Sunday, April 7, 2013

Letter to a Friend

Dear One,

I confess, I am a poor friend.  I have not been honest with you.  I am not who you think you see.  I have worked very hard through the years, to create an impressive facade.  For this I am sorry.  By creating this facade, I have unintentionally placed undue pressure on you to focus on performance and measurable results.  For this I am also sorry.  But more than anything else, I am sorry for looking down on you, because my facade was better than yours.

I have spent years building up the image of a woman who can do anything, and who does all things well.  I sewed and crafted, cooked and baked.  I read books, and gardened, and renovated, and decorated.  I homeschooled my children and raised small livestock.  I volunteered my time and efforts in the church and in my community.  I was well spoken, and I always tried to look the part.

And then one day my house of cards came crashing down, and I realized that none of the things I could do with my hands mattered, if I was not able to hold love in my heart.  And my heart was a sieve.  I was so full of holes, that I was bleeding out.  

This realization immobilized me.  Even if I had wanted to somehow reconstruct the shattered facade, I could not have done so.  I laid in the rubble, and thought I would never sew another quilt, or frost another cupcake, or lead another Bible study for as long as I lived.  I did not care if I did.  

I cried at the strangest times.  I withheld myself from my loved ones for months, even years at a time.  Yet I would find huge tracts of sadness and bitterness flowing out of me unchecked, brought forth by the glance or word of a person that did not mean to unloose the deluge.  It was a horrible feeling to not be able to trust myself to open or close at appropriate times.

And thank God, by the grace of God, I have not come through.  Instead I have learned to live in this shattered place.  The house of cards still lays scattered about me, and that is where is belongs.  

The work of my hands, is just the work of my hands.  I love to work, and I love to love on people by working for them.  But my work is not the measure of my worth.  Neither is the reputation I gain by the quality and quantity of my work.  And that reputation was very important to me, if I was to be totally honest with myself.

In truth, I recognize that my reputation isn't worth much of anything at all, unless I am known for loving people.  Me, the broken down house-of-cards girl, loving other broken down house-of-cards people.  The only kind of people there are.

But I realized this horrible thing about myself today...this little section of stacked cards still standing.  I realized that I am looking down my nose at you, because once upon a time my card house was bigger than yours.  I still take pride that my cooking was tastier and my baking prettier.  That my quilts were more intricate and my stitches tinier.  That my home was tidier, and my children could all write an excellent persuasive essay.  That at my most proud and my most broken, I still did it better than you do.

I admit to you dear one, that I am astounded and ashamed of myself, to discover this mean little tower of cards still standing.  So that when you approach me with your cards slipping through your fingers, your heart like a sieve, feeling like you're bleeding out...we are separated.  Kept apart by that delicate little structure that makes me feel more and you feel less.

I can knock it down, and I can tell you so.  But I am so sorry I let it be there in the first place.  Please do not mistake me for anything but what I am.  A broken down house-of-cards girl, living in a shattered place.  Feel free to join me.  Don't mind the mess.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's Complicated but I'm Easy

I was thinking today, about that great phenomenon called F*ceb**k, in which we employ all sorts of little devices to sort out the intricacies of our lives.  Like how we describe the relationships we are "in".  My most favorite descriptor is "complicated".  Not in real life of course.  I don't really enjoy complicated, because the implication is often that things are hard in a complex way.  That we fight a lot.  That we often miss the mark in this relationship, though we are not yet willing to give it up and declare ourselves single.  Not yet alone.

I was thinking of the opposite descriptor, which interestingly enough, FB does not offer as an option.  That option would be "easy".  No, stay with me here.  Really it would.

If I am sitting at the piano with a new piece before me, the teacher may warn me that it is complicated.  Tricky.  Or they may reassure me.  Don't worry, it's easy.

If I am looking at a knitting pattern, a cursory glance reveals if the pattern is complicated or easy.

Dance steps can be complicated and intricate...or basic and easy. No worries, I can't do either.

As I age, I realize that I aspire to being easy.  For so many years I have fallen into the trap of believing that easy was worthless, and complicated was more to be desired.  The harder a thing was to attain, the more worthwhile it was to fight for it.  And there are times when this is true.

But sometimes it's just selfish and stupid.  Why in the world would I ever try and make it hard for people to love me?  Why would I set up a series of obstacles, and expect them to fight their way through in order to prove something to me?  Why do I refuse help until I am bleeding out, and can't fight it any longer?

And on the flip side...why don't I just offer myself and my love freely?  Lavishly?  Expecting nothing in return?  Do I secretly fear it will be rejected as worthless, simply because it is freely given?  Why would I not fear that?  Is it not the model I have made for myself?

So many of the horribly unhealthy patterns and habits I have cultivated and clung to for a lifetime, are rooted in this lie; that the simple truth is not quite truth enough for my complicated situations.  And so I construct intricate addictions and the complex justifications they require.

But now I want to be done.  I want to be an easy old lady when I grow up, and I want to advertise it in places more public than F*ceb**k.  Because I want to be "in a relationship" with folks who are easy, and folks who are complicated.  I don't want to make them fight for anything or prove anything, but I will fight and prove for them every single day, if they need that.  And I will believe the simple truth enough for myself, and for the people who cannot believe it for themselves.  In myself, left to myself, I will never ever become that, but the God who created me to not ever be "single", alone, an island unto myself...maybe that God will help me become an easy woman.  I can only hope and pray it's possible.