Thursday, April 07, 2016

Swing Lessons

At swing dancing a few weeks ago, the following thoughts chased each other in circles:

1) Everybody here is a better dancer than I am, on account of which nobody should pick me to dance with.

2) Almost everybody here is younger and prettier than I am, on account of which nobody should pick me to dance with.

"Do you want to dance?" someone asked.

"I do, but it's my first time here and I know nothing, so you should probably pick somebody else."

He graciously persisted and walked me through the basics, but my response has been rattling around in my head since then: "You should probably pick somebody else." It isn't the only time I have used it, it's just the only time I have used it out loud.

Other job candidates besides me? You should probably pick somebody else.

Other women interested in you? You should probably pick somebody else.

Other options open besides the one I had to offer? You should probably pick one from somebody else.

I'm not going to know the steps. I'm going to trip up. I'm not going to be able to read your mind, or to follow your lead. I'm not going to avoid disappointing you unless I avoid it up front by cutting off your opportunity to be disappointed. You should probably pick somebody else.

"At least I am more interesting than the pretty girls," I realized I was consoling myself, which was grossly unfair to women who might well be kindred spirits beneath all of their good looks. I know a lot of beautiful women who are thoughtful and kind and nerdy.

I can't help my age or my basic level of attractiveness. But I can learn to let myself be caught when I trip up, to laugh my mistakes off, to believe people mean it when they ask me to join them, to value the strengths of others without devaluing my own, to put my heart and soul into the mess of the dance that is life.

(Maybe I'll take those lessons back to the swing dance floor, too.)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Singing for Christmas

Last Christmas, I had been excited about my brother and his family visiting my church, and introducing these special people to a lot of special people at Harvest. Then there was a lot of illness in the family; and *then* my power went out that Sunday and we had to pack up four adults, two kids under the age of two, and three tropical birds to go to a hotel with heat. 

That night, I went to church alone and sat in the back row, wrestling with the disappointment and fighting to drop frustration that God would let me get that excited about something that wasn't going to happen. That year, I stood in the back, singing the Hallelujah Chorus without joining everyone in the front, praising through the ruin of my own plans.

Tonight I sang in the choir for the first half of the service, and when we sang the Hallelujah Chorus at the end my sister-in-law and my niece joined me up front, and we sung together (my niece just clinging to her mom, but present), and I missed a few notes in the confusion and the joy. In thinking of the imperfections, I thought also of my niece's words when I came to join them the first time the choir sat down. 

"Thank you for singing," she said.

In the end, the love of your audience covers the feebleness of your efforts. I am thankful, this Christmas, to have been forgiven much, and loved even beyond that.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Past, Present, Future

As someone who has always moved into the future with a deep ache over the loss of the past (and I do mean always--I distinctly recall being eight years old and crying over a book at which a character had to move from one country to another), I am extremely comforted that God constantly introduces Himself in reference to past events, that His covenant name is "I AM," that He repeats over and over that He is a God who remembers.

God is not only already in the future, God is still in the past, just as sure as He is here now, constant from age to age, holding all of my days in His hands. And nothing He holds can be lost forever.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Small Things

I don't know if this is common for lots of people, but many times, Sundays are my days to get attacked by anxiety about the week ahead. This Sunday was also the very first day of Sunday School for the new year, and since teachers don't always get completely over the "Will they like me? Will they listen to me? Will I be useful to them?" fears, it was especially good to have these three things today:

1) A teacher commissioning service in which the pastor reminded us that the power behind our teaching is not us, and asked people to remember to pray for us throughout the year.

2) A student from last year who said, "I wish you were still my teacher." 

3) A group this year that included three boys who chose to sit in the front row (5th grade boys in the front is a big deal, guys), and two from the back who stayed to put away chairs without even being asked.

Small kindnesses can be turned as arrows into the beast of someone else's anxiety. (On this spiritual battleground we live on, tell your kids they are warriors, even now.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Sometimes I wonder what I would have wanted to be when I grew up if I hadn't wasted imagination on a hypothetical marriage. (At this stage of my life, I do not regret the marriage-that-might-have-been, but I do regret putting myself in a holding pattern waiting for what a Calvin professor once called "the prince in pink tights.")

Lately, I've been thinking about counseling, about how I have family in the field and how many people are hurting and how many counselors in my area are men and.... Well, I am sure there are many, many wise men who do not say things like I was told in my one and only counseling appointment I went to, back when I was in the middle of a depression--something along the lines of "I hope you don't mind me saying so, but you're a beautiful woman, and you might try wearing a little make-up because that makes a big difference to a woman." (Actually, I DO mind, I'm just not saying anything because I'm in shock that you as a counselor have never had any training on how thin the line is between compliments and sexual harassment when you're talking to an emotionally vulnerable person behind closed doors.)

Today the Harvest secretary sent out a link to a counseling certification program that opens in mid-September, and it takes a full year and it would be another evening out of my already crazy busy schedule and the year has been So Full and what would I do with a certification, anyway, really, and by no means do I have it all together myself, and....

I still find myself intrigued.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Acronym Epiphany

It has been a bit of a rough year. This week, I was talking to somebody about fear and anxiety, and what "I am" statements I could use to counteract them. I realized that "God is" statements were effective only if I applied them, owned them for myself, and so I came up with these:

1) I am safe.
2) I am useful.
3) I am protected.
4) I am loved.

That night, I had a highly detailed anxiety dream, mostly centered around me having to give a presentation shortly and realizing that I was still wearing my pajamas and was too far from home to go change. My mom and I rushed to a store to find something, and found several things in my color range. But then, when I went to try them on, I looked in the mirror and what I was wearing already looked more professional. I was already more prepared than I had realized.

Which made five:

5) I am prepared.

Being the word nerd that I am, I quickly realized that I could remember all of these with an anagram:


Now, that is a word that I haven't used much (or at all) due to finding it vaguely creepifying, so I looked it up to see what exactly it meant. 

As an adjective, the first set of definitions (courtesy of were:

A. Compliant, often to the point of obsequiousness
B. Readily adaptable or responsive to new situations


Then I read further. "Supple" is also a verb that can mean to make peaceful, to calm and heal, to make flexible.

Behind all of my "I am" statements is the I AM, and He keeps me safe, useful, protected, prepared, and loved.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Call and Response

Jesus tells a parable about a man checking in on his property by sending representatives, all of whom the tenants abuse in various ways (some are even killed). When the owner sends his son to them, the tenants kill him, too. 

I have read this parable a lot, but I have not really noticed this part before (Luke 20:15-16): "What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”"

That cry of "surely not" is chilling, because it shows that the people who heard the parable knew what it meant. They knew it was telling them not to trust their ethnic heritage to keep them in the land of promise and in favor with God. Paul would write later that "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" (Rom. 9:6).

"Surely not" implies that the owner does not have the right to administer his land as he sees fit, that everything is just fine, that rumors of the need for repentance have been greatly exaggerated.

"Surely not" is the cry of someone who has already decided that the owner's wishes are not of primary importance.

Let those of us who claim the Name keep a close eye on our gut reactions to his words.