I’ve gotten past much of the hurt caused by my former church. It’s been a few years now…five to be exact. We have healed a lot. But what irks me these days is that the individual who was the pastor of said church created this evangelical machine, then he blew up his life, had to leave the pastorate, eventually left the state, and yet the machine remains here in Minnesota and continues gobbling up people, wrecking their faith, and spitting them back out. As a regular occurrence, we encounter former church members who come to us to share stories of how they “got out”, to apologize for having judged us harshly when we left, or to share the struggles they are now fighting for their faith. It’s a sad, sad story and, in my opinion, the person most responsible fled and left all these folks and this awful machine in his wake. My challenge now is not in how to love God again – I have thankfully figured that one out- but in how to forgive the people I believe are responsible for damaging so many lives. I’m definitely not there yet.
My kids, in some combination of children, have played softball or baseball since the 2009 season. The oldest, now a junior in high school, started the trend, randomly declaring in fourth grade that she wanted to play softball. The others followed suit and started playing in the years following. We were lucky to find baseball and softball leagues that played in the same field complex. So, our son would play “up the hill” at the baseball fields and the girls would play “down the hill” at the softball fields. For the last few years, we had four kids playing bat and ball sports every spring into summer. It was glorious chaos!
The schedule we maintained was incredible. It was a solid three months of games or practices almost every night of the week. We’d buy a giant piece of foam-backed posterboard and make a color-coded schedule to keep in the living room. Each child would have a color with all their practices and games written in their color. The family would gather at the fields, some days with all the kids in uniforms because some days they’d all have games. We’d scrounge in our bags and in the car for change with which to buy concessions and fill our pockets with Double Bubble to get us through the day. Sometimes we’d work the concession stand or scoreboard. Nights were filled with bright lights and families in lawn chairs and as the kids got older the nights got later and more competitive, but never more competitive than they were fun.
Now, suddenly, the era has ended. Our son aged out of little league last year and is not interested in playing anymore. Our oldest is too busy with choir and working her first job. Our other two daughters are dancing competitively and can’t manage the schedule and so it is over, almost without warning. I sit here wondering, if I’d have known last year that it would be our last year, would I have done anything differently? I don’t think so. Because it was a favorite season, I always squeezed the marrow out of the experience, savoring every moment of it. Maybe I would’ve taken a few more pictures of all of them in their uniforms. But no, I’m mostly sad, not because of regret, but because I loved it so much and now it is over. I think if you have to be sad, that’s the best kind of sadness to have.
This is the first of many eras that will be ending in the next few years. When they were little and eras ended it wasn’t so painful because there were new and promising stages of childhood on the horizon. Now though, I think the eras that end hurt a little more because they will shortly start aging out of childhood. (The oldest will graduate high school next year with the rest following like dominoes every other year). Each era that ends now feels like one step closer to the end of this amazing journey of parenting children. So, I’m feeling the end of softball and baseball this year a little more than I have felt the end of other periods we have experienced.
Our youngest will finish her last year of elementary school in June and another giant phase of our life will be over. Time just keeps speeding by and it’s all I can do to try to take it all in before they are all grown. The beginning stages, when they were little and it was difficult, seemed to last forever, but now that things are grooving and life is filled with so many of these beautiful moments and much easier times it seems to be slipping away and I can’t make it stop or slow down. All I can do is live it, chasing them, chasing time, and not waste a moment except to catch my breath.
So, it’s been a while because so much has been happening. I started back to school this fall. I decided to go all the way and get a Ph.D. because if you don’t just do it, you won’t do it. I didn’t want the Ph.D. to be one of those things I wished I’d tried but never got around to. So, I’m giving it a whirl. Thus far, I’m enjoying it. I’m also trying to get back into shape. My year in a desk job resulted in a fifteen pound gain. Yikes! Sitting on your butt all day is not a good situation to be in when approaching 40. Yes, that’s right, I’m clinging to my thirties by my fingernails. I’d like to lose 40 by 40 but that won’t happen, so I’ll settle for 15 to get back to where I was. Those are my uninspired updates! Cheers and happy holiday season!
We are currently experiencing a new season in Minnesota. I call it Not-Winter. It isn’t late enough or warm enough to be spring, and yet the grass is showing; the temps have come up; the sounds of dripping water can be heard near and far; hope is in the air!
You must understand that winters in Minnesota are generally brutal. BRUTAL. Even this year, it started snowing in early November. Usually, at this point in the season, we are buried under at least a foot of snowpack and any ventures outdoors require hats and gloves and scarves and as little exposed skin as possible. Not this year! I haven’t worn a hat in at least a week and gloves even longer.
Now, I am not deceived. I know it isn’t really over. I know my beautiful, hopeful, spring-indicating dirt will be covered again by snow, but this extended break has made this winter so much more bearable.
It’s Not-Winter! And it might be my favorite Minnesota season ever!
I’m an East Coast girl. I’m always on the go and always somewhat in a hurry. Even when I am not actually in a hurry, I have this looming feeling that I SHOULD be in a hurry. Get the information and go; do the task and move on; Go Go GO!
You can imagine that sitting still and listening is not always a strength of mine. When I am in the mood to get to know someone, I can sit with them for hours, but if I am in GO mode, I often feel like a tightly wound spring that needs to release and move onto the next thing.
This fact became especially apparent to me the other day. I was scheduled to have coffee with an older gentleman about a project we are working on together. When we planned the meeting he told me, “Let’s meet at 4 p.m. I’ll be wearing a cowboy hat, so you can recognize me; either straw or felt, depending on the weather.” I probably should have known at that moment that this meeting might be different from what I was planning. I thought we would meet, get a hot beverage, I’d get some answers to the questions on my list, and get home.
I arrived at the coffee shop before him, got my drink (a chai latte), and prepared my notebook and pen. When he arrived, I realized he was definitely not in GO mode and that, yes, he definitely must have envisioned the afternoon going a bit differently than I. He moseyed in, wandered to our table, and immediately started discussing the options the coffee bar had added to the menu recently. Then he told me a story (the first of many) about his experiences back east when he lived in Massachusetts. Eventually, I managed to direct the conversation to the project we will be working on together. But nearly every question I asked was answered in a roundabout way with a story or two that were indirectly (or not at all) related to the topic we were discussing.
I found myself getting warm and frustrated. The time was ticking away and there were (what felt like) a million other things I could or needed to be doing rather than spending all this time on his stories. However, as I sat there, watching his mouth move yet hearing little because my own thoughts were swirling around in my head, I realized he just wanted an audience for his stories. He meant no ill, but only to share a few of the treasures he has collected on his life journey.
Our lives are that; a collection of memories and stories. Good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, our stories make up who we are and as we age, I imagine we have fewer and fewer people with whom to share these pieces of ourselves.
So, sitting there, I took a deep breath and started to try to listen because I realized that someday I will be older and I feel pretty certain I will want the same thing; someone who will just take a few minutes so that I can share a part of me. Don’t get me wrong…it was still difficult. The competing GO mode was still there, but I became aware of the fact that sometimes I need to shut that off. I need to work on giving people a little more of myself by taking time to just sit and listen to their tales.
Our anniversary is coming up this Saturday. It will be 17 years. That’s a pretty long time. I like to think of myself as young-ish, but 17 years married starts to make that a less convincing argument. I think about the Hubs and where we have been. It hasn’t been a dream, full of wonderment. Marriage is not a fairy tale. Let me say that again…Marriage is NOT a fairy tale. Our marriage is NOT a fairy tale. Sometimes I don’t know how any marriages last. It’s often a bit of a Gong Show, but we are still here, hanging on, and experiencing an upswing right now, which is nice.
Here’s the thing: he still loves me, after all this time. I am still first. Not even his comic books have surpassed me…yet. I never wonder if he still loves me, I just know it. I am not an easy one to love. I know you must find that difficult to believe, Reader, but it is true 🙂 I am strong-willed and opinionated. I have a really horrid temper and mornings make me grumpy. I am wildly jealous and territorial. And yet, this guy loves me. Not only does he love me, he likes me. He really, really likes me. He thinks I am funny and cute. He sees my wild swings of emotion as side effects of my passion. He finds my jealousy and territoriality (is that a word?) charming. I have never, ever felt like I had to apologize for being me. He accepts me just as I am.
Hubs is steady. Level. Calm. Content. Loyal. He is everything I need in a life partner. And he makes me laugh til I need my inhaler (I have asthma). That is a most excellent quality. He is better than me and he loves me better than I love. I am not sure what I ever did to deserve to be loved in such a way. My conclusion is that I did nothing. Not everyone finds someone who loves them in this way, or who doesn’t get bored with them. I got lucky. I picked a Really. Good. Egg.
He tells me often that he hopes our kids turn out like me, but Hubs, I think we make a pretty fine combination. My Mallard Duck, or My Golden Eagle (did I tell you they pick a life partner too?) I am so very glad to be going through this journey with you. I hope you can tolerate me for a really long time, but if not, I’ll just kick your butt.