Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Hate Fall

Fall is always our busy season.  It is travel season, meeting season, and the start of a new school year all rolled into one.  Added in this year, is that I am training as a doula, and have two births I am assisting with in September, too.  (Not at all stressed about the births - I've been to over 20, but finally decided to get certified.  But they add in some busy-ness.)

I want to write more about the decency thoughts.  I have a story about an amazing MK from Columbia who lived a life of integrity in front of me in such a way that it caused me to think.  I have more to say, and hate to leave the topic here as it could look like I think decency is not important.  If you're new to my blog, just take my word that that's not true, and suspend judgement for a time.

But with busy season and travel season, there is talk on my horizon about travel that is a big step, and I feel like someone just hit the pause button on my world.  I'm not sure how I am responding or what I am thinking.  So it's been hard to blog.  It's hard to think about.  I'm not sure about this step.  No one told me it was coming.  No one told me or warned me it would be this soon.  I feel blindsided by people who knew it for a long time and chose not to tell me, and those same people are asking me to trust them that it will be ok.  I'm finding that hard.

And yet, I know I don't really have an option in it.  I can't really say no.

I'm not sure if I would have said no if I had been asked, either, but I feel betrayed that I wasn't asked about it a long time ago, back when it was only a thought.

I'm also struggling right now from another type of fear.  There is the fear that something could happen, but there is another fear.... during the last crisis, we were abandoned, uncared for.... by our team, by our mission, .... both during and after the crisis.  Even by people who had been our "support people" just weren't there.  Some had reasons that they couldn't be and others just failed miserably.  Now, these same people are asking me to walk through that possibility again.  Yeah.... and if something goes wrong, not only do I have to deal with the crisis, but with being abandoned in it.

I just don't really know if I can go through that again.

It's making me angry.  Grouchy.  I'm not so angry about the risk or the choice - this is the life we went into with our eyes open.  I'm angry because I feel pushed and half deceived by people who already failed my family in a crisis.  Grouchy because I feel so alone right now.  There is no one near me who gets what we are asked to do.  Part of the oddities of the type of cross-cultural marriage that I have is that we live with different scenarios than other workers, and I feel alone.  There is no one to talk to who understands.

I'm also deeply concerned about the effect this will have on my daughter who still has not completely recovered.  In the middle of our handling it, I am going to have to find a way to be extra strong for her.

So I live on pause right now.

One of the things I learned in my doula training is that when I have taken on the responsibility to support a mom for a birth, I need to be there.  If something comes up or some emergency in my family happens, or I am sick, so I can not fulfill my chosen responsibility, I am responsible for arranging a back up doula.  I think as I heard that, a light went on in my head.  This last crisis greatly changed some key relationships in my life.  There is an element of guardedness and disconnect that wasn't there.  I hold myself at a bit of a distance.  I can get close to people, but I don't stay close.  I distrust more.  I pull away faster.  I've tried arguing it my head that "ok, it was a crisis, people couldn't function in the normal way", but it didn't remove that niggling wariness.

They couldn't be there.... but they didn't arrange back up, either.

And telling me to "just get over it" doesn't work either.  One of them tried it recently, and it hurt.  However, another met me with a "I'm really sorry.  We really messed up.  Can you help us learn how to handle this to do better?"  That was a great response, and I felt comforted.... able to put down some pain and go on.

But then came this talk of travel again, and I'm jittery.  I don't like doing this.  I know I have to say yes, and I am saying yes in faith.... but I have faith in a God who sometimes protects us in this life and sometimes chooses to allow evil to happen while saving us in eternity.  I'm in no pollyanna bubble that assumes that only good will happen.  So I say yes because I have no other choice, but it is not a carefree yes.  I don't think God is any less happy with me because my yes knows what a yes can mean and is said in a whisper, not a smile.  And through the pain of knowing what it feels like to be abandoned in a crisis, I hang on to the truth that God did not leave me alone in it.  His people did.  And that hurt.  But He was there.  So while I may be isolating from people because I don't want them to hurt me again, I'm hanging on to God.  He's really all I feel comfortable with trusting at this point.

But that's all I have.  That's all the trust and all the faith I have.

So, if anyone is reading this anymore, hang in with me and remember my family.  It's going to be a rough month ahead, and I'm already feeling isolated.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Things They Say.... It's in the Cup

We drove recently on a windy road since the highway was blocked.  We had recently been to McDonalds, and thankfully has saved money by buying one extra large drink to share.  At the road got more windy, I heard that ominous sound, "Mooommm, I feel sick!"

Great...  I looked down, and saw the empty cup (thank God for the large size!)  I passed it back to my daughter just in time, and being the neat little girl she is, she was able to um, empty her stomach contents into the cup. 

Now what?  There wasn't room to pull over right away, so I told her to put the lid back on the cup - cut the smell down some, I hoped.  She did.

As I looked for a place to pull over, I heard her quietly talking to herself, and what she said cracked me up.  She was looking down at the buttons on top of the cup that McDonalds uses to identify what type of a drink it is. 

And I heard a quiet, "I guess this would qualify as a diet drink."


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Moral Purity - Modesty is What We Wear, Right?

I read a blog recently about modesty.  I wasn't too surprised by this blog as I had seen these thoughts elsewhere, but I was surprised still.  Surprised that it is still out there and that women are still buying it hook, line, and sinker.  The blog post included a long checklist for dressing modestly.

I want to approach this carefully so that no one stops listening before they hear what I want to say.  This post will only have part of what I believe, so hang in there before you object.  I believe in modesty.  You may not believe I do by the end of this post, but let me assure you that I do.  But I think there is a lie hidden in posts like the one I read that is damaging to us women.  My husband firmly agrees with me - he's more adamant about it than I am.

The post talked about the typical things - hem length, skirt tightness, neck length, fabric choice, slits pinned shut, attention drawing colors, etc.  Near the end was a point to double check that your purse wasn't making you immodest by the strap lying across your chest and "accentuating your breasts".

Sigh.  I guess if I wore a purse with a strap, and it lies between my breasts and shows that indeed I have two breasts...instead....  instead of what?  An inner-tube wrapped around my chest?  I do have two breasts, as well as two ears, two kidneys, two arms, two eyes, two ovaries, two lungs.... basic biology 101.

I think women have swallowed the lie that they are responsible for the thoughts in men's minds.  With that comes a deep shame for our bodies.... because we believe that if men have a wrong thought, we (our bodies) caused that.... and we caused men to sin.

I used to believe that.  Wouldn't have put it in so many words.  Didn't completely know I believed that since I didn't think through it, but I did.

I've said before that I have lived all over the world in different cultures.  That has given me a unique ability to see different things.  Let me share some of that.

If you carry the "dress decently, and you won't cause men to sin" theology to its extreme, you will get something similar to a religion that completely covers women - so that only the eyes, or at times not even the eyes show.  I've lived in that.  I lived in it for years, and I dressed decently to their standards.  I acted decently, too - eyes down, no smiling, no contact or conversation with men.  You'd think in that situation, men's minds would be completely controlled - nothing causing them to sin.

(To all those working in those cultures, believe me, I can hear your snorts!)

I also lived in an almost opposite culture.  (My parents likely didn't know about this, so don't blame them.... ) but when my mother was sick in bed for several months, I was often cared for by the mother of my best friend in the village.  A wonderful family who took good care of me.  On bath days, she would take me to the river with her daughter.  Many families marched single file to the river.  My friend's mom stripped us down, scrubbed us with rough soap and then a rock to get all the dead skin cells off us, washed our hair and tied it in a knot on the top of our heads, smacked us playfully on our butts and told us to go play while she washed our clothes.  We played all morning in the beautiful sunshine and nothing else while our clothes dried, and then she brushed out our hair and redressed us for the trip home.  We weren't the only naked kids playing in the river.  Several families washed together, men gathered at one end of the river clearing and women at the other, neither troubled at all by the sight (from a slight distance) of naked people of the opposite gender washing.

I have both been wearing nothing but sunshine and been covered from head to toe with only my eyes peeping out.  I have been both only two short years apart (and no great change in body shape between to blame the difference on.)  If the "if we cover, we don't cause men to sin" train of thought was correct, men would have been struggling at the river bathing time and not one man would have taken a second look when I was covered to the eyeballs.

The opposite was true.  No one bothered us, no one stared, no one said anything at the river.  And I spend my whole "covered" life enduring the pinches, comments, and dirty stares of men whose thoughts were not the slightest bit controlled by what I was wearing. 

I felt more decent naked than I felt covered.

Ok, I'm not endorsing nudity, really.  :-)

But I am saying we need to stop and think what we believe.  Anytime we take responsibility for another human's thoughts, we are taking more weight than we were ever asked to carry.  And we ignore truth - that God created man - male and female - and blessed us and called us good.  I - yes, me, my body with two of many things - is good.  I've carried the shame of taking responsibility for men's thoughts long enough.  That is not my weight to carry.

What is mine to carry is my own thoughts.  They are enough to be responsible for.