Monday, December 31, 2012

Sometimes Life Just Gives You Lemons....

And sometimes it can last a whole year. The acidic taste in my mouth leftover from 2012 has me in a permanent pucker. I am sad. I am disenchanted. I am disheartened. I am not amused. As we pop a cork to celebrate the incoming new year. I am looking for something, anything, to quell the blue emptiness I am feeling inside. Where is my lemonade?

Sometimes, after buoying up on hope and optimism for awhile, I need to enter a glum period. A down period of rest and quiet hibernation. 2012 was that for me. The bright spots of hope were short and ephemeral. The dark days of strife and challenge seemed ever present. The funny thing about being in the dark is that your eyes adjust to it and, after a while you can see some light in the darkness. That is the extent of the high points of last year...minor glimpses of something through a haze of dark.

But it will not always be this way. I know this. I am a woman of faith. I believe in a strong God who has plans for me that are not visible from where I stand. From where I stand, my view is obstructed, and like all human beings, I forget sometimes that this is not all there is. When people say live in the moment, that is all well and good, but in order to truly live in the moment, you need (at least) three other things:

1) You need faith. If you don't believe there is a God and plan, how can you set down your worries, cast off your burdens and kick up your heels in the now? If you don't have faith, and you're stuck in a horrible moment, how will you get through it? Living in a horrible moment really stinks if no one's got your back.

2) You need an ability to let things go. Letting go of the past you are tripping on in your present, letting go of your worries that are based on hard life experiences. Letting go with the belief that those things that are meant to be permanent in your life are there, they are permanent, even if you don't control them and hold onto them and make them stay in your life. This is not about being ok with loss, it's about knowing and trusting that you will be ok, in spite of your sad feelings and loss.

3) You need patience. You need to be willing to wait for things to happen in their own time and to be able to delay your need for instant gratification. We live in an American world that has served to make us lazy and impatient. We are so well stuffed on the consumptions of our life that we want for nothing...this means when we DO want for something, we get petulant like a three-year-old stomping our feet. I WANT WHAT I WANT AND I WANT IT NOW. This will not do...wanting is about yearning for the future. Yearning for something you do not have or cannot have is not living in the moment.

This year, 2013, will be one for me to practice living in the moment. I have already started collecting words of wisdom to help feed me on this quest. I can do it. I know I can.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lord I Believe, Help My Unbelief

Usually, Doubting Thomas doesn't cross my mind until Lent. I have always adored him. Who doesn't love Thomas? With his finger probing Jesus' wound and his doubts, so human. We love him like we love the kid in sex education who is brave enough to ask the questions that are on all our minds. We all doubt. We all have reason to doubt now and again. When something happens and doesn't go our way, when a prayer seems woefully unanswered, or when a tragedy befalls us.

Let's face it, we all have dark periods of doubt. As Buechner puts it, "Doubts are the ants in the pants of Faith." Without doubting and questioning, our faith is blind. We move dumbly, in rote dogma, toward a God who promises good things, but are not in active discussion with that God. We don't ask the hard questions if we don't doubt. And now is the time for hard questions.

Why our community? Why TWENTY babies? TWENTY innocent children and SEVEN adults? What can we do to rectify our faith and this event?

The first question is "Why does God allow such horror?"

Then, "Is there even a God, if such horror exists?"

And lastly, "And, without a God, how will we ever recover?"

Our instincts are to try and regain control. We try and focus on the heroes and heroines of the story. We attempt to twist our belief system to fit such a monstrous happening. And when it doesn't fit, we are left with a big question, do we doubt the existence of a loving God in the face of such evil and hate?

There are not reasons for what happened on Friday the 14th in Newtown, CT. There is no lovely, Chicken Soup for the Soul answer that will box it all up and put a pretty ribbon on it. There was a horrible event. Sure there were good people peppered throughout said horrible event, but it was horrific. It stinks to the core.

So, what did we do? As a nation, we took it all in. Obsessive for details and more information. We wanted to know WHY? HOW? and awfully, WHAT HAPPENED? Now we know what happened in a timelined sort of 9:40 this happened and at 10:10, this. But, we are interested in the motives, the drivers, the psychology and pathology of the occurence. Maybe, I think we think, if I can just wrap my head around why and how it happened, I can guard against it in the future? Maybe, I can regain some of the lost control I am feeling now that my world is topsy turvy?

I have fallen prey to all this humaness. I have taken to my bed and hid. I have obsessed over every detail. I have even become despondent thinking about the Mayan prediction stating that NEXT FRIDAY (not this one) is to be the end of the world as we know it....maybe they were off by one Friday? After all, it was thousands of years ago?

I have become a feather in the wind. No longer am I rooted and purposeful. No. I am floating and spinning and unpredictable. And then, I remember my faith. I remember that my faith is not there to provide answers and spell out science. Faith's world is the unknown and the unexpected. Faith shines light where there is darkness.When you are in a deep abyss, faith throws you a line and a flashlight. It doesn't. unfortunately, come down into the abyss and spirit you out. It requests that you meet it halfway. Here are the tools to save yourself. Now, go ahead and save yourself.

How? Give it over to God. Let God take the reins. Let God be in charge. Pray, hunker down and be thankful and grateful. Don't fall prey to the attemps to control it all yourself....blame, contention, anger, tenacious beliefs are all ways of trying to believe that we still are in control. Maybe, if we can campaign for gun control reform, or fight for safety in our schools, we can get an insured certainty that this WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN. Not gonna happen.

This is the world. It's a human world. There are humans in it who will do both noble and abhorrent things. When noble things happen, you will stride into church and be proud. You will thank God for his righteousness and for the helping hands he has extended. When abhorrent things happen, you will cower. You will wonder where God is? You will doubt. You are human. It is to be expected. Faith is not a guarantee of a life without adversity. It's the promise that no matter what God is there with us. God is laughing with us when we are overjoyed.
He is dancing with us in ebullience when we receive great news.
And, when bad things happen, he is sobbing, like we are sobbing. God is not able to stop the bad from happening just as we are not able to, but when it comes, He is still by our side. Holding us. Stroking us. Continually there trying to breathe faith back into our deflated bodies.

He has the benefit of being outside of time and of knowing Heaven and we do not, but we are wrong in thinking He needed these kids with him or he took them to live in Heaven. He may have known what would happen on Friday morning, but it did not make Him any happier than it made us when it did. In fact, I think God is groaning with the weight of the entire world's suffering. His hands are open to allow us to pass as much or as little of it that we are willing to relenquish over to Him. For some, less close to the situation, we will be able to do that soon. For others, it may take years.. Much time will need to pass before the wounds stop being raw and open, before the anger dissipates. I pray for that day. I want it now. But I know I cannot control that any more than I can stop the bad things from happening.

I am left with no choice but to, however cliched, Let Go and Let God. Help my unbelief.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LIke a Spinning Top, Sometimes we Lose Our Balance

If you stand over a spinning top, one that is spinning cleanly, you can clearly see a dot around which the top is circling...a clearly defined center. If something knocks the top, even slightly, the orbit rattles and wobbles and there is a messy center...Off course it goes. Spinning out of control.

Life is like this. It's our ability to reset our spinning, refind our center and begin afresh that brings us back into alignment. What is it that helps you find your center? What tricks do you use for reset?

Recently, I lost a job opportunity about which I was very excited. I am usually able to look to God and pray for understanding that this was a path that was not meant to be. I am struggling this time. I want to know it all. I want to understand why this fell apart after two solid months of interviews and moving closer to the goal. Why?

Maybe, the way we recenter isn't always getting over it. Maybe, it's not always focusing on the fact that it wasn't meant to be. Maybe, it's about acknowledging that it sucks. Not everything is going to be easily rationalized and I am not always going to be able to justify it. Nope. Sometimes it just sucks.

Like the spinning top, sometimes the whole thing has to be knocked down. Comepletely off course, it has to be flattened to the table...and then picked back up and restarted on a clean path...on a new trajectory. Only to eventually peter out and fly out of control again.

In acknowledging the suckiness of life, we do not pretend we are spinning cleanly. No. We realize we have been flattened to the table. It's time to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps.

Life is a series of these toddles. Down we fall, head over teakettle, onto our faces. But God is there either way...encouraging us to stand back up. Urging us on, like a one year old learning to walk, He is holding out his hands and saying, "C'mon, you can do it!"

We all fall down.
We get back up.
And we toddle forward.
And gather our steam and start spinning in control again.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Reprise: Big Undies from Momzilla

This morning I saw this picture on Facebook and it instantly took me back to a Momzilla incident from 2003...

Big Underpants

This one goes out to my friend Tiff. She's had a bit of a rough month, so this story is dedicated to her sense of humor. She once told me that mere mention of the word underpants can send her into hysterics. It comes from a high school variety show where one of her peers did a comedy act centering around the word "underpants." Classic Tiff. This is the story of some underpants...some BIG ASS panties.

So one day, my in-laws came over. They come over a lot and visit with Elena and help us out. My mother-in-law is a primo bargain hunter so she always has a few gifts to share. This particular visit, she had been to the local Filenes which was closing. They had "slim-pickings," but she was able to find a few things. She brought me a bra that could have doubled as a baby sling for the new baby. I think it was a 44 DD. I may be a bit more buxom while pregnant, but no where NEAR that size. I politely declined saying that lace bras with padding make me itch. Phew...that was a near miss.

She rummaged in the Filenes shopping bag some more and produced three pairs of underpants. I was looking down at the time, going through some pictures. She annouced that these were for when I "get big and pregnant." They were a size 12. Well, size 12 is smaller than my regular size of pants. Apparently, underwear are sized very differently. A size 8 is the equivalent of a size 16 pants size. So, a 12 is a touch bigger...Here is what a size 12 in underpants looks like:

(Note: It is with great humility, and the sake of a laugh, that I show this picture as I took it for a friend and it's just plain embarassing. It's the Friday night look, robe, hair up, no make-up, etc. So just focus on the underpants.)