Saturday, September 19, 2009

Time Change

My husband is a runner and several days a week he gets up early to fasten his running shoes to his feet and pound the pavement. Being a light sleeper, I hear him rise and I begin an internal battle about my own exercise routine. I enjoy a morning walk and I am always glad that I made the effort to walk--after the walk is over. Before the walk, I am not thrilled in any way and I would much rather lay in bed while my husband is outside changing the world with his running. And then he can bring a cup of coffee to my nightstand when he is finished.
However, I know that this isn't healthy, so I lay there having a battle. There is a cute park that I can walk to in the morning. It is a triangle shape, much like a folded flag, and it is filled with flowering trees that are dedicated to the likes of Betsy Ross, Martha Washington and others from American history. I walk up the hill and around the darling little park and then back down the hill and it takes a little over a half an hour to complete the course. On a perfect day, I get up at 6 AM, when my "running man" gets up , and I head out the door by 6:15. I can be back home and in the shower before 7. It leaves me time to sit and read while I eat my breakfast. My whole day feels a little lighter to carry.
This is becoming increasingly difficult for me to do. Lately when I wake up at 6 AM--it is still dark outside and my mind gets confused about what we are supposed to be doing. So, I lay in bed and have the following argument with myself:
"Get up."-- the cruel woman says.
"No. It's dark."-- the tired woman answers.
"You need to walk."
"No. It's nighttime."
"Your getting fat."
"Ouch. How about if we walk at lunch?"
"It will be too hot."
"After work. We will walk after work. It will be so nice. We can bring the dog and the man and we can go to the park with the ducks..."
"You'll say your too tired after work. Get up."
"But its so dark. I can't do anything when its so dark and scary!"

You get the picture, right? So, eventually at the end of the argument I drag "her" out of bed, put on my shoes and head out the door. Time wasted arguing has pushed the clock forward, it's 7 AM. I have to hurry to the top of the hill, around the old flag lady park, then back down the hill and straight into the shower. I want to have my time to read at breakfast, so, while I am out, I try to pick up my speed and for about 50 strides I, too, become a runner. But, running is not my friend. There are too many things to strap down and hold up to really enjoy the pounding. Things are just flying everywhere and, seriously, someone could get hurt. The whole walk is less enjoyable and I end up feeling a little frazzled when I jump into the shower. Breakfast ends up being a granola bar and a banana that I eat in my car. My day doesn't have the same optimistic vibe.
So, this morning when my runner's little phone alarm started playing the Battle of the Republic and it was still dark all around me, I raised my head and spied that it was 6 AM and with a half of a sigh and mostly an irritated complaint I asked, "When is the time change?"

"Next month" the runner replied.

A whole month of darkness in the morning? 30 mornings of fighting to get up and get out on the road to create endorphins in the dark? But, I'm tired of the darkness! I need the change to come now!
Somehow, I manage to drag "her" out of bed and into a sports bra. As I head out the door, I begin my walk up the hill with my ipod in tow. I am tired and cold and acutely aware that if the sun were out it would be a lot less scary.
One step after another my mind fades into thoughts of what I will be doing the rest of the day. My heart gets a little heavy and the anxious feelings turn into knots and begin to tighten my stomach. I am not looking forward to going to work today. Finding joy and peace where I work seems nearly impossible. From the first hour of the first day, it has been one of the most emotionally trying experiences I've ever gotten myself into.
But, due to the economy, I do what a lot of people are doing. I work and I save. And I pray. I know that God sees everything that I am going through, and He is there with me from the moment I clock into work on Monday until I dig through my purse for my keys on Friday. I'm never there alone and I'm always clocked in for Him. I work to serve Him and to bring Him the glory by being as much like Jesus as I can. I try to think of how Jesus would be if he were the one giving a child his flu shot. How would he treat this child, how would he treat this child's parents?
I know that it can't stay this way forever and my thoughts began to wrap around how much I am waiting on God to bring about change. I know that I won’t always be where I am. God has reassured me that He is at work and so I wait for God to work a miracle and change my circumstances. But the change isn't coming and my spirit is becoming more and more weak. The battle at work rages and I continue praying for God to transform my situation. I ask for Him to get me out of there, I even fax out my resume to help Him save me--but, He doesn't.
I think back to the last few weeks when I reached a point of utter desperation and despair. I wanted to fall down and I wanted to allow my depression to take over, but I couldn't. See, the battle has been going on for many months and I've been begging God to rescue me and in that moment that I was truly at my lowest--He lifted me up. I had spent so much time pleading with God to save me--that He saved the me that no one else can see.
It seems the more I pray for God to change my situation, the more He allows my situation to change me--for His good. And He will change the exterior of my situation, when His time is right. I won't always work at the place I am working, but, when He moves me to the next place I will be stronger for the time I've spent clinging to Him.
As I come around the edge of the first corner of the triangle park I am in a new state of satisfaction. My walk is almost over and looking out across the valley at the fog and I am so thankful that I am awake and outside and watching the sun melting away the mist. I am so glad that I was able to move through the morning haze and welcome this new day. I am reminded that God will do the same thing in my life. The haze will lift, perhaps slowly and I will be able to experience the new plan that He is mapping out for me. And having journeyed through the darkness will make me all the more thankful for the arrival into the place of light. I find a sense of peace knowing this.
As I am heading down the hill and beginning my cool down, I reach into my pocket and change my ipod to shuffle. I like to cool down with surprise music and let myself sing along to whatever happens. I spin my finger around the dial without looking and then jab the start button. As soon as I hear the music, it is like the lighting of a candle—delicate, soft and familiar--all at once. Before the lyrics begin, I am pleased. Then I hear the sound of George Harrison’s familiar vocals:
“Little darling…it's been a long cold lonely winter”
And I begin to sing with him. I am now walking with John, Paul, George and Ringo. We are heading down the hill and I am singing at the top of my lungs. The chorus comes and the words get stuck in my throat—
“Here comes the sun” and suddenly, my eyes well up with tears. Like a covenant to seal the deal, God gives me a song. Everything He was just telling me is suddenly echoed in the words of a Beatles song. I feel so ashamed of my doubt over the last few months. The sun is rising in the sky and God is raising the sun in my life. He is taking me to new places to experience Him on a new path.
As I wait for the clock to be changed, I will continue to argue with myself about getting up early and walking and I will always win the argument—whether I get up or not! But as I wait for God to change some of the things that I am in the midst of dealing with I won’t argue and I won’t allow doubt to control my mood. Luci Swindoll says in her book Life—Celebrate It "The best of human freedoms is the ability to choose my own attitude in any set of circumstances."
"But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" Romans 8:24
His timing for the daybreak is perfect. I place my hope in Him and I wait.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Guess what, Oprah, I'm not a lesbian.

Thanks to Facebook I ended up watching Oprah. My daughter saw a status update from a friend in another time zone and told me we had to tune in. I wasn't crazy about the idea. I mean, it was a beautiful day outside and because we had not recorded it we would have to watch *gasp* commercials. But, hey this is my "reliving my Stay-At-Home-Mom days vacation", so I guess it includes Oprah.
The show was about women who in their mid-life had left their husbands of 20 some years and turned to a life of Lesbianism. Hmm. Okay. I'm in my mid-life and I've been married for over 21 years. Let's see what they have to say. I knew that most likely I wasn't going to be getting any spiritual awakenings from the show and I was cool with that, I mean, if I go to Cheesecake Factory I can't get irritated that it is all fattening--so when I look to the world I can't get irritated that it is all fluff. Say what sounds politically correct, Oprah. Blah, blah, blah.
The women were extreme cases who had allowed themselves to become caught up in this particular lifestyle and now they were feeling "alive and renewed" for the first time. One woman said that it wasn't about sexuality--but it was about identity. I found that I wasn't irritated with the women, but the thing that I was so aware of was how they had truly missed their moment.
There is this moment that a woman goes through and it seems to happen in her 40's--although some women may experience it sooner and others a little later. At this moment a woman will begin to feel like she has finally bloomed. She isn't as perfect as she used to be on the exterior, but something on the inside takes over and she unfolds a whole new dimension. Some people miss it, because it is a little scary and they are so overwhelmed by the beauty that seems to be fleeting that they chase after that which is unobtainable. I believe that these women who "became" lesbians would have had an awakening within their marriages had they not ran from that experience.
Then the "expert" began to talk. She wrote a book, therefore she is the expert.
Now, I am irritated.This woman had the opinion that the reason so many more women are choosing this alternative lifestyle is because for the first time (in all of history) women can have a "true emotional connection".
Seriously? Seriously.
I became almost enraged. I happen to have some absolutely beautiful friendships with women whom I am so connected with on an emotional and spiritual level. Can this "expert" honestly tell me that I am not as connected emotionally because I don't have sex with them? Since when is having sex with someone the defining moment of being connected emotionally. With that logic, all the 15 year-old girls who are having sex are more connected to their pimply faced cohorts than their own Mom's are connected to their best friends from college.
As a woman who has loved and lived in some very powerful friendships with other women I am outraged. I have shared a deep transforming love with other women. I hear their voices in the choices I make--they are with me even when I am alone. I will not be having a "lesbian transformation", but I will NOT accept the belief that the women who do so are having one because they achieved an intimacy that I can't understand.
Finally this, my girlfriends, I would be there for you. I would catch an airplane, drive through the desert, rub your shoulders, hold your hand and cry with you. I would tell you the truth if you are making a mistake and I would listen to you talk your way through the valley you are in. There is nothing that you could do that would surprise me enough to turn me away. You are my friend and I love you. Oh, and guess what, Oprah, I'm not a lesbian.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little Butterfly

We have all done things that we regret. Almost nightly I fall into bed and while the pillow is still cool, I am already wondering about half of the day’s choices. Sometimes the decisions are small and seemingly insignificant. 
"Ah, I should have tipped the barista...why didn't I walk after dinner?..did I really just spend 36 dollars on hair conditioner?" But, sometimes the regrets are bigger. Sometimes they linger for years and left unattended--they don't go away; they seem to come back and attack you when you are least likely to be able to defend yourself.

Facebook has opened up a whole world of connection to a lot of mid-lifers and we are looking at our choices once again. Some of our choices were clearly for the better, but, some are a little cloudier. Names are more recognizable than faces, and our memories have altered the truth of the time. We remember small details with large definition, never realizing that others will remember things differently.

Recently, thanks to the big blue f, I have been able to reconnect with friends from High School. Some of the women, who I once was a cheerleader with in the 80's, met for a day out on the ocean to do some kayaking. As we rowed our little kayaks along the harbor we all had so many questions for one another. We had each heard a little bit about an old classmate--I had the least information, so I had the most to learn.

After an hour of rowing, I finally asked about "that boy". He wasn't a boy I was in love with as a teenager. We weren't an item in any way. I never even dated him. He was more of a mistake that led to years of heartache. He was a boy who asked for a ride home from a party, which led to an unplanned pregnancy. I was 17, a few months away from graduation, and pregnant with a baby from a boy I barely knew. 

I chose the path of abortion. 

My mom took me and I had a second trimester abortion on a Saturday morning. I was able to go back to school on Monday morning and make plans for Prom and Grad night with all my peers. My little heart was broken, but I wouldn't even begin to feel the pain from that break for many years. I really expected to hear that the "boy" was living a life similar to most of the guys from high school; working a job he never intended, attending his kids sports events and maybe on his second marriage. 

What I got was, for some reason, a little more unusual. He had gone on to marry a former sitcom star and they had just recently had a baby. The star and her baby were even in People magazine. I am not sure why this was confusing, but I became acutely aware that I was feeling new thoughts about my little unborn baby.

Their new little baby was the 1/2 brother to my little unborn baby. For some reason, knowing who he married and knowing that I used to watch her on TV every week and knowing that we were in a way--connected--made me feel strange. 


I am not really sure, perhaps because in a spiritual way our kids are connected. According to the real world, it's really not a connection, and I'm not going to become a stalker. It's just a reminder that our world is so small. It's also a memory of a little baby who never had a chance. He was conceived at the wrong time to the wrong parents.

For a long time I have been aware of the fact that my world would be different had he been born. My husband was in Bible College when we met and in 1985 a single mom with a 2-year-old was not the best choice for a church Pastor. 

But, today I am thinking about how the WHOLE world would have been altered by his birth. Anyone who has ever seen Ashton Kutcher's movie "The Butterfly Effect" knows that changes don't always work out for the best. I am not going to fool myself into believing that it would all be perfect if I had chosen to not have an abortion. I know that I can't look back or I will just keep tripping over my feet in the here and now. I also know that while I may wish I had made different choices these are the choices I did make and they are part of what makes me who I am.  

One summer day, about 14 years ago, I was watching my {then} 3-year-old son learn to swim and I had a fleeting thought about the baby that was never born in 1983. I wondered if I would have been as good of a mom to him as I was to my son. And suddenly, a light came on, a light of love and forgiveness told me, "Yes." I am who I am, and I was me along time ago.

I would have loved him and watched him with pride during his swim lessons, read him Dr. Seuss and eventually would have fought with him about cleaning his room and doing his Algebra homework. I would have snuck in his room to read his text messages and kissed him on his forehead while he slept. But that's not the point anymore. My little butterfly didn't get to come into this world to help me become a better person, but he was still here inside of me and he was still able to help me become the best mom I could be. The best person I could be. He was just a flutter, only here for a moment and his effect still lasts. The changes were within a teenage girl who grew up to be a little more humble, way more approachable and always longing for God's attainable Grace.

Linking today for On My Heart Tuesdays with Shanda @ A Pause on the Path