Friday, August 27, 2010

Risky Business

Yesterday, a friend of mine relayed a comment made by a famous woman who's in the process of reinventing herself at midlife. The gist of it was that women need to let their daughters see them taking risks...and even see them fail (and of course, this goes for sons as well). The "gift" of failing, after you finish nursing your bruises, frees our most-loveds to fail themselves and learn that it's rarely fatal.

For anyone who knows me, it should go without saying that I'm not referring to heliskiing, mountaineering or deep-water scuba-type risks. I'm talking about starting that business, moving to another state (or country), living alone even though you're scared or lonely, giving so much that you're always living on the edge, going back to 50.

I've always tended toward the orderly and predictable, preferring life to be on the neater side (if anyone had bothered to ask). But I'm also a very strong woman on a lot of levels. So why, then, do I want to show my daughter only the clean side, the pain-free side? Often, it's because I want her to feel safe, and that is a good a point. Because we live in an unsafe place where bad things happen to innocent people and longings go unanswered and people up and die, there's only so much safety I can provide. Do I want her to think well of me (by keeping everything neat and in control) or would I rather she think well of herself ("If Mom can do a face plant in life and keep going, so can I")?

The older I get, the freer I get, and the freer I get, the more I can share the real me with my girl. I'm less afraid of telling her the times I've been terrified; I'm no longer searching for the perfect answer, instead telling her I've often been unclear. This frees her to go through life wondering, questioning, marveling. Risking. The way we were wired. Life is indeed risky business--how are you living it?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For Giving

"You may be the only Bible that people are reading," our guest pastor said this morning, referring to the fact that we're supposed to be *living* our faith in the world. We've got the guidebook, but how we do it and what that looks like is up to us.

I haven't been to church in a long time, but I heard to go this morning, and that pastor may have well as thrown an NIV upside my head. How often do I forget that people watch me, listen to me, hear when I'm snarky, complaining, cursing or despondent? Do I come across as hopeless...or hope-filled? Victim or redeemed? Compounding the issue is that he also said we need to be reconciled to whomever or whatever needs it, in order to be authentic. Real. And sadly, this involves the often painful experience of forgiving.

This last year has, frankly, been tough. There's been a lot of loss--of people, relationships and support. I've been adrift, questioning and feeling pretty lonely and forgotten. But if I take this morning's words to heart, then I need to take steps to make that right with the people involved if I want my parenting, my writing and my work with Eve's Daughters to have the scent of authenticity to it...vs. the stink of withholding, of unforgiveness, of bitter disappointment.

During my divorce, a wise friend taught me that often people who've hurt us don't deserve our forgiveness, but that I deserved to be a woman who forgave--that I was made for giving. Most days I forget that. I'm at that critical crossroads yet again: Forgive and make progress, or don't and stay stuck.

And although I am heavily into reality, I confess today that I am caught in the stink...even as I sit here, mere minutes away from gladly preparing a meal for some 40 single moms, their kids and our volunteers. I will happily pour into these women...but I also know I've got some hard interior work to do to make this meal--and the next and the next--all the more real.

My desire to be right, to be vindicated, fights with my desire to be free. But for now, I'm trying to be "willing to be willing"--to loosen my fist a bit, to relax into an imperfect ending. To go prepare a meal and serve it with imperfect grace. And I know if I stay willing, forgiveness will come with silent steps when I least expect it--when I suddenly find I'm no longer in this tight-fisted place, when reality shows up with wide, hopeful spaces.