Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My growing dislike of promoted love

With full knowledge that this may be misconstrued I have to say that I am growing to dislike holidays more with each passing one.  Not the essence of holidays, but the commercialized purchase push associated with them.  I cannot get over the fact that there is something wrong with a culture that ties the concept of love with things multiple times a year, constantly attempting to associate human value with purchase power. 

Here is what is resonating with me more and more:  Things mean nothing.  If my house burned down tomorrow (and my family got out safely) the only thing I would mourn would be photographs. (...and probably my poetry journals.)

15th Anniversary at the restaurant we ate at on our honeymoon.

People matter.  Memories matter.  Everyday moments matter. 

The hypocritical part?  I still went out and bought my girls and husband gifts.  It was not as much as previous though, and it is not that I do not want to have to give gifts, it is that I do not believe loving and giving should be confined to pre-printed dates on a calendar.  

When Barry sees, hears, or reads something he knows would interest me and he takes the time to share it by relating a story, or a passage from a book, or the way black-eyed susans leaned through a fence as if reaching out to greet him (Okay~ he would not say it quite like that.) that is an expression of love to me because he knows that the minute and the everyday are what fascinate me.  He knows that I look at the world with the open heart of a child and find beauty everywhere.  He knows me...that is what means so much.

It does not mean that if another person's love language is different than mine (quality time and physical touch) I think they are shallow or materialistic it is that I am growing to reject commercialized prompts.  I decorate for most holidays, major and some smaller.  (Seriously, St. Patrick's day is a favorite.) As things mean less and time means more I find myself gravitating toward the homemade, the handmade, the non-manufactured, and the thought out and unusual.  Perhaps that bleeds over from my preference for quality time, but it really is the thought that counts for me.  

As we sat together tonight on his all too short dinner break at a tiny Thai restaurant and handed each other our bought gifts I still enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the fact that our gifts were thoughtful, even though they probably would be misunderstood by the people around us.  

I bought him a book about interesting places to visit in the States.  I want to spend time with him doing things he enjoys.  He understood that it was not so much a book, but an invitation and a promise of, "I want to be with you."  I also wrote him a poem that expressed more than I could say in prose.

He bought me a small book of poetry, not because it was romantic (although it was) or because it was the thing to do on this day, but because it is my passion.  It was a love note and affirmation of what I do. 

Some day, hopefully many years from now when we have lived long and grown old together, our children will be sorting through our many books and find the inscriptions we penned today and will know us well enough to think they were romantic in their uniqueness.  

But even more so, I hope they find a random book inscribed with, "Because it was Tuesday and I found this small copy of Faulkner and I thought of you," and they will realize our love was so deep and plentiful that it was not bound to dates pre-printed on a calendar.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our tradition

Christmas 2011
Bary and I started dating in October 1993.  Christmas came quickly and I did not know what to get him. I wanted to give him something thoughtful, but not too personal. I decided on a stocking. I filled it with candy, his favorite gum, soda, and two Civil War paperbacks.  I may have not spent a lot of money but I wanted him to know that I paid attention to what he liked, that I paid attention to him.  After that, our tradition was set. Each Christmas Eve we exchanged stockings.  Some years those little things were our only gifts to each other but they were more special for it.

While we were dating
My stocking two years later was my most memorable. He had bought me a romantic ornament from the Hallmark store, chocolate, expensive perfume, and other little things. At the bottom of my stocking was a small box... 

After 15 years...
We still exchange stockings each Christmas Eve after our girls are "all snug in their beds," and each year his gifts are loving and thoughtful. Little things I have mentioned, little treasures I sigh over.  And every year I remember the feel of the jeweler's box on the tips of my fingers, how my heart beat faster as my hand closed around it, knowing. How my breath caught as he asked me to marry him. How I know I would still say yes today and every day in between.   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fearless in the face of perfection

18There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [a]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [b]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection].
1 John 4:18 (AMP)

When I live in fear I am not fully appreciating the Grace of God.  My failures, my humanity, these are stumbling blocks to me.  They made me miserable for years, not just because they existed, but because of my false expectations.  I made goals that broke and battered.  I desired an outward perfection, though I did not know it at the time. I saw through a haze of my own making. 

Today, in Jesus Calling, I read, "It's all right to be human.  When your mind wanders while you are praying, don't be surprised or upset. Simply return your attention to Me.  Share a secret smile with me, knowing that I understand."  God understands that I am human.  He knows I will fail and He is still waiting there, smiling.  The simplicity of returning my attention to Him, not condemning myself... Powerful words for a still broken woman trying to untangle lies like weeds grown in her heart.  The lie of perfection snares at my heart constantly.  I look at the outward lives of people and compare them to my inward life.  Lies. 

During the summer, my time to refresh and plan, I read a Christian home organization book.  The author seemed very sure of her plan and her system.  She also seemed so very young to me, so wanting to prove herself wise.  Her assertion that she believed God wanted her (and by extension her readers) to be perfect saddened me.  I may drink only water, and cook only organic meals, my laundry may be done, and my pantry organized, but this is not the perfection God calls me to.  He calls me to perfect my love.  So many other things are remedied when I work on perfecting my love.  

Perhaps she read "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48 (ESV) and forgot the previous verses concerning God's love and how we are to love.  I did for years, seeking to be perfect yet crushing love in the process.  Perfect meals, a perfect house, perfect kids.  The ones I loved were hurt as I tried to create perfection in rules and appearances, not in love and heart ties.  

Paul knew about being perfect in rules and laws yet he had to be humbled in the presence of Christ in order to realize his great imperfections. It was then that Paul née Saul began his true life.  My attempts at perfection cause me to become a Saul with clothing at my feet consenting to death according to expectations that I can never satisfy, turning my face from grace.  Timid and unsure, seeking to be intrepid and audacious, I choose fearless love. 

What I am thankful for: 
49. stinky science experiments with Bitsy.
50. the oldest helping the youngest.
51. hot coffee on a cold day.
52. a sweet note from my aunt.
53. friends who pray.
54. Angie, who dropped everything to come pray with us one day.
55. walking with our hands entwined in his coat pocket.
56. God’s Grace that I am reminded of always and in all kinds of places and situations.
57. making our home healthier for my family.
58. his scent on the pillow when I make the bed in the morning.
59. Bitsy in a tree reading a book.
60. Catechism study together.
61. Our little woman (all of 20!) talking and laughing with us, sharing herself more all the time.
62. Grace’s sketching.
63. the Word that drives out fear.
64. cooking together in the kitchen…how any time can become special.
65. beautiful words that fall into my mind and spill across the page.
66. friends who write beauty and heartache and hope and then share.
67. Truth that trumps man-made theology.
68. His gift of love and striving to be perfect in it.
69. God made perfect in my weakness.
70. fearless in love.
71. snow and sunsets.

multitudes on mondays