I don’t know whether I slipped or leapt to embrace you but I do know that you are mine. Hello, new year.
I don’t know whether I slipped or leapt to embrace you but I do know that you are mine. Hello, new year.
My brother and sister-in-law’s friends are pretty legit – I had the chance to hang with them during the wedding recently.
They embrace life and community as a changing flux but hold each other closely.
As creative folk, they constantly evolve their thinking process and add to their narratives from the experiences and people they encounter. They yearn for doing work that gives life to them and life to others. And they don’t take bullshit because they know when things beyond them are worth releasing and jobs are worth quitting.
They know we are not yet home but they don’t spend time coasting. They get dirty in the hustle and the struggle until the dirt under their nails becomes a sweet aroma. Success is not a bar to reach but a wrestling that sometimes results in a bloody, cut eye. It’s like an injury that you’re not sure how or why you got it. But it’s there, so you wear it as your victory badge until it blends into the lines around your eyes when you laugh about it.
Before you know it, their casual words waft in across your temples, sinks down into your chest, past the pit of your stomach, and roots into your loins. It loosens the scales you have carried from birth and ones you gained through learning, leaving you naked but fully accepted. Then it births a tingle that clothes your skin and sets in as a patina on your spirit.
And you know you can’t go back, you can’t unhear. The cries of new birth cannot be stifled because all a new babe knows is how to cry for attention. And its cries erupt in my chest as I say my goodbyes, not knowing when I might see them again. As we part, I turn back to my babe, not yet adulterated. And I strap her close to my chest, knowing now that I am hers as much as she is mine.
I cared for you for two nights. The first night, you were somnolent, barely responsive to touch or vocal stimuli. Your body was giving way to the cancer you had been living with, unbeknownst to you for several years. I was assigned to be your nurse because I was familiar with the language your sons spoke while you were non-verbal.
As I cared for you, I fumbled to find the right combination of words I used in my childhood to express concern and factual information to help your sons cope. They were losing their mother. But they wanted to see you do better, so they coped by meticulously following every number I told them and bringing their own equipment to monitor your vitals.
They were scared and at a loss. They wanted to see you go a different way but they weren’t ready to stop any intervention that meant they had an extra moment with you.
On the second second night, I saw what brightened the heart of your two sons, who waited anxiously at your bedside, day and night. You opened your eyes and opened your mouth for a few hours. In those moments, your sons buzzed quietly around the room to attend to every small gesture you made until you closed your eyes again and returned to being somnolent. Despite that moment, I knew you weren’t doing well. Your lungs couldn’t function enough to oxygenate you adequately. Your body was starting to swell from the molecular imbalances as organ functions were starting to deteriorate.
I wish I could have understood our shared language better to help your sons better understand the process of dying, something we all have to approach. I wish I could have understood our shared language enough to broker a conversation between the team and your sons, so your comfort could be primary. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered regardless, but I can’t help wondering.
Visiting an aunt in Oregon with my mom is not my ideal vacation locale nor travel buddy, but it’s a nice getaway from the regular humdrum of Chicago-living. There’s comfort at home of knowing exactly where I’m going, what’s good, and switching into auto-pilot as I drive.
But it’s nice to be jolted from the monotony and have to consider what am I doing, where I’m going, and for what reason I’m doing things. It’s even more appropriate as I stand at the precipice of figuring out my career.
I was having one of my Kristen Wiig moments this morning as I got in touch with my emotions after this week’s events. When I am tired, I get emotional and then I go into a Kristen Wiig spiral. No offense Kristen, but those are kind of your movies (watching two is enough to judge, right?) – girl thinks that she has it all and then loses everything -apartment, boy, job- then ends up moving back home but has quirky friends who show her how much she still has because they love her. Then there’s a redeeming plot twist at the end where she gets the guy and shows the world it can’t keep her down. Everyone feels warm and fuzzy, and, most importantly, that life may not suck after all.
But life does not find its full completion in the same way as a two hour movie. The working at it part kind of seems to go on forever. Until we get to the end (hopefully with you, Lord), can you just expedite this growing pains and groaning process? I know it’s supposed to build endurance and lead to hope, but really, can we just speed it up a little? Life is short. I only have 50 some years of average American life left to live and my age range has the highest rate of death from injuries and violence, so there’s really no guarantee. And at the rate the polar bears are dying, I may not even get to all those years with fresh air.
And it would also be cool if you could speed up the meeting-cool-guy-and-gettting-married process. I don’t really care for the awkward dating, not knowing, maybe he’s “just not that into me” ish. Just get me to the he-put-a-ring-on-it-and-sealed-the-deal so I know he’s committed. It’d be nice if you could give me a sign and I’ll quickly move on if a guy’s not good for me or vice versa. Kthanksbye.
Unlike Kristen’s characters, there are no friends today to interrupt my random morning of trailing thoughts that lead me to feeling miserable about myself. There is just me and my willpower (and I guess truth) to fend them off. Although it is tempting to believe, I am not a girl who has no friends. The world does not hate me. Guys do not suck (ok, maybe just the boys). I am not a miserably jaded Kristen Wiig character, or maybe I am, but she always finds herself among faithfully loyal friends who may beat her up, take her to bars, or lend them their life sized replica of an hermit crab’s exoskeleton. Well, really if any of those quirky friends are Darren Criss, that would be enough for me.
Anyways, I am a deeply flawed character without a concise two hour run time that ends with a hope for the future. However, I am hopeful because of the one I hope in. Things don’t automatically get better in the rough seasons (or days) but I know how to love and I want to love more. And that’s going to make everything progressively better.
P.S. For those who may not know, I was referencing the movies Bridesmaids and Girl Most Likely, with Kristen Wiig starring in both.
Maya Angelou, when asked what she would say to her younger self, said, “I would encourage her to forgive. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself…You can’t forgive without loving, and I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean much. I mean having enough courage to stand out and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.'” (The interview is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcOzaMGQzPg.) Her poetry, literature, and person speaks deeply to the spirits of those who encounter her words.
Today her words spoke wisdom into my daily task of choosing to forgive. Although those whom I need to forgive are still on the very mild end of the “offenders of humanity” spectrum, my experiences have taught me the deep resolve it takes to forgive. I can only imagine what the forgiving process looks like for those whose life and/or dignity have been threatened or taken.
I would like to say that today, I forgive and I’m finished with it but that’s not the case. I find myself needing to work at it every day, choosing to forgive despite the pain I endured and still will. In an untrue, but easier to accept, reality, I feel like I lose out when I forgive. My offender gets away scot free while I agonize and wallow and claw my way out of a dark pit. But true reality is that until I can fully work through forgiveness to my offenders, I will respond to life with a sense of woundedness as well as act out because of my woundedness. In such a state, I am unable to see in color and unable to experience wonder because I feel personally jaded by everything that goes wrong.
So on these hard days when I can’t profess that I forgive, I can remind myself that there is one who says, I know you, I love you, and I forgive you, when I can’t. I need that gift too.
As I journey through a one year Old Testament plan, I’m astounded by the faithfulness of God despite the lack of faith from his people. I hope you’ll humor me in my layperson interpretation of the story that follows. When the Lord make a covenant with Abram, that from him will come the line of many kings and nations, God stays faithful despite the disbelief of Sarai. She gets anxious that her biological clock is ticking and has Abram father a son with her servant. Then the servant looks on her with “contempt,” Sarai gets upset, and casts the servant and son out (soap opera, much?). But God steps in to rescue the servant and son.
Then God makes another covenant with Abram, changes Abram to Abraham, renames Sarai to Sarah, and visits them. When the promise to fulfill the covenant is spoken again, Sarah laughs. She straight up laughs at the words spoken as a promise of God. I’m sure there’s frustration and bitterness behind that because I’ve seen and heard stories from couples who miscarry or have difficulty conceiving. That is an incredibly hard journey for those couples and probably they would have laughed too because of the utter ridiculousness of a promise despite “trying everything.” But then again, this was the Lord at her doorstep. Although the Lord calls her out, he doesn’t takesies backsies his promise despite her lack of faith (not to mention disrespecting him). He is faithful. He is who is who he is so he’ll do what he does. No takesies backsies. Doing our part matters, to an extent, but it doesn’t change his faithfulness to us.
This reminds me that I will never do everything right but God is faithful to who He is and who He is making me to be. That is the extent of his grace and his love.
Anywhere I would have followed you.
Jadedness had me wrapped up in her arms this season. And it sucked. But it came from a place of feeling deep hurt. So, I justified my annoyances and lack of mercy for others because I felt entitled by the hurts done against me. But that’s not the way I want to live.
The only way to find healing and relief from this anger is to forgive the offender. And I don’t want to yet. It’s emotionally easier to appease myself with good food, small adventures, and making myself a strong independent woman. But none of that soothes my angst. So I’m taking conscious steps towards forgiving – capturing every thought, every breath. Ok…occasionally I let snide remarks slip by but I’m getting there – no one is perfect.
I’m going to be a strong independent woman who forgives… and looks good doing it. You know, like the modern day feminists.
When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, “Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.” – Indra Nooyi (CEO and Chairman of Pepsico)
Assuming positive intention – that’s nursing all day erry day. Some days it’s just a lot harder.
I think the immediate gratification of media is making me actively love people less. Loving people is inconvenient to my schedule and my own free time unless they give me something in return. I’m pretty sure that’s what my media binge + lady time pains taught me this weekend.
Time to remember what those returns look like by doing some inconvenient things.