I like to eat healthy. But I also like to not eat healthy. I find that instead of munching away on carrot sticks or Snickers bars and whatnot, nuts help to keep hunger at bay. Despite their high fat content, they’re packed with protein and […]
Month: April 2014
I had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday over the weekend for a change. It seems like it’s been ages since that’s happened; over the last couple of years, everyone’s birthdays fell during the weekday rut. We spent them driving to this practice or that small […]
See this picture? And the small blackish-red dot about 1/3 of the way on the right? That’s me. Ziplining about 300′ above the forest floor, and 1900′ from one end of the gorge to the other. It took more than a couple deep breaths, a few “you can do it!” mantras in my head, and one gigantic leap of faith to step off that platform.
I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I find in my life I need to let go of. Having the courage to take that step over the forest treeline is a very real analogy for “letting go,” yet absolutely nothing like the courage needed to live real life.
I suppose learning to “let go” might be a natural side effect of being a parent, but there’s more to it than that, I think. I mean, as a parent, after a point, you’re letting your children become responsible for certain aspects of their own life. And it starts pretty early, at least it did in our house. By age two or three, our kids were putting away their toys, helping set the table, cook, bring laundry to their rooms, etc… As they got older, they were in charge of more of their lives. As an example, being homeschoolers, I have always planned out each week’s worth of school work for them to do. I also break it down day by day, because for me, smaller goals seem more doable. When they were younger, I checked their work every day to make sure they had accomplished that day’s tasks. But as they got older, (and I only have one at home still) I let them figure it out. If they wanted to to finish 3 day’s worth of work in one really long day, so be it. If they have/had a lot of extra activities that week and they had to make up work on the weekend, well, that’s fine too. I have had to let go of my idea of a “perfect” plan, and slowly let them learn how to manage their own time and efforts.
But it’s not just about letting go of my perfect plan for homeschooling, it’s about giving up my vision of a perfect life, because I am sometimes overwhelmed with perfectionist tendencies, unfortunately… I am an only child, an introvert who lives my life oftentimes in my own head, or perhaps lost in the pages of a book. And because books so often have happy endings, and are at the very least, wrapped up neatly with a bow by the end, I sometimes expect that to be real life. But it’s not. Not by a long shot…
When we moved to where we currently live (and our house is for sale and we’ll be moving out of state again!), I literally was in culture shock: we had moved from Central Florida to the mountains of rural Appalachia. In Florida there were palm trees, grocery stores on every corner, warm weather, and no lack of things to do, see, or places to go. Instead, we now had giant trees that lost their leaves, a single grocery store just under a half hour away, extremely cold, gray weather, and very little to do except hike. Neighbors weren’t next door; they were 1/2 mile down the road. To go, see, or do almost anything, it was, at the very least, a half-hour drive, but usually closer to an hour. Pioneer Woman may have come to love that in her life; it didn’t work so well for me! I had to learn to live with what we had. I didn’t always, and still don’t always do that well, but I’ve had to learn to let go of my ideal life. Maybe you’ve heard that saying “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Well, it’s true. I could have spent the last 13 years crying and gnashing my teeth over where we live (and I have, at times!) but that’s not good for my family on a day to day basis. I have come to love certain things about where we are – letting my dogs roam on several acres, having a decent size garden outside my back door, and just a nice sense of privacy and quiet. But it took me a while to get here.
Likewise, our oldest has graduated college, is living in a different state, and has made some choices that directly contradict the way we raised him. I would love to magically sweep in, and cast some kind of Harry Potter spell on his life so that things would be “right.” But that’s impossible, so I have to let go. Let God, really. I mean, despite all my admonitions to him throughout his life, all the prayers I’ve lifted on his behalf, I have to let him learn the lessons God wants to teach him. Not the lessons I want to teach him. I have to be willing to let God’s plan work out the way He wants it to; not the way I want it to.
Now we cannot…discover our failure to keep God’s law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.
C.S. Lewis ~ Mere Christianity
And I guess that’s really the wonderful thing about getting older…. learning that so much of life really isn’t within our control. Learning that there is a plan greater than ourselves out there. Learning that if we just surrender, more often than not, life will actually be better than what we hoped for. Better than what we, in our limited understanding and experience, could ever envision.
I have French doors in my kitchen, the kind without the mullions. I also have a birdfeeder hanging from the porch roof right outside those doors, and in winter, it’s a hub of activity. While everything else is gray, quiet, and lifeless, the birds remain constant in their fluttering, flapping, swooping, and chirping.
It’s not uncommon for a bird to fly into the doors on occasion. When you’re outside and the light hits the glass at a certain angle and brightness, the reflection of the woods behind our house is strong. I can see why a bird could be confused.
One winter, my son and I were in another room and we heard a loud thud from the kitchen. While I was happily sipping my cocoa, comfy by the fireplace, my son went in to the kitchen to check: a pigeon had flown into the glass.
Walking back into the family room, my son shook his head as if to say “it’s not going to make it.”
And when I finally went in to the kitchen, I could see that it was on its side, one wing out of place, and a neck that didn’t look like it was quite right. But it was breathing, and having a sort of spasm with every breath. My boy had made a pretty good assumption. It looked like it wouldn’t live.
By this time, my daughter had joined us to watch the live reality show taking place on the back porch. My son suggested letting our cat put it out of its misery. My daughter, being one of those tender-hearted “animal” people, wanted to take it to someone who could fix it. Having seen numerous birds mistake our door for air though, I said we should just wait a bit. If it wasn’t injured, it was likely stunned.
So we trudged unhappily down to the schoolroom to begin our day. After a half an hour or so, someone went upstairs to fill water glasses. Sure enough, the bird was on its feet, still reeling from its crash, but certainly not looking like death was imminent. After more time in the schoolroom, we came up to discover that it was gone.
I started thinking that oftentimes, I’m that bird.
From time to time, something in life will blindside me. And at first, I’m paralyzed. I don’t know what to do, what my next move should be. I founder because I have a million thoughts swirling through my head, so many in fact, that inaction takes hold. I can clearly remember my first summer here living Lisa’s life from Green Acres. I had thought that after many years of wanting to escape Florida’s humid atmosphere and flat landscape, moving would be an adventure. Adventure it was not; torture was more like it. I didn’t know a soul, and being so far removed from even my next door neighbor, I didn’t even know how to find another soul. And I shut down, in a manner of speaking. I wanted to lay in bed all day. I had a hard time putting on a smile for anyone. I couldn’t even help my kids transition to what surely was a drastic change for them as well.
When the fog lifted, the paralysis stopped. Like the pigeon, I was back on my feet, but still experiencing spasms as everything righted itself. I lashed out at anyone and everyone. Anything and everything. And then I held it in. I sat, I waited, and then I exploded. Sat, waited, and exploded some more. Where had my life gone? So many thoughts swirling in my head still, just… now I had to speak them. Act them.
Loss or some kind of change in my everyday still hits me hard. I still become incapacitated until the fear and pain moves on. I don’t know why I still do. Long ago I should have learned that, instead of hoping for a quick fix or to be put out of my misery, it’s usually best to wait for that period of breath to come back, and the quivers to cease.
But I’m me, a human. I make the same mistakes and forget to learn the same lessons.
Once, we had a bird that sat at our back door pecking away at its reflection. It took an awfully long time for that bird to lose interest in himself. I’m easily too interested in myself much of the time to realize that there is a real world around my world. Sometimes my life mutates and splinters apart through no fault of my own. Very often though, I’m that bird crashing headlong into the glass because I’m blinded by not paying careful enough attention to the world around me.
But like the pigeon that flew into my door that morning, I find myself back on my feet somehow. I stop loitering in my own head and my world, and find the one He intended me to care for and about. Thankfully, He waits. And He watches over me.
Have you ever had a day where everything seems to be going along swimmingly, and then the next minute, it just isn’t? You thought perhaps it was going to be an okay day, but in the course of conversation, a figurative bomb is dropped in your lap. And you just sit there and stare at it, paralyzed and unsure what to do with the information… That happened to me yesterday. I was talking on the phone with someone when they shared something that just eats at my very core. The kind of thing that makes me question decisions I’ve made – and prayed about – that I thought were in the best interest of my family, Now… well, I’m just at a loss. I’m just sitting here… numb. Heartbroken. Lost in a raging and turbulent sea of emotions and questions. Sometimes there are no words to speak, but my mind swirls with them nonetheless.
I don’t know anything, and yet, I do.
I know that there is a God who is bigger than anything and everything. Bigger than my problem. Bigger than my heartache. Bigger than the questions. Bigger than the possible outcomes that I see. In fact, the solutions that I imagine – in my very limited scope of view – are probably so inconsequential to his divine Plan and Purpose that just how big He is, would blow my mind.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I’m only really seeing things in the physical realm. But I know that what’s going on is part of a larger, more intense struggle than I could ever envision or endure. I mean, I can’t fathom it, and the minuscule portion of the battle that I’m personally dealing with is just. so. hard.
I wasn’t made for this.
I can’t handle this.
How many times have you heard someone speak those words?” Or you have said them?
Because I never thought about it until today…
I truly can’t handle this.
I honestly wasn’t made for this.
But my God was, is and will be.
And so I rest in that. Or at least try to rest in it. I am, after all, a work in progress. I still struggle against this battle, because while it is being fought in the spiritual realm, it overflows into the tangible arena of my earthly life, so I must still deal with its effects all around me.
I can’t handle it.
But I don’t have to handle it.
That’s my peace, my assurance, my confidence, my joy, and it’s my steadfast hope.