Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Enough

When I was in middle school, I was an avid writer. My teachers thought I was better than I ever thought I was. There was an opportunity to take a master class with a local northwest writer and my teacher selected myself and 6 or 7 other people, all older than me. Some were even in high school. Wow. One of the people in my class wrote a story called "Good Enough" and it was about a young girl who admired her older brother but how nothing her older brother did was ever good enough for their mother. Her story was actually selected to be published in a literary magazine that the school made and included full colored photos. Both were of a man sitting on a curb wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The first one he had his head in his hands and the second he was looking at something in the distance. Feelings of sorrow and hope. You could almost read it in the photos: "today I'm not good enough, but maybe tomorrow I will be."

Whenever I hear the phrase "good enough" I think of that story and those images. 

I've made some mistakes while at work the past couple of days. What's the big deal, right? Everyone makes mistakes. Often I feel that while everyone WILL make mistakes I SHOULDN'T make mistakes. I know that I'm not perfect, and I don't expect I ever will be upon this earth, but when I make a big flashing mistake it's hard for me to overlook. 

Rob Bell gave a series of sermons on forgiveness that I've listened to multiple times. One of the sermons was called "Living by the Books" or something along those lines. He talks about this system of checks and balances and how many of us approach others with an accounts balance sheet. We list all of their good deeds in the (+) column and all of their bad deeds in the (-) column. Whichever side has a greater balance is what determines the amount of effort we put into the relationship. Rob suggests that often we approach God with this same book of checks and balances. The whole point of the message was reconciliation and how Jesus came to destroy the books.

What I realized yesterday and today, in between lots of crying, is that I live my life by "the books". I don't determine or measure the lives of others by the books, but I measure my own by them. When I make a mistake, I can almost see the calculating of my balance in the eyes of others. This system, I'm sure, is in my imagination but it feels very real. One mistake and I'm back at ground zero and feel I have to make things up to those impacted by my error. 

How is it I can counsel my high school girls and friends in not needing to be perfect, and believe in a God of grace, but convince myself that at the end of the day trying my best and falling short just isn't good enough? Maybe I need to reed The Ragamuffin Gospel again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dating is like a box of chocolates

I had a dream the other night I got married. It was a weird ridiculous dream. For one, I got married in my junior year prom dress. For two, my husband and I never spent any time together. For three, my reception was at McDonald's. Anyway, I mentioned this dream to a couple people in my office and someone responded "speaking of marriage, my wife has someone they wondered if you'd like to meet." We ended the conversation with me agreeing to meet the guy if it was in a pretty casual environment, like all of us going over to my friend's house for dinner.

Some of my friends would jump at the chance to get set up, and here I was feeling quite uncomfortable and approaching the idea with mild trepidation. I started thinking about why I felt that way. Is it a fear of commitment? A fear of abandonment? Fear of rejection? Poor self-image? 

The more I thought about it the more I realized that it really stems from a fear that I'm not going to be okay. I'm content with my life. I have a great house, wonderful friends, a good job, and a church that I love. I'm really happy with it all. And I'm happy being single. What happens if I open up this pandora's box and all of a sudden I need and want a relationship when I've never felt like I really needed one to begin with? 

The only analogy I can think of is a kid who has never had chocolate before. The kid sees that other people enjoy chocolate and they imagine that they would probably enjoy chocolate too but they don't feel the need to eat it. What happens when that kid finally does have chocolate? He freaks out, that's what happens!!! He all of a sudden realizes he wants more and more. Or, he could realize that it makes him sick and from here until eternity he is the one kid who doesn't eat chocolate.

I'm afraid that I do the dating thing and then all of a sudden my contentedness goes right out the window. I will become the person incapable of being single and equate my wholeness with those times when I have someone's hand to hold. But what if the other thing happens? What if I try the dating thing and I just don't want to do it at all? Sometimes I feel like I am just built a little differently than most people. And it's kind of exhausting to tell you the truth. It's hard to see the things that my friends want and desire and to not want or desire them for myself. 

So, dating is like a box of chocolates. But it's a box of chocolates I'm terrified to even try, both because I'm afraid I'm going to love them too much but even more so because I'm afraid I won't. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Prompt 29: Your talent

I've never really thought of myself as a talented person. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be visibly and noticeably talented: be able to dance, figure skate, do gymnastics, sing, play an instrument. My heart has honestly always been a little sad at knowing that I was never really good enough at any of those things to continue them on into adulthood. I'll never sing at an open mic. Or perform dance on a stage. Or be good enough to be cast in a show. It feels like everything I really wanted to be good at I was only ever middling at. The violin. Theatre. Dance. Cloning animal species. You get the point. 

I think this is a pervading feeling in my life. I am always afraid that I will never be as good, as funny, as pretty, as talented, or as interesting as those around me. This is something God is working with me on, and taking spiritual journey again this past year is continuing to help me in see myself as God sees me.

I think I am talented in some things but when I stand next to someone who has the capability of bringing down the house with their singing talent, my ability to creatively craft a Bible study or write a thoughtful card doesn't seem so significant. 

I guess talent is in the eye of the beholder. There are some people that would never want to get in front of a crowd of people and dance, act, or play an instrument. They might admire those that do, but they have no desire to have those performing arts be one of their talents. Another thing if that sometimes with my talents, when I fail at them the consequences seem more severe. It's a burden I don't really want. If a dance makes a misstep during a performance, they might feel embarrassed or get scolded, but they haven't harmed anyone. When I fall asleep on the job and don't exercise a gift of compassion or temperance, the misstep hurts my heart, and I'm afraid it might hurt others as well. 

Definitely a stream of consciousness post. Time for bed!