Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bridges Instead of Walls

A week ago the Not-So-Little One and I had a fight. A loud one. Tempers were flaring, voices were rising, tears were flowing, words were flying... a lot of what I know to be effective parenting went out the window. At times we were both wrong. At other times we were both right. We both said some things that needed saying. And I'm sure we both wish we could take some things back.

After we went to our corners and the dust settled, we apologized. She told me she doesn't like getting mad at me. I explained that it was normal for her to get angry with her mother, and that it was normal for me to get angry with my daughters. I told her I was always on her side, even when it doesn't seem like it to her. She asked for a hug, and we hugged for a long, long time. Started crying all over again.

I had a little time to think about all of it while I was licking my wounds. I decided that this is the way it is supposed to be. If she never argued with me, I would never know when I was being unreasonable. If she never voiced her opinion, I would never know who she really is inside, what matters to her, what makes her her.

These occasional arguments serve to bring us closer because we both refuse to turn our backs on each other. As long as we choose to use what we've learned about one another during the encounter to build bridges instead of walls, we will have a relationship.

It hurts to fight. I like to avoid conflict whenever possible. But it's not the end of the world. It is part of growing in a relationship - every now and then someone has to take the lead, and that brings about resistance. The aches my heart feels are the result of my own growth as a parent and an individual.

Sunday she sat close to me at church and held my hand. I chose not to remind her that church is a public place in which people can actually SEE a teenager being nice to her mother.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Next Chapter

I am officially back in the work force. I just finished my first week flying solo as the office manager of my church. The building is still standing, so there is real hope for the future! It is a part time gig, won't make me rich, and is not exactly what I'm trained to do, but it is a blessing.

It is a blessing to be able to pick my daughters up from school on early dance days. It is a blessing to have evenings and Fridays free to schedule counseling clients. It is a blessing to do work that matters to someone. Okay... some things matter to some folks a little more than they should, perhaps... (smile)

It is a blessing to be in a safe place. It took me a long time to feel good about myself and to trust again after losing my last job. I was beginning to believe there just wasn't any place for me. That I would never fit in. That I was fatally flawed in some way. I feel safe here.

It is also a blessing to spoil others and to be spoiled a little. I found a container marked with my name on it in the fridge. It was leftovers from the weekly fellowship meal, and it was just for me. The Pastor calls me No. 1, and I call him Captain. (His head does resemble that of Captain Picard, come to think of it...) We're in the process of giving the rest of the staff Trek-esque nicknames. It is good to laugh again.

It is a humble job. Just the place for a person who has been humbled. It is evidently where God wishes for me to be, and I wish to please Him by doing the best I can every single day. Thanks, God. And thanks, CUMC, for helping me to lay the past year to rest.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I am a Christian. I believe that God is the Creator of the Universe. I believe that Jesus Christ died in my place so that I can rise above my own human failures. I believe the Holy Spirit enters a willing heart, bringing about change and lending hope to a seemingly hopeless world. I don't always understand grace, but I am thankful for it.

I am also thankful that I am free to believe what I believe and to worship in the manner I choose to worship. I have the forefathers to thank for that. They knew firsthand what it was like to be told what to believe and how to worship, and they were determined to keep this from happening in their new home.

I know that I take a great risk as a Christian when I stand up for the separation of Church and State. I agree that it is unfair that this constitutional principle has been applied to the extent that prayer has been removed from school tradition. I wish the kids could pray in school - ALL of the kids - the Christians, the Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists. All of them. How beautiful it would be for young people to call on their God(s) to bless them with love and peace. But I am thankful that no single religion in this country will become the lawmaking body.

You may think it odd that a Christian would be glad that her own faith not be the prevailing power in her own land. Why wouldn't I want Christians to be in charge if I believe that Jesus is the Way and the Light? I'll tell you why. Because I paid attention in history class, and I've experienced personally the cruel ways in which some Christian believers try to convince others that their "truths" are the only ones that count. I still recall the shame I felt as my Sunday School teacher told me that my parents sinned against God for marrying interracially.

Seems half the country is terrified that allowing more Muslim immigrants to enter our country would mean public beatings and exploding subways. I'm not so sure we can blame Muslims, radical or otherwise, for all the violence in our society. Wasn't all that long ago that many state laws made wives and children the property of male heads of household, and protected those men when they crossed the line and harmed or killed them. I don't have the statistics handy, but I'd bet big money most of those marriages were sealed in Christian ceremonies. There's simply not enough space here to cite all of the instances in which some zealous Christian succumbed to his or her religious passion and caused another harm. (Read Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B Tyson for an eye-opening account of the Church's role in segregation.)

Yes, I take a great risk. I expect many of my friends will disagree/disapprove. And that is okay, because the laws of this country make it okay. I get to believe what I believe, and they get to believe what they believe. And we can express our opinions openly, as long as we respect one another and the law.

The point is, our governing bodies strive to protect all of us, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, from ourselves. The job is nearly impossible because of our God-given free will. It's not a perfect system, but I believe in it. I trust in it. And I am thankful for it.