Monday, October 28, 2013

Stories and Thoughts

We shop weekly at Walmart (if it were solely up to me, it would be Kroger!). It does provide some great opportunities for interesting conversations with checkout people. Last night was a sobering one. There was no line, which is the only time that's ever happened to us at this Walmart, and when we walked up the young woman at the register was talking to a co-worker and was in tears. As she started checking us out she tried to compose herself but was obviously pretty emotional, and Isaac asked her if everything was okay and if she wanted to talk about it. She ended up telling us through her tears that she'd had multiple men (customers) ask her if she was pregnant because she looked like she was gaining weight. She managed to get out a few sobbing sentences about how she "had four kids close together" and knows that "the weight just kind of sits there". 

Truth. She was my age or younger. She was totally attractive, totally did NOT look pregnant, and in fact I'm amazed she'd had four kids because she didn't look it! In the middle of our conversation a supervisor came and excused her to go and compose herself, so I left wishing we'd had a moment more to tell her that she is beautiful and that the marks we all carry of bearing children are signs of beauty and strength. Nearly all of us women struggle to some extent with our bodies, no matter what they look like, and it was so heart wrenching to see her struggle with the pain inflicted by the words of some jerk guy. Since she was gone, I could only pray that she would very specifically that night feel the tender love of God for her, and the deep value she has that is NOT dependent on her appearance. 

__________________________________

We meet with a lot of people in this support-raising stage. Sometimes it's all business, sometimes is personal, sometimes it's deeply discouraging, sometimes it's really fun. This past weekend someone we'd already done our presentation for asked us over just to chat and get to know us more, and we got to spend a few hours at their home, talking and having our kids play together. I left so encouraged both for the chance to get to know them and because of who they are. They're part of our church, and in the last few years have been totally transformed by the gospel. That is so encouraging to see and hear. As we go overseas we go believing in the power of the Christ to change lives, to bring hope healing. It's so encouraging to see a fresh example of that and know that hey, that's the God and the work of God that we represent! 

__________________________________

On the other hand, there are discouraging times. Tonight I wrestle with my heart over feedback that is either constructive criticism or just discouraging, and I really want it to be the first, to respond well, to listen and learn. 

There's something about the culture of America, evangelicalism, and specifically Texas that really loves fiery, passionate people. I'm a semi-reserved, thoughtful person that doesn't inspire a crowd - instead I walk alongside people through life. Since we're trying to cast a vision for a work and ask people to partner with us, it's pretty intimidating to discover the cultural expectation of telling amazing, emotional stories, getting people all fired up, and making them FEEL passionate about what we're doing. Both in personality and in cultural background, that feels like emotional manipulation and disingenuous, and yet... it's what people really want to see. 

I find it exhausting sometimes, those cultural expectations. Is the church supporting what makes them feel good, or are they supporting the mission of God? 

__________________________________________

It's my first weekday as a stay at home mom. I'm cheating and not getting the real full-time at-home parent experience, because Isaac was here all day. He'll be out pretty often but home more than a lot of working spouses, so for these next few months we will just count our blessings for this sweet extra time together! 

I have to say, it was suuuuch a delight to be at home. I don't know if it's just my style or if it's nesting, but I cleaned like a mad woman all morning, sorting cabinets, washing dishes, and getting organized. This is what I do - I organize. I organized my office, I organized my bosses' lives, and now that I'm the primary one at home, everything in me says to organize the space and time. It's fantastic to be able to get things done while Judah putters around me, hilariously "helping". 

We also got to go out and meet with some Indonesian friends to work in some language and phonetics things for our Second Language Acquisition course, and that was just fun. I love the Indonesian culture, truly!

_______________________________________

This baby is due on Friday. What's the likelihood of having two children born on their due dates? My entire family is regularly texting Isaac asking if I'm in labor, and tonight I got the funniest email from my Grandma filled with exclamation points and excitement and her own memories of having her second child. She is absolutely the sweetest. This is her remembering her own grief for her first child at the adjustment to having another sibling: "So we got all packed and took Larry over to my folks and I cried all evening.  I felt so sorry for Larry because he was used to being the only one around here and I thought he'd feel so neglected!!

Ya'll, I can just hear my Grampa's voice saying, "Now Phyllis..." and rolling his eyes. Love them both. 


No comments: