Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Things We Think And Do Not Say- or My Version of Such

I have thought a little more about my problem with horn tooters and have something to say; then I promise I won't mention it again. Can you tell I am often misunderstood? I feel the need to clarify. I promise I am really not the world's biggest jerk. I think I am going to move on to just generally more shallow subject matter. It's not me really, and I don't really see the point of me blogging about nothing- lots of people have way more interesting things to say about nothing than me- but I just can't take the criticism. No, I don't think I'm perfect. I just think when I mean things in a light hearted, joking sort of way, they are sometimes read with a mean tone. And when I mean to be vulnerable about my own struggles and my own sin as an encouragement to others that we all struggle and we all sin, sometimes it is perceived as "airing dirty laundry" or making light of it in an irreverent sort of way. Obviously, people have all different senses of humor and degrees of openness, and I can't expect everyone to "get" me. But to what end are there a whole bunch of people out there thinking that I am some kind of someone I'm not? I tend to think you just wouldn't read if you don't know me or like me, but then I hear about all these people who read that don't know me. I really don't mind that. I have nothing to hide. But is it all coming out wrong? Are people reading just because it's like a train wreck and they just can't look away? I thought about disabling the comments at one point, but it clearly isn't anyone commenting that's having a problem with me; it's the off-screen conversations that are taking place. Maybe I should have thicker skin, but at the place I am, at least for right now, I am just really sensitive and really don't need the added level of stress that comes from people making this or that judgement about me. So do I just shut down the whole thing? We'll see. I am reevaluating everything right now. That's what happens in the hard times isn't it? We start to rethink what we're about, what we're called to, who we want to be. Everything is on the table, everything is at a crossroads. 

Ugh. I sound so dramatic. I am so dramatic. I'm okay with that. It's a little embarrassing sometimes, and a little frustrating because no one is as riled up as I am about whatever I'm riled up about, but it has its up side. Sort of. Well, it's just who I am. Anyway, I think I want to clarify what I don't like about some other blogs because it helps me think about what kind of blog I want to have, should I continue. I want to have the kind of blog I would want to read. And the thought that keeps coming to me is Micah 6:8 "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" I think that's what bugs me in other people, when I don't see that justice and mercy and humility. No, not that I'm perfect. It bugs me in myself too; it just sometimes takes me a while to see it. I guess it's just the posts that sound like they're bragging about how many really important things a person is involved with or the ultra healthy way they eat or basically any post where it seems like the author is telling you why you should be like she is, and she has illustrations to drive it home. Do I do that? Probably. I don't mean to. Heaven knows I am one mess of a person. Sometimes I say I do things to sound normal. I think everyone exercises every day and reads every day so I try to talk about exercising and reading to make sure people know that I am normal. I'm really not normal anyway. Is "normal" even real? NO! But there's the idea of it out there, and it is oppressive. And it is perpetuated by people who preach it. It's like Dr. Chapell's comments on parenting, only it reaches so much further into every part of life- there is an emphasis on Biblical living in Scripture, but not a precise list of right and wrong answers. But somehow the world, and often the Church, tells us there is a "normal" for the way we should feel, the way we should look, the way we should spend our time, the way we should spend our money, the food we should eat, etc. etc. And the idea I'm getting is not true to the way I feel or look or spend my time or my money or what I eat. And I really do love mercy. 

That's why I say "hey, all I ate today was half a 14 oz. bag of M&M's" (not actually today, February 19th, but plenty of days) or "I drank six cups of coffee today. Six!" or "we went to McDonald's the past three Fridays." (which may actually be true) or (and this one is true) "Last week, I fed my family cheesy baked potatoes one night, pasta with alfredo (cheese and butter) sauce the next night, and cheese quesadillas the next night. That's it for three days, cheese." or "I accidentally threw an envelope with eighty dollars in it away." Yes, I did. Sort of. I thought I did for three weeks, but then, only because God is merciful, I found it.  "My children have been wearing the wadded up contents of the clean clothes basket for a week." Or how about, "I haven't cleaned the bathroom in two weeks. Stubble from George's razor, a splatter from when my little boy "missed" (nice!), and several other gross things that I'll spare you from, they're all there." (true at this moment) and finally, "I walked into a bathroom where my little boy had tracked mud all over and had his muddied shirt half off soaking in the cold water that was splashing out all over the floor and reached out to grab the splashing arm and screamed out 'what are you doing?!' nearly breaking his heart." (and mine, I wept) Am I saying these are wonderful things that I hope you all will join me in? No. I hope no one read that that way. I am saying that these things happen. Some are out and out sin (like yelling at August) and some are just being human. But for goodness sake, we all do both! Do we glory in that? Well, in humanity, yes. I have thought often about if I had a digital camera, posting pictures of the dirty dishes overflowing out of the sink onto my counter the morning after! What a relief that would be to me to check someone else's blog and see the very same thing on their front page that is sitting in my own kitchen! And as for the sinfulness, no, we don't need to glamorize it or call it something it's not. We don't make light of it or "sin that grace may abound." But can we have an honest assessment of who we are? If we can be humble enough to confess our sins before the Lord, surely we can confess it before fellow sinners? Or maybe I'm wrong. George reads all my posts like this before I publish so I am sure he will tell me if I am. 

On the other hand, there is something to be said for the lack of tone and annunciation that comes with this medium of communication, even the skill of the writer, and the comprehension level of the reader. I used to love the Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid. There was a whole episode that was built around this very subject. There was a quarrel between two characters that resulted from a mispunctuated  phone message taken by a third party. It was poorly written and consequently misinterpreted by the reader and chaos ensued. Take this exchange with my sister in law from earlier tonight. I hope I can utilize the proper punctuation and italics to communicate her tone and mine:

How it actually happened:
Abby "I have been wearing a sports bra every day for two weeks almost but I can't get the energy to run with all these sick people around. And now I have the virus and can't run anyway!"
sister-in-law is merciful "I know! I have a 5 mile race coming up next month and I haven't started training yet because we have been sick!"
Abby "Oh no. Well, then you understand."
sister-in-law is just "Yeah. And it's just so cold too. But I have been doing a pilates video."
Abby "Oh, well that's great! I haven't ever done pilates. Is it hard?"
sister-in-law is humble "It's really good. It is just 20 minutes long; it's all I really have time for in the mornings." 

Emphasis changed to make sister-in-law sound like Jetta from Clifford (it did not happen this way!):
Abby "I have been wearing a sports bra every day for two weeks almost but I can't get the energy to run with all these sick people around. And now I have the virus and can't run anyway!" 
sister-in-law is not merciful "I know, I have a 5 mile race coming up next month and I haven't started training because we have been sick!"
Abby "Oh no... Well, then you understand?"
sister-in-law us not just "Yeah, and it's just so cold too, but I have been doing a pilates video."
Abby "Oh, well, that's great... I haven't ever done pilates. Is it hard?"
sister-in-law is not humble "It's really good! It is just 20 minutes long- it's all I really have time for in the mornings." 

Well, I'm not sure how well I did that. But, if you have ever seen Clifford on PBS, that will help. I think you probably get the idea. 

One other thing I have considered is the intended audience. If you are a perfect person, then we will not likely get along that well. I am a mess, and I am all about the working of that mess into something lovely by the Lord throughout the entirety of my life. If you don't like messes, then you won't like me. I am not really writing for people who hate messes. And if I go to your blog and see all the prettiness of life and every ugly thing carefully concealed as if nothing were ever messy or askew, then I will feel sad. However, if you can be merciful to messy people and just about your own self and others in light of God's law, and humble about your own messiness, then we will get along splendidly! This does not mean that I expect everyone's blog to be as absurdly transparent as mine. I do recognize that my blog is all very opening scenes of Jerry Maguire, overgrown emo kid turned homeschool mom (they didn't have emo when I was a kid, but I would have fit in nicely), Marianne Dashwoodesque whoa! But you know, I just hope that my readers are the kind of people who are at least pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. And likewise, I hope to pursue that if I continue- or in life, at least, should I choose to stop blogging. And I believe that is important for me as a reader and a writer. So I cancelled my subscription to that other blog. I never did find mercy or humility there. And if you don't find it here, I want to know! But please read with that in mind as well (provided there is more to read)! 


jennifer h said...

Don't quit blogging because of other people. The ones who comment like you, so don't stop comments either. I am a bossy and opinionated Yankee, and that's my 2 cents.

Wright Family said...

I think that anyone who knows you gets you and loves you. I've never been offended by what you've written. To me it's obvious that you are being funny. I understand the feeling of being misunderstood through your blog. Whenever I write something serious or that I've been thinking about, I don't get ANY comments {except occasionally from my mom!} So then I wonder if I sounded self righteous, which was totally not my intent or my heart. I am sorry that you have gotten bad feedback. I love to read what you have to say and I don't think you come across as a jerk at allI love your honesty and openness. And, also, we're all messes aren't we?! At least I am. I don't think you look like a train wreck:)

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

You are so sweet and thoughtful to write out your thoughts. I always appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I haven't seen you in a long time in real life, but I wish I could (especially if you would bake something for me:)). I feel like some people may be frustrated with my blog, now that I think about it. I do post about my struggles often as a friend, mom, wife. But more often I post about the parts of my life that I want to remember. Sometimes those parts involve the hard lessons that I am learning, and sometimes I don't say a word about the diarrhea that I cleaned off the hardwood floors (for instance) but only the sweet words my son said on a given day. This is my way, not of pretending to have a perfect life, but purposely focussing on the beauty in the mess. I only choose to do this so that I can wake up and start it all again and again. I feel like sometimes in the PCA circles, I hear so often about my sinfulness, wretchedness, etc. that I get overwhelmed and forget to put it all in the light of the gospel. So when I write a blog post, I want to remember the joy in it all. Does that make sense? It is amazing how many people read these blogs! There are ladies from my church from all ages/stages that comment to me that they love my blog. YIKES! But I try to just focus on writing about what will bring glory to God in my own heart (working it all out into words) and what I don't want to forget from the day-to-day. I cringe at the thought that some people might leave discourged after reading my posts. But, I guess that will happen no matter what the tone/purpose. Any way, I do enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your thoughtfulness.

e.c. said...

I keep checking your blog to see if there's a new post, and then I remember, there may not be anymore(at least for awhile)...sad.

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