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.



Things My Daddy Said About Dating (What Every Girl Should Know)

My daddy looked like James Dean. Seriously. There is a very old photo of our family at the Outer Banks, taken when I was about 5, so that would have been about 1965. Daddy is standing next to the swimming pool, and he looks just like James Dean. Plus, my Daddy was way cool. Ask anyone who knew him. They’ll tell you. Gerald Milner was way cool. Even with that name.

Daddy loved his girls, though he did want a boy, he had four daughters. The first three of us were 2 1/2 years apart, then came the baby, when I was 13. He taught us how to make a fist the right way–thumb outside of knuckles, knuckles flat for more punch–because he wanted us to level some guy if we needed too. I never needed too, but I did teach my granddaughter the same thing, when I saw her make a “girl fist.”

Daddy was my first date. When I turned ten, he took me to Buck’s Restaurant, the swankiest place in Asheville at the time, on Tunnel Road. It was my birthday present. Just the two of us, no mom and sisters involved. He treated me like a princess. I got to order the biggest dessert. The waiters and waitresses were especially nice to us because they knew it was a big night. Daddy pretended it was a real date. He told me, “How I am treating you tonight is how every man should treat you.” Geez. I cry just typing that. Who on earth could treat me as good as you did, Daddy? I was your favorite princess (as were each of my sisters). He also said that date would be the best date I ever had. He was right. Nothing has ever compared.

He did the same for my sisters on their 10th birthdays (or thereabouts). When he died, the pastor asked us, individually, what we remembered about him most. All of us said, “The night he took me on my first date.”

Every Daddy should do that for his little girl. She’ll never forget it.

Daddy taught me about boys. He was one of 7 boys (and three sisters) and he knew. Boys aren’t always going to treat you like a princess. So, he gave me some tips. I’ll list a few.

It isn’t about whether the boy chooses you or not. Its about whether you choose him. That statement revolutionized my thinking about dating, men and relationships. So many women are trying to be pleasing, beautiful and charming, all so the guy will choose her. Daddy told me to decide if I wanted the guy before the guy ever had the chance to decide anything. That statement has been a game changer on many a guy in my life.

When a guy says, I’m not the marrying type, he just means he doesn’t want to marry you, so don’t waste anymore time on him. Oh my gosh. When the first guy said that to me, while we were discussing our future (or not, as it turned out), I gasped out loud and said, “My Daddy said you would say that.” Of course, Daddy didn’t know that guy would say it, but he knew some guy would, and sure enough he was right, The guy got married six months later to another girl.

If a guy ever tries to hurt you, tell me. and I’ll go kick his ass. Aww, Daddy, you were already in heaven when that guy hurt me. Going through my divorce, I kept telling my ex, if my Daddy were here, he’d kick your ass. My ex knew my dad, and he concurred. An ass whooping is exactly what he would have gotten.

Men can be casual with sex. Women can’t do that, because sex is about feelings and emotion for them. That’s why its the girl’s job to say no. She has something to protect, her heart. Would every girl who is trying to act like a man sexually please read that statement like 20 times? Men aren’t women and women aren’t men, no matter how gender neutral we try to make things these days. The sexes respond differently to many things, and I’d say sex is one of the biggest. Men can be casual about it. Women rarely.

Daddy never let men curse in front of my mother, or his daughters. He would say, “Ladies are present.” Now, it makes me sad that women are worse than men with their foul mouths. When we were little, instead of saying hell, we said h-e-double toothpicks. My how things have changed.

Daddy died when my youngest was 5 but both my boys like the memories of him. He was a golfer, an athlete, a champion of the poor. He loved my mama, and made her feel beautiful. He loved his four girls and made us feel beautiful. He was the first man to tell me I was pretty. I was 14 and awkward, and feeling it. He told me I was going to be the prettiest girl in the school that day. And, you know what? I was.