The Importance of Sheep

1 01 2011

I woke this morning with an odd thought blazing in my mind: “It is the sheep who are important.”

Important sheep? Little fluffy baa-heads, possibly one of the stupidest of the domestic animals? (Right after turkeys, of course.) In the bible, sheep represent people to be cared for. Even today we refer to a pastor’s “flock” as the people he ministers to. I have five little sheep, six if you count my husband. They are the people I am responsible for caring for.

The sternest lesson I have had to learn as a mother is that my children are much more important than I am. This is not a lesson that comes easily. After all we’re surrounded by messages that tell us to “be all that we can be,” to succeed, to prosper, to seek happiness, to follow our dreams, to win friends and to influence people. Even the “harmless” messages we give our children: “You’re special! You can be anything you want to be,” teaches children that they are important.

We grow up thinking we are important, talented, vital. That it is necessary that we be happy and find success. Reminds me of Moses. Raised to be a prince in the dynasty of Egypt. Called to be the savior of his people. And then… then… just as he’s reaching for his destiny, beginning his ministry… then he gets stuck in the desert watching sheep for 50 years.

50 years of baaing and babies and shearing and parasites and accidents and dirt and heat and flies. No intellectual stimulation. No sheep-tender-of-the-year award. No self-actualization. No promotion. Just sheep. Fifty years until he learned that he wasn’t important at all. It is the sheep who are important. Only after he learned that deep down in his bones did Moses become “the most humble man on earth” and worthy to lead his people.

Leaders who think that they are important always lead their people astray. Dictators, kings, warlords, selfish politicians… governing for your own glory is always a disaster to your country. It’s the sheep who are important. King David knew that. What man in his right mind would fight off a bear with a stick to save a lamb? A man who understood the importance of sheep.

There is nothing more important than to deliver the ones we are entrusted with safe and whole to the end of our watch. I am not important. You are not important. It’s all about the sheep. The little ones. The weak ones. Our employees, tenants, patients, constituents, children, workers, and servants. It’s only when we realize that what we have and what we are doesn’t matter at all that we are ready to lead our particular flock of sheep with discipline, courage, humility and integrity.

I may never be famous, or particularly successful, but today I am reaffirming what I’ve been given to do. I know where my sheep are. Do you?

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Meaning in suffering

9 07 2010

I’ve often wondered about the scripture that says that God “works all things for the good of them that love the Lord.” Preachers often interpret that to say that God either lets everything happen to us because it’s to our benefit, or that God will make everything work out for our good in the end. I find that hard to swallow. I have experienced evil so intense that the grieving spirit can only stand before it and say, “If this is of God, what kind of God could allow it? A God so evil as to allow this deliberately is not worthy of worship.” Knowing that God might bring some good of it after the fact seems entirely inadequate.

For some time I’ve realized that much of what we attribute to God is, in fact, the work of his opponent. God is guilty only of allowing us the free will we so stridently insist on. When people choose to follow the leading of evil, God, who advised and fought against it is neither responsible nor to blame for the results. If he does choose to bring about some small measure of good from the evil we perpetrate on each other and suffer from daily, we should be penitently grateful. Instead of shaking our fists at heaven and demanding, “God, why did you let this happen?” we should bow our heads and repent for all the people whose hearts and bodies we’ve trampled in our rush to get what we want.

But to return to the verse, it occurred to me today that what it means is not that God willed the event for our good, or that God will necessarily bring good from the evil actions, but that God can give our suffering meaning. One of the worst features of evil is the waste. The utter useless waste of human beings slaughtered, tortured, used, enslaved, disposed of heartlessly and carelessly, or neglected to death strikes horror in the heart like no other dread thing on earth. At least the tiger eats his victims. Evil devours with no appetite except for more devouring. Only God can go into this wasteland of suffering and give it purpose.

Christians talk a lot about “redeeming” and Christ’s redemption. Redeeming is taking something that is worthless, something that means nothing, has no use, and makes no sense, and giving it a purpose, a reason, a value. God takes the suffering we’ve endured for no good reason, or no reason at all, and uses it somehow. He takes what was pointless misery and gives it a point, so that we can look back and see the pain we endured in some kind of perspective. Yes, I had to endure that, but this came of it. Only God can take such an evil seed and produce a good result. Without the transmogrifying presence of God, people who suffer only lash out and cause more suffering. But God can transmute destruction. God can spin gold from straw. God can take our purposeless lives, our purposeless grief, our useless suffering, our empty joys, and give them purpose, hope, love and meaning.

He doesn’t promise we will always be happy. He doesn’t promise freedom from suffering on this side of the grave. We are still vulnerable to the effects of our own evil choices or the evil choices of others. But he does promise that if we hold on through the storm, that he will make sure that it matters. What we’ve been through will be to some good purpose. It won’t be wasted. This is the gift God gives us in our suffering: the gift of meaning.





A Fun Trip to the Hospital

25 09 2009

I’m not at all sure there is a delicate and lady-like way to blog about your recent surgery, but I intend to do it any way.  I was up again last night brooding about my experience, and I am strongly tempted to write a letter to the editor of our local paper or appear as a frightening apparition to whatever manager I can find in the office of the anesthesiologists (I have no hope whatsoever of catching one of the actual doctors and giving him a piece of my mind.)  In the meantime I can vent my feelings in this blog, which will hopefully lead to my getting more sleep!

The surgery itself seems to have gone famously.  I feel rather as if I’ve been spitted on knitting needles, but the wretched pain is gone.  Which was the point.  No more of that aching, cramping awfulness that’s been grinding me down for months.  Now there is only the clean pain of where they lasered and cauterized the growth.  That and the various holes they made in me.

I’ve been trying to describe what they did to my six-year-old son.  I told him they poked tiny lasers into my belly and blasted away all the bad things.  Last night he was gently rubbing my damaged belly.  He looked up at me and said confidently, “They blasted all the bad germs, didn’t they?”  I nodded.  “So when are they going to take the lasers out?” he wanted to know.  Apparently he was afraid they’d left their guns behind inside!

The doctor apparently found something he wasn’t expecting while poking around in my inner spaces.  In the recovery room, the nurse left my file laying on the bed for a moment when she stepped into the hall.  Neal quickly pounced on it and pulled some photos out of a pocket, so I got to see the anomaly my body produced without asking my permission.  It wasn’t cancer.  It was a rat’s nest of blood vessels located near and stretching to enclose one of my ovaries.  It looked like a cross between a handful of blood worms and an invasive clump of wisteria trying to take over a tall tree.  The nurse came back and reappropriated the photos before I got to see the photos of the endometriosis sites they found.  Heaven forbid I be able to see the photos of my own body.

The errant blood vessels were apparently the subject of a hasty conference between my doctor and my husband while I was lying like a cold fish on the operating slab, skewered and at the mercy of the anesthesiologist.  They debated removing the ovary.  It was apparently impossible to remove the entanglement without cutting the ovary’s blood supply entirely.  Which seemed a shame, as the organ itself is perfectly healthy.   They also debated leaving the whole mess alone and coming back in a month to see if it had gotten worse, which thankfully my husband vetoed.  In the end they decided to cauterize the trunk of the growth and hope it withered and faded of its own accord.  I am hoping this works, and that nothing turns septic or difficult, because if it does, I’ll be back in soon having the ovary out.  Still, it was a great comfort to me, hearing about this afterward, to know that Neal was taking care of me and making good decisions for me even when I was out of the picture.  It is a wonderful, wonderful thing to have a spouse you trust.  I don’t think there is anything else as good available on Earth.

My doctor was wonderful, but I’m afraid I can’t say the same about the prep room nurses or the anesthesiologist staff.  I know it is true that these are only people doing a difficult job day in and day out under pressure.  I don’t expect them to be particularly curious about me, or even particularly concerned with my affairs or problems.  But I would like the minimum amount of courtesy, and I would like them to tell me what they’re going to do before they do it.  I have a real dislike to people who draw a needle full of some drug and shoot it into my I.V. without telling me what it is, what it’s for, or why they’re about to do it.  It makes me feel like an experimental animal.

No one warned me that I would have electrodes plastered all over my chest and torso.  They just whipped the covers off and said, “this will be cold.”  They clipped things on me, covered my hair and half of my eyeballs with a shower cap, slid things up my legs, and complained about their weekends.  I might have been half a side of beef being dressed by the butcher.  What callousness!  It’s like, doing their job for so long, they’ve forgotten that the cold, frightened creatures they handle are actually human beings.  And I do not accept for a moment that this is necessary to the performance of their duties.  It’s a lack.  I’ve seen it in all my jobs.  There are people who just do the job, totally absorbed in their own experience, and then there are people who take an extra interest in the people they are helping.  They take a moment to smile, to lend a hand, to explain, to help.  They treat the person they are dealing with as if they are a human being instead of a walking slab of meat.

I honestly have met real estate agents who treated people just like those nurses treated me.  I’ve met people at Hardee’s who treated the customers as much like cattle as the anesthesiologist did.  They do their job, sometimes competently, but they have no feeling in it.  They are only doing their duty.  They don’t care.  You couldn’t pay them to care.  And, to be honest, 99% of the time that I have found someone who treated others like people, they turned out to be a Christian.  I don’t think non-Christians realize how much worse their lives would be if it weren’t for the Christian doctors, lawyers, fast food managers, teachers, check-out girls, and real estate brokers that are seeded through our society like raisins in stale bread.

My doctor was one such Christian.  When he came to check on me before the operation, unlike the head anesthetist, he asked if there was anything I wanted to know.  He slid the hat back out of my eyes so I could see, and smoothed my forehead.  I told him I was nervous because no one had explained what would happen with the anesthesia.  I had seen the nurse in charge of me slip a loaded syringe in her pocket, but she didn’t say what it was, or what she intended to do with it.  This doctor, this busy man, got down on his knees beside my bed, and explained it to me.  He described the drugs and when they would be administered.  He told me for the first time that I would be intubated to keep air from building up in my stomach during the procedure, but that it would be removed before I woke up.  (No one ever told me I would be catherterized.  I wouldn’t have found out at all if I hadn’t vaguely heard the nurses noting it down in their charts as I came awake freezing and struggling in the recovery room.)

He didn’t mention the clear drug in the nurse’s pocket, and seemed quite surprised when they wheeled me into surgery, to find that she had given it to me.  “Just something to relax her,” the lady had chirped.  His forehead wrinkled up a little concernedly.  I think he and I both thought that was probably unnecessary.  I had been quite quiet and calm already.  I made a little joke, “I suppose it was to keep me from up and bolting when I saw all this machinery!”

The lights alone in the room looked like a small fleet of flying saucers tethered to the ceiling.  There were giant robotic machines that looked as if they could do surgery independently, and indeed, the doctor began describing the uses of one of them to distract me as we went through the indignity of transferring my wired and tubed body to the surgery table.  I was listening to what he was saying when his face changed to a frown of irritation.  I caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of my eye, a flash of familiar bright head covering,  and I blacked out.  Without warning me or waiting on the doctor’s approval, the lovely nurse anesthesiologist had doped me again.

The rest of my treatment was a blur of drug haze.  I faded in and out, always finding Neal there close to me, holding my hand, holding my drink, reading his book.  I know at least once I faded out in the middle of speaking.  My belly felt like I had been attacked by wasps.  The drug they gave me to help with the pain, on top of the morphine, on top of the knock out drugs, on top of the relaxer, made me see things whenever I closed my eyes.  I was having mild hallucinations about garden gnomes and pumpkins ripe and buried in sawdust.  I wandered up and down forest pathways.  When my eyes were open, I watched the second hand of the clock quite interestedly.  It was as good as many of the TV shows I’ve seen.  Excellent plot.

When I was a little more coherent, I managed to persuade Neal to leave me and get some food in the hospital cafeteria.  He found to his dismay that they only took cash, and was only able to afford an unspiced turkey burger and a drink, but he came back happier.  It had been almost eight hours since he’d eaten, and though he claimed he wasn’t hungry, I think the fact that he’d eaten half of my crackers showed something.  He doesn’t even like graham crackers.  But it was good window dressing for the nurses.  My mouth was so dry I couldn’t even swallow the crackers.  It was like spackle, sticking to all the crannies of my upper palate.  Even the ginger ale tasted dry, not like real water at all.  Like Alice my feet felt about a hundred feet away.  My hair had worked out of its braid, probably during my shivering fight in post-op.  The nurses said I was shaking so hard they could hardly control me.  They heaped me in heated blankets (the best thing about the hospital as far as I could see) and when I arrived at the room, Neal turned the room temp up to 80 until I thawed out.

And now I am back home, recovering on my third day.  The children are off at a friend’s, and I am considering putting on something other than pajamas today.  Woo-hoo!  Small graces, small mercies.  Thank you, every one of you, who prayed.





Silver linings

4 09 2009

Well, I guess it’s official enough to be talked about now: my mother has separated from my father and gone home to Ohio.

I was trying to calculate how long they’ve been married, but I’m not quite sure.  My sister would know.  She’s the official family records keeper and always knows how old I am even when I’ve forgotten!

Mom & dad married a year after dad returned from Vietnam.  He went to college and got an engineering degree before they started their family, so I’m guessing they were married about five years before they had me.  I’m now 36 (unless I’ve dropped a stitch- I’ve done that before.  I was accidentally 33 two years in a row), so I think they’ve been married over 40 years.

There’s always a lot of negative things about a separation or divorce.  But from my perspective, there is one good thing about this situation.  For years and years I’ve longed to have a conversation with my parents about issues.  I’ve wanted to talk about something deeper than the surface.  I’ve wanted to talk about feelings & perceptions & all those other gooey emotional things.  And in the past two days I’ve had no less than three conversations with my folks!

I know this stinks, and it’s probably tasteless of me to be enjoying any part of it, but I must admit this is a great relief.  It feels wonderful to have some of this stuff out in the open where it can be talked about.  Somebody finally took the table cloth off the elephant and said, “Wow!  There’s an elephant in the room!  How long has that been here???”  (Coni- I bet you know what I’m talking about.)

I’ve been praying for my parents for years.  I don’t know what’s going to happen next any more than they do.  But I have hope that God is going to use this shaking up to begin some good changes in our family.  May he reach out and touch each member of my family in the way that would be best for them.  May he give them the gift of repentance, draw them to his loving, forgiving, cleansing heart, and show them his salvation.





I feel really sad

2 09 2009

I feel really sad today, but I can’t tell you why.  The last time was because my best friend died, two months ago.  I couldn’t talk about it on something as public as a blog.

No one died this time, but something important to my family is dying.  Nothing will be the same.  Maybe it will eventually be better, but right now,

well,

I’m just really sad.





Hardee’s

28 08 2009

After my oh-so-exciting consultation with my new doctor, I took the baby sitter home.  Driving back through town I realized that it was nearly 2:30 and I hadn’t had anything to eat since six a.m., so I drove through a Hardee’s drive-thru and got a mushroom swiss burger, curly fries and a coke.  Driving home, those curly fries brought back so many memories!

I worked at Hardee’s during my first year away from home.  I especially liked working opening shift.  My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. (or 0-dark-thirty as my boyfriend used to say).  I would sort of fall into the shower and into my clothes before my body had time to protest.  The walk to work was the best part of my day.  Every day I saw the sun come up.  I heard the birds wake up.  The sky was deep blue pearling to gray.  Campus was impossibly quiet.  A few lone cars hissed softly by.  One man in his pajamas would wave, out in the yard walking his dog.

In the restaurant, the biscuit lady was making biscuits in a big plastic bowl.  She kneaded the lard into the flour mixture with her hands, pressing and leaning rythmically and talking to one of the prep cooks.  No one moved fast in the morning.  I made tea and coffee, pouring pots of hot tea and sugar mix into the dispenser and filling it with water.  The floors were damp and squeaky with a new mopping.  The manager walked around muttering to himself and making last minute changes on the time sheets.

At a quarter to six I opened my register.  On the best days I had the drive-thru.  Working drive-thru is more difficult because everyone is in a hurry and if things don’t go well, you’re to blame.  But it’s also more challenging.  I loved it.  Days flew by when I was on window.  I adjusted the headset over my visor and clipped the speaker button to my belt, and opened the window to breathe in the morning.

The first hour was usually truckers.  Truckers and yard men are extraordinarily polite.  Business men look at you like you’re a bug and don’t even stop talking on their cell phones long enough to say thank you, but truckers like a friendly face and a nice smile with their biscuits.  They always had something nice to say to me.

I think the worst thing I ever did while working with Hardee’s I did to two yard men.  They ordered a big lunch, probably for their whole crew, and paid me with a fifty.  When you’re working window, you’re not just preparing one order, you’re preparing five or six.  You have the tickets laid out on the counter, you put in the special orders, make sure the fries aren’t running out, pull the drinks and set them by the right tickets, lay out napkins and straws, take money, check the fries, bag an order, serve an order, take money and take a new order, make a milk shake, take more money, make change, bag an order, give extra ketchup, take another order…  It can get very confusing.  On this particular day we were impossibly slammed, not only in the drive-thru, but also in the dining room so no one was free to help me.  When I handed the lawn guys their order and said, “Have a nice day!” they just stared at me.    “What?” I asked.  “What about our change?” the driver asked politely, “I paid with a fifty and you haven’t given me my change.”

I froze in panic.  I stared at my drawer.  With the clock ticking and people piling up in line I could not, for the life of me, remember if I had handed out their change or not.  I thought I had.  I could almost remember it.  It was a lot of money, nearly $30.  If they were bluffing me (and people did all the time) the discrepancy would come out of my check and I would automatically be put on probation for losing an amount greater than $2.  I was horror struck.  “I gave you your change,” I said weakly.  “No you didn’t,” the man said very positively.  The shift manager came over to find out why nothing was moving.  The shift manager, a thin, bitter woman who had worked there for God only knows how long, hated me.  “Give the man his money,” she snapped.  “I swear I paid him!” I cried.

The big man, the boss, was a tall, gentle black man who was always very polite and kind to me.  He came out of the dinky little office when he heard voices raised.  He looked at me very seriously and said, “Did you give them their change?”  I burst into tears and said, “I don’t know!  I can’t remember!”  Those two guys in the truck had to pull over in the parking lot and wait while my register was closed down, the totals printed, and my entire drawer counted out.  Another girl pulled her drawer and took my place while I was counting my money under the eagle eyes of the owner.  It came out exactly their thirty-something dollars over.  I was completely humiliated, but the owner only patted my shoulder and took the money out to the men.  He never said another thing about it.

I had another run-in with the shift manager not long afterward.  There was a particularly charming old woman who was one of my favorite customers.  She came in frequently, and I always loved to have her in my line because she was so cheerful.  She liked a bit of a chat while she was ordering, and she always ordered the same thing: a plain cheeseburger with a small fry and a senior drink.  One day, as she stood studying the menu, pink-cheeked, adorable, and clutching her big green umbrella, she said, “I think I want to try something new today.”  This was an Event of Some Importance.  I stood ready to suit her slightest whim.   “Oh, I wish I could see them before I order them,” she fretted, “What if I buy it and don’t like it?”  It was essential, I knew, not to waste this meal.  This was not a question of throwing something out and re-ordering if it didn’t suit.  There was only one chance of getting it right, or the meal would be lost until tomorrow.  Maybe it was her only meal of the day; I had no way of knowing.

“I could let you see,” I offered.  “Could you?” she gasped.  “Sure!”  Angela, hero of the Hardee’s franchise, cavalierly grabbed a small delux burger from the waiting line-up and opened the foil wrapper so she could see.  I honestly thought I had touched the burger only with the paper.  She looked at it and was pleased, but she wasn’t quite sure whether she wanted that one or another one, so I re-wrapped the sandwich and put it back in line.  Immediately the shift manager swooped down on me and grabbed it.  She held it up like a dead rat and yelled back at the kitchen guys, “Look at this!  Angela just WASTED this burger.”  She dinged the bell and left it sitting on the special order ledge, then glared at me like I’d swiped sixty bucks from my register.

“How did I waste it?” I protested, “I never touched it.”  “Yes, you did,” she hissed, “I SAW you.”  I didn’t touch it, I argued, more loudly.  I was turning beet red in front of my customer.  She shook her head sadly, miserable that her pitiful little desires had been the source of this scene.  The shift manager pushed her face right up against mine, her black eyes gleaming, and she put every ounce of cruelty into her words that she possibly could, “Oh, I would like to SLAP YOUR FACE OFF,” she spat, then whirled and marched into the back.

“Oh, I am sorry.  I am so sorry,” my lady pleaded.  “It’s not your fault,” I said, wiping the tears from my eyes, “but I didn’t touch it, did I?”  “No, of course not!” she said firmly.  She bought one of the new burgers and went off to enjoy it, her back held straight and her umbrella clutched firmly under her arm.  Through the whole shift the manager went around hissing, “Wasted!” at my back and talking (loudly) to the other girls about how deceitful I was and how I lied about everything and how much she hated me.  By the end of the shift, I had had it.  I went to the boss and told him I quit.

The manager’s office was just barely large enough for a steel teacher’s desk and a chair in it.  There were dot matrix print outs all over the walls with our shifts and profit numbers and other random information mounted all over the walls with push-pins stuck straight into the drywall.  The owner had to unfold himself to get up from his desk without banging the chair into the wall.  But he did.  He got up immediately and pulled me back into the cooler room, which was where anyone went for a quite talk.  The lettuce, althought interested, never repeated anything it heard.  “Now, what’s the problem,” he asked seriously.  I poured out the torrid story of the “wasted” hamburger and told him that I had only put it back to keep it warm, I really thought she would buy it, I never touched it with my hands, etc.  He listened for a while, then said, “The problem is, they resent you.”

“What?”  I was completely knocked off balance.  “Yes,” he insisted, “They resent you because you get more hours than they do.  You’re reliable, you’re on time, you don’t miss work, and so you get more hours than they do.  Don’t quit.”  “Ok,” I breathed, nearly breathless to find out that this man gave me extra hours and hard shifts because he liked my work.  “And don’t worry about the manager, I’ll talk to her,” he promised.  Which he did, but she still hated me, and I don’t think it was because of how many hours I worked, either.  With her, it was always something personal.  The owner’s approval draped around my shoulders like an iron shield, though,  and there wasn’t much she could do about it except whisper, “wasted” once in a while when no one else was around.

Her hissed insinuations were even harder to take because, when I went home that night and calmed down, I remembered that I had touched the burger with my hands.  I was wrong.  She was right.





My list

27 08 2009

My sister forwarded me a list of rules to live by.  They inspired me to make my own list.  So this is my list of things to do to drag my self-esteem up out of the gutter and start being a happier, more cheerful person.  I realize that, to the outside observer, some of these may seem selfish.  Well, it is possible to be out of balance by being unselfish, too.  If you’re addicted to people pleasing, maybe the only thing to do is to declare independence and be people-displeasing for a while.  At least  until I get the hang of being my own person again.

1) Life is too short to spend listening to people who make me feel bad about myself. If I’m going to develop some self esteem, I need to separate (for a time at least) from people that make me feel like a rotten, horrible person. I’ve spent too many years trying to make everyone like me. It’s time to start liking myself.

2) I am ok, I am sane, I am grateful, I am thoughtful, I am loving, and I am in control of myself and my life. I’m going to keep repeating this until I believe it.

3) Once I really start to believe that I am a good person, maybe my mother won’t be able to upset me so much. I’ve got to stop letting her judgement of me make me doubt myself, my motives, or my sanity. I really do love her. I would like to have a relationship with her. I have forgiven her for the past. If I can start believing in myself, maybe we’ll be ok even if she never changes the way she acts towards me.

4) I’m not going looking for any more friends. Sort of like guys. When I was dating, I didn’t go looking for guys, because I much prefer to deal with men who adore me instead of the other way around. I’ve tried too hard to “be a friend” to people, hoping they would be a friend to me. I’m going to try to start just enjoying my life alone, with my husband and kids, and trust that God will bring some good friends into my life. People I don’t have to chase and serve and appease and agree with all the time. Somehow, my dear sister learned how to make women friends better than I did. I’m still learning. Hopefully if I can learn to be satisfied with my life, people will be attracted to me, and even if they aren’t, I’ll still be happy, right?

5) I am going to stop trying to “save” people. I am not a super hero.

6) I am going to take the advice of the stewardess and put my own air mask on first. I cannot be a good wife, mother, sister, friend, or daughter until I start taking care of myself first. I can’t take care of everybody else and then get upset if they don’t appreciate me properly. I don’t need the whole pie, but I do think I need to serve myself a bigger slice.  (Incidentally, I wish my mother could learn this lesson, too.)

7) I am going to stop being afraid that I’m turning into my mom or my grandma. Somehow. And stop being afraid of being alone. Or of failing. Or of having our house broke into by psychotic killer sex fiends. Or that God is going to punish me if I don’t do the right things. Or that Neal will die early and leave me to raise the kids alone with no job skills. Heck, I’m just going to try and stop being afraid in general. Deep breaths.

8) I am going to stop judging myself by how much I weigh. Or how my house looks. Or how my kids behave. Or how much I accomplish. Like my wise sister said, I have to stop making so many comparisons and “flunking” myself in all of them. Life is not graded. I am not going to fail at it, no matter what I do.

9) I am going to stop lying to make other people happy.  I like to be pleasant and keep the peace, but I am letting myself be trampled too often, under the impression that it is the “Christian” thing to do.  I am tired of trying to keep my family and friends happy with me by faking being something other than what I am.  If people don’t like what I think, it’s a free country (for the moment).  They can disagree (politely), leave the room, or even move to Idaho if they want.  I have a right to my opinion, and I have a right not to be yelled at, mocked, or insulted because of it.  If they want to exercise their freedom to say insulting things, maybe I’ll try moving to Idaho.  I hear property is cheap up there.

10) I’m going to post this list on the wall of my room and read it until it sticks.  If you like it, feel free to borrow it, or make your own list.  If you do, send me a link!