Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Party Planner

The first time I remember writing was in the 4th grade at Parkside Elementary in LaVale, MD, a very tiny town snuggled away in the mountains of Western Maryland.  We were given hard back books with, a completely white cover and clean pages and were assigned to write a story along with illustrations and at the end of the assignment we were going to read them to another class. I wrote mine about breaking my arm and having to wear a cast-I'd never broken my arm before, so it was completely fictional. At the same time my parents were in the process of separating and my mom, brother and I were preparing to move to San Antonio. So the day came, and I was going to read my book to the class next door... until I was told I wasn't... and I SOBBED. I remember feeling so left out, heartbroken, not understanding why this was being taken away from me when other kids the days previous got to, but now I wasn't. And then my teacher explained to me the class was throwing me a surprise going away party- and I cried again. They all wrote notes in a journal for me- we had cake and I felt very loved and sad that I was leaving my friends... and I still got to read my book to the class later that day. There were things happening behind the scenes, things I didn't have planned, but it was bigger and better and way more important.

My daughter believes in God. She just does. She doesn't over think His existence or how that can be, or lose her faith when things don't go her way, or when she's trying to understand hard things.  Her faith is very simple. He just is. That is what 'faith like a child' looks like. Jumping in, all of you, believing that God created us each individually on purpose. If you as my daughter anything about why she is the way she is, "why are you so pretty?" "Why are you so sassy?" "Why are you..." fill in the blank with whatever good or bad, her response is "because God made me on purpose." This is having faith like a child. It's simple, beautiful, and pure. It just is.

When do we lose that? When does our faith in God's goodness become childish and contingent?  *gasp* 'My faith in God is NOT contingent on anything. I know God exists! And I know God is good!"... But, are you sure? I've heard more times than I can count lately "God is really working today!" because something is going in favor of what's desired. Does that mean that if things aren't going as planned, He's taking the day off? He's clicked the half moon 'do not disturb' button on his iphone? (assuming he's an apple guy anyway, I certainly hope so... and fyi, my DND is on more often than not...also while we're here, just text me, don't call.) 

My friend recently got married and her wedding day was the BEST weather anyone could ever imagine for on their wedding day. Is this something to give thanks for - yes - if it rained that day does it mean God cared about her less? Not even a little bit. Someone recently got a job they wanted and said "yeah, it's been great, God is really working." This sentence just really makes me very uncomfortable. I just cannot help but be concerned when I hear this that their life is in shambles feeling completely left in the desert when something doesn't go as planned, when they don't get to read their book to the class, because they don't see that God is planning a party.

'God is really working!' when we think things are going as planned or not. God is good regardless if the current desires of your heart are met-or not. I have SEEN the waters part in my life. I have seen Him pave the way for me and all things just divinely land perfectly better than I could have imagined- but I've experienced the pain of things not going as I planned, or Him never fix situations I desperately wanted him to. I've SCREAMED at the top of my lungs at God to fix a situation or physical healing and he hasn't. I've screamed at God, physically, at the top of my voice so loud my vocal chords ached, and held a pen in my fisted hand scratching into a journal to fix my marriage, to take away my psoriasis, to heal my son's breathing problems when he was an infant, in utter desperation...He didn't. I've been ANGRY with God, in my ignorance of what's happening...But God is still working, I just can't see it yet, the party was and is still in preparation. 

He hasn't always fixed it to what I think that should have looked like- God is still good. I'm currently struggling with a bit of anxiety and depression- God is still good and still working. I have to deal with other humans poor decisions- God is still good and is still at work. We're asking for healing over my nephew with PKD, He hasn't- God is still good. I've been passed up on a job I want THREE times- I know God is still working. I make poor choices-God is still good. Humans suck- God is still good. God's goodness isn't a reflection of our humanness. It doesn't mean he's not working, we just can’t see things as he can.

I know I reference Donald Miller too much, but he talks about how the story of the forest is bigger than the story of the tree. There is no forest without each individual tree, but the bigger story isn't about the tree, it's about the forest. We are all required in this life we're all living- but there is so much more going on that we don't see, more to this life than just ourselves. God is working on about 10,000 different things in our lives, but we're only aware of about 3.

I’m in the midst of this season of questioning a lot of things I’ve always been told about God, but I haven’t questioned his existence or his goodness. We have no idea the depth of the love the Father has for each of us individually, specifically, intentionally. My faith is becoming less childish and more like a child, it’s very simple. I don't always understand why I don't get my turn to read my book to the class, but I have to trust in the process that something bigger and better and way more important is coming, I just can't see it yet.

Monday, April 3, 2017

This Mess is Mine

Confession: A fear is that the car in front of me will put on their breaks and I'll run into them in the middle of a car wash." I posted this on Snapchat, along with a photo of my windshield completely covered in suds. The reply I received said, "100% impossible." I never said this was a rational fear... in fact, how often are our fears rational?  This irrational fear stems from the fact that I was in MANY fender benders in my early driving years. However, this hasn't crippled me from getting my car washed once every couple weeks, but I still think about it every single time I do it. There are many fears I have that haven't crippled me- yet. I love dogs, but I fear some, because I've been bitten a few times. I fear losing my job, because I've been the product of "restructuring" on more than one occasion. I fear escalators, this comes from when I was 8 yrs old seeing the insides of a little boys hand after it was about ripped off. I fear being divorced AGAIN, this comes from growing up around many failed marriages. I fear being too damaged, this comes from emotional abuse. I fear becoming too hard, which comes from being told I am too closed off not once but twice in the last few weeks. These are all factors of the mess that's mine. 

A sentence I'm tired of hearing is "whyyyyy are you single?!" Not only is this a rude comment, but its ignorant. It's akin to asking a married woman "whyyyyy haven't you had kids yet?" well, that's none of your damn business. Maybe she has a deep down in her gut desire to be a mom but it's not in the cards for her. Maybe she just doesn't want dirty, sticky hands everywhere and enjoys the freedom to travel as she pleases. Maybe she fears trying again because she's had two miscarriages before, and the heartache of losing another might just kill her. The point is, she doesn't have to tell you why.

When I'm told something like "you're so great, I just don't understand why you're single!" its slightly offensive. I'm aware that it's meant as a compliment, I really do, I know that's the heart behind it... but, I struggle to not respond with "that's a good question, did you have time to sit down and talk about how badly my heart desires a partner, but all I seem to come across are those who tell me that I'm 'so cute I make a baby deer look like a pile of shit?'  and why it is that my bar is set about 10,000ft due north of that kind of 'compliment? Or how I've been on a couple really really fantastic first dates, but not been pursued by any of them. Did you want to talk about that? Oh, I'm sorry have I made you uncomfortable in answering your question...?' 

I'm encouraging of everyone owning their stories, and I'm the first to publish my mess publically, obviously. But come sit on my patio and drink some coffee or a glass of wine and lets talk about desires of our hearts and our lives and the cards we've each been dealt. Please, please do. Don't just say this kind of comment on a whim, and please don't say it with such desperation in your voice, because instead of complimenting me what you're actually doing is confirming my fear that there MUST be something wrong with me for being single. When in fact there's nothing wrong with me. I'm willing to be open and vulnerable, but I'm certainly not desperate and won't force something to happen. I unapologetically wear my heart on my sleeve because I know the reward will be great and I have too much to lose to be anything but honest about the mess that's mine. Which means sometimes I’ll drive home drenched in tears after sharing parts of my heart with someone because I could see the bricks simultaneously stacking up around them with every word I spoke.

An M.O. of mine is to stumble across a song, fall in love with it and play the shit out of it until I'm utterly annoyed with it. Recently that has been a song called Mess Is Mine, by Vance Joy. There have been days at work that this is the only song I've listened to, on repeat, all day. Hours and hours and hours of playtime this song has received from just me alone. "This mess was yours, now your mess is mine...sorry for the mess. hey, I don't mind."  I have a few friends that have been a part of seeing this mess be created, they've seen me at my worst, then helped me find my feet. They know all my secrets, details of my stupid mistakes and things I will carry with my for the rest of my life. My friends that I can call and just say 'I need you to tell me nice things" or like Leslie Knope told her best friend, Ann, "I need you to text me every 30seconds and tell me everything is going to be okay" and they'll do it. They get it, but they've been a part of it all along the way.  These are my people, the ones who make me feel like my mess is theirs too, not just mine.

I'm messy, I get that. I have two children, very limited free time, some baby daddy drama, work-in-progress-credit, and a big ol' slew of scars on my heart. It’s a mess. My fear is that my mess is too large for someone new to come and claim, and this fear comes from having yet to see it happen.

Today is a day that I believe the fear that I am in fact a mess- and I am.  But some days I believe it more than others, sometimes people confirm it, and some days I burry myself under my mess. As I saw the bricks being stacked recently, I believed my mess was my identity. But it's not. I fear being closed off, because I've been told I am, and I fear being too open, because I know I can be. BUT, this mess IS mine, I do own it because I did my part in creating it. What I wont do, is continue to live in fear that this mess will always be only mine.