Sunday, November 29, 2009

Unchiseled

"I Am" by Nichole Nordeman has been a favorite of mine since the song came out several years ago. The first time I heard it, I remember thinking, "That's it. That's exactly it." Now, a few (plus) years later, I still marvel over the intimacy in the words of that song. It's a relationship that goes beyond "Hi, how are you?" and really pushes deeply into the heart of what we need/desire as a functioning person.

I've never been any good at intimacy. For some reason, there is a "shutting down" point for me, and when we reach that point, I get uncomfortable, make a joke or just stop talking. I'm not sure why I'm this way, but sometimes I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with my lack of trust in people generally. Obviously, it transfers into all aspects of my life--prayer has suffered as a result.

After our women's Bible study, Stepping Up, I realized that the Psalms are a series of intimate conversations--sometimes appropriately shared, and sometimes so painstakingly private that I wonder we are allowed access to them at all. What I realized more than anything? Real life is lived on those pages. David is nothing if not real before God. He shares hurts, victories and fears. He's honest when he doesn't feel God's presence. He marvels in God's deliverance. More than anything, these pages capture a relationship that is highly developed and extremely intimate. These guys are friends--with a capital "f."

It has occurred to me over the past few weeks that, while I have been privvy to that amazing relationship, I haven't done much to rectify my relationship with the Almighty. Oddly enough, that paranoid "I-Won't-Be-Accepted" attitude can't and won't work as an excuse. I am expected to come before Him as myself--to share hurts, feelings, betrayals, joys, hopes and victories. The older I get, the more I realize that this Christian thing is meant to be intimate because we are meant to live in tandem with one another. It requires sharing. It means that sometimes we're going to see each other fail, but we need to see how failure is handled in order to grow. We're going to see joys, and we need to know how to live in that joy if we are going to grow.

As a fiercely independent child, I really only wanted to watch once, and then I demanded to "do it m'self." I've had the blessing of watching a thousand times over. Maybe when it comes to a deep intimacy with Christ and my brethren, it's time I demanded to "just do it" to quote Nike's catchphrase. I need to live alongside others, but I need to be actively living instead of allowing myself to be a bystander.

True intimacy is simple in concept, but more difficult in action. I never have been comfortable with the thought of myself laid completely bare. There's too much to pick at, and the unrefined is overwhelming. But sometimes I wonder how it's possible to truly be known if people don't understand those parts of me. It's even more of a marvel how God knows those things and loves me anyway. That gift alone is enough to make him omnipotent.

All those names for God in the Bible--each one defines a separate type of relationship--and yet I know Him in a very limited capacity. I'm ready for Him to show me anything--even if it means hiding me in the cleft so that I only see His back. It will be more than I've allowed myself to see after all this time.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The sun got up later than I did

My thoughts may be foggy because I've been up since 3 am in an attempt to have a bit of solidarity with the girls in my family. Yep, we went black friday shopping. Nope, I can't feel my legs. Thank you for asking.

Because my brain is obviously not working anymore, I won't take the time to post what has been in my head. Just wanted to jot down a brief preview as a reminder to myself, and anyone else who might be interested, regarding the thoughts that have been floating around inside my head for the last few days.

I've been thinking about relationships--what it means to be intimate (no, not in the sexual way) and the sacrifice that often requires. I've been thinking about teaching and what I have to give to my students and my classroom. I've been thinking about the purpose of education and what my kids need--not just for the future, but for today. Sometimes I wonder what is relevant to them--today and in the future. I occasionally forget how much I want to enjoy school and how difficult it can be to make it a meaningful and interesting experience for every single student. In the end, I've been thinking about how I want my students to think of me, and how I want to think of them. But all of that will come...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time Tables, Problem Students and Other Uncontrollable Forces of Nature

Apparently I'm a control freak.

When I share this revelation, most people look at me and laugh with a look that says, "how could you have not made this discovery a long time ago?" I guess I was in denial. Or maybe I was living in comparison. Regardless, I never processed this obviously well-known fact.

Now I have known some control-freaks in my day. I realize this statement makes me sound like Granma Moses; however, I say it to make the point that I've had a wide range of experience with people who have to have it their way or no way at all. Many of these people demand answers on the spot, will not tolerate any sort of indecision and will gladly make your life's choices if you find yourself unable to do so. A few of them believed that only their opinion mattered and anyone who spoke to the contrary was inept or brain dead.

This is not the category in which I would've placed myself. I don't believe my opinion is the only one and indecision is a necessary part of life sometimes. But comparison of my lifestyle to someone else's doesn't make me any less of a control freak.

So many things are beyond my control. I understand the concept--better than most people, I would think. What I didn't understand was the fact that I couldn't let go when I had done everything that I could possibly do. It's an extremely detrimental form of control--it holds me accountable for things that I simply cannot fix.

I also had/have a really strong fear of the unknown that extends far beyond the question "What IS my natural hair color?" So because of that fear, I am insatiable about knowing everything I can about some of the situations I'm in. Call it know-it-all-ism, but it's just another form of controlling my environment. I don't want to be terrified, so I fill in the blanks.

I'm working on it. Chris is really great about reminding me that some things just don't matter. I'm getting better about telling my students to take responsibility for their own actions, and then taking the background when the final results are posted. I'm not taking it so personally when other teachers don't have the same problems with particular students, and I'm in a constant state of realizing that not everyone's life works on the same magical time table. When things DO matter, I'm learning to let go and trust a God I've rarely let into my life (in this particular capacity, anyway).

I guess that's what it all boils down to: trust. I'm not sure why I don't trust others, but I wonder if that lifestyle isn't more destructive than a person who trusts everyone. It seems there is a certain innocence with constant trust--not that I want to be on that end of the spectrum, either.

At the end of the day, I want to lay my head down knowing I've done what I can do, and then I want to let it go. There has to be a sense of relief in a fresh start each day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tellin' It Like It Is: A Disclaimer

TMI would be a way of life around my family's house, but it just isn't. I realize that's about the most contradictory I could ever be in a statement, but it's the best way to describe the situation. We have discussed everything from sex to diarrhea at the dinner table and red faces only mean that the next object of torment has been identified.

That openness is not really crude; it's honest. And that honesty can be purposeful on some occasions and meant for laughter on others. It's always created an interesting dynamic, and one that I've loved. There is a sense of home-y with a family that allows open exchanges.

But not all things are for the public. It's a difficult pill to swallow when the "always open" becomes the "don't wanna talk about it." Yet in the last few years there are issues that I just don't want to talk about. I don't want people to pretend they understand or pretend they know what's going on. You know why? Because there is a select list of people I've shared my feelings with on a few subjects: 1. My husband, 2. My mother. That's it.

Frankly, it pisses me off when I get these lectures about how I need to let people help me deal with difficult issues or share whatever situation I'm going through so people can be there for me. Some situations aren't meant to be shared.

Let's be honest, being there for someone has a whole lot more to do with what you do when you don't know every single detail. It doesn't require that you make assumptions about the situation. It doesn't require you to stand around and nod your head in sympathy. It's just possible that the person who is actually in A situation (and I say "a situation" because it may not even be the situation you think it is) doesn't want your sympathy. Any time I've known someone who dealt with a bad situation, his or her general feeling was the same: They didn't want sympathy. They wanted normal. They didn't want people to try to understand, because they usually couldn't. And, in the beginning, they learned that some feelings need to be kept close. It's far more devastating to share a heartrending situation and watch someone blow it off as unimportant than it is to deal with the situation alone.

Some things aren't about friendship or a lack of understanding regarding the perameters in which friendship is meant to function. Some things are what they are.

And that should be respected.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gimme the Clicker

I've started something new--just one day in, in fact.

I'm always complaining that there is not enough time in a day to accomplish the things I want to accomplish. In a lot of ways, this statement is true. It's difficult to manage all of the things we feel obligated to manage on a daily basis. But in some ways, this statement is a clue to how much time I mismanage in a day.

Don't get me wrong. We all need downtime and time to relax. It makes sense to take an occasional break so we don't become completely overwhelmed with work or assignments. I, however, tend to take that "downtime" to the nth degree when I walk through my front door.

I turn on my television, eat dinner and then sit for the majority of my evening. If I do housework or laundry, I do it with the television on. When I go to bed, I watch television. That thing rarely gets turned off after I walk through the door. It's ridiculous.

So, in the name of science (or what I'm calling science), I'm conducting an experiment. I'm allowing myself 1-2 hours of television when I get home from work every day. After a maximum of 2 hours, the television goes off--regardless of whatever relationship I feel I have formed with the characters on the screen. If I'm right, I have a feeling I'm going to be more productive. Other possible outcomes? I could lose weight. I could be less tired in the morning. I might actually manage to find time to do all of those things I don't feel I have time to do every day--time to pray, to do Bible study.

I'm going to attempt to update my log at least once a week (maybe more) to report how my project is progressing. At the very least, I expect that I'll be a little less stressed--which is odd, considering I sit and just watch TV to destress.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dear Mr Webster...

Over the last year, it's become a habit to look up things in the dictionary if I don't feel I can adequately explain a concept I grasp emotionally. I have this overwhelming need to explain things in finite terms--things that can be grasped by any bystander who happens to be listening. Turns out there are some things that just can't be explained in those terms.

I've started realize that some things are concepts you can't understand until you've experienced them. Or concepts that can't be explained in a finite way. I can't explain what it means to be overwhelmingly grateful. What it means to be loved and to love. Or the elusive nature of grief.

But here I am always trying to put words with the music that's floating in and out of my life. Most of the time I get it wrong, but sometimes, very rarely, I actually manage to get the thought across in its entirity. I'm hoping for more of those moments. Here's to a new day...