Happy “Thanksgibing” back….

It’s Thanksgiving day people, not TURKEY DAY.  Yes, many people eat turkey, I get it, I eat plenty of it myself.  But this was a day set aside to give thanks to God for all of his blessings.  A day started by a group of people who had seen the worst kind of heartache, and for a extended period of time.  And still, they had been provided for, and recognized that.  And were deeply thankful to the One who had given them life.

So HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone.

And “Happy Thanksgibing back.”

Please. Don’t. Leave. Me.

Child crying

When I was 8, we lived on a 20-acre farm.  Not a working farm, more like a wannabe farm.  We had chickens, and a garden, but other than that, the farm served no real purpose except for secluding us from the rest of the world. Not exactly sure why we lived there, I’ll have to ask my parents about that one day.

 

I am the oldest of 7 kids, and we were all homeschooled at the time.  My Dad, a Contemporary Christian singer, built a working recording studio in what used to be the chicken house. He called it “Hen House Productions.”

 

Even at 8, I had major abandonment issues.  Not really sure why, but for whatever reason, there was always this fear that people would forget about me.  Leave me behind.

 

The worst of these moments I remember like it was last week.  This story makes me cry, TO THIS DAY.  I have tissues at the ready as I type.

 

My Dad had invited me on a “date.”  Which, when I was eight, looked more like a trip to McDonald’s or the video store.  BUT, for a homeschooled girl with a phobia of being left out of the loop, it was the epitome of excitement and importance.  Papa wanted to be… WITH ME.  Alone.  Just me.

 

The day finally arrived, I put on my best calico, and presented myself to Papa in the driveway.  He told me to meet him at the bottom of the hill by the mailbox.  He had to drive the half-mile down the hen-house studio to get something.  He would pick me up on the curb.

 

I grabbed my “purse” which was full of quarters -about 5 dollars worth- and strutted down the long gravel driveway, awaiting my Prince Charming at the mailbox.  After what felt like ages (to an 8-year-old) I saw the family vehicle coming down the road from the hen house.  I flashed a smile and waved.  “Here he is!” I thought.

 

My Dad, a talented practical jokester, decided to pretend that he couldn’t see me, keep going, and stop 10 feet down the drive.  To this day, neither him nor I are sure why he thought it would be a good idea, but, nevertheless it was the plan he carried out.

 

As I stood there, striking a pose to impress my date, my worst nightmare unfolded.  The car passed me up, and the driver, looking straight ahead, seemed oblivious to my frantic waving.  He neared closer, and I waved with more desperation.  The car passed me, and I, knowing that I had been forgotten, reacted in utter terror.  Screams escaped my lips, tears began to flow, my hands began beating on the back side of the car as it swept past me.  It was imperative that I get Papa’a attention.  I CANNOT BE LEFT BEHIND.

 

By the time my Dad had caught on to my anguish, it was far too late.  The damage had been done.  He stopped a little short of his originally-planned 10 feet, and I frantically threw open the passenger door and climbed in before he could get away.  By this time, my small 8-year-old frame had been taken over by waves of tears and despair.  I was hysterical.

 

Even now as I write this, I’m affected by the memory.  And today, I’m far more secure in the fact that my Heavenly Father will never leave me behind.  That He will never forget about me, nor forsake me.  That He, too, desires time with me, just me.

Today, my fear of abandonment manifests itself very differently. There are less tears, less desperation.  But if I text you, and you don’t text back… heaven help you.

 

 

“LISTEN, Lady….”

I am fairly convinced, at this point in my life, that Walmart exists for the sole purpose of reminding me that I am not God.  To remind us mortals exactly how broken we are.  To test our patience, and our ability to love and deal with annoying people.

 

The retail giant has developed quite an impressive reputation for its ability to attract the scum of the earth. Sounds harsh, but you know it’s true. So why do I shop there you ask? Well, for all you know I could be the scum of the universe as well. That’s why this anonymous blogging thing is so exciting. Kind of like internet dating. I could be anyone.

 

So I’m in line at Walmart the other day.  A lady walks up to the cashier who’s ringing me up -who is already moving at a glacial pace.  The woman bears a bag full of merchandise.

 

“This was left in one of the buggies,” she says to my cashier.

 

(You see, here in the South, they’re not called “carts,” but rather “buggies,” which I believe is a truer representation of their dixie souls.)

 

My first thought was: how sweet of this lady to bring it back, rather than just run off with the free stuff.  Maybe there is hope for the People of Walmart.

Mad Walmart smiley

 

The cashier, who obviously would rather be in a dentist’s chair than at work that day, replied with attitude, “well, I can’t do anything with it, you’ll have to take it down to Customer Service.”

 

The woman, who appeared very proud of herself for bringing back the lost goods, threw her hands in the air at the suggestion of a greater inconvenience.  She huffed.  She puffed.  She stood there in disbelief that further action had been requested of her.

 

Then, muttering something under her breath about “just trying to be nice and do the right thing…” she stomped over to the trash can, rid herself of the abomination, and stormed out of the store.

 

Come on.  I mean, COME FREAKING ON.  Listen, lady.  I’m sorry that you didn’t get your expected gold stars, but don’t volunteer to “be nice and do the right thing” unless you’re willing to, um, actually do it.

 

Nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to turn in the goods.  You volunteered of your own volition, and heaven forbid you be asked to follow through with it.

 

Why did this outrage me so much?  Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it selfish? Yes.  Did I feel convicted?   Hmmmm.  Possibly.

 

How many times have I done something like that?  Against people.  Against my God.

My relationship with God is a beautiful mess.  He’s the beauty, I’m the mess.

 

I, too, am inconvenienced at the thought of having to follow through with something that I know and believe is the “right” thing, and perhaps have already volunteered to do.  But how DARE anyone actually hold me to it.  Or the circumstances hold me to it.

 

Don’t you know…  I’M God.  I make my own decisions.  I can’t be bothered with things as troublesome as service, selflessness, or generosity.  And if so, it will be on MY TERMS.  In MY time.

Come on.  I mean, COME FREAKING ON.

 

 

 

 

BEING BLIND

When you’re as blind as me, you tend to not feel human without the aid of corrective lenses. Before I knew exactly how blind I was, it was a daily struggle to make eye contact with people. It was unclear to me (pun intended) at the time, that because I couldn’t really SEE anyone, I didn’t want them to see me.  It’s unsettling when people have direct access to your soul-window, and you have no access to theirs.  So, I looked away.

Then I go to the eye doctor, get contacts, and BAM! There are leaves, and clouds, and eyes.  Eyes everywhere. And for some reason, I wanted to look into all of them.

Many of us experience spiritual blindness as well. And we like it that way. Imagine if we were to behold the true weight of our shortcomings. We would get crushed by conviction.

Blindfolded

Jeremiah 16:10 ESV

“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?'”

All over the Bible people are asking, (the Israelites especially) “what did WE do against you?  Surely it wasn’t that bad.”

It is that bad.  Anything other than perfection is complete and utter evil.  The opposite of good is evil, so if it’s not good, it’s evil.  For more on that click HERE.

I desperately want my prayer to be “Lord, open my eyes.  Show me what’s in my heart.”  But I’m deathly afraid of what that would mean.  Of what I would see.  Of what He would convict me of.

So, as of right now.  That’s not my prayer.  It’s a prayer that the Holy Spirit inside of me will have to ask for, as I don’t possess the strength yet.

Right now, my prayer is simply, “Lord, give me the strength to ask for my eyes to be opened.”

The Mythical Soul Mate

Dead cupidI sat at a low-lit table trying not to stare at the friend-of-a-friend across from me, counting the minutes until the buffer (said friend) returned from the bathroom.  There was nothing to do but smile.  The restaurant had decided to increase the awkward intensity by playing music that was just barely too loud to make easy conversation.  I sipped my martini.

As more girls began to arrive at our table for 8, it became clear I was outnumbered.  There were two kinds of women at the watering hole that night: ones that wore wedding rings, and the ones that did not.

It was girls’ night.  In honor of my friend’s birthday.  I had met a few of these women before, but hadn’t gotten involved beyond Facebook status ‘likes’.  They were all single, except me- the youngest of the group, and one other who was a newlywed.  Being well on the other side of newlywed hell, (don’t believe all they say about the honeymoon phase) I was anxious to hear how things were going, and offer any wisdom I could.

Then the bomb dropped.  The only other woman at the table on my “team” announced her upcoming divorce.  (Annulment?  The relationship was still in infancy, so I don’t remember which.)  And more of story began to take shape.  They had known each other for only 2 months before walking down the aisle, and things had begun to fall apart rather quickly after the wedding march.

The girls began to do… what girls do.  The “you don’t deserve that” speech.

“You’ll find someone better.”

“He’s an idiot.  You’re too good for him.”

“Your soul mate is out there somewhere.”

I couldn’t bring myself to join in the pep talk.  At one point, someone asked me how my marriage was going.

“It’s going well,” I replied.  “Much better than in the beginning.  Our first year was the toughest.  But we’ve grown alot, and marriage has been sanding down our rough edges.  I love my husband.  I guess I found my soul mate.”

*Side note, I HATE using that term.  I simply used it because it seemed to be something that these Barbi-doll-wannabe’s could sink their stilettos into.  I was attempting to speak on their terms.

No sooner did the period on my sentence find its landing spot, then my friend whipped around.

“Jordan is your SOUL MATE?!”

The look of surprise on her face was that of a hunter that had encountered proof of a mythical creature in the woods.  As if the “soul mate” had been never before discovered in real life.

Unicorns on beach

“Uuum, yeah.  I mean, he’s my husband.”

“But you REALLY think he’s your REAL soul mate?  I mean, I just can’t believe that you’ve FOUND him.  The one for you, ya know?  It’s amazing.  We’re witnessing it.  You really found him.”

By this time, I had all seven pairs of eyes locked onto my lip gloss, hanging on my every word.

“Well guys,” I said nonchalantly, “let’s hope he’s my soul mate, because it’s ‘til death do us part.  If I treat him as anything other than my soul mate, this marriage is pretty much doomed to fail, don’t you think?”

The soon-to-be-divorcee’ leaned in, eyes wide.  “Oh. My. Gosh.  You know, that is so smart. You’re a really good wife.”

The other girls pitched in their amazement at my treatment of the term.  Again, I’ve never liked using the word.  It seems so… allegorical.  As if the ladies of the world just have to stay sane long enough to stumble upon our one-and-only knight in shining armor.  Then fireworks will spell out our compatibility, we’ll know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s the one, the stars will align, “Friends” will come back on TV, someone will cure cellulite, and we’ll live happily ever after.  Always happy to see each other.  ALWAYS.

Bull.  Bull crap.  Bull SHENANIGANS.  There are obviously different levels of compatibility with different people, but when you combine two imperfect people under the same roof, it’s never going to be a piece of the cake the entire time.  Platonic friendships aren’t even that!  And sex really does complicate things, so what makes anyone think that a marriage would be EASIER?  You could have a happy marriage with any number of people.

The term SOUL MATE just gives us permission to be discontent.  Always looking ahead for that magical connection that will make everything okay.  Never satisfied with what’s in front of us, or what the Lord might be using in our lives to teach, strengthen, develop us.

For the record, I love marriage.  Seriously, I was born to be married.  Marriage was what God used to turn me into who I was going to be, and what He’s still using for my sanctification.  And my husband is not perfect by any means, but perfect for me in so many lovely, challenging, steamy, nerve-wracking ways.

What I mean is that marriage is already an up-hill battle.  If he’s NOT my soul-mate, then I have two issues.

1.  Why the heck did I marry the guy?

2. How long do I think this thing- this FOREVER THING- is going to last if I’m entertaining ideas of being tied down to someone who wasn’t meant for me?

Are those real?

Plastic surgery.  I have never understood the concept of artificially altering one’s appearance.  Maybe organically altering yourself, sure.  Many times have I been swayed by cultural pressure, and, bouncing back-and-forth between the gym and the ice-cream section at the grocery store, realized that my appearance had been altered, (sometimes for the better, sometimes not.)  But surgically removing something natural, or inserting something foreign just boggles my mind.  Honestly.

I’m not saying those who have partaken are inherently wrong, or sinful. Please, don’t feel judged.  It’s just that I hurt for women who have felt so unloved because of their appearance; to the point of giving silicone or plastic a “forever home” under their flesh!

Mona-Lisa-before-and-after

Dolly Parton.  I mean, was it an accident, or did she look in the mirror and say to herself, “these would be so much more lovely if they were bigger than my head.”

And all the facial reconstruction!  I mean, forgive me, but I always thought the beauty of being unique is that no one else on earth looks exactly like you.  But when every other person is getting their nose trimmed, cheek bones implanted, face lifted, and forehead botoxed, why is it any surprise that everyone has begun to look like clones?  Similar to clothing styles, many people are now following “face shape trends.”  Does this not freak anyone else out?

All that’s missing:  a duck-faced, iPhone, mirror-selfie, with our heads all cocked to the same side.  Guess what, it takes WORK to be original.  (But not as much work as the Octo-mom… please.)  And most of the work was already done for you.

Not all of you may share the same belief, but I believe that you were CREATED, in God’s image.  That means you weren’t an accident.  No part of you was.  He planned you, just the way He wanted you, each flaw for a purpose.  My body is far from perfect, but each imperfection exercises my patience, character, love for others, and -news flash- these are all good traits.  Traits that other people like, and are drawn to.

Now, I haven’t said anything about medical intervention, so please don’t put words in my mouth [or fingers?].   Burn care, scar tissue, birth defects…. in my book these are more noble causes.  But even in some extreme cases, the patient is confused after the operation, (particularly adults) and left feeling separated from themselves when they see an entirely different person in the mirror.  Talk about an identity crisis.  But, that’s not really the topic under discussion here.

Can it be, that in effort to make ourselves more appealing, we’re losing what made us, us to begin with?

Onions have layers

Shrek and donkey

Shrek:  “Ogres are like onions.”

Donkey: “They stink?”

Shrek: “No.  LAYERS.  Onions have layers…. Ogres have layers.”

Donkey: “You know, not everybody like onions.”

*pause*

Donkey:  “CAKE!  Cake has layers.  And parfaits.  Everybody likes parfaits.”

Friendships have layers too.  Today’s societal tendency is to stay on the surface, because, well, we all know that the friendship could be like an onion, and make you cry the deeper you get into it.  BUT, what if instead of an onion, it’s a parfait?  And you never get to taste the sweetness that’s buried beneath the surface, because you’ve held it at arm’s length?

Peeling back the layers is scary.  Getting real with people is scary.  You’re exposing places of yourself that can cause old wounds to sting, embarrassing traits to be seen, and bad decisions to be judged. But it has only ever been worth it, in my experience.  Even when I got hurt.  That’s usually when I learned the most about myself. Getting to the heart –and hard stuff– is usually how we get to know each other, as well.

And think about it! We feel important when our friends have the guts to open up to us!  The shear joy, honor and esteem makes us feel loved, accepted, and valued by this person, our peer, who had faith to tell us about the REAL stuff that’s going on in their world.  So make THEIR day and spread the love, value and acceptance.  But I have 3 points of warning.

1. Don’t act like your pain is worse than mine.  Everyone’s been through something hurtful.  Obviously, at varying degrees, but the emotions that these varied experiences create are often very comparable.  You can only speak for yourself.

2. Gossip disguised as a prayer request.  “Did you hear, our mutual friend so-and-so is considering divorce, so would you pray for them?”  Listen, I BELIEVE IN THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER, but I also believe in the destructive power of gossip.  It can destroy the joy in our own hearts, as well as tear down friendships, trust, and love for one another.  If your mutual friend so-and-so has given permission for you to share, then by all means, be my guest. But if not, you must take it up with the Holy Spirit.

3. If you dish it, be willing to take it.  Being a good listener.  It takes practice, people.  And it’s not always fun, but it’s an excellent character-building exercise.  And much like physical exercise, there’s quite a sense of accomplishment that comes with it.  Not to mention, deeper trust, relational intimacy, and you never know, you might just learn something about your friend that you didn’t know.  More blackmail material for later.