Tag: the root word of relevant

marginal?

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. – 1 John 3:1

I have been feeling “blah” since last weekend.

And by “blah,” I mean lonely, alone, ignored, friendless, clueless, etc. (and exhausted, which is probably the cause for most of it).

Is it still the “living in a new place” thing? I don’t know. It shocks me when I see how many Myrtle Beach area Facebook friends I have. Surely, it’s not that. All 100ish of those friends are friends and not just people who are friendly because of a specific purpose or commonality before they vanish from everyday life.

Is it that my friends in Illinois have moved on, have new activities and inside jokes and people to fill up their days? Surely not. It is to be expected. And surely the distance hasn’t magnified our differences and made my friendship less worthy of maintaining.  I don’t in any way want them to daily pine for my presence in their kitchens or on their church pew or across from them at El Cortez.

Is it that so many people I used to consider friends were clearly just “business acquaintances? Of course not. Nobody pretended to like me because I promoted a concert or published a magazine or had a service to trade that may or may not catapult them 2.5 inches toward some sense of abstract something-or-other. Totally not. I expected it, so it doesn’t hurt at all.

Is it that my husband, who during the course of our almost-10 year marriage has almost always been home for dinner, and who from August 2009 until this past May was with us all the time, is traveling almost every week, to the point that some days I don’t even remember where he is? No. I am Woman. Hear me roar. Watch me do it by myself.

Yeah. Right.

~

Yesterday, I sat in a Christmas show with KK at one of the area theatres. My friend from high school, unbeknownst to me, was in it. KK and Randa’s old preschool was there on a field trip. The bathroom had signs about a show coming there in the spring that was going to be coming to “one of our theatres” at several different points. It was rainy and cold. I was ticked over some work stuff. And all of these things meshed together for me to feel in the pits. And one word flashed through my head: Marginalized. I’ve been marginalized.

I have never liked the connotation of that word when it applies to people. It makes me think of refugees or genocide survivors, people who have seen hell on earth and been forgotten, or people who were singled out for something they couldn’t control – gender, race, economic status, starvation and homelessness – and told that they were less than everybody else. It is not a pretty word. And I hate that it popped into my white America, middle class, wife-and-mother brain.

But it’s how I feel… pushed to the sideline, not in the center of anything, without a place to belong.

And being a believer in Christ, and a product of a bumber-sticker/FB meme generation, the immediate response to this is: But you are always in the center of God’s vision.And I know this. It’s just that God does not sleep next to me at night, or want to meet up at the mall/beach/McD’s with the kids on a random weekday afternoon, or make eye contact with me over the fact that we both have 6 year-olds in ballet.

Mini-rant: for crying out loud, Community, what does it cost you to look someone in the eye and maybe even smile?!

He keeps whispering to me, and just like I am refusing to wear “a winter coat in South Carolina” even though it’s 44 degrees, I refuse to listen. He shows me how much my little girls want and need my attention. He shows me how much my older kids – who have also been uprooted from their friends and are trying to navigate a new social climate – enjoy hanging out and doing things together. It’s like He is saying, “Look, Ms. Social Butterfly, your full and frolicking circle of friends in Illinois is great, still in tact even. And you do have people here to share your holidays and hug your kids and have your back. But your everyday stuff? I have given you 5 – now 6 – people to share that with. Suck. It. Up. Be grateful for what you have. Lean on Me in those lonely nights… (or maybe go to bed early. Or mop the dirty floor!) You are not marginal. You are, however, also not in high school. You don’t need a constant stream of people to keep you company. And you need to be the matriarch of your family, whether you are 35 or 55….doesn’t matter.

I repent for feeling alone in a crowded room. I am ashamed for the buried-deep-inside notion that people’s lack of friendship is about me. And I will try my hardest to remember that as a child – and follower – of God, I am not supposed to focus on the feeling or seeking of comfort. That is not what this life is about.I have waved the flag of a quiet Christmas, and it is time for me to embrace it.

I come back to the lyrics of a favorite (newer) Christmas classic and marvel at how God somehow knew our hearts before we were ever born~

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting

Welcome Holy Child. –
Chris Rice.

there is

written in a moment of intellectual clarity and emotional homesickness.

Somewhere there is a balance between the life I used to know and the one I am making now.

There is a place not defined by what is past and what is new.

There is a moment when I am not looking back at who I was or trying to figure out who I am, but simply exist, confidently and securely.

There is a sweet spot in which I live in this moment, work with what is in my hand right now, enjoy the blessings and lessons of this season, and do not worry about what I left behind and what I can’t let go of and what is coming around the bend.

There is a dream that defies the ideas of “broken,” “failed,” “true,” or “new,” and it takes a shape that whispers, “This was His plan for you all along.”

I believe all those things. In them lies peace. But they are hard to grasp.

So my prayer becomes, or rather remains,

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
 and my hope is in you all day long.
~Psalm 25:4-5

perfect love

Over the last few days, I’ve had opportunity to learn a lot about myself. It’s amazing to me that at my age, with my breadth of experiences, and as self-reflective as I have always been can still be discovering such major things about myself. But there it is. A series of unrelated incidences left me in a little emotional puddle for a few days, and after I was done wallowing in my own hurt feelings, God showed me a hard truth:

I still need to learn how to love.

It’s not that I don’t know the mechanics of it. I read The Five Love Languages when I was 20ish, and I have not forgotten them, and I can identify them pretty well, too. And I know how to be a friend… to cook the dinner, pick out the gift, give the huge hug, kiss the baby, remember the name of your great-grandma’s neighbor’s dog, but those are really just tasks. Niceties. They’ll do for awhile, but they have nothing to do with the manifestation of God’s love, which goes like this:

i John 3/The Message:

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

~
Can you imagine what it would be like to be free from condemnation? To be free from looking down on yourself for every little mistake and shortcoming… to be free from a critical eye toward others who are struggling in their journeys as well? I’d like to stop imagining it and start living it.

My whole life, I have loved as a defense mechanism. I have loved with either lofty expectations or with willingness to be destroyed in the name of love. None of that is part of God’s plan for perfect love. That kind of love gives power to the wrong entities. That kind of love asks for something in return that can only be given by God. That kind of love will never be satisfied. That kind of love always – always! – results in a broken heart, no matter to whom it is given.

But God’s love…oh, God’s love~

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

That verse (1 John 4:18) goes on to say that fear involves torment…torment! Who needs that? Who willingly inflicts that upon herself?

If perfect love is waiting to be opened like an elaborately-wrapped birthday present that you know will be just as exciting once opened as it is sitting before you waiting… why not receive it? Unwrap that thing and claim it and treasure it forever!

~

Nothing dramatic has happened in my life to bring me on this latest journey. Oh sure, circumstances always occur around us. People I care very deeply about are hurting or searching right now. And I… well… it’s the story of me to always be wondering if I am good enough, if I am doing the right things, if I am being productive or as we say in Christianese, “bearing fruit.” But John’s lovely first letter is being carved in my heart this week. Instead of looking outward at how love fails us, I am looking inward, where long ago I invited my Savior to live, and I am learning how He loves us… oh! How He loves US!

{I admit, this song drives me a little crazy in its junior-high-poetry-somewhat-overdoneness, but perhaps God is just that dramatic… and if I’m going to drown, may it be in an ocean of grace…}

the weight of the wait

For about a week, we had been waiting for a specific piece of mail.

Waiting has been a theme ’round these parts for quite some time. It’s almost as natural to me as breathing at this point. One day last week, I arrived to pick up Rod, but he wasn’t ready yet, and I waited. Not for long, but without irritation, I waited. And I thought about how much I have gotten used to waiting.

I think I have learned – finally – that there are some things I cannot control. Those things include the length of my husband’s phone calls and his preference for chemically-enhanced peanut butter, the amount of hunger my children will claim to have in between school and dinner, when exactly I get to visit Chicago again, whether I will ever get off the library’s waiting list for The Hunger Games, my wiry gray hairs and inability to spell “maintenance” and “thorough” without spellcheck, the timing of our Grand Purpose For Moving To Myrtle Beach, and the U.S. postal service.

But all this waiting, while it has settled into my bones, it has also made me weary. Sometimes I have a moment of…exhale, I guess…and suddenly, I can feel the weight of the wait. Some of the things we’ve waited on are inevitably superficial. But some of them, like this piece of mail, mean a lot, a lot, a lot to our family. They are the things that keep us from going back to sleep when we’ve awaken at 2am, the things that give us knots in our stomachs, the things that make us cry a little more than we should at something we see on fictional TV, take every FB post we read personally, and laugh nervously to fill awkward silences.

This day, this time, the thing we were waiting for came. Rod walked outside to get the mail, and he prayed. I stayed in the kitchen and sang a few lines of a hymn to my daughters (“to God be the glory, great things He hath done…”). He came back in and tried to fake me out, But I knew.

It came.

And you know what? It brought three friends. A fourfold blessing!

Edit: When I first wrote this, on Monday night, I thought that was the end of that story. It wasn’t. Let me be a little more transparent by saying when I took the largest one of that fourfold to deposit in the bank, in the account we’ve had for almost a year, I was informed there would be a 7 day hold on it. My response as a big, tall woman-of-faith? I cried. Like, ugly cried, right there in the drive-thru. And when I drove away, I started crying, “I want to go home,” which makes absolutely no sense because I am home and the banks in Chicago suck, too. By the time I called my mom, did a portion of the grocery shopping I had planned, picked up Rod for a meeting we had, and devoured a chicken-biscuit-and-sweet-tea (skipping breakfast and caffeine might have been part of the reason for my hysteria), my perspective had shifted back to its somewhat-proper balance. But wow… God really, really, really wants to make sure I’ve learned not to get ahead of myself!

For the most part, though, I am learning to wait more serenely. I’m learning that being made to wait is likely God testing my faith rather than an attack from my enemy. I’m learning that growth is often the goal, not some lofty, shiny result. I’m learning to expect God to answer my prayers and provide for my family. And I’m hoping that my faith will become more like a child’s in all this, because: see?

Hopeful, rested, weightless waiting is a beautiful thing.

back up

What. A. Week.

I have spent every free minute since Wednesday cleaning up a mess much bigger than the broken bottle of Worcestershire sauce on my kitchen floor last night.

In doing so, I learned new terms, like malware. I refreshed myself on how to use DOS. I found and learned how to use cleaning scripts, website security, and programs to break XML files (the precious backups of 3.5 years of words) into smaller pieces.

And because I learn this stuff as I go, I also accidentally deleted and had to re-add a database, freaked out because I thought I had to manually add 6 months worth of photos to their corresponding blog posts (turns out the necessary backup files were sitting on my computer desktop the whole time), and had to start the whole rebuilding process over again yesterday because of a misnamed file.

I also had several freakouts due to the other websites hosted on my server space – including our home church in Illinois, Rod’s ministry site, and our Branson GMR site. Everything is fixed now, but I sososo hope none of those sites forwarded people to the nasty stuff some of us saw earlier this week.

I apologize for the forwards… the bad stuff (aka malware) causing that to happen is gone and I have new knowledge and new goodies protecting us from it happening again.

As the Ghostbusters would say, “Light is green, trap is clean.”

Anyway, I missed writing, though it was kind of fun to learn the things I did in the process of cleaning the mess.

In retrospect, once I found the fix, I should have run it and let it do its work, and not deleted and rebuilt everything, but I was worried, I wasn’t sure I was using it right, and apparently, I like to make more work for myself.

And I’m really, really, really thankful I had a backup for everything.

No, the running metaphor of all of this is not lost to me. Nor was it when I was crying in the wee hours Wednesday night thinking I’d lost every word I’d written recording our journey of the past 6 months.

It has been a seriously insane 6 months. For whatever reason, Rod and I have been looking back a lot this weekend, and we’re both amazed at what we’ve come through. Surprised at God’s faithfulness? No. But always somewhat…taken aback, maybe a little flattered, when the Creator of all things takes time to help us through rocky roads, desolate places, and website attacks.

And we’re especially thankful for the little winks He seems to give, reminding us we’re not alone, reminding us that He – no man or entity, but the Lord’s ordering of our steps, is what brought us here.

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Whether crying in some strong arms or swinging around in them, having Someone to hold us is the best backup there is.