Sunday, April 6, 2014

Free to Fail: Teaching Kids to Care While Letting Them Be Themselves

For about a year, give or take a few months, days, well, hopefully not years, I have had a well of feelings, thoughts, emotions and experiences stew in this big pot of my mind some relating to this blog post and some not.  Yes, a well is stewing in a pot.  A whole well of dripping wet life in all of its drama or serious lack of drama, the drab, mundane life mixed together in a pot bubbling, brewing, bubble, bubble, toil and trouble(thanks, Shakespeare) and the pot is boiling over.  There's much I do not understand.  I never could understand a lot of things and that drives me nuts.  I like solving things, figuring things out, figuring people out, figuring life out and there's way too much I am having a hard time cracking.  I also thrive in the world of observation.  Sometimes I get the great wide world I am observing right and other times I get it wrong.  Sometimes I get it all wrong, what I observe.  I perceive, yet sometimes I don't really see.  We all do that.  I get it.  I don't want to wallow in that truth too much.  We all fail.  We are freetofail.  And way, way more than once. You heard me right.  I want to step back from the proverbial plow of control and take a deep breath, but it's hard.   

And my kids.  You see, they are growing up and I wonder about a great many things way more now than I ever have before.  We are charting new territory over here.  I've got little boys and little girls who don't want to be little boys and little girls any more.  They like their friends.  They like their time away and they are exploring a whole new world of acceptation, rejection, triumph in small ways, seemingly small ways to me, their mother, but huge to them.  What appear to be giant issues, subjects, mindsets to my children can seem insignificant to an adult, to adults at large, to me, but we've seen these things.  We adults for the most part know how to divide the real from the unreal in our minds way more than they do.  I remember what life was like when I was thirteen, don't you? 

And kids say things.  They say a whole bunch of things.  Today I heard from one of my kids that Paul Simon's music was annoying and retarded.  I was offended.  I was listening to my "happy" music.  My Brown Eyed Girl, Don't Worry Be Happy and You Can Call Me Al was playing this morning as an introduction to some good old tunes.  Okay, so You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon may not have been the best introduction to his music, but, hey, I love that song.  I just assumed that my kids would love it too.  Then throughout the day there were a bunch of unkind jokes made about certain types of people.  Not any person in particular but people groups in general, but I still didn't like what I was hearing.  No biggie.  Kids say things.  They say a lot of things, but I still wanted to sit them down and make a few things clear. 

We don't make fun of people even certain types of people.  I don't care what the reasoning behind the teasing.  We don't tell jokes at the expense of others.  Ever.  Call me intolerant.  An intolerant mother.  Good.  I'm glad to be intolerant in this area at least.  And speaking of intolerance, everybody is different.  Nobody is the same.  Profound, isn't it?  And some people are just annoyingly dead wrong and still continue on in their flawed thinking after being warned, but even still everybody should be treated with politeness and with kindness.  If other people can't distribute the same good behavior in return to you then you are not required to be in their company.  That's fair I think.  When me and my family look at people, I want us to see souls full of worth in each and every one of the people we meet.  Okay, I am a little serious about this.  I'm deep.  I go overboard.  Maybe I need to lighten up, but I believe each person has value, created in the image of God and although we may not be able to make room for everyone we'd like to befriend or reach or teach or touch or share with or help, we can still take the time to see the view of the people from where we are standing in the moment, see who's there, share a hello or a kind word and if we are able also put ourselves in their own shoes.

We all walk into rooms, on to fields, into homes, and on the streets with all sorts of people.  We pick people out of a crowd and gravitate toward the commonalities we possess in synch with our passions or desires.  It's normal.  There are those who shine with all the confidence in the world and there are those who long for one person to notice them, enough to catapult them into their own confidence.  There are kids who can talk to anyone and there are kids who can only talk to kids their same gender, same age, same grade, same hair style, same car, same music appreciation tastes, oh, you know.  Nothing wrong with that in general.  But if their care for others only extends that far then I would question where they are headed in life.  If they can only have a meaningful conversation with those who look, smell and behave the same way that they do they are limiting themselves and missing out on what the great, wide world of people has to offer.  In the same way if they can only be kind to those just like themselves then I am seriously alarmed.  I know.  I know.  Idealism.  Idealistic parenting.  I have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  I get it.  I don't want to be completely unrealistic.  I really don't.  Kids say things.  They live.  They do.  They fail.  They are freetofail.  They need to be allowed to be themselves and also be allowed to fail.  Please allow your kids to fail.  They learn so much from failure.  

But kids also see what their parents do.  They observe.  Kids are avid observers.  They see when you ignore certain kinds of people.  They hear when you speak to people in some sort of varied or categorical deference.  If you make fun of others for their religious differences they will too.  Whatever you give license to in your treatment of others they may repeat and with high fluidity.  Being a kid is hard enough.  You want them to be themselves, give them the wriggle room they need to grow and learn, allow them plenty of space to breathe and plenty much more room to fail, but we certainly don't want to set our kids up for failure.  Now, therein lies the rub and it's never too late to learn from our mistakes, to learn and grow on this journey with our kids, teaching them to care, teaching them to be themselves, and teaching them that failure is part of the path we take and learning from failure is the smartest thing we can do.    


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Free to Let Our Children Think for Themselves

One day I was at a friend's house and I was relating my experiences with her about how I have seen more and more Christians or put more broadly, believers in God become atheists or have heard them just seriously question whether there was the existence of God.  It was one of our many mornings spent together conversing about a myriad of subjects that were important to us while her children were about us playing.  The words atheist and doubting God strung off my tongue once again in our drawn out conversation and I was abruptly shushed by my friend while she glared at her children in the room.  She obviously didn't want her children hearing those words even in their proper context of our conversation.  I was conveying my words with sadness that people had been wasted by their religion or whatever belief system that had been crudely or wrongfully or disdainfully thrust upon them, so I wondered why I was being quieted.   

The word atheist has a meaning, maybe more than one.  All words have meaning and some of them have hidden or subliminal meanings depending on the teller of those words.  I use to be horrified by my kids hearing any cuss words at all by anyone.  My kids were perfectly self-righteous in their ability to see weakness or differences in others and rant about them to me in public and private as if we were some sort of morality inducing gestapo.  I had not in my mothering past taught them how to hear and observe logically or sympathetically or without condescension, but rather I served up regular, paranoid, schizophrenic style labeling, parenting and teaching all backed by the dishes of belief that were served up to me as a child and young adult.  The trickle down effect can be devastating, stifling and growth stunting. 

And I understand shielding little children from overall exposure to strong, unsavory people, scenarios and words, of course, as parents we should do that, but if they happen to encounter things that fly in the face of what you adhere to in everyday life, they must eventually be able to hear, see or experience anything under the microscope of thinking, critical thinking on every level.  And to critically think is to critically understand and to critically understand is to critically know and to critically know is to critically and honestly and fully live.  Yes, can you imagine a whole life fraught with critical living and doing and being?  And therefore leading to a life that critically thrives and fully loves.

Kids will never be able to understand things that they are not allowed to hear or talk about.  Kids will never fully derive their own honest and heart felt belief system or way of living on this earth without talking about everything and being allowed to ask all their questions, being unafraid to pose words in any order to parents whatever they may be.  To let the children hammer it out with the help from those that love them.  To go through the motion of understanding and belief hand and hand with them.  Hearing the words atheist and doubting God will not magically go into a child's head and forever shape their belief system for good.  It is an option, though, isn't it?  Being an atheist.  It's not one I would encourage my children to take, but it is something to talk about, isn't it?  One of many, many, many things we need to talk about with our children.  And talking with our kids takes time and the more you have the more time it takes to let each one go through the hearing, observing and thinking process out loud, raw in its original form and real, just really real.  And when this process occurs again and again and again at home just think of how well your children will be equipped to freethink and honestly convey their own thoughts when confronted with this world and all of its ideas and life and things, beautiful and unsavory.

Let's stop shushing our friends, hey, they are our friends for a reason, and more importantly let's forever cease the shushing of our children.    

     

     

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Father, Forgive Them

I was running around town on my usual, busy Friday and here in the bible belt, the city that has the most churches per square mile than any other place in the entire U. S. of A, I read a sign.  Yes.  You read right.  I read a sign.  In fact, I read many signs.  In front of churches.  They are all over town.  Little quips, sometimes bible verses, but mostly quick witted, far sighted, closed minded groups of words on boards with removable letters.  The letters have to be removable to change what is said from week to week, month to month, year to year, decade after decade.  And I do believe I see more churches open now than I ever have before in this big town.  Churches in shopping centers.  Churches in movie theaters.  Churches on the beach.  Churches in huge complexes of many buildings and landscapes.  Tiny churches on little corners or way out in the country with open blue skies floating majestically above them.  Well, out front of one of these churches was a sign, there's usually a sign.  The sign read, "Father, forgive them."

And instantly I thought...subliminally thought, a quick, popped-up sentence in my head...yes, Father, forgive them for they know not what to do with the circumstances they have been handed in life.  I let that thought set for about three seconds in my mind and then I suddenly became angry.  Father, forgive them, people who many or most have suffered in life, or have been programmed for cruelty, some seemingly beyond any repair, who have been handed not what they asked for, and have had a trickle down effect of such circumstances that continue to flood down the stair of every generation of their familial life?  All due to Adam and Eve sinning in the garden?  All due to their wicked nature they were born with at birth?  I have had to recently grapple with these thoughts I have never even dared to think before. 

Babies are born totally wicked, depraved and sinful or so I have been told.  Children have messy, evil, mistake filled lives, supposedly, unless we constantly intervene.  And all adults are bound for hell without seeing how lost they are without Jesus.  But is this the whole story? Is this fully true?  Are many in evangelical churches at large leaving wide open gaps of understanding left misunderstood?  Is it okay to ask questions without fear of retribution and abandonment in these churches?  I have been in church for the better or worse part of my life.  Questions that test the traditional belief systems were ignored or swept aside.  These questions leave you lonely with feeble, hallow answers that never settle the soul.  And I know that many questions we have about life, God, the bible and how it all works may never be answered and what it boils down to, is what do I choose to believe.  It's my choice.  And, yes, despite the questions I have posing a threat to many, many people in the great, wide world of the churched, I do want to make the right choice in the way I believe.  

Many things are unclear and I am human.  The journey I am on is hinged in many ways on these two elements.  Father, forgive me.  I am human.  I was born into a family.  I was born to a person who had an absolute design thrust upon my soul, etched in self-righteousness and piety, but no real personal kindness or love for people or life or family.  Father, forgive me.  Father, forgive me for being in churches my whole life that caused me to stare down my nose at the rest of the free world who did not fall in line with my particular belief system.  Father, forgive me, for spending years of my life isolating, criticizing and abandoning people.  And on and on.  On and on I could go. 

And that board.  That board I read.  It's missing a few words.  Very crucial words...and how could you leave them out?  Tell us the whole story, not just part of it.  Jesus, the son of God, was crucified, and hanged on the cross in agony.  I believe He really did live and die for me.  I choose that belief for myself.  He spoke to His Father in heaven while being mocked continuously, spit upon...He could barely speak.  His mouth was dry, his body was almost done from the pain and it took every ounce of his effort to say these words and He didn't have to exert Himself to say them, but He did.  "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  Jesus could have said a lot of things.  He alone spoke a very few words while hanging on the cross.  No, He looked at grown men and women who were yelling, screaming, spitting, mocking, cursing, belittling, throwing what they could, words of pain, cruel shots of words into the atmosphere.  Adults.  They were old enough to know better.  But they didn't do better.  They were taught that Jesus was an absolute imposter, a threat to their God of the Old Testament and not the true Messiah.  Jesus knew that.  He understood that.   

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  They just don't know.  

 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Freetoend the Fear and Anxiety in Parenting

Yeah, I am calling for a moratorium, a huge death to transpire and for myself the most, because I know myself and no one else the best.  I can fix my own thoughts the most and not as much the thoughts of others.  I can influence, but I must have strategy in doing so.  I will learn, I have learned, I am learning.  I have lived in fear for too long in my parenting.  I have six kids in which I want to love and influence, but yet again, the desire is to do so with some serious strategical forethought.  And these thoughts I extend to you.  

And the truth unabashedly, but embarrassingly is that I am afraid that my kids are going to grow up and get messed up or be messed up.   I worry.  I have anxiety.  I want to control everything they do, where they go and what they say and how they live.  I know I don't give myself enough credit because I have in a lot of ways overcome some of that type of control.  I now understand that I must help protect, teach and guide my kids instead of being bent on controlling them.  I know those aspects of parenting should never stop ever or some of my kids will be messed up I think.  Well, I think I know that to be true, given what I have seen with my own eyes, not yours, but mine.  But there it is.  The truth.  I am oh, so worried and I watch too much news and those two ingredients don't mix well.

My biggest misunderstanding in life is that if my kids witness evil, what evil is, what evil people do, the evil that may be in certain elements of life, then they will become evil.  And the reality is that kids are born needing to obtain knowledge on all levels which as they age should become wisdom, or knowledge with a passionate brain attached to it.  In classical education we call this thought process the grammar phase(obtaining loads of rote information or knowledge) passing over into the logic and rhetoric phase of thinking, the stage where knowledge and critical thinking collide.  So, kids need to obtain knowledge, and guess what?  They are obtaining knowledge every day in all sorts of ways from all sorts of people.  I am simply amazed at the conversations my kids can remember that I have had with other people...good and also damning conversations alike much to my chagrin.  I am also quite amazed at their recollection of the things that other people say and do.  It's all going into the portal of their brains.  It's all knowledge...good, bad, actions or words, well, just anything that contributes to their input process.  It's all going in. 

We can control what's going in their heads and that's good on certain levels.  I don't want my five year old seeing anyone's head getting chopped off on television and I don't want my thirteen year old son to see people having sex.  We as parents should set up healthy boundaries for our kids, but that I don't think that is enough or that it will ever be enough.  Making rules, laws and regulations for kids alone will never mean much to them if the process of obtaining and receiving knowledge never translates into honest, passionate critical thinking on their own part and for themselves and I mean before they are forced into that position when they leave home. 

I'll never understand parents who rule their kids with the rod of iron expecting them never to question their authority, expecting their kids as they grow through life to never become their own person or critically think on their own.  They keep themselves at a frightening distance from their kids in the interconnected world of knowledge and critical thinking.   

In a lot of ways I was one of these kids, handed a bunch of rules and regulations that I was to never question and made to obey them and never taught how to critically think for myself.  I'll tell you, that has made me a follower in the past to almost anything people would say and do in my family's circle and the damage is still to this day ongoing and needing to be purged.  It really is flat out dangerous to extend knowledge to your kids without eventually handing out the ability and understanding to pursue passionate, honest rhetoric and logic.  We are simply setting ourselves up for a lifetime of sadness with our kids as parents when we wake up and our kids walk away from half or more or all of the knowledge we ever gave them.  And it doesn't matter how helpful, common sense or good anything we ever taught them, the likelihood is high that they will walk away from it if we do not teach them to walk through the honest process of making those thoughts their very own.  And when they honestly walk through those things we imparted to them, and they then honestly do not adopt them, then we as parents have but one thing to do.  Accept.  Accept and live how you are led to live yourself and love...love...love your kids.

Love, grace, understanding and acceptance out poured to our children during the passing from the knowledge phase to the critical thinking phase means the world in this process of raising our kids.

You want to pass on your faith in God and Jesus Christ and you want them to come to a place of honest acceptance?  Offer your thoughts, offer your desires, offer your knowledge, offer your passion, offer your heart on the matter, then sit back and let the kids ask questions, tell them what you DON'T know.  Listen and listen and listen some more and talk and talk about anything they want to and never ever deter honest emotion, thought or question from your kids...absolutely NEVER.  Let them hash it out.  Let them hash out anything they need to. 

You want your kids to never take drugs or whatever...you fill in the bazillion blanks?  Share your knowledge and your raw personal experience.  YOUR RAW OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE being shared is absolutely vital.  My kids have perked up often and listened to me when I said...I did this, I said this, I experienced this myself when this happened.  They not only think it's great (meaning...mom, I can RELATE to you, you are SO relatable instead being unapproachable and untouchable) that I seriously messed up in life, these are the times when they really listen to me. 

So we all need to relax a bit, I need to relax.  Because the reality is...stuff happens.  Lot's of stuff.  And for me as a kid growing up with all the rules I had in my house and despite having the ability to critically think for myself because we NEVER just talked about stuff, we never could ask questions on the level a kid needs to ask questions...I still overcame a lot of things, I still am overcoming things and will continue to overcome things because I am learning and not afraid at this point to learn from anyone or anything that I can learn from. 

And it's not over for me because I now see that I am freetothink.  It's not over for you if you see that you, too, are able to pursue truth and error and the wide world over with honesty, passion and logical forethought.  And it's not over for your kids.  But it could be.  It could be over for all of us if we don't learn to use our brains for ourselves no matter how many rules we think we are keeping to make others think that we've got it all together.  It will never be enough.  Never. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On the Street Where You Live

I have to start somewhere when writing a blog post.  I really don't follow the rules when it comes to writing.  Everything I have ever been taught about writing I'm not sure I comply with closely.  I just know that when I want to say something...I say it.  When I want to write something I write it. 

So here we go...

I am not ignorant.  I realize I live in a world where good is called bad and bad is called good...at certain times and with certain people.  *Yes, I will clarify my partially blank statement.*  Notice the word certain. I realize that grown young men can walk into a school building and in cold blood kill 20 first graders.  I realize that in places of the world children are used as sex slaves and there may be no one to intervene for them...ever.  I realize that the world we live in has some absolutely dark places that need light shined on its dwelling place.

And in my dwelling place there are lives being lived, plans being made, prayers being prayed, mistakes being made, forgiveness given and taken, honesty pushed for being spoken, truth wanting to be known, and on and on I could go. I live in a country, on a street, that houses other children.  Mine are housed here on this street, my kids, that is.  And here's the reality...

There are absolutely no guarantees in life.  I really do know that, but sometimes I forget.  

I'm here in this house with my six kids and my desire is to raise kids that are different.  Different good, be just who they are different and what I call...Jesus-different.  For now, in a lot of ways my kids are just kids...they do kid things, like most other children.  They lose tempers, fight with each other, they disrespect their parents at times and flat out do some crazy things...things you will not want to expect.  I try to keep my high hopes that I have for them in check with reality.  But hey, I am not settling for anything less than what I hope for in certain areas of their life.  Notice the word certain.  Clarity.  Clarification. 

For one...I want my kids to be kind to others.  I can't stand bullies and I don't want to be one.  Whether or not I was one in the past is debatable and whether or not I could be a person like that in the future is debatable, but, nevertheless...I absolutely can not stand bullies and bullying itself.  This is one of many areas of life I strive to guide my children through with reckless abandon. 

The point is that I am constantly teaching my children...and the lesson for this week is mercy.  Yeah, the word mercy, and actually the lesson is for me, on this street where I live.  And yes, in my neighborhood there's something that has happened that would cause me quite a stir.  While we were out of town, two of the neighborhood boys decided to let themselves in our home and partake of the internet in every unsavory way possible.  One boy is a like a son to me and the other boy comes around occasionally.  We always track our history to keep our kids safe on the internet and make sure where they have been and in doing so we noticed that on the days we where gone there was so many disturbing links clicked on, it was a list to drop your jaw to the floor to be sure.  Sad and scary.  Scary and sad.

My first reaction was obviously anger.  But after a couple of days I thought hard and long on the situation and realize much more now than I didn't at first glance.

These kids need to understand more than one thing...but the main thing I see that they need more than anything is the grace of Christ which leads to the power of Christ which leads to the fruit of Christ and what needs to come from my end of things is one word...mercy.

When Jesus died on the cross He was obviously mistreated in every possible way on His way to His own torment.  He was mocked, spit upon and insulted.  And His response to this unruly, cruel crowd?

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

And I have to argue with that prayer.  These grown people didn't know what they were doing and had no control over what they were doing and couldn't decide to do something different on that given day?

Yes, their physical bodies and their physical actions were known to themselves quite intimately and were chosen on purpose, but what Jesus is talking about when He prayed that prayer is different.  His point being made was based on their circumstances, on their Jewish culture of the time, on the lies being told about who Jesus was and what He did in that time frame.  These people where shouting..."Crucify Him!" because they believed that He was a false Christ and that the Messiah had not really come yet.  Yes, they really believed that Jesus was doing something bad.  Their hearts and minds were blind and in essence, did not understand what they were doing.  They were carrying out actions based on their circumstances and Jesus was not faulting them for that.  Wow, that is just like Him.  Only He could do such a thing on such a day in such circumstances and in you, through you, too on your days and in your circumstance.  

And knowing this instance in scripture I see the same thing with these boys.  They simply and seriously do not even begin to understand what will happen to their minds, their hearts, their souls, their bodies, their compulsions if they continue to follow the path they are on.  And so many, let's not be naive, kids are riding the internet wave of porn, and I mean the hardcore porn, violent videos and video games, and just flat out weird, creepy, demonic crud to boot.  This is what is considered normal, this among a long list of other things I am sure.

And I know.  I have lived that life before.  I am not immune to the darker parts of society.  I have seen my share of porn.  I have fed my mind with garbage and was allowed to feed my mind with garbage growing up.  Unfortunately.  And to my demise...those images have not left me.  The porn tape my neighborhood friend popped in the flashing box when I was eleven is sadly still with me.  And the way women where demeaned and used in the film is still with me.  But, hey, it was her dad's tape and it was to her, totally normal, good and fine.  And the bottle of vodka in the fridge was too.  And who knows what else.  She didn't "know" what she was doing either. 

So what keeps me from these things today or from desiring to do these things?  Lest I deceive you, it's been a battle.  There have been times I exposed myself to movies and other things that I should not have.  I haven't always been faithful to keeping my mind pure, but I will say that the mercy of Christ has overwhelmed my life.  His forgiveness and guidance has been my go to.  These boys don't see that need yet, or maybe they do and they just got caught in a trap on a given day and simply need some guidance of their own.  Guidance from their guardians. 

And who are their guardians?  One is listed as a sex predator with the State.  One tragically died when his son was five.  One is in and out of jail for whatever and has abandoned her rights to raise her son.

That says it all.  Me?  I pray for mercy, I pray for awareness in their souls, I pray for a voice in me that feels weak and is shuttering to think what I might say to these boys who are in, around and at my home almost every single day.  I want to make my life and my words count for something to these kids, but what, where do I begin?  I think I will begin with mercy.  Mercy, on the street where I live and I hope and pray that you will have mercy on the street where you live. 

     
   

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

indispensible people


I have been put to the test, folks.  Yes, again.  Tests are good, but I think I am failing this one pretty horribly.  Horribly pretty.  Yeah, tests are good.  They are great.  And maybe if I study a little harder I can pass this test somehow even though I have failed it a hundred times. 

How much junk is enough?  I mean, with people that is.  How much can someone put you through before you say, okay that is just enough?  No, I really want to know.  Anybody?  I don’t think I am a wimp when it comes to people.  I can take a lot.  I know it hasn’t always been that way for me.  I was quite a bit wimpy back when I was younger.  My feelings were hurt more easily, etc.  Now I really believe I try to see the good in people, try to keep long lists on others close to non-existent or others faults recalled for a short time.  

Speaking of short, it would be short sighted to play off this idea that I don’t create some of my own mess I deal with concerning all things people.  But what do you do when you feel as if you are doing nothing to little to offend or hurt or cause a reaction, etc. and are still getting slack, jazz, junk and down-right abuse from another?  

And I guess the real point in question would be how indispensable this person is in my life?  Is it a close friend, a family member, a casual acquaintance, or just a person in line at Wal-Mart?  I guess that would make a huge difference in whether or not I can or should take much more of this up and down, damned if I do and damned if I don’t stuff.  A twilight zone experience it is to be sure. 

And what do you do when this person is also pretty great, too?  When the reactions fly I know in a lot of ways it has nothing to do with me, but really and truly a concoction of all sorts of issues and emotions unrelated to me.  The good done by this person gets seriously clouded by the horrible moments.  I know that is life for all of us, but really, the same question remains for me…when is enough, enough?  I am willing to keep fighting, but this woman is getting tired.  

And in the middle of feeling this way, too, I realize that I may be “that person” for someone else…that person someone may be tired of dealing with.  So, if that is true and I am sure that is true for at least one person on the earth, then that takes me back to square one of trying to understand what to do in my circumstance besides just giving up or giving in.  Either way, the chips are certainly down, spread out and many fell on the floor of life, stuck in the mud to be forgotten.

And what makes another person in your life indispensable?

Ask a question and you’ll get a million answers.

My answer is honesty, kindness, raw and real…this is what I really want to see in a person and long for in myself.  A failure, a redeemed soul driven towards reality and finding truth in every corner of life, these are more indispensable traits.  

Expectations.  I have them and so do you…and maybe they are quite unrealistic at times.  Maybe they are not.  And maybe I am answering my own question. 
 
But what drew us to the people in our lives in the first place?

Something we fell in love with…something, many indispensable things.  And that is what we might want to be willing to see in that person again when the clouds of reaction and unkindness and loveless emotion come.   I am willing, but feel so unable.  How do I become willing and able at the same time?  Simultaneous willingness and ability when you could choose between hell and high water, the devil and the deep blue sea?  Where does that magical mix of willingness and ability even come from?  I mean, I am really at the bottom of the barrel, folks.  The absolute bottom. 
 
It is hard, very, very hard, and is it worth it?  I hope so.

*alert* this is a freetothink blog...use your brain and think for yourself at will, my thoughts are merely my own.
  

Monday, December 31, 2012

All the Pretty Little People

When I attended college, I majored in music and was in a ladies choir.  One semester we sang a song about horses in a recital we were giving...all the pretty, little horses, in fact.  The lyrics went on to list the horses colors and talked of the love of these pretty horses one stanza to the next.  Sounds dumb, but it was actually a beautiful song, almost like a lullaby.  This song provoked a thought...

What about all the ugly, sweet horses?  Or even the ugly, stubborn horses?  What about the poor horses, the hungry horses?  The old horses, the sick horses?  No, the song was all about the pretty, little horses.  

Don't laugh.  I began to spiral into my freethinking once again. 

I was watching my favorite shows last night and I looked up at the full moon shining through my dingy window and I began to recall the day's events in my mind which included running into one of my neighbors at the grocery store.  My oldest ran in to get the groceries and I sat in the car with my littlest one to wait.  My neighbor seemed more frail than he used to be, greyer and more introverted than he had been.  I rolled my window down and said hello and how are you.  It had been a really long time since we talked.  We always kept in touch, but the last year had been very quiet between us, ever since his wife passed away and a few other things had happened. 

He looked sad when we spoke in front of the store.  Back at home his car is always in the driveway, meaning he never goes anywhere unless he has to.  I told him to take a peek at the baby.  He said he didn't even know that I was having a baby.  He looked at the baby for a second literally and said nothing and then said he better go into the store and get his things.  My.  It was totally unlike him to be that disconnected with me, but I guess we were slowly becoming strangers to one another.

And the reality is he's not so pretty.  He's not really exciting and he certainly doesn't ever have a lot to say.  He doesn't have a fancy home, go to glittering, holiday parties and does not have a lot of money.  There's no charisma, nothing to attract the average person, but my neighbor's eyes spoke volumes to me in that moment.  We used to visit, we used to talk often and I allowed him to drift off into his loneliness with my silence.  He used to have a joyful tone in his voice, but things had changed and time, circumstance and age had taken a heavy effect on this man.  And busyness and my "own" life, my "own" circle had taken over and I had forgotten about my neighbor.   

And lately I have been dealing with my own post partum emotional roller coaster ride.  Having a baby doesn't depress me, it causes me a great deal of raw contemplation, examination and introspection.  It's been almost three weeks since I came home from the hospital and I have been forced to stay home and not be around and speak with other people unless they come to me or if I receive a phone call.  I have had a few brief visitors, but not enough to keep me from feeling so lonely it hurts.  Sounds silly to feel that way when you are in a house filled with your own family, but I felt desperately lonely, dying to break out of the confines of these walls and be with anyone.  Really.  I identify with being with people way more than I care to admit and maybe that is not a fault but a virtue.  It's a huge part of who I am and maybe I am supposed to be that way.

There definitely is a hub of those people I "prefer" to be with and really, they are typically so busy they can't fit me into their schedule.  Between church, work, family, friends, children, etc., well, you know the deal.  I think I attract those who already have way too many friends, things and people on their plate, etc.  I wonder why that is.  I may be one of those considered having, "too many friends", when really, I just know a lot of people.  Yeah, I know, if friends can't make time for you then they really aren't your friends some may say.  I don't necessarily believe that per se.  The reality is and the real question is for me personally...why do I need a "hub" of people I prefer being with?  All the pretty, little people?  Pretty, witty, funny, all together people who lack nothing, who think like I do when it comes to what we agree with spiritually.  Nothing against them...they have done nothing wrong at all.  But what am I doing?   

Why do I need only these...or desire the company of only these?

The reality is...the world is full of people.  Needy, hungry, lonely, hurting, ugly people.  People that if they just received a hello and a smile it would fill a desperate void in their soul like a black hole swallows up the light of all the stars in its wake. 

Another neighbor came knocking on our door the other day.  He claimed the neighbor nearest him saw two boys messing with his spotlight that shines on his broken-down, antique car(that doesn't run anymore, mind you).  They supposedly cut the cord to the light and vandalized the area.  My neighbor is an alcoholic and he was drunk when he came by to quiz us.  My husband mentioned it to our boys and they insisted they did not do anything.  They are on the road in front of his home often, and wave and speak to our neighbor.  I told him that he knew our boys and what they were like, that I didn't think they had done it and assured him that if there was proof they did indeed vandalize his property that they would be in big trouble.  He smiled and said he knew it wouldn't be our boys, but he thought he'd ask anyway.  

Sure enough, a few hours later I saw the spotlight shining as bright as ever on his old, broken-down antique car that doesn't run anymore.  If the light was broken, the cord cut, etc., it only took him a few hours to fix the damage.  

The boys were irritated that they were accused and said he was just drunk and crazy, etc. 

Greasy hair, smelly breath living in a hoarder's home, jobless, and seemingly friendless.  He has children, I have never seen them or anyone else for that matter come to visit him. 

Sad.  Very sad.  And I see a person of value buried inside the exterior frail shell of a man my neighbor has become with time, age and circumstance or just foolish choice alone, but rarely do I think any human being picks this kind of life for himself on purpose.  A loner drunk on my doorstep, babbling crazy accusations and it isn't the first time. 

Does it matter that I or anyone else sees the value of this man hidden within?  There are so many of these kinds of men, women, people in this world like this.  It is dizzying.  It is overwhelming.  And the truth of who they are could be mine.  It could be yours.  Secretly now.  Or one day part of your own journey in life publicly. 

And really, these people used to be children and before that, pretty, little babies.  Pretty, precious, little babies.  Each and every one of them.