Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Irony of Well-Intended Disobedience

"So, if you think 
you are standing firm, 
be careful that you don't fall!" 
~ 1 Corinthians 10:12

I've long wondered about Eve.  Her heart.  The deceit.  That first bite.  Her sin - the original sin...

But Why?

What was it about the fruit, or the serpant, or the cool breeze in the garden that was compelling enough to make her cross that rigid line of obedience into the realm of brokenness?   

I've heard much teaching on Eve and the source of her disobedience.  "It was discontentment."  "Greed."  "Lust."  "Pride."  "Selfishness", I've been told.  But how would these sins have entered her heart?  In an infant Earth, still gleaming with newness; not yet marred with the ugly stains of sin, how (or why) would Eve's heart have been drawn to the evil of disobedience?

I began to wonder....could her disobedience have been well-intentioned?  'Well-intentioned disobedience' may seem unlikely, if not impossible, at first glance. Sort of an oxymoron.  But consider this:

The mother of a 5-year-old child has instructed her daughter countless times over the years
that she should never, ever, under any circumstances get into a vehicle with a stranger.  The
child is mature, bright, responsible, trustworthy, and obedient for her age.  The mother feels
confident that if her daughter were ever to be approached by a stranger that she would yell
and scream for help.  And that there is no chance the child would willingly get into a vehicle
with the stranger.  

One day, as the child is waiting to be picked up from school, a strange man approaches her.
He calls her by name and says, "Your mommy sent me to pick you up today.  You see, she's 
been in a vehicle accident, and I'm from the hospital.  She can't come and get you because
she's been hurt.  But I came to pick you up to take you to her.  She told me that she has
instructed you to never get into a vehicle with a stranger, so you might be hesitant to get in
my car, but she said I should tell you that in this instance it is okay to come with me, so that I can 
take you to her.

The child is young, innocent, new to the world.  She trusts and desires to obey her mother.  But now she's been confronted with a form of deceit that tells her that obedience has now changed to appear like disobedience, in a sense.  The evil in this scenario is appealing to the child's desire to obey her mother, while also exploiting her innocence; her inability to process through the concepts that deceit can take some very clever forms.  That disobedience in any form, for any reason, is still disobedience.  And that there is evil in this world that desires to harm her.  She has been tricked.

The child innocently and without hesitation, concerned only for her mother, and not fully aware that this is still, in fact, an act of disobedience, gets into the vehicle with the stranger and they drive away...  

Is this still disobedience?

Yes!  When your ultimate authority gives a clear directive with no stated exceptions, any deviation from that directive, for any reason whatsoever, no matter how innocent, is disobedience.

Are the consequences diminished or lessened because her disobedience was a mistake and not necessarily an act of rebellion?  

No, of course not!  When the directive was established for the child's protection (to prevent her from getting into a car with a child abductor), and she, in her innocence, falls for his deception, the resulting consequences will be no different than if she had disobeyed in overt rebellion.

Are her consequences a punishment doled out by her mother, or simply the 'natural consequences' of her poor, albeit innocent, choices?

The directive was established to keep the child safe.  Deviation from that directive resulted in the natural consequences that the mother was attempting to protect her child from.  The consequence in this instance is not a punishment, meant to teach or train, but simply the evil the mother had hoped to avoid.

Isn't it similar with God, Eve, and Adam?  Before the fall, there was one singular command: not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17) Just one.  There was no need for any additional commands - sin had not entered the world yet.  Adam and Eve did not need to be told not to murder, or lie, or lust.  They did not need to be warned of the dangers of pride, or greed, or gluttony.  None of those things were yet a part of our world, or their hearts. They didn't need to be reminded to 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only' (Deuteronomy 6:13), that is what they were created for and they did it perfectly, probably effortlessly.  God placed one restriction in their world, thereby granting them free-will.  And with that one restriction he placed one, singular command.  A command, it's worth noting, that is not related to any specific sin as we know and understand sin in the post-fallen world.  A command just meant to keep them, and the rest of the earth, safe from sin and brokenness, and to test their faithfulness.  

They honored that command perfectly until the day the serpent shows up.  We get no indication from the text that Eve was tempted by the fruit prior to the serpent.  The text does not paint a picture of an evil woman salivating over the fruit, battling with the temptation and the desires of her flesh. Would the act of sinning have been a temptation in a world free from sin??

In a sinless world, what was it that compelled Eve to disobey her loving Father?  When I open the text, I feel as though I can get a glimpse of her heart in these verses:

" 'For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."  Genesis 3:5-6a

I don't think her desire here is for sin, or even for the fruit itself, but for God alone!  The deception of the serpent was that having the knowledge of good and evil would bring her even closer to her God (" will be like God", Genesis 3:5).  When she saw that it was "desirable for gaining wisdom" (Genesis 3:6), she ate!  Wisdom is good.  In fact, we are encouraged to ask God for wisdom later in scripture (James 1:5).  Could Eve have   l o s t   s i g h t   of the command in her zeal to be   f a i t h f u l   to God?   I know it's kind of a crazy thought.  And one not widely considered, but...

When I look at Eve, I don't see any of the very ugly sins that hide in the hearts of post-fallen man.  I see an innocent, well-intentioned disobedience that rendered the exact same natural consequence as a rebellious disobedience would have rendered.  I see a scheme the evil one used several times throughout the Bible on well-intentioned individuals, and most definitely still utilizes today.

In 1 Samuel 10:8 Saul is instructed to wait 7 days for Samuel to come and offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.  But in 1 Samuel 7-14 we see that by the seventh day Samuel still had not come, so Saul felt the need to take things into his own hands and offer the sacrifices himself.  In 1 Samuel 13:12 Saul says to Samuel, "I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."   Well intentioned??  Samuel replies in verse 13: " ' You have done a foolish thing...You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.' "  ...But not free from consequence.

In 1 Chronicles 13:9b-10 we read: "Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled.  The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark.  So he died there before God."  Was this an act of defiant rebellion, or well-intentioned to   h o n o r   God?

'The Man of God from Judah' in 1 Kings 13:1-25 was extremely faithful to God, withstanding various temptations in order to honor God's command to him.  But then he was deceived by an old prophet into disobeying the command that he had held firmly to in the face of temptation, and he suffered the consequences. Where temptation failed at causing him to stumble, deceit succeeded. 

Was Eve the sinful, dissatisfied woman that we so often like to make her out to be?  Or was she just truly, innocently deceived?  And what do we learn from this?  That Satan can and will try to deceive us - we knew that already.  But that deception can be murkier and look a lot more confusing than just false doctrine, the Bible shows us that sometimes we miss this.  And when we're unaware of Satan's schemes, that's when they become most effective.  Deception can look very, very righteous.  We must remember, that when it comes to God, the ends (of righteousness) never justify the means (of disobedience).  A command of God is a command to be kept.  Always.  There is simply no room for human reasoning.  

Just like I instruct my children to never, ever get into a car with a stranger, "...even if they tell you that Mommy said so."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why I'll Never Scold My Child Again For Saying She Doesn't Like Me

The first time I heard the inevitable words that every parent dreads, my daughter was just 4 years old.  I don't even remember what the disagreement was about, but most likely she wanted to do something that I would not allow her to do (such as flushing marbles down the toilet, or cutting her brother's hair).  As I turned to leave the room, I heard her mumble, "I don't like you."  I spun around.  The words were shocking because they came from someone so small.  I expected this out of the teenage years.  But already?  As her words continued to pierce through the most tender place of my heart - the place from which I held... and nursed... and cared for... and gave EVERYTHING I HAD to my babies,  I felt anger start to bubble up from the fresh wound.  Fueled by the sting I felt, rather than grace, I spat back at her, "Don't you ever speak to me like that again!"  Her grief was immediate and raw. "I'm sorry, Mommy," she begged as tears fell down her perfect little cheeks. She wrapped her tiny arms around my waist, desperate for me to offer her my forgiveness.

But here's the thing...I was so very wrong that day.  This realization was pretty instant.  And I knew that the only way to make this situation better was to ask her to forgive me, while reassuring her that she is always completely entitled to her feelings and opinions - even if they are painful to me.

And it's funny, because she taught me about being a grown-up that day (the way kids so very often do).  She taught me that feelings do not always have their feet planted in reality.  They can be so fickle and phony, changing course like the wind - based off of nothing more than c i r c u m s t a n c e...or hormones...or just a bad night's sleep... And too often they are rooted far deeper in selfishness than we realize - or perhaps, just that we're willing to admit.  Emotions are real.  They are raw.  They are powerful.  But they are not always genuine.  Somewhere in our romanticised 'follow your heart' culture, we (generally) started putting absolute faith in our feelings.  That's not only wrong, it's downright dangerous. But the answer here isn't to train up our children to not have certain thoughts or feelings.  It's about teaching them what to do with those thoughts and feelings when they come.  How to sort through the rationality of their emotional experiences and how to make strong and healthy choices with that insight.  Not to scold my child for feeling as though she doesn't like me, but to have her acknowledge those feelings, express them in a respectful way (which she did), and work through them.  

But  before I can start training my children to have a healthy relationship with emotions, maybe I first need to cultivate a healthy understanding within myself.  What my child said to me that day was hurtful and made me feel angry...but was not  w r o n g.  (Even when my own pain and anger made me feel certain that it was.)

There comes a time in our lives when the emotions become much bigger than 'not liking mom because she wouldn't let me fingerpaint the cat' or the deep, deep sadness that results from having to turn off Little Einsteins. There comes a time when the emotions become so big, the force of them so driving that we must have the skill and the insight to manage them properly.  If I don't allow my children to have their feelings when they are little, how will they ever learn how to manage them when they're older?

And what about me...?  Where do my shortcomings fall in all of this?

Well...I guess I have a Father in heaven who uses my babies to teach me the things that I still need to learn....

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Pieces Of My Heart

Today I learned firsthand that, as the dust and debris are yet settling in the immediate wake of a vehicle accident, the very first thing a mother will do is to turn around to simply see her babies.  And if, b y   t h e   g r a c e   o f   G o d, they are healthy and whole, a mother will mentally take stock of all that is of real value to her - taking inventory of her family, one by one, as if counting precious diamonds in her hand.

And I realized in the hours following our accident that I need to hold my babies this dear to my heart everyday.  That, m a y b e, the only thing that can hold the pieces of a mama's heart together are the innocent arms of a little one - (even when she's just plain certain they are the very reason she's been falling apart in the first place).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Celebrating Life on September 11th

Three years ago on September 11th I was 9 months pregnant with my third child.  In the weeks leading up to her birth, I feared - and even dreaded - that I would go into labor just four days early, thereby giving her a birth date of 9/11.  As I struggled to make peace with this possibility before it could become a reality, I came to find the idea of giving birth to new life on the anniversary of such death and destruction to be a   s t r a n g e l y   b e a u t i f u l   p a r a d o x

Knowing that if I were to give birth to this child on September 11th, there would be so much that my heart needed to say, but no time or energy with which to say it, I wrote - in the days before September 11th, 2012 -  what you're about to read, AS IF she had already been born and AS THOUGH her birth date were, in fact, 9/11.

September 11th came and went that year.  And when, on September 12th, I found myself to be still pregnant...I was profoundly disappointed.  You my heart struggled to make sense of this idea - and then as I wrote the words you will read below, I realized that there could be nothing more beautiful...or powerful...than to bring forth new life on the anniversary of such hate and darkness.

Since the child that I wrote this piece about was NOT born on September 11th, 
I dedicate the following to all the children that have been born into a post-9/11 world
 and even more so, to the children that are blessed...
and cursed...
to share this date with history. 

I also dedicate this to our fellow military families, 
who serve every moment of every day,
 (and in some of those moments, quite honestly, need some help remembering 'why'.)  
I'm there, myself...too often.  

And finally, I dedicate this to all the hearts that are hurting today, 
because they lost someone they dearly loved 14 years ago.  
Yours was the greatest sacrifice of all.  

There IS a hope for our future!


Our third child was due September 15th

I had hoped that she wouldn't decide to make her arrival 4 days early - on September 11th.

September 11th is a day that hangs H E A V Y with death and sadness. It's a day for remembering life, not celebrating it. Not a day for looking forward with hopes and dreams. But a day for looking back and remembering.

Alas, as everyone knows, babies don't cooperate.


Our baby girl was born on September 11th, 2012.


We named her Lily
A lily symbolizes innocence,  purity,  and beauty.

The day that was once only a somber anniversary has become - for our family - also a beautiful celebration of life.  And although I had hoped that our sweet, new child would not share her birthday with some of the most tragic memories in our nation's history, the stark contrast of joy and sadness that this day now represents to this military family is suddenly a beautiful reminder of why we serve.  He with his uniform and me and our children with our love and support... With our willingness to go with him when we can and to allow him to go alone when he must.

'Our  W I L L I N G N E S S  
to go with him when we can
And to allow him to go  
A L O N E  
when he must'

Lily's birth on this significant day reminds us that, although the 'looking back' is invaluable, the service to our country is always forward looking.  It's for the preservation of the hopes and dreams of this newest generation. Because when you look into the eyes of a small child you know all that is within them that is beautiful, innocent, and pure deserves a life free of fear and filled with
p o s s i b i l i t i e s...

Lily's birth on September 11th reminds us that the memories will always be raw and painful but there is a hope for the future.  We can see that hope in the eyes of the smallest, most innocent among us.   And - as a military family - we serve our country with every breath we take for this great and innocent hope.

'The looking back is made complete 
in the looking forward'

Be encouraged this September 11th anniversary. And as we all experience the profound sadness that comes with watching the horrific memories on the television throughout the day, realize that the looking back is made complete in the looking forward.  A midst the ugliness, there is still a hope and a beauty in this world. And this hope and beauty is why we - and countless other military families -
S  E  R  V  E.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Finding Paradise... (and some sea turtles)

"We're moving to Hawaii."  Those words came in the form of a phone call.  My husband, calling to tell me that he'd spoken with the Detailer and he'd accepted the orders offered.  He didn't consult with me prior to accepting.  He didn't need to.  He had assumed that I would be elated.  And he was right.  8 months later, we stepped off a plane smack in the middle of our new island-home.  Our very first Hawaiian vacation was going to be a nice long one - 3 years, in fact.  I couldn't have been more excited!

The drive from the airport to our hotel was unassumingly monumental.  Like a breath.  Or the period between two sentences.  We traveled straight through, what I later discovered to be, the most beautiful part of the island.  Our first drive down H3 towards our hotel was so spectacularly breathtaking that I thought for an instant we must have accidentally boarded a space-shuttle instead of an airplane and landed on a planet far more mysterious and mystical than our own.  The mountains stood so tall.  The clouds so low.  The colors so unnaturally vibrant.  It was all so very real yet so indescribably overwhelming that my senses seemed to crumble beneath the intensity of its real-ness.  I couldn't fully absorb what I was seeing.  I was disoriented just trying to take it all in.  It was ethereal and amazing.  My heart swelled with joy and excitement at the adventure that lie before us.

That afternoon, my children chased ducks and geckos in the backyard.  They marveled at this idea of water falling from the sky (we last lived in Monterey, California...where it might have rained twice in the two years we lived there) and splashed in puddles like they'd only read about in children's books.  My husband put his arms around me as we watched the children playing - the sound of waves crashing in the distance.  Here we are.  Home.  Paradise.

Paradise.  I honestly didn't know that Hawaii's nickname is Paradise before I moved here.  But it was one of the very first things I learned - like 'haole' and 'slippers' and 'Shave Ice'.  Like a password for a secret club, as we made our way towards baggage claim in the airport, I heard countless vacationers uttering the word 'paradise'.  And in the 7 months that we've lived here since, I have heard (or over-heard) the word paradise almost daily. Along with the sentiment, "You are so lucky to live here!"  Yes.  Yes, we are.

But here's the thing:  we're 7 months into our Hawaii life and, in this short time, I have discovered that it's not paradise.  Not really.  Oh, it's pretty.  Beautiful, even.  Of course, it's warm all year yet deliciously crisp and cool at night.  The ocean is blue as blue could possibly be...not to mention only a 5 or 10 minute drive from our house.  But the warm can quickly turn suffocating and sticky, and when the clouds roll in (as they too often do) the ocean somehow loses its blue...and even a 5 minute drive feels like a lifetime when the baby is screaming...and beautiful beach days always mean that there won't be any parking spaces......

"Paradise isn't a place, 
i  t ' s   a   s t a t e   o f   t h e   h e a r t"

So I've been forced to grapple with this idea of 'paradise'.  And I've realized that paradise isn't a place, it's a state of the heart. When people tell me how lucky I am and how much they yearn to live here, what they really mean is that they yearn to live in some endless state of vacation.  I think that's sort of how I imagined Hawaii before we moved here.  But I've learned that, good or bad, life is always there.  Life doesn't 'follow' or 'not follow' me around the world.  Life is within me.  Life hasn't stopped because we live in Paradise.  Believe me, paradise is just full of flat tires, cranky kids, dirty laundry, pesty insects...heck even our bills managed to find our new address in Paradise.  It's all here...same as in California, or Georgia, or Virginia before that.  Sure we get a few more beach days every year (okay, okay, every week...) but we come home from the beach with a car filled with sand, cranky and sun-burned kids, dinner to prepare, and a bigger mountain of beach towels to wash than you ever dreamed possible.

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining.  We're so grateful for our opportunity to live in this beautiful part of the world.  We're grateful for the adventures, for the memories...

And for that 
tropical sunshine.
(even when it's shining through very dirty windows)

But when our time here is up, I think we'll be ready to leave. And when life inevitably follows us to our next destination, I hope that destination is simply 'home' with our families.  That's the truest Paradise of all.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Marriage Waltz

When two people perform the Waltz together it can be magnificent.  A true art.  But it can also be a clumsy disaster.  For the Waltz to be executed flawlessly there must be a "Lead" and a "Follow".  If both partners choose to lead or both to follow, they will stumble and clash awkwardly throughout the number.  But...if both partners know their roles the results can be breathtaking.

Marriage is an art; a dance that people of all cultures, countries, and communities have engaged in, in some form or capacity, since the beginning of time.  Sometimes the journey is painful and awkward and sometimes it's flawless.

There is a gross misunderstanding in our culture that seems to state that it is shameful to be submissive.  Au contraire!  Nothing could be further from the truth! The one who leads is not greater than the one who submits.  They are simply different.  And within their different identities, they must work perfectly alongside each other.  The irony is that the greatest indicator of a person's success will be in the other partner: the husband's talents will be made evident by the 'performance' of his wife and the wife's abilities will be made evident by the success of her husband.  If a husband seeks to build himself up by making his wife look incapable, he himself is revealed to be incapable of leading, and vice versa.

A true leader doesn't aspire to greatness alone but seeks to share greatness with the one he leads. Does not the dance partner display as much talent and receive as much praise as the Lead?  And does not the Lead share the dance equally with her, knowing that without her the dance is wholly incomplete?

So what does this look like?
A healthy leadership/subservient model in marriage is not a blanket that covers the marriage, but more of a subtle current upon which the marriage rides.  Not the face of the marriage, but the backbone.  It's subtle.  Underlying.  It's the strength of the marriage, not the defining characteristic.  It's the, almost hidden, foundational principal upon which a lifetime of love, admiration, respect, joy, and beauty are all built.  The roles are delicate and gentle, obvious only to the couple themselves.  The outside world may catch glimpses of the husband's leadership or the wife's submission from time to time, but the couple's defining characteristics will be respect, love.....harmony.

In contrast to this description, an unhealthy leadership/subservient based marriage will be much more obviously defined by one partner of power and one of submission.  If it's obvious to people outside of the marriage relationship that the couple models these rolls, than more than likely, one of the partner's in the marriage is domineering.  If the marriage contains a domineering partner, he/she has already stepped outside of the Biblical view of marriage.

My act of submission to my husband is never about him.  It is always, only about me.  What I mean by that is, my husband has never demanded that I submit to him.  In the heat of an argument or disagreement, he has never said, "I'm your husband, I make the decisions!"  On our wedding day, I vowed to honor and submit to my husband.  When I make the choice to honor my wedding vows and submit to him, it's just choice.  God granted husband's a love-based headship over their families.  He did not grant them absolute, domineering authority over their families.  My husband never makes me submit.  Never attempts to use guilt or coercive reminders. My submission to him is between me and God alone.

How does it work?
The 'How' will look vastly different in each marriage.  Each unique couple needs to find their own way of implementing these roles.  I can't give you a formula for how this works, but I can tell you how it works in my marriage.  I am a strong-willed woman.  I want my own way.  Every Time.  It's just the way I am, so naturally, submission does not come easily to me.  After nearly a decade of marriage, submission looks different for me now than it did when we were newly-weds.

In the beginning, I exercised submission only in the 'big things'.  We argued constantly.  All the time.  About everything.  Both of us willing to fight to the death on any subject, from where to put the couch, to where to go for dinner, to how warm to keep the thermostat.  But having been raised to understand the value of a wife's role of submission (and subsequently, the value of the husband's role of leadership), I, however difficult, would (eventually) submit on the 'big things' (i.e. Do we start a family now, or wait?  Should we buy a house or rent? etc.), while still always fighting to the bitter end on 'small things'.

Over the years, however, we've fine-tuned our 'dance' tremendously.  Now, I submit more easily to smaller issues.  But he also is less hasty to take a stand than he once was.  When we discuss our differing points of views on a subject, he's more likely to let me have my way than he was 10 years ago.  You could maybe even say that he actually chooses to submit to me.  He does this a lot these days.  Probably more than 75% of the time, he lets me have my way.  But when he does take a stand, I know that even a 'small thing' has suddenly become a 'big thing' and, no matter how strongly I disagree, I choose to respect his authority in those moments.  Knowing that I will submit to his decisions has, over the years, made him far more discerning about what issues he will take a stand on.  And this fine-tuning, this understanding that we've developed for each other, has become the roots to the forest of respect and harmony that we've cultivated.

Let's make it really concrete with two examples.  The first will be a 'small thing' - just a silly argument that could crop up at any time.  The second will be a 'big thing'.

1.  The 'Small Thing' -  It's Friday night and neither of us feel like cooking, so we decide to go out for dinner.  My husband loves Chinese Buffets, and would chose to go to one every time we go out for dinner, if I didn't clearly voice my opinion about it.  I don't really care for Chinese Buffets, I'd rather get Chinese take-out...but what I really want is Italian.  We argue back and forth for a bit and he doesn't back down.  So I say (rather heated), 'Dude!  Why does it always gotta be about you?!"  At this point, one of two things happens...  99% of the time, I get my way ;)  But let's suppose that he's having a bad day and he snaps back, "Look!  I had a rough week.  I make the money.  I want to go to the Chinese Buffet.  Period." (Note, again, my husband never plays the 'husband card').  At this point, a little thing has become a big thing and I will choose to submit.  Will I say to him, "Are you kidding me!?  I had a rough week too!  You try being home with 3 kids by yourself all week!"? You bet I will!  (I have not yet learned the art of controlling my tongue. ha!).  Then I make the decision that will set the tone for the rest of the night.  I will either stew about his attitude and my submission, and ruin our evening.  Or I will (on days marked by grace), realize that I made the choice to submit to him, and cover him with grace by understanding that he's just in a bad mood (it happens to me too.  Shocking, right!?) and choose to have a good attitude throughout dinner.  The latter usually results in an apology from him later in the evening after the kids are in bed.  And then he dotes on me the whole next day.  Win!

2.  The 'Big Thing' - We have the opportunity to invest a large sum of money into something that I really believe in.  My husband....does not.  I present this opportunity to him and his immediate response is, "No."

"But wait" I say, "just hear me out.  I think this is really important."  We sit and talk about the pros and cons for 2 hours.  We just don't see eye to eye on this. It might even get a little heated.  But I know that my input is valuable to him and I know he's listening to my arguments.  Probably 65% of the time he will end up agreeing with me or, at the very least, decide to humor me.  But if he still feels strongly enough about it to say "No."  I choose to submit to his leadership.

My voice is rarely, if ever, not heard.  My opinion is always valued.  I am never the weaker partner, I simply choose to give him the authority.

Why does it work?
Why does it work between dance partners?

Because two people simply cannot live in such close proximity to one another and not have clearly defined roles.  Even between business partners, it is always recommended that one partner hold 51% of the business.  Although both partners have equal value, both cannot have equal authority.  It just won't work.

When I joyfully give that extra 2% authority over to my husband, we eliminate gridlocks without one partner feeling defeated.  He didn't win. I didn't lose....I chose to give him the final decision.  When he can predict, based off of history, that I will submit to him if he pushes an issue, he becomes more gentle and discerning about which issues he will push.  Knowing that I love and value him enough to submit to him, causes him to love me with more tenderness and appreciation.  And as his love for me becomes more perfect, the automatic response of my heart is to honor and value him more.  It's a beautiful, harmonious cycle of love, respect, value, and peace.  Instead of life issues dividing us, they strengthen us because we've learned how to dance together.  We've learned how to 'feed' love and respect to make them grow, instead of getting hung up on the things that have potential to divide us.

Remember the Waltzing Couple?
As we, together,  imagine this couple dancing...they know that one is the Lead and the other, the Follow.  But to the spectator, are they not so perfectly in sync that it's almost impossible to tell one body from the next, let alone the Lead from the Follow?  Yet, between themselves, they know that these roles exist.  And if they act within their positions, one following...understanding each other's hearts, dreams, attitudes, and goals, they will deliver the most spectacular performance the world has ever known.  Not a dance to music, but a dance from which the music flows.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Grandma's Attic

Today, a lifetime (and in many cases, several lifetimes) worth of memories were scattered. Things that defined my childhood. Things that defined my grandparents. Things so familiar from my very earliest days that even in my adulthood I never stopped to question them.  Why exactly was that creepy, bald doll always sitting in the corner?  Who keeps a 50 gallon copper kettle sitting in their living room?  How many generations have sat on that couch before me? What era was this carpet purchased in??? ( that last one actually did cross my mind a few times). But everything else?  everything else just was what it was supposed to be when I walked into Grandma's house.   I asked no questions. I needed no answers.  For the 31 years that I've been living (and presumably, for at least 31 years before that), Grandma's house simply "was".  Until today.

The farmhouse and estate are magnificent. Taken for granted as grandchildren, it wasn't until recently that I came to realize how obscure it was to talk about 'the pump house'  or the 'summer house', or to go look for something in the 'wash house'.  Grandma has a whopping 17 grandchildren, and I guarantee that not a-one of us ever noticed that Grandma's house was "vintage".  I doubt if she even noticed. 

In my childhood home things changed periodically. My family moved a few times. My mother would redecorate a room now and then. There was the normal and somewhat predictable ebb and flow of 'things'. But not at Grandma's house. Grandma's house remained largely the same year after year, decade after decade.  Even generation after generation.  Grandma's farm had received the century farm award (some 20 years ago). An award given to farms that have been in the same family for at least 100 years.  When my husband was deployed and I took my 18 month-old daughter and newborn son (I know! what were we thinking?!?!?) to stay in the old farmhouse (her home afforded us more space and more freedom than my mother's home and my mother-in-law's home combined), Grandma would pause her lawnwork long enough to make us lunch and tell us about how she and my Grandfather lived in that very living room for the first years of their marriage.  As we watched my 4 (!) week old roll over for the very first time atop her kitchen table, she would tell me that she used to lay her 5 babies atop that very same kitchen table while she washed dishes or tended to supper.  She would show me black and white photos of stoic subjects dressed in heavy, dark frocks sitting in the very same front lawn that my daughter was playing in. She would close the gap between me and what was, essentially, my ancestors. 

But today 400 people gathered inside the barn I once played hide and seek in (talk about scarier than The Blair Witch Project!) and placed bids on the thousands of items that are as familiar to me as the back of my hand.   And tonight as the things that I once could see, touch, hold, and even smell become things that exist only in my mind, I realize two things:

First:  The people we love are not defined by their things, or even by their surroundings.  My Grandmother will be the same woman tomorrow that she was yesterday.  The next time I see her, will be in different surroundings than I've ever seen her before, but she will continue to be defined by more Grace, beauty, and courage than I've ever seen in anybody.  We sometimes make the mistake of connecting memories to things (this is sentimentalism), but the truth is, the memories live in our minds.  The things are just excess.

Second:  As I think about her possessions scattered...all over Lancaster County, and as far as 6000 miles away (yes, my mom paid $140 for a box of doilies...for me!) I realize that we spend a lifetime collecting things... so that when we are 77 years old we can turn them over to a newer generation that's still collecting things.  Why?  Do the things give us value?  Do they define us?  I've already realized that they didn't define her.  We're defined by our peace, patience, trust, beauty...even by our ugliness, hatred, anger, or jealousy. But not by our ice boxes and domino sets.

In the end, when I'm 77, I want my Grandchildren to say that they love me not for my piano and china sets, but because my love is perfect, my spirit whole, and my Grace complete.  I love you, Grandma!