Category Archives: Slice of Life

Forgiveness Comes From Without

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In one aspect of his life, my ex-husband is incredibly generous: he gives me countless opportunities to practice forgiveness. Time and repetition have not made forgiveness easier. If anything, my anger and disappointment have leaked into other areas of life, instead of immediately charring to blackened curls on the most recent act of stupidity.

Leaked, because instead of having charity, there have been times when I have wanted to go and break my hand punching him, and the lack of his address was the only save/spoiler. Other times, I am so bitterly disappointed in myself at being surprised by his behaviour that eucalyptus and lemon scent the air around me, which then cooks into steam in my fury. Then, sodden with my emotions and burdens, I flash fry everything within arms reach in frustrated realisation – now I have to try and forgive myself as WELL as the idiot I once loved.

Forgiveness hurts. Like when it’s left me cramping in a corner, trying to straighten out my fingers, because countless things I’ve forgiven have had my claw marks on them by the time God gets them. At times, the knowledge of how hard I’d have to work to repent and forgive has been the only barrier stopping me from hating my ex-husband. (That doesn’t mean I haven’t straddled that fence, wondering if I could still deliver a good kick from where I’m fuming). Sometimes, the only reason I can forgive others is because sometimes I see them in my sons.

Forgiveness hurts. It hurts right in your heart, and in the middle of your throat, and at 4pm on a sweaty afternoon when you’re struck mute at the beauty, majesty, stench and brilliance of your first born son, who clears his throat exactly the same way as his father and grandfather, and who has a mole just like his Oma’s above his lip. Forgiveness hurts as it burrows into the dry, desiccated threads of your uncertain soul, only to pour out glorias and exultation as your youngest drums out a crazy solo on the soft belly his paternal family has gifted him with. Forgiveness hurts as the love I have for my boys swamps me like an endless ocean, flooding back up the genetic ladder, until I’m unable to hate the flawed, frozen, fragile people that have had starring roles in creating my cruelest memories and – above all, and ultimately – my sons’ bodies, which house such incredible souls.

Forgiveness hurts. It cracks me open, from my furious logic to my scared, scarred heart, and scatters pieces of me into new, aching alignment. It hurts. The cracks are wide, fathomless, gentle and ferocious. The cracks are where the light gets in, swirls, soaks, soothes and – hopefully, thankfully, eventually – sweeps away to shine on others, even those lost in the dark.

Have you ever found your self at forgiveness, from an unexpected angle? How do you stop yourself being furious, hurt or betrayed at someone?

Not Putting Off the Natural Woman

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I had day surgery recently, and while the procedure itself went well, the post-operative pain medications didn’t work. They didn’t even touch the sides of what I was feeling, except to make everyone sound as if they were talking to me from a sealed spacesuit. It got to the point that I was pacing, panting with the ripping nerves and rolling pain, when the nurse took out my IV line, rang my friend to come collect me, and let me go home “since we can’t do anything else for you here. Make sure they know next time those meds don’t work on you.”

I don’t remember much of the trip home, because the natural woman I share my body with was counting down the minutes until I’d be behind my front door. And I’ll tell you what, that natural woman is LOUD.

But that natural woman also knows what’s she’s on about. For the previous hour she’d been growling “We need to have a shower. A really really HOT shower. We need to go home. To have a shower” constantly. It made no sense to me, but I could feel the gravity of the need crushing my bones, twanging along my gut and legs, her sure confidence soothing my intense, nauseous unhappiness. And as soon as I got in the shower, the mirror already blank, the air fogged, she and I both groaned – deep, guttural and grateful.

This is what I needed. The thought flopped, exhausted, out my ear and floated away down the drain as my eyes closed in weary relief. Sure, the scriptures say to put away the natural woman, but right now I love her beyond words and coherence.

I prayed, curled in on myself, cheek against the shower floor, thankful for my body, albeit rather critical of the particular design flaws involved in my pain, for instant hot water, overwhelmingly and repeatedly muttering thank you for my natural woman.

My natural woman demanded raspberries last week, for self-medication and reward after an emotionally gutting day. She also squealed when I was cleared to start running again, and her eyes roll back in delight when I moisturise. My natural woman tells the holy spirit to stuff it when my answers to prayer are decidedly sideways to what I wanted, screams stress into pillows and sulks before sidling up to God, kicking the ground and muttering “Sorry. I’m sorry. But it still sucks.”

My natural woman loves life, loves me, loves God as a result. She’s like hope – loud, wearing big boots and laughs like a waterfall falling on your head.

Do you listen to your body, to your natural woman? What makes your physical self happy, and does it make YOU happy as a result? Has there been something in your life lately that has made you thankful for having a physical self to wrap your self in?

Peculiar Treasures: What Caught Our Eye This Week

Welcome to our second Peculiar Treasures post, where the Segullah staff share articles, posts and other delicious links that caught our eyes, imaginations, hearts and minds!

Is making dinner a joy, drudgery, necessity or something else for you? In response to a recent study finding home cooked meals are not worth the stress and time used to make them, Megan McArdle tells of her reality and shortcuts in the home kitchen.

With recent hacking and sharing of nude celebrity selfies making the news internationally, Wendy Shalit discusses privacy, to what extent we are sharing of our own selves and loved ones, and what we may be missing as a result.

Take seven and a bit minutes to listen to (or read the transcript of) NPR’s story of the poetry and seventy-eight page elegy a father, Edward Hirsch, wrote following the death of his son.

For those of us who like a little more Grimm than Disney in our fairy tales, chances are you’re going to love this guy’s creative Post-It notes. Monsters lurk, and smile, and generally are freaky creatures – while not fazing the humans nearby in the slightest. Warning – may scare young children and some in the general population.

Directly addressing the discussions, arguments and avoidance that sometimes occur when talking about women in the church, this Times and Seasons post outlines the arguments and reminds us “If you take up the most current strands of the argument, or rework a strand from earlier rounds in a way that makes it relevant to the most current arguments, then you’re helping to move the dialogue forward. If you’re merely taking ignorant (or malicious) pot shots at the other side by repeating the stuff that’s long since been answered, then you’re not.”

Want to guess which three little words can indicate if people will still be dating in three months – or who has more power/prestige in a relationship? Hint: they’re words we ignore, but automatically use. A great article for the linguist and word lovers.

With the huge amount of awareness the ALS Ice Water Challenge has been getting, here’s a strong reminder that a diagnosis is not a person, and vice versa.

It’s not everyday (hopefully) that you get an invitation to heartbreak, or hear the call of a loon.

And now, our First Draft Poetry, a haiku composed by Lisa G, inspired by the Times and Seasons post.

Divine Mother, come

This dark glass obscures your face

We wait, hoping, sure

 Please share your thoughts on any of the links above! Happy Monday!

I Hope They Don’t Call Him on a Mission

P and Elder N

Patrick with Elder Nielson, the first missionary he ever met, 1998.

In the greater Brisbane (Australia) city area, if there is a news report of a stabbing, armed robbery, police car chase or drug-related arrest, chances are it’s in the southern suburb of Logan. So, obviously, that’s where my sixteen year old son was called to serve for a week on his “mini-mission”.

Cue parental heart attack, anxieties and worry.

I dropped him off one Saturday morning to the missionary flat, where two elders came out to the car to help with his bike, his suitcase, backpack and groceries. A final “Bye Mum, love you” tossed over his shoulder and I was driving back home, an hour north of where I’d just abandoned my firstborn to the cruel uncaring world. The entire way home I was praying – pleading – with God to make sure Patrick would be well, and happy, and gain something positive out of his mini-mission (and not be mugged, or hurt, or…) Continue reading

The Grief Linebacker

Jack Lambert

He hits me blindside, like an unprotected quarterback.  Pinned to the floor by a 400-lb wall of angry flesh, I am cracked, broken, concussed.  Everything was going so well.  The day was progressing normally; I was functional, productive even.  As a final insult, he gives me one more push as he arises, sauntering off into the mist while lay there, awash in tears, my chest crushed from sobbing, my head reeling.  It takes me a day to recover.

In her book, “On Loss and Loving Onward,” Melissa Dalton-Bradford describes her Grief Beast:

“The Grief Beast is enormous – a hybrid of Jabba the Hutt, Sasquatch, and Grendel.  His head scratches any twenty-foot ceiling, and he doesn’t speak; he transudes.  He is warted and hairy and lumpy – a shaggy, slate-khaki thing with hair balls and sodden patches of a matted, grimy pelt from sitting for long stretches in pools of tears and mucus.”

Melissa is a dear friend of many years, and I can see her Grief Beast vividly.  As she has shared her experiences with me, and as we have wept together, I have imagined her with this “blubbery, slavering mass” following her around everywhere she goes.  I see her lying on the cold tile of her bathroom floor as he sits there next to her, a “hulking, stinking, unwelcome sidekick.”  In the years before Ethan passed, I knew his death was coming – his health was fragile and deteriorated year by year, and  I mourned this horrifying fact together with my dear friend.  She, mourning the loss of her beautiful son, Parker.  I, mourning the child that never was, that never would be, whom I would inevitably lose.  She, dragging around her Grief Beast, becoming accustomed to its presence while my Grief Linebacker stayed on the sidelines, waiting patiently to be called up by the coach.

And now, nearly six months after Ethan’s passing, my Grief Linebacker hits with semi-regularity.  Some days, he comes out of nowhere, but others, I see him coming, barreling down the field, gaining speed and momentum.  On the seventh of every month, the anniversary of Ethan’s death, I stand at midfield, my feet planted, my body relaxed and waiting for the hit.  I look him in the face, see the beads of sweat on his brow, smell the foul odor of pain and loss emanating from his hulking frame, and feel his powerful arms in a vise grip around my chest as we hit the turf together and I am crushed under his weight.  I lay there on my back, gasping, tears flowing into my ears, waiting for him to retreat to his regular position on the field so that I can roll over into a fetal position, a pulpy mass of mucus, tears, and pain.

The other day, I went to the science center with my two sons.  As we entered one of the exhibit areas, I spotted a woman sitting next to a little boy with spastic cerebral palsy in a wheelchair.  I smiled at her, and she smiled back, looking away.  Knowing all too well the smiles of well-meaning strangers as I have sat with my similarly disabled child in his wheelchair, I have used the same deflection technique.  Acknowledge, look away, engage in something else to avoid uncomfortable conversation.  Undaunted, I bravely walked up to her and said, “That’s a great wheelchair!  Is it a Quickie?  My son had a Quickie (brand) wheelchair.”  Instantly her face relaxed and she smiled, realizing that I spoke her language.  We chatted a bit about her grandson as I knelt down next to the wheelchair and smiled at him.  The grandmother was in town with this sweet boy and his two siblings while their parents were away on business.  An indoor activity away from the blistering Florida heat and humidity was the perfect way to pass the afternoon.  “What is your name, sweetheart?” I said to the little boy.

“Ethan,” his grandmother responded.

This time, the Grief Linebacker was kind.  He picked me up and carried me to the other side of the exhibit hall, as I managed to sputter out, “Oh!  My son was named Ethan too.  Have a fun day!”  It was only then, behind one of the brightly colored exhibits, in a quiet, private space that he threw me to the ground and pounced.

[Image of Jack Lambert courtesy of Best Athletes by the Numbers]