Monday, February 28, 2011

Ode to Joy

Lately, I have been peeved. I'm not sure why. It could be the sore throat that creeps up on me every time I miss an hour of sleep. It could be the separation anxiety in my little one, the daily battle of tears as we separate, the constant need to be touching me, day AND night. It could be the big one's apparent regression in areas that I thought we were leaving behind us--failure to remember things at school (not so important), hitting his brother HARD (more important), biting (very important), and even a bit of injuring himself (IMPORTANT!!!). And then there are the daily hassles... AND THEN there are the things other people WANT me to get upset about...

Whatever the cause, I was peeved. And I was telling God about it. I sometimes don't like his answers, but in Peter's words, "Who else has the words of life?" (John 6:68)

Now, if you know me, you know that I talk to God about everything. I seem to get along (or not get along) with Christians and non-Christians in equal doses. When I checked my Facebook stats once I found that I am friends with exactly as many Republicans as Democrats. That is not because I am a moderate.

And the same goes with my relationship with God. I am not a moderate. I believe in the 10 Commandments, but I will be the absolutely first to point out that I don't think the average Christian (myself included) has any clue what they mean. And I think God sent Jesus to tell us just that--"You tithe, but you miss the point" (Matthew 23:23), "You think this is adultery, but it starts with a whole lot less" (Matthew 5:28), "Don't look down in your hearts because it is the attitude of murder" (Matthew 5:22), "Don't judge others because you undoubtedly have a fault that is even bigger" (Matthew 7:3-5), and "It's never okay to give up on forgiving" (Matthew 18:22).

And this last was exactly what I was telling God about. I was feeling abandoned, up and left. And I am not ready to talk about the things I am pondering with real people yet (hence my chat with God), and I was turning to Christian sources.

And I was hating listening. And I was kind of hating Christians. And I was wondering when they were actually going to mention Christ.

And I was also wondering what was wrong with me and my response.

And I found it (thanks to Pastor Rhee's listening to God)--Ephesians 2:3 "Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."

And I realized that it was time to lay my heart back down and let go of all of the things I can't control. I needed to just give God the anger. He is judge. Not me. It is my job to love my neighbor as myself. It is my job to seek Jesus and the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

And my heart was suddenly opened to joy. Indescribable, tears-pouring-down-my-face joy. Yes, the little one still cries for me ALL the time. Yes, the big one still has ALL KINDS of issues with no apparent cause. Yes, my throat still throbs with every swallow. Yes, yes, yes. The problems are all still there. The badgering and hating is still there. But I am a child of God, and he has said, "These are mine to solve. You trust in me. You love me."

And I hear the crying, and I am so thankful for another day with my son. And I hear the refrigerator clanking, and I am so glad there is food for today. The neighbors are arguing, but I don't need to call the police today. I don't know where we will live come May, but God has that in his hands.

Of course, there are days that I am reminded that one price of the new covenant with Christ was the downfall of Jerusalem (how else would the Jews leave behind their old economy based on a material price for sin?), that the price of the re-establishment of the Holy Land was the Holocaust. I am reminded that God's idea of "okay" is not mine. But I am reminded of my own children and their distress when they think something is hopeless. And I know it's not hopeless because I see the big picture. I am reminded that God sees more than I do. THANK GOD!!

And so, my conclusion on the Christians hating and the Christian-hating: If they sound hateful, then they are probably still "objects of wrath," and if I don't want to revert to that prior wrathful state myself, I need to pray for them (and the object of their scorn for the given day) with the same love with which I hope Jesus intercedes for me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


"What's wrong with it?" Mom wanted to know as she pulled at the ends of my hair, searching for unevenness or missed split ends.

"Nothing." I sulked.

"Then why do you hate it?"

"I wanted bangs." My mother roared. I have been wanting bangs since preschool.

"Do you know how many people have bangs this season?" I defended myself. "I just went through the February issue of In Style at the salon, and there was a gorgeous picture of J-Lo with awesome bangs."

"But the stylist didn't give you any." There was a hint of curiosity in her voice, ever so slight under the suppressed mirth.

"No." I pouted. "She obviously saw my cowlick and immediately suggested layers. I kept saying bangs, but she would just rephrase and say, 'So you want more of angle here?'"

Shaking with laughter, my mother said, "Well, she was right."

Like I said, I have wanted bangs for a long time. My sister and I always had our hair cut the same way. She is blessed with thick (and until her second pregnancy) straight hair that falls absolutely perfectly over her forehead. Every picture of her as a child shows bright brown eyes sparkling mischievously beneath a perfect fringe of chocolate colored bangs. Beside her in the photo sits me, Chief Little Feather, with my sparrow-colored crest jutting up over my left temple and extending to the middle of my forehead.

I remember the jealousy as far back as preschool. Carrie Green, my first best friend, had the most beautiful blond bangs, and I was sure that this was part of the reason I was ostracized from the other like-banged girls at her fourth birthday party. Even then my hair wouldn't cooperate, and the other girls knew it.

Not that the cowlick is really that important. It merely reminds me every day that you can't win them all. I am resigned. Almost. Some morning, I would like to win just once. Even my sons have joined in the fight. Standing on the top of the toilet lid, my first-grader sometimes suggests. "Maybe if you pulled harder when you blew it down, Mommy.... Or maybe you could use glue."

My preschooler has other ideas. "You have to be a boy, Mommy. Boys' hair always goes down. It's the rule. Like robots." He obviously hasn't paid attention to his brother's hair in the morning, but that's beside the issue.

I'm surprised that he hasn't brought up his vampire mother, which he, perfectly capable of enunciating "v," pronounces as "dampire" as if it follows, "dam* cat, dam* dog, dam*pire."

In the alternate universe of AJ, he has a complete dampire family. They are mentioned whenever a member of his real family is lacking in some way.

When told to get off the computer: "My dampire daddy lets me play as many games as I want to."
When told to get dressed: "My dampire mother loves my pajamas."
The best was when he had the stomach flu. As he sat on the toilet with me rubbing his little belly, he looked at me with accusing eyes and said, "My dampire mommy knows how to make good food, and my belly never hurts."

My sister says I should encourage him to call his dampire family and have them pick him up.

I admit, though, that I am oddly jealous. Even though I know she is a figment of his imagination, I feel a stringent competition with Mama Dampire. Hopefully I will have more success with her than I've had with my bangs.