[However, to carry on from here without claiming the win (for myself), even if on technicality, would be against everything that is within me.  Some of you know that I just can't do it.]

Moving on...

I can give a better example of just how well we know each other.

Honey comes home from a loooooong day of work
only to find the egg pan soaking in the sink

even though the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes.
I know this will probably spoil his afternoon, make him a little fruity, even,
because his number one love language is acts of service.1

And so he will respond to the egg pan in what seems most reasonable a fashion -
that is to huff and frown until he eventually has an opportunity to say,
"You know this spoils my afternoon, makes me a little fruity, even."

This is his return to me: to notice this instead of that I did do the litter box...
because my number two love language is words of affirmation.1

For whatever reason (or comic relief for who knows Whom), our love languages are fairly opposite.  I could care less if the sink is full of dishes so long as honey and I are together.  (Quality time is my number one.)  Conversely, he can't really do the quality time thing if the house is a mess.  Ha.  Ha, ha ha.

I certainly do not claim any kind of authority on "perfect marriage."  I wake up most days and wonder how in the world it is that I am married - how he puts up with my pan-blind, dust-tolerant ways.

Seriously, though.  We have some woes - some of them serious - like most folks do, I think.  We work.  We have kids (and grand-kids.)  We breathe.  It's hard to get through this life unscathed, especially when it comes to relationships and our marriage should be the most important and most beneficial relationship that we have (second only to the relationship we have with Jesus.)


Here, let me say...my mentor told me once that I probably shouldn't be too specific about certain past experiences because it can create an everlasting image...so let me just say that I have a lot of experience with bad relationships.  I have that kind of (ancient) history.  And I'm pointing to it only because I want you to know that I know that not all situations are the same.  Not all people are perfect or lovely. There's some awful, rotten stuff out there. 
I know.

I just happen to know some good things too.  Things that can make a marriage better than it is, can move it toward what God has in mind for it to be.

Philippians 2:1-4 says, 

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." 

Look back at our game show answers.






He would choose for my benefit.

And I would do the same for him.








And then, if you re-consider the sink/sad thing, we obviously have further to go.

You wanna know what helps me, personally, to keep going?  Some people might like to torque themselves around a man who doesn't notice every single good thing but has a word about the fault.

I know better.
While I have a thousand excuses for leaving it in the sink, I know better.
Bottom. Line.

And.

I try not to miss that "loooooong day of work" bit either.
That's him speaking his number one love language.

It's such a small thing, really, to put a pan in the dishwasher, and when I do, he's so much more likely to tell me how lovely a job I did with the litter box.
Next time, maybe we'll even do it together!



1  There's a book, a website, and a test on this subject.  We haven't taken the test but we will (though I'm pretty confident that we already know.)  For your consideration, 5LoveLanguages.com