Category Archives: love and respect

I Suck Because I Made the Special Speaker Cry*

*thanks to my sister for this title

I’ve been part of a wonderful group of women who have been meeting for nine weeks with the focus on food issues, although we rarely discuss food. Food issues is what brought us together but we are bound together by many commonalities, not the least of which is larning to simply believe we are ok in spite of our myriad problems. I love these women and this group. We have only one more week and then our time together will end.

Last night, we had a special speaker who has overcome an eating disorder of many years duration. She shared her story, which gave all the glory to God for His help in her victory. She gave us several pages of scriptures and expressed her belief that the Bible addresses every one of our issues and that we cannot make changes without God’s truth.

So, it’s not that I disagree, necessarily. But as I grew up in several churches (Baptist and fundy), I took in messages, which may or may not have been explicit, that in general, I was not ok. What I wanted, what I felt, what I needed, what I WAS — none of these things were ok. Verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 (The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?) were reinforcement to me that there was nothing good in me. Never mind that I don’t remember ever hearing about the context of this verse, or if there were other places in the Bible that told a different story about me. And then Paul says, “No, I beat my body and make it my slave . . .” Again, context? Again, can we temper this for someone who has shame at the core?

What I have found over the past year is that, IN SPITE of what I learned in church, I have actually come to understand some pretty important things. And I learned them AFTER I had prayed MANY times to have my mind transformed, to be changed. So, one could say that the things I have learned are the answer to those prayers. But I am deeply convinced that the transforming of our mind is not MAGIC. Unless we learn something new to put in there, the old stuff has a way of staying around.

1. What I thought of as a terrible flaw in myself turns out to be wholly related to self-image. I never understood why I saw myself either as superior to someone else or inferior to them. I just chalked it up to pride and made sure to remind myself several times a day about how bad a person I was. Seems that what is required to avoid the superiority/inferiority thing is to learn how to see eye-to-eye. Probably sounds pretty logical and duh! but wasn’t something I had a clue about.

2. And speaking of pride, I discovered that it can be incredibly prideful and self-centered to think so badly of oneself. To always, in a conversation, be worrying about what the other person thinks of me, to always think I’m offensive just by being around — these are not things that come from true humility and love.

3. It is ok to believe I am ok, that I am more than ok, that perfection is not the goal. (Ah, but what to do with Matthew 5:48: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'”) The way I see it, my former obsession with perfection was all about ME. I was convinced that if I could be perfect, I could be loved. And if I couldn’t be perfect, I couldn’t be loved.

3. I have come to believe that “You make me mad” is incorrect. My response to you is what makes me mad, not your actions or words. This has gone a long way to helping me understand that having boundaries clarified whose problem something is. Not to say that I don’t give a rip if you feel sad, mad, scared or ashamed after an interaction with me. I will always want to apologize or make it right however I can. But your feelings are YOUR feelings. This means that I do not have to carry the responsibility for every person in the world.

4. The bottom line is LOVE.

So, last night as we responded to what the speaker said, I tried to explain my baggage from misinterpreting Scriptures and that I wanted to get rid of the baggage, and for the moment, that means allowing some space and healing to occur around some of the beliefs I internalized. However, the speaker was visibly upset by this and ended up expressing her doubts about really having the ministry she feels called to do. We all gathered around her and prayed for her and it was a really sweet time. I think it was very important for her to realize that not everyone is going to accept her message and for her to see how very responsible she feels for the outcome of giving her testimony. As my sister said, all you can do is hold out the beacon of truth. It is not your responsibility what others do with it.

Before I had the awesome opportunity to learn the truths I listed above, I truly would have felt like I Suck Because I Made the Special Speaker Cry. Instead, I had the opportunity to practice being authentic. I was careful about what I said. I did not set out to hurt her feelings, or discount what she said. In a group such as ours, the point of it is to share ourselves with each other. I shared my resistance to the message and I told why. I know that doesn’t sit well with people who hate to rock the boat. I wasn’t sure I was going to say anything, but someone commented on my silence and asked about it. I took the risk to express myself. I addressed the fact that it seemed like what I had said was hurtful to her and I told her I was sorry for hurting her. But I’m learning that being authentic sometimes means things are uncomfortable for a while, and that often a deeper relationship and more meaningful interaction are the outcome.

So, I don’t really suck. Nor did I make the special speaker cry. But somehow, as God seems to be able to do, He used all the elements to minister to quite a few of us all at once.

My wishes for Jessica and Caleb

My dear cousin’s eldest daughter is getting married Saturday. I had plans to attend the wedding, but as gas prices have risen, our plans for travel this summer have changed. Plus, I didn’t really think it would work well for me to drive myself and any number of my kids 900 miles to the wedding.

Jessica is their eldest, 23 I think. She has two younger sisters and a younger brother. All the kids are just wonderful, as are their parents. I haven’t gotten to meet Caleb yet, but I have no doubt he is a great guy.

As I think of them getting married, I would like to tell them:

Dear Jessica and Caleb,
My thoughts and prayers are with you as you get married today. May you have a wonderful, special and memorable wedding day. I hope you love being married as much as we do. After 23 years, I think the things that make the biggest difference are these: not saying unkind things when angry; working through disagreements before going to sleep if at ALL possible; remembering every single day that your spouse is a great blessing to you; touching each other regularly; learning what it means to be unselfish; studying and practicing I Corinthians 13 about bearing all things, believing all things, enduring all things, hoping all things. Laughing a lot together. Reciting lines from favorite movies that you enjoy. Reading to each other. Always being open to learning new things, about each other, and about yourself. Allowing the Light of Jesus Christ to come into any dark places and light them up. Knowing that everyone brings baggage into a marriage and committing to doing what it takes to get rid of the baggage. Reading good books on marriage (As For Me and My House by Walter Wangerin, Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle, and my most recent discovery — The New Rules of Marriage by Terry Real). Buy and listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s CD All About Love. At least read the lyrics, even if it’s not your type of music. I think he has done a great job capturing what it means to love and so many of the things we face as work on our marriages. Keep your marriage first when you have children. Always treat your spouse with respect. We love you!

Saying I’m Sorry

The “simple” act of saying I’m sorry can be difficult for many of us. I found something by a man named Paul Davis, on the internet, that I thought was quite well-said.

When you hurt someone
Make haste to render an apology.
Whether you’re right or wrong
Do so, be well, and live long.

Embrace and endear people tenderly
Delight in others wholeheartedly
Refuse to act offensively
Be silent rather than speak abrasively

And when you’ve wounded others carelessly
Discover the power of an apology.

Church: Good For What Ails Ya

So we’ve been going to this new church for about five weeks, or maybe six. Imagine my pleasure this morning as I walked through the church and heard someone call my name to greet me, and a little farther down the hall, I ran into someone I have known for about 8 years who said, “Are you attending this church?”, hugged me, and said, “I’m glad you’re going here. I like you.”

Instead of attending the main service this morning, I went with Eli to the junior high meeting. Although I missed being in the main service, I loved getting to know the youth pastor a little better. I loved it that he encouraged the kids to bring their Bibles to church as they would need them. I loved it that he taught on the book of Jonah and I learned some things! And I loved that Eli did not want to go in but had to since I forced him, and ended up having a positive experience.

I loved running into “Karen,” an acquaintance I’ve known for several years, who offered to show me where the junior high kids meet, made sure my son met her son, and introduced both myself and Eli to the youth pastor.

I’m glad we are there.

Bowling: Good for What Ails Ya

Recently, I realized that it had been approximately 827 months since Greg and I had gone upon an actual date. We usually get a couple of hours on a weekly basis to run errands to Lowe’s, etc., but that time is always spent in productive pursuits. Matthew Kelly talks about “Carefree Timelessness” in his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy. Carefree Timelessness is the kind of time we spend with someone when we are young and in love. Remember spending hours on the phone with someone? Or going to a park and lying on a blanket looking at the amazing cloud formations? Well, I don’t much like talking on the phone anymore and lying on the ground sounds painful, but I do think our little bowling trip qualified as Carefree Timelessness. We spent big and paid for two games at the beginning ($21 including shoes). I realized after we had bowled a few frames that we weren’t talking about our kids, or any chores that needed to be done, or what driving we needed to do the next day to take people places. We were just hanging out together having fun. You can see from the photos that we are outstanding bowlers — look at our form — and that Greg scored his highest ever score, whereas I did not. So, here’s a plug for bowling. It’s great fun.

What is Marriage Anyway

I am part of a therapy group that meets on Wednesday evenings. I love my group. We have been meeting since last August, and have lost one member and gained three, so we have a full group now with eight members. Our newest member is unhappily married and soon to be divorced. Because of confidentiality, I cannot even share in this format anything else about his story, but our meeting Wednesday night really made me think alot about marriage.

We have been married for 23 years. And I believe we will stay married for good. I was so distressed to hear the conversation at group about “taking care of yourself” and “honoring your truth.” I think there is a place for that kind of thinking, but when it comes to marriage, sometimes “taking care of yourself” can cause some huge problems in a marriage where one of the people is unwilling or unable to change his or her behavior. I do not advocate abuse of any sort. Abuse changes the reality and taking care of yourself is an extremely important thing to do.

I like to think there is a solution for most problems. Sometimes, or even most of the time, the choices we make as young people are not the choices we might make as forty-somethings, so the pragmatist might think that it’s a good idea to jettison “bad” choices and find true love now that he/she really knows what he/she wants in life. But I believe that marriage is a great refiner of each of us. We learn to think of someone other than ourselves. We learn to give of ourselves, even when we might not want to. When both people really love each other, I believe ANYTHING can be gotten through.

When Kepler was born, even as strongly as Greg and I feel for each other and are committed to each other, I looked at him one day in the first week and told him I could understand why tragedies (which Kepler’s birth and diagnosis were NOT, but it was still a difficult time) cause relationships to break apart. And I told him I thought we needed to be really aware of that possibility and re-up on the commitment side of things, and make sure we talked about what was going on. I shudder to think what might have happened if each of us had started focusing on “taking care of myself” to the exclusion of taking care of the other person at the same time.

How can anyone stay married these days without a sense of a larger meaning to life? If someone is unhappy in their marriage, why should they stay if they aren’t happy anymore? If what matters is only now, and only what I want, then divorce makes a lot of sense. But if we are part of a larger story, which I believe we are, then there are great reasons for staying and working through things.

Since I Last Wrote

Well, it’s been a quiet weekend around here. Compared to my friend Carla, who started Saturday morning with a piano recital at 8 am, then headed off to a soccer game for her older son, then got a phone call from the lady at the state competition for piano who informed her that her sons were coming up soon in the program and she should get there asap (she had forgotten about this). Then when they got home, they had company for dinner, and the company stayed late so they didn’t get to make their pinewood derby car so they had to do that Sunday morning. Ugh. I am so glad I don’t have such a schedule.

So, Friday night I attended a concert for which my mom was the accompanist. Saturday night, we attended a Seder dinner at my mom and dad’s house. Sunday, we went to church and out to lunch, then I spent some time with my dear hubby in the afternoon but only after we delved into some v-e-r-y s-c-a-r-y territory where he mentioned that he doesn’t actually like or dislike what I wear; he just accepts it. This revelation came at a time when I am feeling like everything I wear looks terrible on me because I need to lose some serious weight. You have to understand that Greg is not your stereotypical husband who is clueless in many areas, and/or demanding in many areas. He is a kind, loving, caring, thoughtful, supportive guy, pretty much 24/7. So it was a shocker for him to acknowledge that maybe there’s something to be desired in how I dress.

I used to dress nicely. I used to have a lot more places where it was the norm to dress nicely. But since we have been going to an ultra-casual church for 5 1/2 years and I don’t work outside our home, most of my dressy clothes have gone by the wayside for one reason or another. Finally, it got to the place where I had only one nice outfit for colder weather, and no nice outfits for warmer weather.

Coincidental to all of this, I realized that taking care of my appearance is one of the things I have relegated to the back burner, as I have gradually done away with more and more things that really take care of me, or things that I enjoy. That realization came last week and I went right out the next day and bought some things that are not t-shirts, not jeans, and actually could be considered pretty. Went out again Saturday and bought a couple more things. So when I went to church Sunday morning (at the new place) I chose to wear a skirt. I felt better about myself, having taken time to choose something pretty to wear.

The other big trauma from the weekend was clothes shopping with Val, my 15-year-old. Perhaps because of my example, she dresses very casually almost all the time. And with few to no occasions that require anything dressy, her wardrobe is very casual. Her choir will be singing next week and she needed a black outfit. So off we went to get her one. We did great on the top and skirt part, but things got very grim when we went shoe shopping. I was determined to buy something inexpensive because I have bought several items that have been worn once or even nonce and I know she does not like to wear dress shoes. I had something specific in mind, and felt like I chose a pair that was a reasonable compromise between what she would like to have and what I felt like was appropriate. I am not pushy when it comes to clothes. I was getting tired though and wanted to be done with shoe shopping especially because I could see we probably were not going to come to agreement. I declared that THESE were the ones we were going to buy.

Her reply was . . .

“You can buy them, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to wear them.”

This did not sit well with me, and more words were exchanged between the two of us, and then silence ensued. I did not buy them. I pouted in silence for a couple of hours until I finally calmed down enough to realize that the amount of trouble she gives me is miniscule and the amount of pleasure and joy she brings is vast and I was wrong to be holding on to my anger.

The next morning she and I were walking on the trails at the park, playing our “what If” game where we ask each other hypothetical questions. One question came up which gave both of us the opportunity to acknowledge that we would like to take back what we said around and about the shoes issue, and forgiveness was offered on both sides.

So, we are back on track. She has black shoes to wear Friday night (some I already had), and I am reminded of what a joy she is to me.

Today, instead of my fat jeans/loose t-shirt outfit I have been wearing incessantly, I put on a pretty shirt, and a pretty pair of pants, and NOT running shoes. I even put on earrings, and felt like an impostor adult for a little white. Amazing what clothes can do for you.

Visited a New Church Today

As my huge blog readership knows, we have been at the same church since September 2002. It is a medium sized church, meeting in a school, and is made up of many 20-somethings, and a very few people over 40. Not that there’s anything wrong with 20-somethings, or people who haven’t read the Bible (not necessarily the same thing), but after 5 1/2 years of going to a church where there are few to no people on the same road as us, and after 5 1/2 years of sermons, I mean “talks,” directed toward very young Christians, I thought maybe we should check out another place.

There is a church about 15 minutes from here where we know a LOT of people — more actually than the church we have attended for 5 1/2 years. The reason we know so many people is that there are many homeschoolers who are in a similar place in life as we are. Also, our beloved basketball team has many families who attend this church.

I grew up in a fundy church, which although it had its problems, it definitely gave me a church home. We shared so many things with the people in our church, and we met Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights. So, the people we went to church with were part of our lives more than just Sunday morning. At our present church, we rarely if ever see church people outside of Sunday morning, and I find life to be so busy that I must spend time with people I am going to see naturally, due to school or activities.

So, this morning we visited the new church. I had heard they have a special needs Sunday school class, and I was keen to take advantage of this for The Little Guy. He is with us, pretty much 24/7, and I am needing a break. Maybe that sounds terrible to those of you who only go to church to worship God and give of yourselves. But I prayed this morning that I would not continue to feel so alone at church. We were greeted warmly and accompanied to the sunday school rooms. I saw numerous people I know. I felt comfortable at this church.

Sunday school was looming large and scary for The Webkin Queen, but I had determined if the greeter offered us Sunday school I was going to take advantage of it, because I wanted to accept what was offered. TWQ was really sad and really did not want to go into the classroom, and the teacher brought one of the other girls out, who was very friendly and kind, and TWQ told me afterwards that she was really glad I had made her go. This was a great relief to me — I want her to have some experiences with other Christian friends, and I think she can have that at this place.

I can’t remember my pseudonym for my 12-year-old, let’s just call him “Eli.” His class was a little different. His teacher had some pretty black and white beliefs and Eli came out with some questions about whether or not Catholics are really going to hell because they pray to Mary. Ouch. We all went out to lunch and discussed the things he heard in his class and I think it ultimately was a good thing for him to be exposed to that stuff as long as we were able to debrief it. Not sure it’s going to be a good thing for him to be exposed to it week-in and week-out. We shall see.

The older two kids went to our regular church, but my daughter is keen to go to the new place next week when I mentioned that I had seen one of her basketball teammates at the new place.

Maybe we sound really shallow, but I suspect that the only ones reading this know that we are not. Life is busy, and in order for me to be able to contribute to a church, I am going to have to be somewhere where I can build relationships that are not just separated from every other aspect of my life. It’s too hard to be so spread out, with homeschooling the kids and having THAT group of acquaintances and friends, and dealing with special needs and having THAT group of acquaintances and professionals, and being on sports teams and dealing with THOSE groups of acquaintances and friends. Sounds just so lovely to me to have some of those groups overlap.

We’re going back next week.

I’m Still Here!

Wow, where does the time go?

I thought maybe I’d better post again since it has been 6 days and my immense readership might get discouraged if there’s still nothing new to read.

The other night, just days after the giant LEGO shipment went away, my son brought out a LEGO set! Hey, I didn’t know we had any more of those?!

I was finishing up going through the photos, and as soon as I finished, I became his “LEGO butler.” I looked for the pieces for the next step and had them in a nice little group for him. As he worked, we had a really nice talk about life and stuff. And I realized I had NEVER once worked on LEGOs with the kids over the years. I wonder if that was because there were just way too many.

One little mystery that arose. This set was bought by us on Ebay and did not include the mini-figures. I guess those mini-figures must be bigtime collectible or something. I did have a moment where I wished we had been able to save out a little guy for this set, but we didn’t, so I am moving on.

I hope to jazz up my blog this weekend and write some witty and amazingly unforgettable posts as well.