Monday, June 29, 2009

I think you can help me with something....

I have so many subjects swirling around in my head that need serious brain power wrapped around them!

> The current state of agriculture in America: What can / should we be doing as citizens of our country / planet?

> How can I make my daily life more energy-efficient and recyclable? Does it make a difference if just one person changes their daily living? What does a coherent, holistic approach to "Green Living" look like? Why aren't we all doing this?

> Subtopic: How about these Hybrid cars? Are they going to help? Are they going to cause more trouble than they're worth?

> Is it better to change circumstances or accept them and then transform the self? Would I be happier / more fulfilled if I saw work as work and worth as ... something else entirely?? (Subthought - If I become more active in volunteering for the causes that really matter to me, could I someday find myself employed to help one of those causes?)

> Real reconciliation = possible, but messy? Thanks to a few, I know that while we are adept at breaking things, sometimes broken people can fix things together.

> How do we say goodbye? Death is a heavy subject in the news and many dear ones' personal lives.

> Where do you all, my friends and neighbors, find your facts about the political issues facing us? How do we stay TRULY informed? What is our role?

> What is our role in LGBT issues today? What does God think / say about it? How can we bring love to bear more heavily?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Practice for Blessing

When I came home from vacation I felt so happy and free and excited. I had grand plans for keeping new resolutions, and the best part was that I had the energy to start putting them into action! I was so positive and felt full of life.

In seconds, I let that be taken away from me by just one person.

I don't know why I let things like that happen, but it's definitely true that I'm too sensitive.

A man came into my work wanting something that I couldn't do for him. I tried to tell him as nicely as possible not only that I couldn't do that for him but also the reasons why (I thought that it might soften the blow if he understood the why). Of course, I was missing a large piece of the puzzle that would've made me far more optimistic about his situation if I'd known it, and it all worked out in the end. In the meantime, he proceeded to abuse me and intimidate me by his words and his body language, encouraging other people in the office on his side of the desk to do the same. I was the only employee in the room, vastly outnumbered in my station. I asked him to please leave because he could not talk to me like that, but he would not leave, he kept asking to see the manager. The manager had already told me she did not want to see him. Of course, she did in the end, but he just had to wait his turn until she made it all better.

My day was ruined. The entire rest of my day I kept remembering his facial expression as he looked at me with infuriated accusation, calling me names and telling me all the reasons why I was an unworthy human. I hated the things that he said to me, and I hated wondering if they were true. I hated that I couldn't stop shaking and I was mad at myself because I am sure he recognized that I was badly rattled (he got what he wanted). I hate that when I come home from an afternoon like that, all I can do is shut down and sit in my apartment, and cancel my grand plans of progress and positive accomplishment (not that I canceled any plans with another person, just my own for myself). In this case, I let myself be the casualty because I couldn't shake those words. Those words broke my spirit, forget about sticks and stones and stupid bones!

It is hard for me to gain any comfort for this situation. I have never been one to deal well with injustice, and this situation seems like a great example of injustice to me. Part of my problem in getting over the experience is that I cannot accept the fact that he felt like he could treat me that way, and in actuality he can because he got what he wanted in the end.

The other part of my problem is that my feelings are pointless. What he said was a long string of cheap shots aimed at motivating me to do what he wanted and to feel bad for not doing what he wanted in the first place. IT DOESN'T MATTER what he thinks, but it still hurt a whole lot. So what do I get out of this?

Hopefully I will gain a thicker skin over time. And even though I can't rejoice that I was persecuted for the sake of Christ, maybe I can turn the negativity and seeming meaninglessness of this experience into a positive and meaningful lesson by taking it as practice to stand my ground and rejoice if ever persecuted for the sake of Christ. Maybe a few daily abuses will be just the practice that I need in order to be ready to lay it all on the line for what I believe and what is right, to stand for justice no matter how many liars tell me that I am standing for a lie.

And in any case, now I can identify more with Jesus and the unjust abuses He received. Of course, He didn't let His feelings get hurt or His purpose and plans become derailed, so hopefully I can learn to identify with that someday, too. Also, He was perfect and I'm far from that, so there is always a learning experience for me tucked inside the conflicts, even when someone else is totally out of line. Jesus, please walk with me in the workplace and make me better than I was yesterday, more equipped to dole out grace to all the unjust and recognize myself in their accusing faces.

This is all part of a process of becoming accustomed to a new environment. With the same company but at a different location with different systems and procedures, I am the new girl again with a lot to learn. The culture of "customers" is completely different as well, so I am finding there is a much higher proportion of people ready to jump me on a regular basis. I'm hoping I don't become so jaded that I am always in "fight" mode.

Thanks for letting me vent until the rock left the pit of my stomach, Blogspot. You have helped me become more McFearless! I had to "write through" the experience before I could back again for another day of beatings. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

I should be packing ... or cleaning... or...

I should be doing something else right now.

That is the theme of my life, I think. I am always replaying the words in my head! In big and small ways. Sometimes it indicates guilt feelings. Other times it just points to discontentment. There have been moments when I've suspected I just float that thought to the surface in order to feel like I was made for something more than what I'm currently experiencing.

The suspicion is sneaking through my days that a life of fulfillment and purpose has much less to do with what I DO WITH IT, and more about WHO I AM IN IT. I don't pretend that this is an original thought, just a damned difficult one. When the object of my day seems so small and insignificant, I believe that I am small and insignificant, and my actions and attitudes cease to matter all that much because they aren't related to any kind of behavior that would end up in a movie or a book. The less my actions matter ... the less I strive to frame them, tame them, blame them on myself (always some outside force beyond my control).

I live for books and movies -- great stories -- but sometimes I despise them because they lead me to expect more from my life than is realistic to hope. They make me want a kind of glory.

Or maybe I am just unwilling to take the risks that come with a truly meaningful way of life? Maybe I am holding onto a suffocating security?

This question sends the merry-go-round again, as it is wont to do, and the familiar line of questioning lands me back where I started, thinking maybe what I should do is just accept my life the way it is and try to get as much out of it as I can, for myself and others.

Or should I kill myself, working double-time, trying to get something more worthy that could end up disappointing me in the end? Not sure.. No answers tonight, just cyclical avoidance of the menial tasks that really must be completed in order to achieve that uncluttered, unharried state I am always longing to possess.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hello, Goodbye, May

Some months leave me at a loss for words. May was one of those months. As I look back, I'm not even sure what happened in May that made it flit by so quickly, but now it is over. June has arrived.

In May I unexpectedly flew to California to join my family in facing the terrible demon of cancer, stealing life from one we all know could have much left for which to live.

For those on what I call the "front lines," visiting the hospital daily, I think the days feel like continuous pressure on the heart, the throat, the head, and the soul. I think there is occasional relief, but it is not a romantic experience. I think it is moment-by-moment progress of coming to terms -- complicated by not knowing what to come to terms with as one day to the next becomes a study in the complete fallibility and non-omniscience of doctors who can't really say what is going to happen.

Under the circumstances, we are all reminded of our personal vulnerability. I don't mean that we are all thinking with gravity about the fact that we are all going to die someday, although that is true. I never once reflected on the unavoidability of my own death. I thought only about the unavoidability of loss.

For my part, in my brief days providing a moment of companionship and cheer to my family, I was constantly berating myself for an overabundance of selfishness. In these moments it is impossible not to berate myself for how frequently I think about how all this is affecting me or I am failing to live up to my own expectations of myself to bring some kind of relief and encouragement to my Papa and my other family members.

It is impossible to know how to empathize with my grandfather, or what to do in his presence to provide encouragement, relaxation, and a smile. How to make these moments positive for him is the question ... but I am so often caught up in myself, thinking too centrally, trying to figure out what I should do to make the situation better, continually falling flat. And it's just as uncomfortable as hearing a vocal soloist fall flat in front of an audience, only more mortally so. When we stand so close to this bridge from one life to the next, there is very little we can rely on ourselves to accomplish. All below us uncharted territory and opaque rushing waters.

There is only One who has traversed back and forth between the two lives successfully on our planet, and we have to rely on His hidden presence for grace. That grace may remain unfelt at all times in our experience of what is happening, but it must be there. In moments we only know this because He promised it to us, and we believe Him. Only He has the Words of Life.

So many people have brought beauty into the world through their experience with ashes (I am thinking of many, but particularly C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed comes to mind). I suppose I expected some kind of tragic beauty to come to bear on the senses. All I actually perceived was the bumbling awkwardness of humanity trying to figure out the connection between the finite and the eternal, and where we fit in the space between. How do we let our comrade transcend? How do we separate body and soul? Our souls and our bodies want to give in to the agony of loss. It is a task, and rather odious at that. At least from my side of the life cycle.

Ah, I need a break.