3/31/16 Morning Musing: Crowbars are Prettier than Bouquets

About a week before Stan and I were to marry, I was staying at his folks’ house making some last minute arrangements for the wedding. One night while I was there, his dad told me a story about when he and his wife were still a young couple: The best I can remember, they were in the car driving and a group of young aggressive guys began tailgating them. The guys were yelling and close to running them off the road and after a certain amount time, Stan’s dad grew weary of the harassment. He pulled over and told his young wife to stay in the car…that if things got rough she should go for help but stay in the car no matter what. No stranger to brawling, he got out to confront the group of guys. While talking with the two guys that got out of the other car, one of the fellas looked over his shoulder and when Stan’s dad turned around, he saw his young bride standing in a fierce stance holding a tire iron and readying herself to brawl right along-side him.

I have thought about this story many times over the course of the last 14 years of marriage…it has been an inspiration to me on several occasions. One thing that really strikes me is the contrast between this story and the fairytales that we perpetuate. When we talk of marriage, we tend to talk of weddings…flowers, music, candles, cake, dancing, and happily ever after. I think that marriage is a bit more…gritty…it looks a bit more like a young wife holding a crowbar and preparing to fight right along-side her husband than it does a pristine chapel full of bouquets and candles…because he is hers and she is his. Enough with the tales of knights-in-shining-armor rescuing the damsels-in-distress. In my experience, successful marriages appear to be more of a team growing and moving forward together knowing that they can depend on each other…each feeling assured that the other has their back should they need it.

A few years ago, I remember trying to unravel for Stan, the complicated ironies that I have found myself to be. I recall telling him that I was tough and I didn’t need him to ride in on his white horse and save me from the difficulties of life…I just wanted him to want to. I wanted him invested enough to be willing to do whatever was needed but, at the same time, assured that I have the strength and intelligence to take care of business. And he has done exactly that. After 14 years of marriage, he is still my team mate, my husband, and my best friend…he’s willing to get grimy and enter into the fray with me…and he is willing to allow me to do the same…but he also trusts that he made a good decision in choosing me…that I am a strong woman of character who doesn’t need constant rescuing…and I love him even more for it.  

Marriages are falling apart all the time and I think a lot of it has to do with unspoken and/or unmet expectations. I think it’s time we lay to rest the fairytale images that we are so quick to perpetuate…they aren’t real and, honestly, they are a cheap imitation of the real thing. In my experience, the real thing looks a bit more like a grimy hand holding strong onto a crowbar than it does an immaculate hand decked out in diamonds and holding a bouquet.  

So how are you doing with this? Do you have appropriate expectations in your relationships? Do you find yourself as a team mate or do you perpetuate the fairytales? How can you be a better team mate in your relationships?
My prayer today is that God would bless our marriages and that we would honor him through them. I’m praying that we would be loving and self-sacrificing spouses and that people would see the difference…see something that they desperately want…when they take a look at how we interact.  

Much love friends,

Beks

3/21/16 Morning Musing: What is the Stuff that You Are Made Of?

This morning, I woke up 40 minutes after my alarm went off and with a furry dog butt in my face. (I know! My life is so glamorous…don’t be too jealous.) That initiated the 16.5 minute chaotic race to get the kids up and somewhat conscious, dressed, fed, medicated, and to school. Honestly, I was just glad that we got to school without any tears this time. (Michaela is a sensitive one who wants to luxuriate through her morning routine and when I have fouled this up before she has just melted into tears.)    

After I saw the critters off to school, I sat down (again) to deal with that weird medical bill that I opened last week while Stan was finding out that he was being laid off. I have spent many hours on the phone with many people who “aren’t the ones responsible” for me receiving a bill for $10,000 for a routine drug screening last month. So, I called probably the 100th phone number in dealing with this and was “the first person in the queue” for 50 minutes before I eventually gave up and hung up without ever talking to a real human. (Awesome! I couldn’t have possibly used that hour doing something productive.) So, that is when the frustration welled up in me and I just started bawling. It sucks to be the guy responsible to clean up someone else’s screw up. It especially sucks when you can’t get any information about the screw up and consequently are chasing your tail when it comes to cleaning it up.

“Weak. What are you made of?” Wait…what? “What are you made of? Is this all it takes to have you defeated and in fetal position?” Ummm…apparently? “Whose are you? Whose image-bearer? Do you represent him well like this?” Ouch. Ok, I see where you are going. “And what about Stan. He is holding strong. Are you going to be his partner…his team mate…or are you going to be one more thing that he has to handle?” OUCH! Ok! I get it. (Sometimes, God doesn’t talk to me all sweet and gentle…sometimes, it kinda sucks because I end up getting my butt handed to me. But he is right (stating the obvious there.)) 

You know, I’ve been watching Stan this past week and have been so proud of him throughout this process. Despite getting laid off, he is finishing his work strong…with integrity…and trying to help others do the same. He is following leads and having conversations. He is finding the humor in the situation and laughing until it hurts. He is putting himself out there. But mostly, he is just trusting God. God who brought us through the poisoning incident. God who provided financially every time an unexpected bill came in. God who has seen us when we felt invisible. God who has spoken to us in exactly the ways that we have needed over the years. God who continued to heal me from the poisoning even when we had quit asking him to. Stan has been remembering God’s character when I have had sudden onset of amnesia. In fact, I asked him the other day how he was able to keep everything in the right perspective. His answer? “I keep reminding myself that my purpose is bigger than my pride.”  

Yeah…so, I should tell you that it is really difficult to come out and publicly confess to what a giant baby I have been through all of this. I’ve been short-sighted and inconsistent. I have forgotten, at times, that I am part of a team…and that Team Massey has a purpose. And while that kick in the butt from God wasn’t fun this morning, I think it was exactly what I needed to get over the frustration spiral that I have been in.  

So, enough about me. How are you doing with this? Have you been through times that you had to completely reset in order to get back to who you are? Have you ever lost sight of your purpose? How did you get back on track? Do you know what your mission is right now? What are you doing to live a life of purpose? Do you know who is on your team and does the whole team have a sense of what their mission is? How can you help each other out? Do you need to revisit what/who you are about in order to contextualize your circumstances?

My prayer today is that we would all take time with the one who gives our lives purpose. I’m praying that we would be good reflections of him as we handle whatever circumstances we find ourselves in…because they are just circumstances…these are not the things that define us…but how we handle them…well, that’s another story. I’m praying that we would be strong and brave…and that we would understand that, by definition, strength is nothing without opposition and bravery is nothing without something to be afraid of. Finally, I’m praying that we would be able to ask ourselves what we are made of and that we would not wince at the answer. Much love friends,

Beks

3/14/16 Morning Musing: Freaking Feelings!

We just got back from a fantastic family vacation and everything was wonderful…except that something was bothering me the whole time…this thing was niggling in my head and I just couldn’t shake it. The company that Stan works for just bought another company which sounds great…until you realize that the result is basically two of every department…no company needs that so…upcoming layoffs…loads of them…and it turns out that they are announcing them the week we are to be away without wifi or cell service or contact with the world back here in the US. Even IF we are somehow safe, it means that lots of really good people will lose their jobs…people we care about…people with families and lives and hurts and responsibilities…people who need their jobs.  

Well, as it turns out…Stan was not spared. After 15 years with the company, he is being let go. And this is still really fresh, new information…so it hurts…a lot. I am not and will not be saying anything disparaging about the company…they are about business and will do what they need to do to continue on. Anyway, I am writing because I need to process. My family needs me to be able to function in whatever way necessary…whether that be as an encourager, or finding a paying job for myself (which is difficult for me…I tend to want to do things for free), or just being anchored to the Holy Spirit and providing stability in what is sure to be a tumultuous time…and to do any of that, I’ve got to do something with all of these pesky feelings! Oy! The feelings! Over the last two days, I have found that I play a different role with each one:  
 
Tigger: encouraging Stan that this is the best thing because it is an opportunity to find out what he wants to be when he grows up (Ha! As if either of us will ever grow up!) “This is actually the best thing ever!!!! We are starting a grand new adventure!!!!”

  

Beast (Beauty and the Beast): hurt (with a strong tendency toward protective) on his behalf that anyone could possibly not clearly see the priceless jewel that he is. “Hurt the ones I love and I. Will. End. You!” *Followed by an impressive growl as a show of fierceness right before licking my wounds.*

  

The Hulk: angry that the company would make a decision that would injure so many of their really good employees. “Hulk SMASH!!!!”

  

Marlin (Finding Nemo): anxiety that comes from a life-long anxiety disorder but also from not knowing what the future holds (and knowing amazing friends who have been through this and have had to move away in order to gain employment.) “What is the quickest and safest solution to the impending discomfort???”

As I experience any of the “negative emotions” I find that I am chiding myself…seeing it as a lack of faith. (I grew up as a preacher’s kid. And not just any preacher…conservative southern baptist…that means that my knee-jerk response is that emotions are not trusted. Logic…good. Feelings…bad.) I mean, my head knows that God has us and cares for us and is for us…so what is there to fear? But my heart is still broken and I want to yell out that “There is a crap-ton to fear because this is effin’ scary and all the rainbows and Amy Grant songs in the world still won’t buy milk!” And then I respond to myself with “Really? Milk? You are a landlord and own (at least partially own) 4 houses! Quit your bitchin’!” (Have I mentioned that I am a lunatic that not only talks to myself but also has entire arguments with myself! I just hope I can keep it above the belt so that I none of the assorted sides of me gets fed up and goes rogue.)

And, of course, shame has to rear its ugly head: I have to confess that part of me momentarily regretted donating a large sum of money to a charity about 10 days ago. A charity that helps rescue trafficked individuals! What the hell is wrong with me that I would think for even a moment that I need that money more than they do?! *shakes head in disgust*

And then, this morning, it hit me. The feelings aren’t the problem. It is that I am trying to make them obey me that is the problem…that I am trying to suppress them…that I am trying to lie and say that the feelings don’t exist. Having feelings is actually part of what makes me an image-bearer of the almighty:

“And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Luke‬ ‭22:41-44‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus was in so much emotional agony that he was literally sweating blood! I would say that qualifies as pretty strong feelings. And then there was the righteous anger accompanying overturning tables in the temple…and the grief when he wept over Lazarus’ death (not because he would miss him…he knew he would resurrect him…it was because sin and death were not things that we, his image-bearers were meant to know and it grieved him for us to encounter it)…and anger again when he saw that the religious leaders were only concerned with catching him break their rules by healing on the Sabbath. And all of these pesky feelings that Jesus felt…were all based in, and evidence of, his deep deep love for people…his investment.  

So that has me thinking…when I try to lie about my feelings, suppress them, or “fake it ’till you make it”…I’m disconnecting my feelings from my mental processes. This is ultimately untruth…lies…and that isn’t what my God is about…it’s insincere and artificial…pretending to live instead of actually living. That said, I’m going to try my hand at embracing all of the feelings…good, bad, or ugly…because if I do not, I will be less able to be a truthful reflection of God.

So, if you’ve made it this far through my rambling, I would like to ask you how you are doing with this? Are you stunting your ability to fully live your life by suppressing your emotions? Do you feel that there are timelines that must be met when you are feeling something? (Like hurrying grief, for example?) When people are feeling something powerful, does it make you uncomfortable? Do you avoid uncomfortable emotions? If you do, what do you think the repercussions are on your relationships?  

My prayer today is that we would live more completely. That we would take these lives that we have been given and live so fully that we would wear them completely out…leaving nothing behind unlived or unloved! I am praying that we would be true image-bearers and not edited versions of what we think we should be. And, I am praying that we would love…love so deeply that we are willing to feel. Much love friends,
Beks