04 July 2010

A Lie

Fourth grade, just starting to notice boys as something more than objects to be avoided, and I get a note.

“You’re pretty. If you want to go out with me, raise your hand at 2:01.”

I looked around the room. Could it really be possible? Someone thought I, still the new kid even after a year and the crybaby, was pretty enough? Nice enough? Smart enough?

I showed it to the other girls. Not all friends, but the closest I had.

“Raise your hand,” they said at recess, and again as the clock struck 2. “Raise your hand.”

I caught the just-about titter before I put my hand in the air, but not before my heart broke. He didn’t think I was pretty enough, but they thought I was dumb enough. No one liked my hair or my eyes, they just wanted to see if I’d fall, if they could get me, again.
My vigilance saved me from humiliation, but not from pain.

That’s one of the problems with lies: they hurt.

Sometimes the pain is pins stuck into deep places, like it was for me that day. Other times, it ebbs out so slowly that we miss it unless we look at things from just the right angle.

I think there’s a lie around that’s causing pain like that, pain that’s not even pain until we touch it. Pain many of us get so used to that we don’t even notice the things we’re doing to fill up the holes it leaves behind.

The lie? That truly living means our days are filled with adventure, excitement, and meaning we create. That if we do anything other than follow our dreams / travel around the world / join a cause, we’re only putting in time. Or wasting our time.

It’s not that making our dreams come true and doing exciting things is wrong. It’s not. But most of us don’t have the money, time, or energy to live in those places all the time.

In fact, if we did, we’d wear out, flame out, or burn out.

But the lie tells us we must live this way, or we’ve failed. We’ll get to the end of things and wish we’d chosen differently, wish we’d made our days our own instead of letting them come and go, ebb and flow, bringing what they bring.

The lie ignores the fact that a day is a gift. Each day is a gift. Life itself is a gift, and not just when we feel like we’re really living.

So I propose the following thoughts, to counteract the lie and bring some healing to the pain: 
If the now is as much of a gift as the not yet, maybe our task is different than what we’ve learned it to be.

Maybe instead of creating experience and meaning, we’ll find the meaning of each day as we live it, whatever it brings.

Maybe life is less about how much we fit in and more about how open our hands are to receive.

Maybe these days we’re given are holy places, brimming with more than we’ve let ourselves see.

If the little girl who got that note can learn to look into eyes that say, “I love you,” and trust him, then healing is possible. We can learn to meet each day, no matter what it holds, and say, “These? These are sacred days.”


Tammy said...

Wow. Sarah. I really love this blog. It is so true. I have never really sat down to articulate or really put my finger on how I feel about the hours, days, weeks, moving now into yrs of my life that have gone by and it all seems so futile so many times.

There is a sadness that sits in my chest like a huge anchor when I compare my life to what I know to be "successful." It really is caused by some of the lies that you have listed here. But they seem so much like the truth when we are taught by the world (that seems to be passing us by) what success is.

You have opened a window in the ark here. I wonder how Noah felt all that time floating around and seeing nothing. I wonder how Job felt during the passing days when he saw no light at the end of the tunnel. I wonder how discouraged Joseph felt as he stayed day after day in prison with no hope except what God had spoken to him.

I can keep going here, but I digress. Anyway, I said all of that because I think you are really on to something there. You are taking a look through a different pair of eyes. You are peeking through the lenses of faith in the midst of the storm.

A song keeps rolling around in my mind. It is a Ray Boltz song, The Anchor Holds:

i have journeyed
through the long dark night
out on the open sea
by faith alone
sight unknown
and yet his eyes were watching me

the anchor holds
though the ship is battered
the anchor holds
though the sails are torn
i have fallen on my knees
as i faced the raging seas
the anchor holds
in spite of the storm

i've had visions
i've had dreams
i've even held them in my hand
but i never knew
they would slip right through
like they were only grains of sand


i have been young
but i am older now
and there has been beauty these eyes have seen
but it was in the night
through the storms of my life
ohh thats where God proved his love to me

Love to you Sarah.

christianne said...

Ouch. Those grade-school tricks can leave such a mark, can't they?

What you're saying here reminds me of something shared in church yesterday. The idea was that pain will meet us on the road, but what will be our response? We can choose so many different responses, but we get to choose, in that moment, what ours will be. Will we choose joy (a la James 1)?

The pastor even said something similar to what you've said here: we can waste years of our lives looking forward into the future or the past, thinking, "If only my life were this or that ... " instead of embracing what is right in front of us and living the life we do have.

Thanks for getting me thinking, Sarah. Your life is a gift.

kirsten michelle said...

Our minds are circling around similar themes these days. I remember a lot of those lies: about adventure, and travel, and grandiose, dramatic life plans.

You're right: there is nothing wrong with these, but as you're quick to point out, there is nothing wrong with honoring the everyday either: the normal, even the mundane. We really miss out if we choose not to embrace these things with joy.

Your post reminds me about how I was right after college: desperately wanting an impressive career, to be a writer, to travel, to do and see things. I didn't want to be held back or to miss out on living.

And now I find myself loving the every-dayness of my life. I don't love working in a cubicle and I don't love wondering if we're going to be able to make ends meet: but I love my normal life, my home, my marriage, and all the opportunities and gifts I've been given. I love and cherish them.

In his homily yesterday, our priest talked about struggle and suffering and thanking God for it: another theme I've been circling around. We will all face it in the course of our everyday. Will we grumble through it, will we be put out of joint? Or will we embrace it, thank God for it, and be healed by it?

Beautiful thoughts, my Sarah-friend. It's so good to hear/see your writing again. :o)

terri said...

oh i love this so much.

your story brought back so much of the torture of being the new, awkward kid who was constantly the butt of cruel remarks or attacks. and here you are so lovely and valuable. and here i am too.

to be able to value all the little things in our day to day lives. wouldn't that be amazing? thanks for the reminder about what is true.

heather said...

Oh, my heart broke for this little girl. How could they be so cruel?

This is probably my biggest struggle: remembering that life is in the everyday and that the everyday is ordinary and mundane, especially during this stage of life.

Thank you.