Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clown Fish and Rich Girls

Trying to join an existing “friend group” is a little like scuba diving, you have to constantly watch your perimeters. This is especially true, if the water you are entering is an established friendship of strong, beautiful, well-to-do women.

It’s like swimming with say... Manta Rays. It’s amazingly fascinating and fun, but it also has an element of danger. A school of Manta Ray is not aggressive per se, but when they go cruising by, swinging those long tails with the VERY sharp barbs on the end, it’s only a matter of time before you get hit.

That’s probably why I am somewhat of a loner. As much as I enjoy the company of other women, I don’t usually swim in a school. There is always an intricate hierarchy, too many dynamics already in place.

I usually feel like the clown fish, swimming in and out among the anemones, trying to avoid the stinging tentacles. It’s exhausting and not really all that worth it, because more often than not, I come away stung and tattered, with puncture wounds all over my dignity. Painful to say the least. It's enough to make me want to get out of the water.

Maybe I should just swim nearer the shore. Play in the waves with a few really good dolphin friends I have in my life. Not venture out too deep.

You never know what’s out there in the dark water… maybe something that bites.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Bitter Root

It starts out as a hurt, real or imagined. It plants itself in my mind and heart. I water it with my distressed thoughts, raking it over time and again. Before I know it, bitterness has taken root and soon blooms into what looks like Jack's beanstalk. Or more like that plant, Audrey Jr. from The Little Shop of Horrors.

It's huge and feeds on my thought life for weeks or months. When finally I get sick of this thing eating me alive and come to my senses, I decide enough is enough. That's it. I'm forgiving this person. I take hold of the hurt, give a pull and up it comes. Easy. There it's gone.

What I didn't see was the root left behind, below the surface, and the next time that person comes to mind..whoosh! I turn around and there it is, bitterness, anger, resentment in full bloom again. It always surprises me. Where did THIS come from? I dealt with that weed long ago.

We all know weeds are almost impossible to get rid of. You pull, you dig, you spray, you set it on fire and if you work REALLY hard, you MIGHT eradicate it. God in his wisdom offers a much better plan. Don't plant it in the first place.
Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

Here is what I am learning. Dispense with hurt while it's still a seed. Take it to God and if possible, to the person that caused it. It's alright to examine it, but then choose to forgive and cast the hurt away. Don't allow yourself to dwell on it any longer. Give it no room to grow in the garden of your mind. Philippians 4:8 states "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." These are flowers in the garden.

Weeds and flowers don't grow well together. The weeds will eventually choke the flowers out. Deal ruthlessly with bitterness and anger. Ephesians 4:31 "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."

As for dealing with old hurts and resentments that we have cultivated.....

Lay an axe to the root.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bella Ella

A year ago my oldest son and his beautiful wife ripped my heart right out of my chest and took it with them to live in Tennessee. They stole my granddaughter, Ella. Okay, perhaps "stole" is too strong a word, she is their daughter after all, and they had an excellent reason to go. They went in search of a more peaceful way of life, and of course they took their daughter with them.

At first, I held out hope that they would come to their senses and realize they just couldn't be happy living so far away from us. While being outwardly supportive, I found myself secretly exulting with every hardship and difficulty they encountered. Aha, I would think, now they are going to realize the mistake they've made and head home. But no. They are happy and thriving in the South. My little family has been "mountain folk" for just over a year, and now a serious development is unfolding. They are buying a house. So. They are not coming back.

My son and his wife moved to Tennessee for a variety of reasons, all of them compelling. They wanted warmer weather, mountains to bike, rivers to swim, a simpler life-style close to nature. I understand completely and am overjoyed that they have found contentment with a slower paced life centered on their family, but sometimes I am so lonely for Ella I can hardly breathe.

I can't remember what I did for fun before she came along. Being with her makes me appreciate God and this wonderful world he made for us to play and live in. For such a little munchkin she certainly has taught me a lot and reminded me of things I hadn’t thought about since her daddy and uncles were little. Things like-

Being outdoors is always more fun than being inside.

Admire the sky least once a day, it's an ever changing masterpiece.

Dance barefoot in the grass.

Hugs, kisses and smiles should be given freely and often. They make both the giver and the receiver feel good.

Anything and everything can be taken to God in prayer:
"Lord, please bless these ladybugs and help them find their way out of Nonni's house, before we have to send them to Heaven through the vacuum cleaner..."

It’s nice to sit on the floor with dogs.

Smell the flowers, even the wilted ones.

Remember to kiss your pony after you ride.

Gaze around in wonder.

It’s okay to cry when you feel hurt or disappointed.

Hold your hands up in the air and feel the breeze.

Get down really close to bugs and stare hard at them.

A nap always helps when you feel cranky.

Look for fun, it's all around you.

And just like gems, you can never have too many interesting rocks.

God bless you Ella Belle, thanks for the life lessons little girl.

My new reality, Ella in my life at Christmas and summers. That's not going to be enough. It looks like I will be burning up the road between here and the Smokies on a regular basis. So Ella and I won't have the casual, see you everyday relationship that we have enjoyed. But, we'll make it work.

Our visits will be precious. Our time together condensed to it's essence, like coal compressed till it's a diamond, and for that, it will shine all the more.