I've been in a funk for the past five days. Some might call it a mild depression, or lack of sun (shocking with the gazillion inches of rain we have had in the past two months) or just some seismic hormonal shift. I don't know. I truly don't care. All I know is that I'm ready to crawl out from under the rock and try to shake it off.
I've thought about what has been bothering me, and I've had a few minor epiphanies. None of them are especially original, but after mulling them around for awhile, I've compiled a list of things that I'm old enough to not have to tolerate anymore or that just express my mindset. I'm sure that there are others, but these are the ones that are ready to hit the light of day.
1. I am too old to have to do things that I don't want to do in the few hours that I have to myself at this point in my life.
That means: I don't have to buy candles/cookies/candy/popcorn/cookie dough or anything else from anyone's child unless the child asks me to support them. If the child doesn't ask...I don't think I should have to buy. I am currently working off the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies from 1978, and I don't need to confuse my cellulite by adding some from the current year.
It also means that I don't have to go to cantatas, functions, gatherings, or meetings unless my employer tells me I'm going during working hours. Oh, if I WANT to go...that's my choice. But I'm tired of feeling like I "must" do something when I would rather be investing my time somewhere else. I love my friends, but I also love my time.
2. I am not in a competition with anybody.
If your child is the Homecoming Queen, I am jumping up and down with joy for you. And when my child wins a medal in Science Olympiad I'd like to think that you think that's pretty cool. And most of the time, this is the way that it all plays out.
However, there are those times when someone says, "OH." and gives me the impression that they think it is unimportant because it isn't an "elite" award like "state champion" or "queen" of something. Whatever. I'm as proud of kids who lose weight, overcome adversity, are nominated but don't win, or get a scholarship as I would be about those winning honors and awards that are considered "elite." While I'm proud of my daughter for making cheerleading in high school, I was equally proud of the fact that she stayed at it and kept trying out when she didn't make it in middle school. See, I know that she can handle adversity. Some kids who have had a charmed life cannot. And because she can, God has something amazing planned for her life. Hide and watch.
I think that in this culture, women are especially competitive, and many women take glee in dropping emotional atomic bombs. Guys leave it on the field. Some women aren't happy unless there is total annihilation. I don't get it. It is particularly heinous in junior high.
I've watched girls make bad decisions when they are young that were made out of immaturity, ignorance, or because they were trying to fit in. Most people outgrow this tendency, and we need to cut them some slack if they do. I am not the same person I was in my teens, or twenties or thirties. I make mistakes. Most people do. Anyone who doesn't make mistakes (or can hide them well) should consider themselves blessed and quit trying to elevate their own status by trashing everybody in the vicinity.
So, when you see someone's daughter (or someone's mother) pulling herself together and doing well...cheer her on! For heaven sakes, shut up about who is doing what and let God work it out. I'm not suggesting that you let a friend sign up for "Girls Gone Wild" or that you don't intervene when it is appropriate, but whatever happened to treating people the way you want to be treated?
A few years ago, I was blessed out in my office by a woman who was angry with me...and I was totally blindsided. I've never quite gotten over the pain of that because some of the things she said were immensely hurtful. This week, someone ran into her and mentioned her name in conversation. It brought back everything, and that has been part of the problem this week. I suppose I mention that to tell you to be careful what you say to people. I expect that one day, she will have a similar experience and find herself on the other side. It normally works that way. And before you tell me that I need to get over it...just know that I've forgiven...I just can't seem to forget.
3. There's nothing wrong with speaking the truth. Preferably, in love. If they don't get it, though, sometimes you have to yell.
Lately, I've realized that a lot of things are my fault. Not really, but that's the impression I get. I am not responsible for other people's inability to manage their own lives, and my entire existence is not supposed to be dedicated to making sure that the people I love have every desire of their heart. Frankly, I don't think that anyone has enough money to do all that they want to do, and if they do, they find that in time it either runs out, or they have to create drama to break the monotony (ie. Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc.)
I've decided that I have done all that I can do to insure everyone's happiness, and beyond that...it is what it is. However, in response to any whining...since I've already spoken the truth in love numerous times...I'm just going to yell. Something to the effect of "ENOUGH ALREADY."
Today I was told that a lady at the pharmacy in Tuscaloosa gave Jill grief about presenting an expired prescription and then showing up at the wrong store when the doctor's office faxed a replacement in. I called that pharmacy and told the manager that although I'm sure they tire of dealing with college kids, we parents expect the same level of professionalism that we get in non-college towns. I reminded her that some of these college students probably have no idea how to deal with pharmacies because Mom and Dad have always done it for them. I told her that the reason they wandered into her pharmacy was not only because it was close to campus, but because it was most likely the store that the families use at home. I could tell that she had a paradigm shift, and I hope that she reminds her staff that they are there to serve customers. Even clueless ones.
4. My time is valuable.
I love doing things for other people. I really do. I'm not exactly the poster child for mercy, but I have invested my time in ways that God led me...or I've declined. Sometimes, though, I cannot seem to muster up the enthusiasm or get a sense of direction about what I am supposed to be doing. So, I flounder. I'm not responsible for the results, I am only responsible for following God's direction.
I have sometimes been angry with myself for messing up an assignment. Other times, I thought that I did not always invest well...but you never know. The time I spent driving girls around, helping with Bible study at school, writing notes, helping with English assignments or teaching people may have actually been worthwhile. All I can say is that I love the people that I come into contact with as I believe that they are my mission field. Sometimes they think I'm weird. Sometimes I guess I am.
But my time is valuable. Everyone's is. That point was driven home to me this week at the premature death of one of Jill's high school classmates. None of us know how much time we have, and so we need to make the most of every day. It isn't always easy. We want to be appreciated. We'd like to be significant. We have a strong need to matter. Sometimes that means that we have to make tough calls about what we can and cannot do.
Thanks for letting me be a little reflective here. I know that everything I've said are things that we all know. I just believe that life would be far sweeter if we actually took time to appreciate people and less time trying to impress them. I tend to not trust people who brag about their possessions, and I don't particularly enjoy hearing gossip. I'd much rather hear about something wonderful going on in their lives, or just see them and get a quick hug.
Life is short. Some days go on forever, but those days roll into years and then into generations. That's why I wanted to write this tonight. I'm ready to step back into the sun. Thanks for reading.