Tuesday, May 24, 2011

O Captain, My Captain

May 6, 2000 Me, Steve, and George. Steve was the one to pronounce us man and wife. And he was the first person we told when we found out we were going to be parents five months later. Incidentally, he thought it was hilarious and laughed and laughed. He had been the one I went to when things started "getting weird" with George and me, who, up until then, had been "just friends" (which, Steve had warned me, never really happens). And I ultimately decided George was worthy of being "the one" because of how he reminded me of Steve.

I remember being at Steve's house for Bible study and one of his girls calling from upstairs, not panicked, just persistently, "Daddy! Da--ddy!" And he dropped everything and ran up the stairs, two at a time, to see what was up. I remember thinking, "George is the kind of guy who would take stairs two at a time to take care of his girls." That was the kind of dad I had wanted, and that was the kind of dad I wanted for my children. Actually, when my parents divorced during my Freshman year at Auburn, Steve walked me through it. I remember calling him over the summer from Nashville just to hear someone I trusted who could help me work through it all. As I put it in my letter to him last month, "when my parents stepped out, you [he] stepped in." He was the one to give my boyfriends the once over. I remember him advising one to take good care of me, or something of the sort, and feeling, for the first time ever, that flush of embarrassment and simultaneous sense of being loved and cared for that is so often alluded to in parental relationships in films or on television.

The only time I have ever been to New York City, I went with Steve and a handful of other college students who all had to double step to keep up with his long, confident stride as he guided us through that wonderful and strange place. And that is why this beautiful piece, posted just the night before his death, was no surprise to me, except that it was just so lovely. I actually wrote him a letter to tell him how I loved it and put it in the mail on Sunday night. When I heard the news on Monday at noon, the mail had already gone out. And so there is a letter on its way to him that he will never read. I am not sure what to think of it, but the exact same thing happened when my Nannie died.

I know that the title of this post has been rendered trite by a particular film and its subsequent parodies. I also know that the poem is about Abe Lincoln, of whom, many of you know, I am not a fan. Still, when I think about that trip to New York, especially in light of Steve's river analogy, and really the navigation of those years at Auburn when so much changed for me, "captain" seems a fitting title for Steve. I know the poem really isn't that good of a fit, but it just keeps coming to mind. And since nothing else does, so often in these times we cannot find the words, I will leave it.

RUF Winter Retreat February 1998 left to right, Sela, Bitty, Steve, Mary Martin, Blair, me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Defense of My Stories

I guess it's a little weird to some people that I make such a big deal out of TV shows. Remember Lost? Let's try not to. And I've been know to get really sucked in to some seasons of The Apprentice and American Idol. But then there are some shows that as a whole body of work are just way above the rest- they're as well written as good literature and well played out as a good film (week after week after week!). Shows like that don't come along very often. And out of those shows, only few of them resonate with a person.

Y'all know what I mean. Books are the same way. After I finished the last Harry Potter book, I really had a hard time for more than a week. I felt like I had lost my three best friends. Their lives were continuing somewhere else, but I no longer got to hang out with them. I felt the same way about Betsy, Tacy, Tib, and Betsy's whole family when I finished the last Betsy-Tacy book. I actually cried about it, y'all! How could Betsy just leave me out of the rest of her life after all we had been through? It does sound very silly, but when you spend that much time reading and loving (because why would you read the next book if you didn't love them) the characters and their stories, it is hard to let go. Incidentally, if you have not read the Betsy-Tacy books, you really should.

Well, the way I feel about Harry and Ron and Hermione is the way I feel about Marshall and Lilly and Ted and Barney and Robin. They're my friends. And yeah, that makes me feel a little losery. It also makes me sad to see Jason Segel or Josh Radnor on a talk show and remember that Marshall and Ted aren't real. Even worse, Marshal and Ted, and Hermione and Harry and Ron too, have no idea who I am! (And worse still, they're not real...) Oh well, a minor detail, right?

Anyway, I guess I thought I would explain why I am carrying on about some random show. It's not random to me! And now I have to wait until the fall for more. And then it's just two more seasons (the one season rumor was false- hurray for a bonus!). But all good things must come to an end. The Wonder Years did (and they still don't have it out on DVD!), Arrested Development did (now that's just good comedy! and the movie is supposed to come out next year!), and even Parenthood will (but it's renewed for the fall at least). I know it's not cool to watch TV in well educated, Christian circles, but I totally don't care. I'd love to have friends that I saw every night at a bar or an extended family that gathered once a week in the back yard for dinner, but that just isn't how my life has played out. (It's actually closer to the Bluth family, just harder to laugh at since it's so close to home!) I'm cool with that. But I'm glad to have the option to hang out at MacClaren's Pub once a week or tag along with the Bravermans to wherever they're all going this week.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Just Like You Only Messier

I have a little bit of guilt about my role as "pastor's wife." I mean, first of all, since my husband isn't yet ordained, that title isn't even quite accurate. But anyway, you know what I mean. Last year, when George was interviewed for his position as a pastoral intern at our church, I was also asked a few questions. I was asked what I saw my role in George's ministry to be. I remarked that I always raise an eyebrow when couples make a huge deal out of the fact that the wife is not being hired. I think that no matter what one's husband does, a wife comes alongside him and aids him as best she can. I also think that all women have a role in the church and need to use their gifts and time to serve their church body in some way. On the other hand, I don't think the "pastor's wife" is more obligated than anyone else and there is no reason she should be involved in everything or be expected to be super woman. I told them I would not be singing in the choir and I would not be leading up children's ministry because that's just not what I'm good at. But I told them I would love to have my home open often, that I love to entertain and to cook for people. And y'all know that's true about me.

But here's what's happened. I've still been the me that doesn't much like to get up in the mornings and get dressed up and go to church. I'm confessing that right now, y'all, I don't like going to church. I love Jesus. I just don't love slips and tights and skirts- especially not in the morning. And why is it that conversation is so much harder in those clothes in a building that puts no one at ease with coffee that no one would ever pay for or choose to drink again? Well, isn't it obvious why? Right. I still can't sing, and I'm still pretty tired of being with kids all week by the time I get to church so that I'm really quite ready for everyone to just go to Sunday school, and not at all ready for them to back to me so that I have to sit with them in the pew telling them to be still and stop talking and stop kicking the pew in front of them and turn around and come on say this creed/prayer because they know it. Anyway, I've still been that me, the one that's basically the worst version of myself on the morning that I would love to be my best, seeing as how my husband in front and center. But I've also been a me that, during the rest of the week, has been crammed into an apartment that isn't quite big enough for my family and trying to homeschool, against all gifting or inclination, so that I am even more of a mess and not really ever ready for people to come over. Just the fact that there is a big pile of picture frames on my living room floor that has been there for more than three weeks is enough to illustrate the point. So, as you can imagine, I haven't done a lot of entertaining. For a while, we did have the college Bible study here once a week. And we've had a couple of families over for dinner. But really, as far as what I had intended, I have been a pretty big failure.

So here's what I'm offering the Church. As you probably know, George is again looking for a job (please pray for his search, by the way). And when the interview turns to me for a brief moment this time, I don't expect to say anything that much different. I am still not going to sing in the choir or be the leader of Kid's Club, and I still do love to prepare food for friends and have people over. But sometimes just doing what needs to be done is all I can do. Sometimes we have a year of just trying to figure out a new city and a new job and pretty much new everything and we go back to buying frozen pizza and hot dogs because we just don't have the time and energy to do what we want to do. I don't know how to really say that to a bunch of elders, or if they really even need to hear it. I just know that I need to know it ahead of time and be okay with it. Because I'm not depressed, y'all. I'm just maybe a little disappointed? And I think I'm also worried that my enthusiasm and expectation for myself was expressed publicly so that others might also be disappointed. And I feel like a liability to George. I feel like he's wise and kind and energetic about ministry and about the Church, and I am just the glob of gluck that goes with him. But, the good thing about the glob of gluck on the arm of the pastor is that no one else in the church will ever feel that she has to measure up or be some sort of super woman because the pastor's wife is a super woman. In fact, she's the barely-getting-by-woman. And the good thing about the pastor with a wife like that is that he visibly models the Gospel in that he is okay with that. George isn't disappointed with me, and he reminds me (often, because I need it) that God isn't either.

So, if you are a church looking for a pastor and you're checking me out because you're looking at my husband (I hope this doesn't actually happen), know that my husband is awesome and he's excited about the Church and he's excited about our family. And I am not awesome, but I am excited about him. And I'm doing the best I can. And I make fantastic cookies. And our kids are sweet and funny and delightful, even though they wear me out. I'm the worst of the lot, so if you can stand me, you'll probably be alright. God is faithful so I'm sure I'll be better some day, but still not what I want to be. But, praise be (and today I feel especially glucky so it's hard to believe), God and my husband are okay with me just as I am.

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