The Broken Straw

The straw.

A slow realization. A peeling away of layers. Slowly and methodically, one at a time.

Amazing how smoothly and efficiently a person can built up walls. Invisible walls, clear brick stacked upon clear brick.

Suddenly the sun shifts and reflection gives way to the rays. The walls become visible.

To break them is to expose yourself, to be open for new hurts, salts in open wounds.

But to not break them, is to keep the light at bay.

Dancing just beyond reach.

*   *   *

A few weeks ago, in a desperate state of frustration I had a moment where everything spilled out. All of feelings came oozing out in one lump of jealous, heaping disappointment. Like the step sisters of Cinderella, I was trying to fit into a glass slipper that was not designed for me. It never fit me and it didn’t need to.

It didn’t need to.

I said those words out loud recently as we traveled to visit with friends. A group who invited us over, when they didn’t need to but they wanted to.

*   *   *

We are designed to want community. Fellowship. To share life with each other, to know each other, and to support each other. Often I make the mistake of setting aside who I am in pursuit of joining a community. In a moment of panic when I feel an unquenchable longing to belong, like junior high student all over again, I set aside who I know I am. It turns me into an overcommitted mom. I see the world though completely unrealistic glasses. I expect a person who is wide, outgoing, and carefree to see my heart. Deep, introverted, careful, awkward, me. I struggle to understand their perspective.

That’s the rub really. Neither one of those personality traits are wrong. They are both beautiful especially when they are woven together in communities that are meant to be together. But when I try to force them to mingle, when I try to force those least like me to see me, it feels like I stepped in front of a freight train fully expecting to be able to stop the train.

Or I retreat. Like a yo-yo swing hard and fast I withdraw.  Cocoon up. I lick my wounds and wonder about my insecurities. But when I do that, something else also happens. I allow time to soften my heart.

And slowly, intentionally, I emerge again. More aware of the choice I want to make.

*   *   *

 

I choose authenticity.

 

 

 

 

 

When I Can’t Protect You

A quiet ride home from practice tells me everything. She cannot open up or it will spill out. It breaks my heart. I find myself peppering her with question after question. It is like I just can’t stop myself. I am desperately wanting to be her safe spot. I want to hold her while she cries her tears.

She holds firm and it is becoming clear to me. I cannot fix this. I cannot plow my way in and give her comfort. I must let her keep it here, in a secret spot of her head where no one knows her doubts but her. She must make this hurdle and grow inside. I must pepper her with tools of encouragement and success. I must be her biggest fan.

*   *   *

In the classroom they talk about the shooting that happened a few miles from our house. In our old neighborhood, a nice neighborhood. The shock of it still rippling through whispers and fear. Do I know you neighbor? Do I trust you?

He asks me if I am mad at him for talking about the shooting. With the heaviest of hearts and a sigh that escapes my lips, I explain my no. I’m hurt for him, for us. As he stands here talking about what he heard at school I am incredibly aware that he is growing up. That I can no longer shield him as fully as I have from the world. It’s hard. It is scary.

I want him to believe for one day longer that the good in the world far outweighs the bad. You can always find something good.

*  *  *

He comes home from men’s group and talks about the folly he sees in the idea that as a man you are the protector. He glances over his shoulder and sees clearly that Zach’s death humbled him in the hardest of ways.

Together we wrestle with wanting to be both protected and protector.

*   *   *

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Always. Here. From there.

Anywhere.

Always cheering for you.

With Love,

~ Me

 

I Heart Emotions & My Grandma

It was 9:00 p.m. on Friday night and in the middle of our bedtime routine, I very casually let my children know that Great Grandma was in the hospital. My timing and casualness were off and for a moment, I wish I had kept that to myself.  My little red head was immediately a mess as she battered me with questions.

“Mom, is she dying? Is she okay? Is she … ? When are we … ? What about … ?”

“Grace, sweetheart, no matter what happens I know Great Grandma will be okay.”

“How?”

“Because, she loves Jesus.”

Silence.

“And Great Grandpa? Does he love Jesus?”

“Yes.”

*   *   *

The next day I determined that after gymnastics we should hit the road with to my parent’s house. While I play cool and calm, I feel the turmoil that Grace wears on her sleeve. Grandma loves Jesus, but I love Grandma too. I want years, days, summers at the lakes and weddings to come with her. And while she recovers and is doing well, it is ever present in the changes around us that life is happening.

We are aging and changing.

 

 

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