December 19, 2014

Gray Matters

This week, rumors of an impending local protest have restarted the barely paused conversations of the Ferguson trial and all that surrounds it. Hash tags came back in full force pitting #alllivesmatter against #blacklivesmatter.  As arguments brewed on news forums and social media, I sat on my bed and in an instant,watched socially correct fall away and hate arise. Though I desperately want our city to be a changed place and our society racially friendly, when issues like this surface the facades fall away. 

I am certainly someone who feels ALL the feelings… and it is a temptation to jump on a side of an argument and FIGHT! In my earlier years, I’d be willing to go on a warpath, leaving bodies in my wake strictly to make a point.  But, now I have a different lens. 

My family isn’t “white” anymore.  And we aren’t “black” either.  We are both.  I’ve been given a gift of entering sacred ground where I can see a bit of both sides. Not just from a racial stand point, but in all areas of my life.

And I’ve learned that it’s in the gray where things change.

In life, there are times where we feel so passionate about an issue, that we would do anything to see change.  I know.  I’ve been there.  And although my friends and family didn’t necessarily understand or even agree with the issue, they loved me and therefore supported my cause. 

It’s sort of like when your boyfriend played a sport in high school. You didn’t give a rip about soccer or sports or all the athletic-y stuff, but that boy had your heart.  So, you never missed a game.  Were you a soccer fan? No. You were a boyfriend fan. 

I’m learning we can either support issues or people. Some issues may never change while we are here on earth.  But people… our PEOPLE are all we have. We belong to each other.  So, if someone I love needs to take a stand for something I don’t understand? That’s ok. I will stand too. Maybe I don't even agree with them. That's ok too. Because I know that some day soon it will be my turn, and when I look back, I’ll need them behind me saying "I'm with her. Her voice matters." I'll need them to believe in me, in spite of their beliefs.

I learned a new word this week.  It’s called the Mandorla.  This is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another to form an almond shape in the middle.  It symbolizes the interactions of opposing worlds and forces. To step into the Mandorla is to move beyond "either-or" thinking - even beyond ideas of common ground or compromise - and stand in the tension of opposites long enough for something new to emerge.

I just keep thinking about what a difference we could make if we were brave enough to step away from our “side” and towards the middle. What if we let go of a stand, and held on to our neighbor? Even when it didn't make sense?  What if we let down our guard, surrendered our right to be “right” and boldly waited in the middle.  I don't think we'd be alone for long. I'll bet we’d look across and see others slowly walking toward us….entering the middle circle, willing to believe in change. Willing to believe in gray.

December 10, 2014

my kid doesn't have to be good for santa

I was finishing up therapy the other day and went to check out. Ok, fine.  I was at Target. But, I’m pretty sure even my therapist would tell you this is a recommended course of treatment when used correctly.

Mills was with me, and the lady helping us said to him, “Santa is WATCHING YOU, you know… you’d better be a GOOD BOY! Mama, is he being GOOD?”

I started sweating. For the first time, my child- my baby- was being launched into to the goodenough gauntlet.

“Well of course he is! But what a ridiculous question!” I sputtered. “He is Mills! And he has been exactly who he is supposed to be every day of his life! You should really stop leaning over the children and asking them the scary things!”

Both Mills and Miss Target were giving me the “you’re so crazy” face, so I wheeled out and shoved all of us into my car.

What are we doing? Far sooner than we’d like to admit, our children pick up the monologue some may never be able to shake…
-am I good?
-am I good enough?
-do I deserve goodness in my life?
-do I deserve punishment?
-do I measure up?
-... and on and on and on.  If you are anything like me, I am still trying to untangle all those thoughts and put some better ones in my brain.

Am I going to speak an identity over my child of good vs bad that may be a temporary fix for behavior but could lead to lasting shame?  Am I going to lead him to believe that God, also, is watching and judging him… making a list and holding record of his wrongs? AND let random Target ladies in on the torture? NO WAY.

I looked back at my little wide-eyed-feisty-headstrong-loving-rowdy-rough and tumble-sensitive-spirited-beautiful boy and said this:

Your Papa and I are so proud of you.  Today, right now, after you threw your cookie at me and tried to spit in my diet coke, I love you more than I ever have.  I want you to grow up and be kind and brave and responsible and all the things.  But I want you to know above it all, YOU ARE ENOUGH!  Right there in your car seat, you are enough.  In the trenches of your middle school years, you are enough.  In the highs and the lows, your behavior will never merit our acceptance of you.  We are delighted in you.  Ok?”

He got really still and nodded.  And then he threw the rest of his cookie at me.

So many times I need Matt to remind me that I AM ENOUGH too!

author's note: mamas... you know that my heart is YOU! the above statement reflects me alone.  if you need santa to get you through the holidays, you better believe I will dress up like the angry elf MYSELF and come get those babies in line for you!  it's all about making it through the day.  we are in this together!