Underneath

There are a lot of movies out there with a desperately single female protagonist. The woman is usually in her late 20’s and gorgeous, with few real issues, but several endearing quirks. That, or she’s got super ridiculous issues, but she’s so gorgeous that some guy would do anything to be with her.

One of my favorite movies dealing with the aging single woman is called Broken English. It’s more realistic than most, about a woman who is painfully single. She has a string of terrible dates and becomes leery of anyone showing interest, such that she finds it difficult even to be hit on because she feels this deep distrust of men who would be interested in her. It’s quite amazing to want someone to want you, but then distrust anyone who actually does. What’s wrong with them that they’re interested in me? And how quickly are they going to decide I’m not worth their effort?

It’s a mess. At some point the idea of being in a relationship starts to sound like the possibility of becoming an astronaut. You already know how much I fear outer space, but somehow I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a whole imaginary life that I can’t crumple up and throw away. It’s tattooed all over me with invisible ink. I know you think those are freckles covering my nearly-middle-aged skin, but they are actually hopes, and disappointed hopes. Sun kisses, or scars, or maybe notches to record imagined scenarios…

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The Joy of Grief

It has become somewhat of a tradition to write a blog post on or near my daughter’s “day.” Grief is such a richly varied experience and I have found it to be a kind of beautiful gift. For this reason, there is always something to say beyond the obvious reality that it sucks to have your kid die.

I couldn’t say that I’m glad I lost her, but today and many many other days in the last 7 years I can say that while I lost more than I ever wanted to, I gained many things I didn’t even know I could.

The biggest gain is that I’ve seen God come through for me in a way that I only ever vaguely believed he would before. A week or so after Sarah died, when I realized that I could not grieve in a healthy way, I asked God to take all of it and give back only what is good. While I could recount many occasions in the last 2,555 days that I felt unpleasant emotions; screamed, cried, numbed up, felt sorry for myself, choked on the emptiness, laid in the cold mud of life without her, thought of who she would be now, felt anger at a passing pregnant woman… I have felt all of those emotions and more, but every one of them came at just the time I needed to feel it. Each one helped me heal a little more. Since asking him, God has been utterly faithful to carry all but what I was supposed to walk with in the current moment.

When people find out about Sarah they almost always say, “I don’t know how…” or, “I never could handle…” But of course they’re right and neither could I. Although it might seem weird that feeling pain has been a gift, it’s the way that I have been set free to grieve without guilt or shame, without wallowing or getting stuck too long. I haven’t made this happen, I have only accepted whatever piece came my way….

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Let’s Fight

When I was young I had a pretty bad temper. “Seeing red” was a figure of speech that I understood completely.

Back then, we also did our family fighting with really loud voices. When it went on between others and myself, it was cathartic, when it was other members of my family with each other, it tipped over into stressful. I remember one time going into my room, slamming the door and plugging my ears so tightly that I hurt myself, all because of an argument in which I was not involved.

It was for that reason that I began looking for “fixes,” or, more appropriately termed, “diffusers.” Jokes are my favorite- ones that make me the fool usually work out the best because there’s no possibility for things to be taken wrong. Every once in a while I found actual wisdom that calmed things. Not so much like Solomon, but more like the time I encouraged my sister to not stay stubbornly in the car at McDonalds because she’d be hungry later when her anger had cooled.

As an adult there is really never any yelling. I still sometimes get the urge to slam doors, but if I notice the urge in time, I can diffuse it by calling myself out as passive aggressive…

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Send Someone Else

Does being awesome have to be such hard work?

I’m coming to believe that as much as I want to live my life on purpose, show as much love as possible and, above all, help people know God better- as much as I want that, I don’t usually want the difficulties that go with those things.

This isn’t where I give you some moral lesson about how I’ve really just learned to buckle down and do the hard work. This is where I admit openly that I don’t want to.

I don’t.

It’s stressful. It’s exhausting, and I’m pretty sure I’m going a little bit crazy…

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Let Down Your Nets

This weekend I was really wrestling with the feeling that I am not up for the job I’m doing. I had all kinds of questions about how much stress is healthy and leads to growth and how much is unhealthy and leads to deterioration. It’s not as straight forward as setting boundaries for when I work and when I rest because sometimes when it’s time for me to study my brain won’t engage… and sometimes when I feel like I need rest I do actually have to be at that meeting.

Often people will say that if God calls you to do something he will give you the strength to accomplish the job. Thinking along these lines, if I look back at the last school I staffed, I see that it took a while to get the swing of things and until I

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“got it,” I was really wrestling – similarly to how I am wrestling right now.
On one hand it gives me hope that there will be a tipping point when it stops feeling like there’s an ogre sitting on my chest. On the other hand because there is a lot more work with this school, it feels like maybe it’s just more than I would ever be able to handle…

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The Guts of my Heart

Somehow we always want fairy tale endings even right smack in the middle of our lives. Am I right?

The last year or so I have felt a kind of fairy tale take-off  happening within my heart in a way that is, I think, slightly deceiving. This is what it is like to straddle adulthood. To try the balance beam of “going somewhere”.
But it’s kind of a lie, to be honest. Because here is the thing; after having several years blast the daylights out of me, blast so much soot and the childhood scars away and the unreal expectations and the misplaced fanciful hopes… AFTER such a few years, when I’ve rinsed off what had come undone (which was a lot), stand up straight (which feels like, and possibly is a miracle), and head back into the fray (and by that I mean purposeful living), I realize that the mini-Armageddon of the soul I had just experienced was merely round 1….

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How the Mighty Fall

Yesterday I woke up and felt ready. Unlike many of the days in this last week, I woke up feeling prepared to take the day by the reigns and get things done. I think partly because Saturdays tend to be more rewarding days and because all of the work is followed by a day off.
Who knows why I woke up feeling prepared, but it led me to work out and then high tail it to the classroom. There was a lot to be done.

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Looking back on the day, I think the feeling of preparedness was mainly a head trip. It was a pretty good head trip until things started to go wrong. The class computer wouldn’t get online. Then once I got it to go online, it wouldn’t connect to the printer so that I could print out all the work I had to work on. Thankfully a staff person came in earlier than usual and helped me figure out how to connect my laptop to the printer…. but then this process also took a while because I had to install drivers.

And the clock was ticking….

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Choosing Awesome

Sometimes I get stuck in a horrible place in my head. It’s the place that believes that my lot is destined to be difficult and my future is clouded and full of lots of stuff I really don’t want to do.

No joke. It’s not pretty to admit it, but  I feel like admitting this might help me get out of the ditch I find myself laying in the last few days.
I wrestle and worry, crunching my eyebrows together and looking for places to hide. But it’s a little like slamming my eyes shut and cursing my self inflicted blindness. Since I cannot predict the future, what stops me from anticipating awesome things?…

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Coming to Town

Christmas comes but once a year.
Oddly enough that seems pretty frequent.

Every year I go through the same stages of Christmas Gift Anxiety. First, I don’t think about gifts until someone I know says they’ve almost finished their shopping. Then I think “holy crap, if they’ve just finished and I didn’t think about it until this moment, I’m way behind!”

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So if stage 1 is Oblivious, stage 2 is Stress. At this point I consider all of the people I want to bless and weigh that against all of the money I don’t have. This leads to stage 3, Disappointment. As a reaction to the disappointment I tell myself “it doesn’t matter. Why do we do this to ourselves every year? Everyone else knows how broke I am and will totally understand if I don’t get them anything.” I’m not sure what to call that stage… Denial?

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On You Mark, Get Set…..

It is, like WAY easier to write a blog post than it is to pare down to what will fit in my car and pack it all.

You know?

So before I dive in today, I thought I would write a post to bolster my courage….

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