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raysMy memory has always been something of a moving target. I’ve actually thought about leaving my brain to science – while I’m still alive. It won’t do much toward medical progress to take a look at my grey matter under a microscope after I’m gone. No, you’d have to observe me in my natural habitat to see how my mind works (and sometimes doesn’t work) to really get a feel for how I process life and experience the world.

Even in my twenties, I knew my sense of recall left much to be desired, so I signed up for a course called “Improve Your Memory in 30 Days.”

Of course, you can probably see the punchline coming a mile off… Yep, you guessed it. I plum forgot about the class. Not only did I not attend, I actually went out with friends that night, and in the middle of our evening, a tiny light bulb dimly flickered on. “I was supposed to go to a Memory Course tonight. I forgot!” My friends thought it was a joke; we all laughed drunkenly and ordered the next round.

After I became a mother, I heard the term “Mommy Memory,” which implies that the added responsibilities of motherhood also chipped away at our ability to recall things we needed to do. 

Then I found out I had MS, and it, too, impinged upon my cognitive faculties. 

So I decided that you can’t fight city hall.

I can’t be a Great Rememberer (to coin a phrase); instead, I’ll strive to be a Better Forgetter.

This means selectively sifting through memories and choosing to remember only the experiences that enrich, embolden or entertain me.

There isn’t room anymore to hold onto snippets of bygone days that were dark and dreary. There’s only space for what’s bright and beautiful. As I see it, there’s no need to live in a cold, windowless basement when you can sit in the sunroom and soak in the light and warmth.

To tell you the truth, I really don’t give half a hoot about the way we were. It’s all about the here and now, the beauty and the blessings, from this point on, and – thank Heaven! – every day is a fresh start.

diversityToday I got a phone call from a friend.  It was that kind of a phone call.  Doesn’t matter how much you have to get done, you sit and listen.  You say a few things, and, then, you listen some more.

One of her grandchildren recently came out as transgendered. Liam’s teachers and classmates are cool with Liam being Liam, but it is causing a rift in the family. One aunt in particular is convinced this child will burn in Hell.  Anyone who supports Liam is also heading in that direction.

“As a Christian, what do you have to say?”

I had to think about it before I could answer in part because I wasn’t sure which part of the whole mess she wanted to discuss.  “If you mean the part about hell, one of my Sunday school teachers explained it like this, no matter where you end up, you’re going to be surprised by who else is there.  Besides, Presbyterians vote on a lot but I don’t think we get to vote on this. It’s up to God.”

“But she thinks that Liam is insulting the God who made him in His image.”

“You mean the God who made really light people, really dark people and everyone in between?  The God who made men and women?  That God?”

“Yes!”

“Look, I don’t get what Liam is going through.  I’ve never known what it felt like to feel wrong in my skin. I can imagine what it might feel like, I can listen, but I don’t know. But God made us all in infinite variety. And he puts up with our wearing clothes, coloring our hair and wearing jewelry.  That’s all pretty unnatural but I don’t think my green nail polish is going to be a deal breaker. God made Liam and God loves Liam.”

To all of the Liam’s out there, understand that God loves you. I may not understand your journey, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to condemn you for it. I’ll listen as you tell me about it and I hope that you’ll listen when I speak. After all, as Lori put it in her post, your brokenness isn’t my brokenness, but mine isn’t yours either.  If we can accept that reality, we just might be able to help each other along.

–SueBE

Kids have not had a banner week, what with falling into gorilla enclosures and wrecking $15,000 LEGO statues and all. I have not formed an opinion on these events. I shouldn’t — I’m not a parent. I have no idea how tough it is to wrangle a small human being with a mind of its own. In fact, I’m not fit to judge anyone. I don’t know their lives: I’m not bipolar. I’m not an adoptee. I did not come from an abusive home. I’m not transgender. By the same token, you can’t possibly understand me, having not lived a life with the exact same contours, colored by the same emotions, experienced by a brain with its own unique wiring. No one can.

We are each alone in our brokenness. That fact tends to put up walls. More and more often, we see people wallowing in their aloneness, letting that aloneness define them. Why reach out to others when they can’t possibly understand? What is there to do but to trumpet my unique aloneness to the world?

There are constructive ways to deal with our aloneness. Several, in fact. One is to realize that, although our specific brand of aloneness is particular to our lives, we are all — every last one of us — broken and in need of healing. We actually have that in common. Maybe your “broken” differs from mine, but we can still reach out to one another in our common brokenness. I can’t understand yours and you can’t understand mine, but we can both understand how it feels to be sad, lonely, afraid, messed up. We are alone…but in a very crowded room. One touch is all it takes to bridge the gap.

Second, no matter how offbeat your type of aloneness is, there is someone who understands it. And you don’t need to go looking for a support group to find them. God understands every kind of brokenness there is, every kind of sinfulness, every kind of loneliness. Nothing is too foreign, too sensational, or too strange. I can’t promise instantaneous cures to your every injury, but I can promise that there is a listening ear out there who truly, deeply gets you. And, again, the chasm isn’t nearly as deep as you think it is. Open your mouth (or mind) and let it out.

Just as Emily Dickinson once opined that she was a nobody and asked if you, the reader, were a nobody too, let me be a literary catalyst: Hello, I’m broken. I’m a mess. I feel alone. How about you? Are you broken, too?

And if so, can’t we be broken together?

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