Here’s What I Want: To Be Enough

Here’s what I want. To be able to fix the things in my life that I think need fixing. Relationships, employment, writing, health, a plan. Oh my gosh, I need a plan! But there isn’t one. I’m still in transition. But, have I always been? In transition, I mean. Because aren’t we all always trying to discern what is next? What comes next?

Do I move for my job (straight out of school)?

Do I marry this person?

Do I have children?

Do I go it alone?

Do I move to China?

Do I work at the same place forever?

Do I cheat on my spouse?

Do I believe this God stuff (oh, please let the God stuff be true)?

Do I ask for a promotion?

Do I ask for a raise?

Do I look for another job?

Do I stay close to my aging parents?

Do I retire early?

How much money does one need to retire?

Oh dear lord, may we just have a plan? And then, may we be happy with the plan? May we spend our days feeling smug and self-satisfied that it was indeed a good plan? Because a good plan means, somehow, that we succeeded. And, there is great comfort in a plan. Especially one without glitches or things that pop up that you cannot control. Like:

Your lover, your soon-to-be spouse changes their mind and the wedding announcements are replaced with the no-wedding notices.

Or maybe, no one ever asks you to marry them. Why not? Is it me? Is it them? Is it the world? What the heck is it?

Your child is not perfect. They have a few issues.

The roof leaks.

There is no money to fix the roof because your child has issues.

No matter how many budgets you make, and keep, the unexpected always exceeds the category for the unexpected.

You get laid off.

You get fired.

You work with people who are underhanded, manipulative and downright scary. And, they think they’re nice.

Your parents are off on to some spa in Arizona. Weren’t they going to need you?

Your parents are old, and boy do they need you. They desperately need you.

Grandchildren are perfect. Why can’t everyone just have grandchildren?

You’ve saved money. You’ve spent money. You’ve been in debt. You’ve been debt free. But still, you always have the same amount of money. What does your financial planner say about that?

Old age is scary. But aren’t all ages scary?

Your adult kids worry you. You keep silent.

The worst actually does happen, just when you’ve convinced yourself that worry is silly, the worst rears its head, and actually happens. What is up?

You lay awake at night wondering. How do I fix my marriage, my children, my job, my house, my budget, my health, my social life? Do I go to the party? And then, DANG, you remember, I’m supposed to be exercising in the middle of all this. I’m supposed to be skinny, look good, wear great clothes, look professional or cool or sexy or whatever the occasion calls for. Heck, I’m not just supposed to be on top of all this other mess, I’m supposed to be on top of me, too. Don’t I have a physical soon? Geez.

The darkness of night literally mocks you. Did I make the right decisions? Is it too late to make new ones? You pray, God, please be real, and please have a purpose for my life other than just being an organ donor. Not that you don’t want to be an organ donor, you do. You really do. You’re a nice person. You think. You hope.

So, you shake it off. Go play golf. Go for a bike ride. Go shopping. Go walk the dog. Go sit outside in the sunlight for a bit. You forget for a few moments that you’re supposed to fix everything. Nothing needs fixing. The sunlight just feels good. You wonder, why is it I’m not supposed to bury my head in the sand? You like sand.

Abraham did not have a plan. God said, GO to Abraham, and he went. But, for Pete’s sake, that was sort of a plan. God at least said something–Go. You wonder, if God told me to go, would I start walking right now? You’re tempted. Just walk right out that door and keep walking and don’t look back and don’t wonder where you’re going because that would involve a plan, and aside from planning what to eat for supper, you’re rather sick of plans.

But, maybe God said stay. Stay and let him fix the roof, the marriage, the health, the finances, the kids, the crazy co-workers, the dark nights. Even when everyone else is gone, you stay. Can you do that? Can you stay and trust God to fix, in the way only he can fix, what needs fixing? Can you truly trust the God of the universe to care enough about your little universe to fix anything where you’re concerned? Is he really the good shepherd or are you following him straight to the slaughter house? Is he enough? You already know you’re not. I already know that I am not.

The darkness whispers he is. God is enough. Follow him. He’s got a plan. And, in one simple moment of clarity, you realize that’s the plan. Following God. That is really the only possible plan because he’s got the big picture and you only have a slice.You shake your head in the darkness. Lord, you say, I’ll follow your plan. I’ll follow you. And, finally you go to sleep. That’s a plan.

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I Want Perfect Children

I want perfect children.

Parents always say, oh, I don’t expect my children to be perfect. I just want them to be….whatever. Whatever. I actually want mine to be perfect.

And, I don’t even like perfect people. They’re boring. Dull. I mean who writes books about perfect people? Nobody. It’s the flaws that make people interesting. It’s the flaws that make my children interesting. They aren’t nearly as cool, fun, quirky people without their less-than-perfect-traits. We have a family language developed around the imperfections of the four of us. Our private family jokes, our most cherished memories, our we-finish-each-other-sentences-moments come not from the times of perfect accomplishments, but from the almost-there efforts. Who doesn’t love the wrong notes played on the cello in the middle of the 5th grade symphony? It is the sum of the less-thans that form the perfection of my children. It is those not-quites that create the unique individuals I call my children (adult children now). It is their oddities that I love most.

So why am I screaming for perfect children?

Because I want some sleep. (Let me add that I write this at 4:07 a.m. Take your best guess on why.)

Because if they’re perfect, then I never have to worry about them, right?

Because it is my heart’s desire for them to be safe. To be happy. To be secure. To be okay, and its easy to get all those things mixed with up the word perfect.

Because here’s the dilemma:  I am no longer in charge of them.

Maybe, write that sentence again: I AM NO LONGER IN CHARGE OF THEM.

When they were 10 and 5 making not-the-best-choice held its consequences, but not life-changing, or possibly, deadly ones. Now at 24 and 20, a misstep can have a lifetime of man-I-screwed-that-up attached to it. Having a of few of my own missteps (okay, who am I kidding, more like giant leaps for stupidity) I dread the thought of it for them. Mom doesn’t show up to right the wrongs anymore, because little boys only need a Batman band-aid and a kiss on the head, and off they go. Big boys need courage, perseverance  foresight, wisdom, the ability to stand against their peers when needed, the faith to stand where others will not. Big boys have wives and children of their own. (The oldest has a 2 year old, Miss Priss, and an almost 2 week old, SJ, and they are perfect. Thank God.) They are the providers and guiders now. They live in big people world now, with yes, big rewards, but, sadly, big consequences. I told my ex I wished the 20s were like dog years. (And, he’s thinking, yep that was the right decision.)

My kids say, “Mom, you worry too much.” (Oh, I do not. Isn’t every mother up at 4:27 a.m. writing a blog about her kids?) They say, “You did your job. Now trust us to do ours.”

Okay, so yeah. It is their turn now. It is their time to see how they fare away from home where Mom and Dad kept a vigilant watch. And, I get that. I just don’t feel that. It is in my head as exactly what parents are supposed to do when their kids become adults, but it hasn’t reached my heart yet. I am still keeping that dedicated watch, and they are long gone. Hence, the kid-sleep-insomnia.

While other parents said good-bye, and rolled over for a well-deserved nap, or got dressed for a night on the town, I am only beginning to understand. They’re gone. And, now it is their turn to shine, and yes, make their mistakes.

So, what’s the slightly obsessed mother to do?  Write a blog.

Small, Medium and Big Christians: Auditing the Faith

One Sunday after church, my oldest son (age 10 at the time) came into my bedroom to announce something.  He wanted me to know that it had come to his attention that there were “small, medium and big Christians.”

This is a mild announcement compared to some of the things my children have sprung on me since, but I could tell he wanted me to take him seriously. So, I did.

I probed a bit to get his meaning, though frankly, it wasn’t too hard to discern.

He said he had noticed that not all Christians were the same. Meaning, of course, that we’re at different places in our faith journeys. I agreed. His concern was that one person he thought of as a small Christian was seen by everyone in our church as big. What had he missed?

Well, imagine the following conversation. Of course, before you even think it or get it out of your mouth (because I know you are thinking it), we had the discussion about judging others. To which, he retorted, “Dad says we can judge if someone has fruit or not.” My ex was always the clever one. Touche.

Honestly though, I wasn’t concerned about my son’s discovery that the church was busy promoting some elder as a stoic in the faith, while my son witnessed a very different person Mon-Saturday. Let’s face it. At some point, all of us church goers figure out that there’s a few loose screws sitting in the pews. My polite way of saying, a few who, for whatever their reason, show up to church, but haven’t a clue whomthey worship. I mean bottom line, for some, church is a social means to a business end. Or a cultural habit that revolves more around friendship than worship. There are plenty of reasons people go to church, not all of them have to do with Jesus. My son was going to figure that out soon or later.

No, this little announcement had a different impact on me. It had me on the edge of my seat of wondering where MOM fit on the small, medium, and large Christian scale.  I mean I talked the talk, that’s for dang sure. Was I walking the walk in his 10 year old eyes?

So, I nonchalantly got him off the elder by quizzing him instead about everyone else he knew. I was hoping to insert my name into the list and catch him off guard, so he’d be honest. After all, he’s 10, he knew who paid for the pool and movies. I started with his Maurme, my mom, his grandmother. “Oh, she’s  HUGE.: She got a huge? Huh. I went on, Aunt Debbie?, Aunt Kathy? Your Father? and so on. When I slid my name into the list, he cut his eyes at me, and said, “Mom, of course you’re big.” Hmmmm…

The child was desperate for a night over at a friend’s house who lived a long way across town, and I had agreed to talk Dad into it. So?? Was I truly a big Christian in his eyes? Or the means to his present end? Who knows? What I do know is that I became acutely aware that a 10 year old had pretty much nailed the faith (from appearances) of each person I listed. It was revealing because I could see how he arrived at his conclusions, and I really couldn’t argue with him. My mom is huge.

He’d done this without a word or a discussion. In his child’s eyes, he had watched each person in his world with a keen observation, and made some rather stern determinations. It was humbling, and life changing for me. I wanted, from that moment on, to be a big Christian in his eyes.

This past Sunday, sitting in an entirely different church than the one my son witnessed,  the Pastor said that as Christians. sometimes we want to “audit the faith.”

You know, like auditing a class. You get to sit in the class and partake of all the good things–lectures, notes, books, learning–but you do not have to take the tests and quizzes, or turn in term papers. Christians want all the blessing of the faith, but none of the testing of the faith. At least, I think we can safely make that assumption about most of us because who on earth wants to be tested in anything?

Here’s the problem with that: tests are what grow our faith.

If I want to grow as a Christian, and become more mature in my faith, then the Lord will test me. Test me to prove his total faithfulness to me. How would I know he would provide if I never needed him too? How would I know he would give comfort, if I only experienced joy?

Lately, I have found myself in a circumstance that proves to have no solution. I can’t think or muscle myself out of this situation–something I can generally do. I was thinking (obsessing ) about it again yesterday, and I said out loud, “I have no backup plan for this.” The Lord whispered in my ear, “You have me.”

When the Lord is the only back up plan we have, we’re facing a test.

When the Lord is our only help, we’re facing a test.

Now, I have two beautiful granddaughters, and one Bonus Daughter. I want them, if ever asked about YaYa”s faith, to respond as my son did about his Maurme, “She’s HUGE.”

Keeping in mind, of course, that our huge is still so very small compared to the greatness and glory of God. Amen.

Dating, Iced Tea and a Year of Silence

English: A Glass of iced tea.

English: A Glass of iced tea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. When you’re young and single, people ask you if you’re ever going to get married.

2. When you’re newly married and without children, people ask when you’re going to start having children.

3. If you have an only child, people ask when you’re going to get pregnant again.

4. If you have over four children, people ask if you’re going to stop now.

5. If you’re divorced, people ask when you’re going to start dating again.

Perhaps we should all just stay at question number one because question number 5 seems to just cycle back around to it.

But, to answer question number 5, since that is my current situation, and everyone does seem curious.

If, and that is a big if because I do not have a line of men outside my front door (or any other place for that matter), but IF some guy came along and wanted to date me, well, here’s what he would have to do.

He would have to sit across the room from me. In a chair. I’m probably on the couch. He would have to sit quietly in the chair for say, about a year. Just silence, no words.

After about a year, he could ask me if I would like some tea (iced tea, of course). I’m not going to answer verbally, but depending on how the year of silence has gone, I will either shake my head yes, or simply not respond at all.

If it is a yes and he brings me iced tea (with lots of ice…just saying) then he must return to his chair, and we would resume sitting in silence again. I really don’t know how long this second round would go for. I just can’t say.

So, what d’ya think?