Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ready to Swap Superpowers With Someone. Anyone.

I have this running inside joke. Like most things in life, even if it's funny and you are being funny, there's still probably some truth in the joke. 

I have this invisible sign in blinking neon over my head that reads something like this: "Please feel free to share the completely inappropriate details of your personal life with me." Now, the joke part comes in because I am She Who is of Little or No Mercy.

You get the punchline.

You people are telling the person least able to identify with and help you all about your personal business. It's mind boggling. And it happens all of the time. Daily. My dad once told me that all of that "theater nonsense" wasn't ever going to be helpful in the Real World. Boy, was he wrong. As teacher, pastor's wife, friend, mother, etc., that's probably the skill set I value and use most in my life. (This is known as 'irony', Students.)  The ability to act like nothing is wrong and continue to move forward normally is seriously undervalued.
It seems that my entire life is running from one crisis directly into the next--and almost none of these crises are actually mine; they are usually someone else's ball of crazy. I get out of one situation that I'm required to fix and plow right into the next one without coming up for air. It's really quite remarkable. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the ability to cope under extreme pressure is my superpower.

(Maybe I am superwoman and the pod with the info I'm supposed to receive from off world simply hasn't arrived yet. Maybe.)  Anyhoo...

I'd like to have an entire week without anything to report. No emergencies. No phone calls at 2:00 a.m. No police involvement. No personal crises. No new people with cancer. No people who need money. No nothing. My wants in life are simple. Here's a short list in case anyone is listening:

I want to sleep for more than six hours in a row sometime instead of napping and sleeping in five hour increments. I hear it's great.

I want to choose the fast food restaurant now and again instead of taking a popular vote. If the place sells anything that includes a toy, we ain't eating there.

I want to go ten solid minutes without anyone asking me a question. Okay, maybe that's unreasonable. I'd settle for seven.

I want to stay in my jammies one Saturday until noon without the doorbell ringing.

I'd like to watch a completely-inappropriate-for-children zombie movie from start to finish without having to pause five thousand times (to make juice, find a hairbow, cut the crust off, answer the phone, answer the door, find shorts, open the big freezer, move the laundry...).

I want someone else to fold the clothing or at least put it away if I've folded it.

I want someone else to figure out what's for dinner and then just let me know.

I want all 58 high school students to finish their homework one time. Just once.

I want complete and total boring for 24-hours straight.

Okay, okay, so I flew too close to the sun with that last one, but you have to be shooting at something in order to hit anything. I can tell you this though. I'm not answering the phone or the door on purpose next week. If you need something, you better call someone else, because I cannot help you. Even Wonder Woman needs a break. So, the next person I see who asks me how I am, I'm going to over share the completely inappropriate details of my personal life and see if I can transfer some of this crazy to someone else.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Three Most Powerful Words

I was sitting in the classroom and overheard a group of teens discussing a potentially cheating girlfriend/boyfriend. One of the group mentioned that she thought 'once a cheater, always a cheater', and for the most part, the others agreed. I really mulled that over during the rest of the day as a spiritual matter. What are we teaching our kids as a culture about forgiveness.

We are so weak and frail as humans. We are tempted and tried and no one really knows what we go through on a daily basis. This line of thought continued late into the evening as I watched advertisements for the morally bankrupt new show "Revenge". Really? Revenge? No wonder we have no forgiveness in our hearts. It's all about the revenge.

Successful relationships of all kinds including friendships, love interests, those with our parents/children aren't always about loving enough, but maybe they are more about our ability to forgive each other. If I never forgave my father every time he was a jackwagon or if my children never forgive me every time I am irrational, we'd have no relationships at all. It's not the quantity of love, it's the quality of our forgiveness that allows us to continue in love.

Forgiveness is complicated. Some of us equate forgiveness with weakness or lack of backbone or an automatic pass for people to hurt us. Forgiveness sometimes seems impossible, because we are literally unable to forget past wrongs. They cling to us and, more often, us to them.

I have always been the kind of person who sort of lets things roll right off. No really, I know I can be forceful and cranky and opinionated, but most of the time, if you are a friend or someone in my close circle and you do something particularly snarky to me or the kids, I get over it. Usually, I get over it without a single word being uttered to the person in the conflict. Sure, sometimes I vent to people like The Husband, but I don't I don't need some big confrontation or a "moment" in order to get closure on the deal.

I just sort of keep walking in a straight line toward the goal line without wavering and eventually, the person I have conflict with is either left behind, catches up with me and walks along without another word, or I keep my blinders on long enough that it doesn't matter where you are walking so long as you don't impede my forward progress. It's a quiet sort of forgiveness.

It's been quite a successful deal so far.

But lately in my spiritual walk, it feels like that mandate in Scripture of forgiving seventy times seven is impossible. I'd rather be crusty and pout and be a child about it, which is human and completely justified, but that's the immature reaction to have, because forgiveness might be the best practical indicator of your spiritual maturity.

Really get this. I'm saying that I think your ability to forgive someone who has legitimately wronged you is a direct measure of your spiritual maturity.

Anyone can serve at church, but can you CONTINUE to serve at church after someone has been ugly to you or even legitimately wronged you? 

Anyone can tithe, but do you CONTINUE to tithe even when it's financially hard or is it has been based in the past on your excess rather than out of your need where it's supposed to be coming from?

Anyone can say, "I love you", but can you forgive a wrong and CONTINUE in love in a relationship (as friends, spouses, child/parent) with the offending party?

I told you it was complicated.

"I love you" is considered the most powerful phrase in the human experience, but "I forgive you" might be the more transforming phrase. "I love you" is largely contingent upon being returned. "I forgive you" is all on you and not on the other party. It's harder. It's dirtier. It's lonelier. And it's the right thing to do, even when you don't feel like it.

Why? Well, God said so. There's that. But it's also because it's the one thing that will eat you alive if you don't extend it to others. There just isn't any power behind your "I love you" if there isn't an accompanying  "I forgive you". They can't exist one without the other. You don't really love someone if you can't forgive them.

So, with all of that said, I forgive you, because I love you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I Hope My Daughters Understand

I've always loved to read. It's just my favorite. Over the Christmas break from school, I've been catching up on my Young Adult books that I put in my library at school. Man, there are some weird books out there. I'm all down with faeries and vampires and ghosts--whatever--but I'm seeing a really odd bend toward Nothingness. What I mean is an overall tone of despair, sadness, with parents who aren't involved or observant in the lives of their kids. It reads like a generation desperate to believe in something, anything. It's difficult to read once you notice it, because it's so demoralizing.

There are two kinds of girls in YA fiction:

The first group is made up of beautiful, cruel, mean, snobs who are deliberately tearing down the people around them in order to crawl to the top of the dead bodies and be queen. They are almost always sexually active, dressed provocatively, act out without any supervision or repercussions to their behavior, and are manipulative, evil people to their core. It's a case of the outside not matching the inside.

The second group are made up of main characters who are plain, dowdy, and unrecognized who come out of their shells by dressing differently (usually sluttier), getting contacts, and changing their hairstyles. That, or the main female character discovers some sort of "superpower". (This could be playing boys football or seeing supernatural characters.) She makes some mistakes, but it always a ugly duckling/swan scenario.

This type of thing just goes directly against what we are desperately teaching our girls. You don't have to be beautiful and mean or plain with a heart of gold. They aren't mutually exclusive states. Also, beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder. What one boy finds attractive might actually be repulsive to the Right Boy. It's why God made us in so many different shapes and sizes--so that everyone can find his/her flavor.

Here is what I want to discuss with my children after reading these novels:

I am involved in your life whether you like it or not. I will know where you go, what you do, and who you are doing with it. I will check up on you, because this is how honest people stay honest--accountability.

You're right--I don't trust you to always make the best decisions. This is why you are a child and not yet an adult. But even more than that, I don't trust anyone next to your person, and it's my number one priority to keep you safe and sound to let you continue to be a child for awhile longer. (Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.; Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.)

You do not call the shots in this house. I am the parent. I am not your best friend. This means that I will take action if you confide in me, and sometimes you won't like me. I don't care. My job is to raise you in the fear of the Lord, not to win a popularity contest. Don't worry; I'm tough enough to take it. Parents? You need to be where your kids are and have an active, responsible role in the lives of your children.

You are beautiful not because the world thinks so, but because your Heavenly Father says so. The standard of beauty changes from year to year. Your body type or hair type might be in fashion this year and out next year. You cannot rely on your face or body to make you or others happy. You might lose either or both of those sooner rather than later. Breast cancer, car accidents, surgeries, pregnancy will all change your body irreparably. (Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.)
You are not plain. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a work of art. You are the house of the Living God. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You are the Bride of Christ. And those things have nothing to do with the size of your jeans or the curl in your hair or the clothes on your body. (Proverbs 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.)

The world does not revolve around  you. In fact, you are usually inconsequential to everyone in the world outside of me and your father. You cannot go around being cruel to people you perceive to be beneath you, because eventually you will be 'beneath' someone else, and they will return the favor.

One day there is going to be a man who sees you as you really are. Wait for that one. Don't settle for anything less. It's better to be alone than with just anyone. Life is too short to kill time in your relationships

Be the kind of person that influences others by just being and living a life that honors the Lord in your actions, your words, your activities, your dedication, and your love. Grow in your faith and in your spiritual relationship and God will provide the increase at the right time. Don't settle for ordinary or mean just because you are beautiful.