Do you have anything in your life like this?
If you’re like me, I’m sure you do. No matter what it may be, it is something that does not diminish with time. It’s something that does not seem to have a packaged, straightforward treatment. It does not go to the doctor, come home with medication for pain and an antibiotic, then three days later go back to school/work.
It might be a disease. It might be a habit you have wrestled with for years. It may be a person you’re connected to who is difficult but whom you can’t abandon. It might be money worries. It might be the mess in your garage, or the yard work that never really gets done, or the pile of dirty laundry that completely covers your cracked cement basement floor.
Whatever it is, it’s chronic. It’s not fixable today or this week.
You know what I mean?
Reflecting on my own life at the beginning of a new year, and wondering what will become of the chronic situations in my life during the course of the months to come, something else came to mind.
There’s all of this stuff, but, whatever else may be chronic, thank God that He is chronically good.
There’s always something I didn’t expect that throws me off balance, but this time is worse than usual.
I started the GAPS introduction diet November 12th and have now been on it for almost 6 weeks. It took a few months for the pieces to come together in my mind to convince me I needed to do this diet, and then it took me another several months to get all my menu plans in order and my basic items purchased and prepared.
So I knew just based on how long it took me to get ready that it was a complicated diet, and in fact, I should probably call it a lifestyle change. It’s not like reading about it over and over left me in the dark as to all the things I would be preparing.
But it’s one thing to carefully plan for a big change, another to live it.
And as often happens, when I set out to do a good thing, I always underestimate how much time it is going to take to accomplish the work. It reminds me of when I joined the ICAN board in 2003. Somehow I thought that I would magically be able to do a job the previous volunteer said took twenty hours a week in less time than that.
Nope, not going to happen.
And it didn’t this time either.
So, when I cook meat and vegetable meals from scratch, and make broth every other day, and make my own yogurt, sour cream, whey and ghee…that’s going to take time. I haven’t even done my own fermented vegetables yet, been buying those. Then, I’m still managing the food and shopping for everyone. The rest of the family, mainly the kids, are preparing their own main dish, vegetable and salad many nights, and nobody has said one complaining word about the amount of dishes that this plan has created. And it has created a veritable mountain of dirty dishes. So it is wonderful they are just doing them.
But, the reality is, I’m still the mastermind behind what is to be served and what their options are to choose from. I’m still the one figuring this out, stocking the fridge and the pantry, and being on hand to give advice if needed.
Some nights I combine us all, if we are just having meat, and vegetables as sides, and that helps. But more nights than not, five or six items get prepared, creating all the dishes.
And while I estimated in a previous blog that cooking, shopping and food prep took me about twenty hours a week, my current total is 27 to 30 hours a week. So I’ve added seven more hours, about an hour per day, to planning and cooking, in a schedule that already felt tight. I was definitely not expecting that to happen, as I already cooked mostly from scratch and did not think this would be that much different.
It’s odd. I’m feeling some guilt and shame for not being able to manage this better. I’m asking myself where I could cut unnecessary activities or events, or if I could do some component of my day faster, or if I could delegate more to the rest of the family. They already do most of the cleaning, laundry, dishes, and now a lot of the cooking. I’m moving as fast as someone with chronic problems can move. I can’t think of anything. This diet protocol just takes time.
So I find myself wishing that somehow amidst all the reading I did, that someone had warned me how stressed I would get doing this diet. I don’t think I saw that anywhere. I am stressed right now, and I know that is not supposed to be the outcome of a truly healthy diet, that comes with detox baths every night. The outcome is supposed to be improvement.
I’m not there yet.
I had a sort of déjà vu moment this afternoon. I dropped my two younger children off for their drama Christmas party. Not routine: a different venue than the class, downtown, and a bit weird to just be dumping them at the door.
Of course it was all fine.
I realized as I drove away that I was remembering a day four years ago when the two of them went to a movie at a local theater on their own. For a variety of reasons, this wasn’t something typical, but they wanted to see this movie in the theater instead of waiting for Netflix, and I didn’t, so they went. The youngest was eight years old then. The middle was twelve.
My oldest was volunteering.
So then, as the homeschool parent of three chidren, I was by myself. It was rare for all three of them to be gone to different places at the same time. It was just odd to be alone.
That was a moment when the door opened into the future.
Today, I was reminded vividly of that first moment when I saw what was coming.
My grandma always made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. She loved me affectionately and well. She encouraged me to behave properly by giving me her big brown-eyed stare if I wasn’t behaving, and loving me the rest of the time.
I knew she would always love me. I knew I could count on her love.
Don’t you love being loved like that? I sometimes think as I go through life I’m always looking for love and acceptance like that. To find a person who just thinks you’re the cat’s meow, someone who laughs at your jokes and who thinks the same things are funny or at least doesn’t look at you like you’re crazy. When you meet a person who is warm and kind toward you, it is nourishing and comforting and healing and helpful. I love meeting people like that. Don’t you?
I just can’t help wishing to meet that person again. It won’t be my grandmother, sure, but kindness lurks in many unexpected hearts and faces.
The dark side of this wish is that it turns into a quest.
At least for me it does. I look into every open door, every new room in life for that person who’s going to be good to me.
I seem to be always be looking for a person who will love me the way I remember other people loving me. I get caught up in expectations of friends or family or sometimes even just acquaintances, as I apparently look to re-create a relationship in the image I think it should have. Then if the relationship doesn’t do what I want when I want, I get irritated and cynical. If the connections I have don’t make me happy, I get depressed. If the local church isn’t doing what I think is important, I get disgusted.
What if I just flat-out accepted that the people around me are not going to follow my personal rules about how people should be? that they aren’t going to return my emails when I think they should? that there are gems among them, but that it will take time to polish them? that the person across from me needs to be loved also?
What if I stopped deciding how the people I know, the moral people, the good people should act?
What if I laid these chains down?
I am free to love.
I was passing through the student union at my local university where I was planning on attending a presentation in one of the research buildings, when I saw the TV screen in the lobby. The print headline on the bottom of the screen said something like “One Killed, Ten Injured in Ohio State Incident.”
I quickly sent off two texts to my son, as any parent would who saw that screen.
Well, maybe parents with more sense would have just called.
Regardless, I didn’t get an immediate response.
I knew that the odds were against my son being the one fatality on a campus that big. But, I excused myself to the restroom, where my mind repeated, “Please God, not my son, Please God, not my son, Please God, not my son.” I knew this was a lame prayer–what about the other parents whose children had been affected by this incident, whatever it was?
Well, I imagine that God as a Father has a great deal of compassion on those who utter those words. He knows what that’s like.
However, the next thing that happened was a shift in my mind to the good news, which was “God, I know he is safe in your hands, no matter what has happened.”
I can’t keep him safe, which every parent who sends a child off into adulthood knows. We still want to, but we learn that we can’t.
And when you know that he isn’t in your hands now, you also realize that he never was fully in your hands to begin with.
He wasn’t mine when he was a wish and a prayer twenty-three years ago.
He wasn’t mine when he was a squirmy, active baby who rolled all over his crib in his sleep.
He wasn’t mine when he was lost for half an hour in our neighborhood when he was two years old, despite the fact that he was my responsibility, one which I completely failed that fall afternoon.
He wasn’t mine when I held him when he was sick, when I cleaned up his vomit, nor when I baked his birthday cake or told him to do chores, nor when I bought him clothes, taught him geometry, and supervised his college application process.
He was never mine. He was always his, and God’s.
What is essential after this election?
I can’t stop thinking about my friends and family who are minorities–and Americans.
What must they be feeling as they look around themselves at neighbors, co-workers, bosses, school-mates, in states and precincts where they know that most of those who voted, voted for Donald Trump?
Mr. Trump’s attitude toward the public’s response to his comments has generally been belligerent, although he did give an apology regarding the video of his crude remarks about women. He hasn’t attempted to mitigate his racist and elitist views. Others have attempted to apologize for him, but that’s definitely not the same thing. So it follows that people in the groups he thinks little of are wondering what it means for them and their children that overnight their citizenship has been transferred to a state which will be run by a person who hates.
How can they not be afraid of what may come next?
And I know my friends are thinking this, worrying how their neighbors will feel free to treat them, because they are saying so.
I would like to know why people who are respectful and kind voted for a leader who is none of those things. How will it work in our country when those in authority say things that, I trust, your mother taught you never to say? I’m thinking of the rules we learned as children, such as, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” and “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” These are the foundational rules of our society. But this election’s results prove that Mr. Trump was correct when he decided those rules are for lesser mortals.
Please tell me why it has become OK for our nation’s elected leader to treat other human beings with a disregard that would not otherwise be tolerated in any venue.
What is essential now is that people with heart and kindness work overtime to show their friends and neighbors that their position in our society has not changed. We must work ten times harder than before to bridge the gap, to reach out the hand, and to speak up for others.