Scoff as you will, dear reader, at the dreams I had that persuaded me to undergo the knife. Once upon a time, I’d have said the same. What I expected and what I have gotten thus far are miles apart. For those of you disinclined to hit the link, at two months post-surgery, I should just be getting out of a pointed-toe cast and into a walking boot. Where am I? Oh, you know… chilling in shoes and going to physical therapy. Walking. I went to Target last Wednesday. By myself, even. (It was kind of a lot, and I had to sit down, but hello – walking!)
It’s not like I *just* asked Dr. Google. Oh no, my research included talking to a physical therapist, a pedorthist, and my two initial visits with my orthopedic surgeon. And yes, Dr. Google. Knock yourself out – “achilles tendon surgery” is what you’re looking for. Until my pre-op appointment, all information pointed due 4-6 months of containment. At pre-op, the doc told me that time would be much less… maybe. (This even though he did a bit more cutting – I had some seriously destroyed ligaments so they moved the anchor points around so the one that’s left is working overtime. I’m working the 360 scar surround effect).
And so here I am. Gobsmacked. Godsmacked? Yes. An exercise in faith-increase. Absolutely nothing that I had planned has gone as planned. *I screwed up my pillow purchasing for propping up my foot*. At that point, all hope of me being in control was incinerated. But I haven’t needed to be. Everything is going along as God wants it to go. (Aka well – but not according to Hearthie’s list of preferences).
I’m just over here, wandering around. God’s got this. I don’t. He’s going somewhere good… and I’m along for the ride. It’s very confusing!!
ETA: So, after I wrote this I got over excited and cleaned up the kitchen and made breakfast and was on my feet for about 90 minutes and forgot *I should be in a boot* and that was very naughty of me. I’m now on “up for 15 minutes at a time and then sitting for hours” but that’s still AMAZING because no boot. See picture below… you can see my new scars and some of the bruising that’s still hanging around. Bruising is GOOD because it reminds me to sit, which will help heal. Again, not my idea of fun, but I am very much farther along because of it.
And with that update, I leave you, dear reader… for now. Come see me at Hearthrose.com or HistoricalFemininity.Locals.com 🙂
Women need respect because women are humans. Humans need respect because, as communal creatures, the opinions of the people around us determine our incomes, our positions in society, how much we are given (leeway, grace, casseroles), how much is expected of us (excellence, time, amusement), how we marry, and how our children move through the world – just as a start. It has been said that women value love over respect, which may be true – but it doesn’t mean that the absence of one or the other is an acceptable way to live. If women are not given respect for what they do, they will do something else until they find that respect… or a facsimile thereof.
I’ve pondered the respect issue for quite some time. If you look back on history, you won’t exactly find that women are considered the equal of men, especially in public life. However, what you will find is that women were respected for being good at women-things. A good wife is worth more than rubies… can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy… is that girl you’re staring at going to make your life run well? It’s not like you can write off the contributions of half the human race and get anywhere. That’s ridiculous.
A Progression of Disrespect
Can we pinpoint, exactly, when respect dissolved? No. However, a pattern emerges – a progression of disrespect, if you will. In the base state of things, everyperson’s competence at doing life is assumed. Individual differences of course – Bob is better at building houses than Larry, and Mary is a much better cook than Diane. But we assume at this base state that Larry can build and Diane can cook, even if they’re not the best in the world. They’re competent. I don’t wander in and tell Diane how to sift flour just off the street. When we assume competence, the position of advisor must be earned.
The first stage of disrespect is “experting”. This feels helpful. I have a library of books on “how to” do things. But experting goes beyond just a “how to” book, and sets “should” standards. Consider child-rearing manuals throughout the 20th century (and shudder). The experts know more than you do, and their way of doing things is the Only Right Way. Now, as an “expert”, I can order Diane to sift her flour three times before even considering baking a cake. Instead of summarily throwing this stranger out of her house, as I am an expert she’ll bow and scrape – and do exactly what I tell her to. Relationship? I don’t need one. I’m an “expert”.
The second stage of disrespect is out-sourcing, which comes with a set of sub-stages. In out-sourcing, as an expert, I start by telling dear Diane that the only way to bake a really lovely cake is to buy my cake-flour. It’s too much trouble for her to sift it, and she’s never going to do so properly. But I, and my flour, are here to save her. In subsequent stages of outsourcing, I gradually take over other parts of the process until Diane, knowing her own innate incompetence, gives up and buys cake from my bakery.
The third stage of disrespect is denigration. Baking is for losers. It’s a waste of your time and effort. Now that the entire process is out of sight, now that Diane (or more probably, her granddaughter) is utterly unfamiliar with the ingredients and wouldn’t recognize the difference between a Twinkie and a homemade sponge cake, now she’s going to start looking at cake as just another commodity. Cheapest, quickest, most convenient. Because she’s buying like that, fewer and fewer quality options become available. Because what she’s buying is very low quality, it is only natural that Diane Jr. thinks of baking as a waste of time. She does more important things, like filing papers and answering phones.* Baking is out of sight, out of mind – and so is the baker.
Clothing as Example
Originally, women were in charge of the entire process of making clothing, from growing flax (or keeping sheep) through making cloth and sewing it up. This very valuable commodity, cloth, was so ubiquitously in the hands of women that “distaff” (which is a term for the stick you hold your fiber-to-be-spun on) is a synonym for “pertaining to women”. The cloth trade is recorded as far back as 1900 BC, there are notes about this in Cuneiform (from a woman to her husband – so much for treating women’s contributions with disrespect).
Gradually, clothing became “experted”. Books and articles were written to teach women how to sew “properly” – with details that extended to stitch length and direction. Magazines circulated with the latest fashions, and women were expected to dress like other ladies of their social class. Colors, hemlines, even modesty was determined by experts – not the women themselves.
The first stage of outsourcing was a dependence on dressmakers and tailors, at least for certain articles of clothing. These professionals had the tools, materials, and skills that a woman at home would be unlikely to have at her disposal – if she had the time to create more than basics. (From experience, I can tell you that sewing a wardrobe, even with modern appliances, takes a lot of time. It takes me a full day of work to sew a shirt for my husband, for example).
The second stage of outsourcing was the introduction of ready-made clothing. This occurred not more than 150 years ago – it hasn’t been long! While women retained their skill at sewing, they could recognize well-made garments. I can recall being shown the difference between a well-sewn and poorly sewn seam (in the era before sergers) and taught how to check the quality of fabric. I also remember buying fabric with my mother, as she had it made by a dressmaker (the expert) instead of being dependent on the department stores. At this point, although most of the work was done by experts, good work was valued and understood because of a basic understanding of the task at hand.
Eventually, almost all of us bought most of our clothing ready made, and fewer and fewer could so much as sew on a button. The sewing trade disappeared behind closed doors, and then those doors moved overseas. Creating clothing is out of sight – out of mind… and horrors ensue. Clothing is worth nothing. Creating clothing has been reduced to a hobby. The respect for the process of making the sort of clothes we wear on a daily basis has completely eroded. The progression of disrespect completes with vast heaps of discarded clothing crowding our landfills and filling our water with microplastics.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Where you spend your time is where you give attention. Attention begets respect. As “real life” moved out of the home and into the office, our attention moved to how to win respect in that venue. All humans require respect – and women gradually had respect withdrawn from their lives. Where once we were needed and relied upon for our skill, wisdom, and productivity, we became mere ornaments – “Angels of the Household”. The less time spent at home, the less respect was given to homemakers – and soon, housewives were considered a luxury good, a waste of a good mind.
Is it any wonder that women, given no respect for what they’d been doing for thousands of years, stopped doing this work and clamored for work that would bring them respect? Occupation that would bring them into association with others, connection. Humans need community. Year after year, homemakers became progressively more isolated. They complain of never having adult conversations and suffer from loneliness and self-doubt. The progression of disrespect has reaped a fine harvest.
So we must ask ourselves, is the work of homemaking worth doing? If, upon careful examination, we decide that we do need someone to concentrate on raising children, to foster social connection within community and extended family, to keep a close eye on the food we nourish ourselves with and be conscious to minimize waste and maximize resources, we will need to return respect to the position. We require nourishment to the spirit as well as to the body.
If we decide that none of these things are important, we can go on as we have. Soon enough we will own nothing and care not – because our homes will be irrelevant. Totally dependent on what we find in the marketplace for our food, the coverings for our body, totally dependent on experts to raise our children, we will take what is on offer because we will have no capacity to do anything else. And where will the progression of disrespect take all of humanity, when that is complete?
Choose you this day… personally, I think developing respect is a wiser plan.
*I have spent plenty of my professional life answering phones and filing papers. Work done well is honorable. But do you really think filing paper is more important than the food you put in your mouth? If so, we need to talk.
NOTE: I brought over this piece because 1) I know the audience here is more varied than my other online spaces. I’d like your input. 2) I feel like this is important and of interest to this audience.
If this interests you, come chat with us over at Locals. I put up regular locals-only content as well as the articles I share elsewhere, and Locals is the place to discuss, to post your own ideas, or even to argue (courteously).
Locals is a members-only platform, so you do have to register. However, I have a trial code, so that you don’t need to pay for your first month. HISTFEMTRIAL16 goes through 12/9/22. I hope to see you there. https://historicalfemininity.locals.com/
Fair Warning: This is a piece I’m writing so I can process my emotions… that’s the whole point. So I’m going to let the Drama Llama have a good run – need to get it out of my system.
January, 2008… my husband and I have a marriage patched up with bubble gum. I drop my kids off at Sunday School, and as I turn to wave goodbye to my daughter, my foot twists on the babygate, and I fall flat on my back on the sidewalk outside. When I am helped to a sitting position, I see (for a fleeting second) that my toes don’t point the way they had just a second ago. My foot swells up quickly, and I can’t see much. All I want is the church folks to call my husband (who was at home) and my mom (to pick up my kids). My hubs comes, and drives me to the ER. I remember saying, “I’m going to cry” and then choking out just a couple of sobs before I lock everything back down. By the time I get to the ER, my foot is so swollen, no one knows what’s wrong – and Sunday at my local ER is very busy. We wait for four hours before I get so much as pain meds. Six hours later I leave with instructions to call the orthopedist, crutches, and a splint. I was in enough pain in the waiting room that I had to sing the whole time (How Great is Thy Faithfulness) to keep from crying. If I stopped singing, the tears would start flowing…
…cut to Monday. The doc tells me what I’ve done, and what that means. He is a kind man, a family friend. No more hiking, which I love. My life is changed forever, starting now. I’ve broken the first two bones (displaced fractures, one with a bone chip) and dislocated the other three at my mid-foot joint. It’s called a Lis Franc break/dislocation, and it’s very rare. The severity of my injury is common in fighter plane accidents, car accidents, but not at all in baby gate accidents. It will require surgery to fix my foot, including three 2″ long pins.
…cut to Wednesday. I wake up from surgery for a microsecond, and start crying. I don’t even remember the pain, I couldn’t have been aware for more than 30 seconds all told. I opened my eyes, saw my doctor, the tears started, he waved to someone, and I went back under. When I woke back up, he was gone. They explained to me that I had dilaudid in a pump – every time I needed more pain meds, all I had to do was hit a button. Pretty heavy stuff – I had to have oxygen to help me breathe. I went home Thursday – and yes, dilaudid is great stuff. My dad picked me up and took me to the store to pick up my pain meds, and I remember thinking, “Oh I’m fine! I’m sure I won’t need them…” Ha.
I spent the next month on my couch, with my foot elevated over my heart and a bag of ice on my cast. I’d wake up just long enough to count down the minutes until my next dose of Percocet, eat something to keep it company and go back to sleep. My mom had to come (after eye surgery – the blind leading the lame) to care for my children, 3 & 7. After a month or so, I got so I could fold laundry and interact a bit.
I was in a cast for two months, a walking boot for a month? after that, and in PT three times a week through the end of the year. In July, they went in and took the pins back out, which made me feel much better. The recovery from the second surgery was pretty nominal. That surgeon fixed my scars so they were less horrifying and repaired some of the nerve damage while he was in there for the pins.
Slowly I got my life back – to a reduced extent. I walked slowly and painfully, wore ugly shoes, but I went back to being a mom and a wife. I learned to take lots of sitting breaks. My marriage was not just restored, but made completely new. I had to tell my pastor (who felt horrible) twice that for what I gained in my marriage, I’d have cut my foot off. This remains true. But I was crippled – and I felt it.
In 2014, I took my son down to Crossfit to see about a PE credit for high school. When I heard that I could start exercising without having to walk first, I joined too. I used to walk down there… with my walking stick (1/2 mile). The first time my coach had me do walking lunges, I was so out of shape that I nearly blacked out. But crossfit led to lifting, and lifting strengthened my legs radically – without the repetitive impact of walking. Within a few years, I was able to walk farther than I had since the break – no walking stick required. My foot was always swollen, and usually uncomfortable, but I had gained so much.
I grew extra bone – on the back of my foot, and on the top. In 2020 I went back to the ortho ( a new ortho – our dear doc had retired) and asked about fixing things. He told me what the recovery would be to get the bit on the back taken off, and since it wasn’t bothering me, we decided to chop off the stuff on top. He told me he was going to try fixing the swelling, since no doctor has been able to explain why it’s still like that. He promised me I’d be up and running in 8 weeks. The swelling thought that was cute, and I wore compression socks for six months… and in a year, the bone on the back that hadn’t bothered me started to do so. The little mermaid and I, we both walked on knives… but I knew what fixing the problem would cost me.
In 2021, I started shockwave therapy. I had read articles saying that it could remove spurs. That turns out to not be true… but it did take care of the pain (after causing a good bit along the way).
It’s 2022. My husband looked at me a couple of months ago and said, “you need to do this”. I cried. I raged. I said I couldn’t possibly consider it. God sent me dreams, telling me that it would be a blip – something that looks horrible but will be a minor inconvenience on the way to freedom. And so I bent my neck and agreed.
Yesterday I went to the doctor. There’s only one fix for this problem. We’re aiming for surgery in September. He’s going to cut my Achilles tendon off, then remove the bone spur, fix whatever damage it’s done, tidy up anything else in there, sew me back up, and on I go to another epic journey of healing.
It means a month (ish) in a pointed-toe cast, and post-surgical pain. Then I will move to a walking boot with a wedge heel that will gradually lower as I do PT for 4-5 months. One is very careful with a healing Achilles tendon! I will not be able to drive for that entire time, as this is my right foot. You are considered “healed” after six months, and can be expected to be back to a gentle version of normal in about a year.
I have a lot of trauma memories of the pain and disability time on the couch. My body is reacting to those – not all the surgeries since that haven’t been too bad. I am hurting from the things I’m going to have to give up… my life is about to change again.
I wanted to pull back from everything and slam up my walls. It’s how I deal. My husband wouldn’t permit it. So now I have to learn to do this grieving, this hurting, without the walls up. I don’t know how to do that. I’m writing because I hear that it helps – and I need the help. I know this will be okay, but my heart is crying and my body is terrified. I am, literally, sorry for myself – as if I were outside myself. I don’t like that, I’d much rather be stoic. But I can only do that with my walls up. I’m sad. I think it’s okay – from outside – but I don’t want to be the weak one, I don’t want these emotions. If I know it has to be done, why do I have to feel this way?
I should count my lucky stars. I could be walking with a cane by now. I would have been, without lifting.
Anyway. I’m going to post some pix below, don’t scroll down if you don’t want to see them.
I’ve been sitting and thinking about my “new goals” for 2022 and being completely bogged down because, quite frankly, the last couple of years have sucked insofar as making the changes I’d like to see made. Here’s a metaphor that actually happened. We’ve been trying to gradually beautify and stabilize the hillside in our backyard. There’s your goal. To that end, we planted some herbs that get on well with our climate and soil. Fed them. Sprayed their bugs. Put water on them. And…. then our uphill neighbor poured poison on one of her trees (or possibly our passionfruit vine) and there’s a stripe of death down the hill instead of a stripe of flowers. Even managed to kill off a mature rosemary. That takes work, people. Did we have a goal? Yes. Did we do the work? Yes. Did we get the outcome? No. And that’s how it’s been. I know it’s not just been for my fam, because hello 2021 – but there she be.
So, I asked God for my word for the year, and He said, ‘transformation’. I eyed that up and down and sideways and said, “was that You, Lord?” and then I sucked it up and looked at my calendar and said, ” He wasn’t even joking”. If *nothing* on my 2022 goals list happens, if I do *nothing* of my own, I won’t be in the same place in a year as I am now.
This year, my younger child graduates HS and turns 18. My older child is picking schools to apply to for his last two years of school, he’ll get his AA in the Spring. I’ve changed my job radically in 2021, and in 2022 I’ll see a lot more change (and a lot more to do) at work. Oh the irony – I failed to launch my last book properly or get my image consulting business rolling because I hate self-marketing. Guess who’s doing the marketing for people who pay me? I’ve learned a lot and continue to do so – and I’m wildly outside of my comfort zone. With my kids as grown humans now, everything changes professionally and personally. My husband has some goals for the two of us that are dependent on being parents of adults… so there are those too. I’m closing up a 21+ year season of my life. At the end of next year, I’ll turn 50.
Of course I have goals, I have assignments. I’ve got another book about half written, and I plan to finish that and get it to a real publisher. I need people to read this one more than I need to get the money from it, I need it to go into the world and make ripples. I have the post-foot-surgery and 2021 stress weight to take off. I have to get the kid through HS and survive all the nonsense around graduation – two graduations! – this Spring. I have clothes I want to sew – and I have a lot at my jobbyjob that I want to make happen. New things to be done, old things to be done over properly. (I really *like* the people I work for and I want their products to do well – plus I believe in the products. It’s a weird feeling, really wanting your bosses to win, totally outside of one’s own ambitions). So much to do…
So, “Transformation”. I’m tired, I’m scared, 2021 sucked. I’m NOT ready. But that really doesn’t matter at all. I can get on the surfboard or I can get pounded by the wave – but either way, I’m not going to be where I am today when you read this blog 12 months from now.
I don’t write here that much anymore, so subscribe at hearthrose.com, that’s where I’m putting up the interesting writing. And we (Els and I) have a chatboard over on locals. Come visit there. https://historicalfemininity.locals.com/ It’s free, I keep putting up a coupon code to get conversation going and it will stay free until it’s busy enough that I need to be paid to keep it moving.
To Transformation – the butterfly is out of the chrysalis and drying her wings, soon she will fly.
I would like to say that my self-control is perfect. It is not.
I do NOT want my various blogs and public personae to be about the insanity that has taken over everything. It’s been done.
I think I am more helpful pointing out useful things to do and say, things that are beautiful and positive, than ranting. Philippians 4:8
Likewise, I can read perfectly well, and see that “self-control” is a gift of the Spirit, and so is “long suffering”. Wrath and anger are flesh, NOT Spirit.
Thus, if I wish to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, I need to exert self-control.
I do scream and stomp my feet and rant – I just (mostly) don’t do it on social media. See #2 and #3.
I have to *actively* take each thought captive, and it’s hard sometimes. Today is a hard day.
It’s – I think – okay to be frustrated and feel the emotion that’s real. Okay. Feel it. Let it go through.
And… now what?
I have a contribution to make, something I can do to make things better. So, after I get my daily things done, I’m going to be about THAT thing.
You have a thing to do to make things better too. So, go be about your work. Be in the Spirit, not the flesh. Let God work through you and change you. Be a light, which means getting yourself out of the way and letting Him shine through.
Today is not an easy day. I think we’re likely to see fewer easy days. I accept this without approving of it. So, there must be less of me and more of Him. Because the “me” is not very happy right now, and “me” would get in the way of others seeing Him and feeing Him in their lives.
That, I will not accept.
And this, this is going on the various profiles, because this is a true thing. Share if you like.
God’s been washing worry out of my system. It’s not a me thing, so don’t expect a “how-to” lesson. Come sit with me and wonder at His work.
I have some major stuff going on in my home. Won’t elaborate, ‘cuz private. But major-major. And God keeps saying, “I got this”. And then within hours of my coming and asking, He *starts* showing me how He’s got whatever it is. It’s not done, and if you feel like throwing prayer my way, I’d appreciate – but He has moved radically and consistently, and we are all so much in the palm of His hand that it is jaw-dropping.
In 2019 I was ridiculously overscheduled. He’s shown me why I did that to myself, and He’s gradually removed item after item from my schedule, until I looked up and said, “oh wow – I don’t actually have to schedule things with a shoehorn? When did this room open up? ” It’s awesome. As God has been doing that, He’s been increasing my trust in Him. Like, I find myself *really* trusting in His promises, like they’re set in stone. That’s weird. I mean His personal promises to me and mine, not Bible verses. So, yeah, it’s weird. (I KNOW IT’S WEIRD).
I’ve got things going on with my last ministry. And I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I brought it up today in prayer and … now I’m just chilling. Like, “God will make His will clear to me in due time”. I could be all worried about it and fidget with it, as would have been my habit six months ago. But now I don’t feel a need.
COVID nonsense – to vax or not to vax, which vax to get, etc. Don’t know. Not worried. I might have to get that done. If I do, I do. And then whatever will be, will be. Might not. Not fretting about it. Everyone on both teams finds this deeply irritating of me. -shrug- It’s not my problem. A lot of things just aren’t my problem, and when they’re not, I’ve stopped feeling a need to fret about them. Y’all – *I* find this confusing. It’s so not me. But … I guess it is now? New me. That’s a thing, there’s a new me.
God is blessing me and mine and walking us through the storm, and He has promised great things in His time, and He has His hands on us. A lot of things just aren’t my problem. I do what I’m called to do, when I’m called to do it.
I feel a bit disconnected from even my friends, because I kinda want to take the disconnect further. Do I need to track the latest outrage? The adrenaline rush is fun, but it’s not my problem. What do I put in its place? What do I intake? There are only so many times a gal can watch someone plant a tomato… I dunno. I should pick that up in prayer.
I haven’t been writing much this past year. That was one of the things that was taken from me. I hope that it is only for a season. I haven’t been updating any of the blogs really. Probably lost a slew of readers, insofar as I have them. I’ve always liked writing about what is on my mind and heart, and the stuff is so deep and so subtle that it’s hard to write about how things are changing.
There are big changes coming soon. Don’t know when. Don’t know how. Don’t know what. But big change.
Anyhow, I wanted to write about the hakuna matata – no worries – because it’s very wonderful to live like this, but it’s also very very confusing. I don’t know how to be a people in the world today when only the surface is getting ruffled, the well is deep and quiet and looking ever inward – and upward. This is what I wanted, but I don’t know how to be this person. I don’t know me. Yet. I suppose I will, once God’s done with this chapter in the book of changes.
I’ve been wrestling for a while about what God’s will for my life is. Well, sorta. I know what I want to do *in part* and I know that God has blessed that… but the time is not yet. I don’t know what God’s will is for the things that bring in the cash, not after I exit the season of part-time work.
And the waiting has been hard on yours truly. I’ve been fighting like a fish on the line, flipping and flopping every which way, trying SO HARD to “do the right thing”.
I finally, finally thought to ASK. “How does this work, Lord?” D’oh. Is anyone else out there like me, you totally forget to be a child with your Father and just ask Dad how this is supposed to play out?
And I’m directed to a sermon by Voddie Baucham about determining God’s will. And he NAILED me to the wall… all the ghosts in my head just got slammed with a truth bomb. God has the will that we know about – follow His laws, read your Bible if you’re vague on the concept. He also has His private will, His Sovereign plan for the universe. And that’s NOT OUR BUSINESS.
I feel so free. I’d been trying to figure that out, stressing myself out that everything that didn’t work out as *I* had planned meant that I was outside of God’s will, screwing things up SOMEHOW… even though I’ve been through His Word a thousand times, sifting to figure out what I could possibly, possibly be doing wrong.
God knew that 2020 was going to be a screwed up year. That 2021 was (although I’m promised restoration) starting out *hard*. Real hard. Awful weeping crying nasty hard. He didn’t start me on something *I wanted* because He knew I’d need the brain cells for what has come, which I did not – but which, I have faith, will lead to good (I know, because Romans 8).
I feel like the modern church gets out of whack on this really easily. 1) just because of the way the World feeds into us constantly and 2) because a lot of folks are reaping what they’ve sown because they are, in fact, NOT following God’s revealed will for their lives. “I’m sleeping with my girlfriend and I don’t feel like God’s blessing my relationship”. No, really? Wow. -rolls eyes-
But if we say, “if things aren’t going right for you then you are in the wrong” you throw dirt on every martyr. Every man or woman who has been honorable and gone through ugly times. Every parent whose kid has died too young. Everyone persecuted. IT’S NOT TRUE.
So we are responsible to examine ourselves and see if we are in the faith – if we are walking in God’s law for our lives, if we are believing His Words about ourselves, if we are loving each other and our enemies. We are NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OUTCOMES. God is responsible, both good and bad. (Yeah, that former is a bit pinchy, isn’t it? Gotta give Him the glory for what works out, if you let the Potter mold you, the clay… you’re just clay…)
When you’re talking to young Christians (maturity wise), you gotta start with, “you reap what you sow, there are consequences to sitting in sin”. But eventually you have to move past that to, “God never promised you a rose garden…. in this life”.
Anyway. I have some sittin’ and talkin’ to God about the other thing Brother Voddie brought up – if you want to know what you should do with your life, look at your skills and desires and gifts etc, then pray about it and search God’s Word. I know my Bible, so it’s time to sit with this intentionally and carefully and ASK. I might just get enough light for this moment, but that’s fine. I could use some light on this moment.
2020 was a year, wasn’t it? The Good Book says that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick” and darn if that’s not the truth.
Folks are asking what 2021 goals I have. To be honest, I’m walking wounded where goals are concerned. I have a bone bruise. It’s not that I don’t have desires. I do. But goals? I had goals last year.
I started the year with surgery on my foot. I was assured that I would be up and running in a few months’ time. Running, that hope deferred for over a decade… oh, sweet hope. I knew it would take sweat and pain, but I looked forward to relearning to use those parts of my body. The freedom of movement without pain.
The top of that foot is still largely numb, the bottom of my *other* foot is in pain, and the surgery-foot was swollen enough that I had to wear compression socks and lace up shoes all summer. Needless to say, I’m neither running nor jumping as yet. The doctor was wrong.
2020 was just LIKE that. For everyone. I’m not special.
And I’m not special in the Word I’ve gotten for this year. I asked, on my birthday (beginning of Dec) for a word for my 48th year. My word was “restoration”. I looked up the Bible definition of that word: “The biblical meaning of the word “restoration” is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. The main point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure. Unlike the regular dictionary meaning of “restoration,” which is to return something back to its original condition, the biblical definition of the word has greater connotations that go above and beyond the typical everyday usage.” (reference.com)
That’s a promise I’ve had – and been waiting on – for many a year. It’s been met, and more than met, in other areas of my life. I write about it seldom now but my marriage was restored by that definition. I know the taste of that word, its operation in my life. It is not a slight promise.
So I come to 2021 a paradox. In the flesh, I am utterly worn-out. My Christmas break was too short and much interrupted and I’m just about relaxed enough to actually have a break and get something out of it – but I go back to work (and nagging my daughter about schoolwork, which is more stressful) on Monday. The inner toddler is SCREAMING. She is not okay. “I”, whoever it is “I” am, look on the spectacle in concern. “Something must be done”.
But it is not for me to do. I learned in 2020 a lesson I had to learn in my marriage, before it was restored… there is only so much that can be done in the flesh. It is not for me to do, not for me to change. I have tilted at windmills. And now it is for me to see what God will do.
In the meantime, yes – I have desires. I look at my life and see a mosaic of bits and pieces. I picked up a bit here and a piece there, because I was missing this or that or the other thing. I move from inside one box to inside another, and that has its function – I give myself completely to whatever box I am in. But I’m TIRED of changing tiny boxes. I’d like to do a few big things and give them a lot more time and attention.
I could play the game and write down goals and lists and plans. I’m very good at all that. It is harder to be honest and say, “I am waiting upon the Lord, and in the meantime, I am walking forward as He directs”. “I am giving things up, because I want to make room”. “Hope”.
As I said, I’ve heard from others … I am no more special in the tone of this year’s promise than I am in the bruises I’m carrying from last year. Hope. Keep moving. Walk on. Fight on. Be repaired. See doors open. Those are promises given to other women. For me, it is “restoration”. And as I could not have predicted the riches and tender mercies that I was given in one restoration, I will trust that likewise this restoration will leave me breathless in awe.
Contentment is a truly counter-cultural value. It’s not one that I am much good at. It’s hard to be in America, told to Achieve or Die Trying *everysingleminute* and keep your peace.
Years back, I disciplined myself to what I’d call negative contentment. This is a discipline! I trained myself to not-expect, and that did bring me quite a bit more happiness than I’d had. You know – you are much more pleased with mother’s day hugs if you don’t paint a picture of waffles in bed. The culture will feed you to the eyeballs with expectations, and it’s important that you not internalize those if you want to be happy with what you have. If you want to *experience* what you actually have.
That’s an important discipline, and this isn’t meant to disrespect it. It locks down the nonsense.
But there’s another form of contentment, and we in the West and me in particular – we’re *terrible* at it. I mean, even worse than not accepting false ideas, what if you *didn’t enjoy what you had*? Why, that would drive contentment away forever!
To relax and enjoy, that’s a discipline of opening up. It’s a discipline of looking up, and thanking God. But to truly engage in this, you have to unlock some of the heart-truths that can sometimes get locked up when you lock-down the nonsense. “Oh! I LOVE this experience! I remember this… I wanted this… this is so cool… ” You have to remember your dreams to live in them.
I dreamt of the puppy for years……… and locked that dream away for another time. Later, later, not yet. it’s good to have her. But the experience of the first weeks with a new puppy aren’t EASY. They aren’t the chill quiet loving moments you have with an adult dog. But they’re sweet. She’s sweet.
And there are Very.Good.Things – like seeing the sunrise and spending loads more time outdoors. I love to be outdoors, and she forces me outside.
God has been telling me for MONTHS that I was supposed to rest, to chill out, to wait. And all I could think of to do is to find something else to work on. If I can’t work on what I used to work on, I can surely work on getting all my ducks in a row so that I can charge forth when the door opens. No. No. No. CHILL OUT.
I have wants. And they’ll come. But I am learning to sit and rest and *wait*. And if I needed the kind of help that comes with being exhausted from Puppy Patrol to get there? So be it. God knows that she is exactly what I have needed.