Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Twas Grace That Taught...

Yesterday I shared an article (written by someone else) on my Facebook page about Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. If you're just returning from the moon and somehow missed it, what happened was, immediately following the NFC Championship game he gave an on-field interview that quickly escalated to status: infamous. The interview lasted 25 seconds, but whether or not he will ever live it down remains to be seen. 

Shortly after that interview, he went on to give a 12 minute post-game press conference where he conducted himself with an air of formality and respect - even thanking the fans of the 49ers and praising Peyton Manning. Then some hours later he penned an extremely well-written article (I can only hope to EVER write so eloquently), addressing the incident as being "...loud, in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am." In the article he also expressed disappointment at hearing about the Seahawks fans who allegedly threw food at an injured San Francisco player as he was carried off the field saying, "If it's true, it's beyond terrible. That's as low as it gets...all players deserve better than that."

The intention of my Facebook post was not to start a heated debate on whether or not Sherman's behavior was appropriate because clearly it was not. The intention was to say, "Hey! Look at what this guy has done. He beat the odds. According to statistics, because of where he was raised he had a better chance of joining a gang and being involved in drugs than he had of leading a successful life. And not only successful, but a college graduate, a professional football player, and a philanthropist. Yay, him!" 

But, instead, it quickly turned into a character assassination. 

To say he was intense or worked-up would be an understatement. He was loud - VERY loud - and made some undeniably arrogant comments. But he didn't curse and he didn't say anything vulgar and he didn't strut around grabbing his crotch. Not that an absence of those things excuses him for what he did do, but let's consider the crime when delivering the punishment why don't we? 

People left comments on that post suggesting he erased all of the accomplishments he has achieved throughout his life with that one interview, generalizing that he had no brains, no class...practically crucifying him based on those few brief moments. Ouch.

I am not now, nor did I at any point in my post, defend his behavior during that on-field interview. I thought and still think it was obnoxious and unnecessary. But to let that single action define the entirety of his character seems a bit harsh. 

I take pause to think about the hot water I would be in should I have a television crew waiting around to capture my heat-of-the-moment reactions on film for all the world to scrutinize. Yikes. 
Note to self: Don't get famous.

One of the most memorable sermons I ever had the privilege of hearing was about 6 months ago. It was delivered on the topic of grace. 

By definition grace means to forgive, to grant mercy, to give favor or goodwill. 

During that sermon, the pastor discussed how hard a concept grace is for us to truly understand, because to understand it is to be able to not only receive it without burden, but to offer it to others in the same respect. The former we are willing to take hold of; the, not so much. 

I know I have, and will continue to need my fair share of grace throughout this lifetime. Both from God, and from my fellow man. How can I in good conscious accept it from others if I'm not willing to extend it all the same? 

Even when it's to football players who give objectionable, over-the-top  interviews. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

If You Give This Girl a Chore...

At the end of the day I am often left wondering, "What did I DO all day?"

I look around and see tasks half done. Baskets of laundry partially folded or put away, a pile of dirt swept into a neat little pile in the kitchen floor but never disposed of, emails written yet never sent. I think to myself, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?"

Alas. I have finally figured it out.

Adult ADD is real, yo.

A few days ago my husband was packing for a business trip.

"Would you do me a HUGE favor and iron these pants for me? I promised to play catch with the kids before I left and I need to head out in about an hour."

"Sure. No problem."

So I went upstairs to get out the ironing board and bent down to plug in the iron.

When I bent down to plug in the iron, I noticed some shoes on the floor.

So I took them into the closet.

When I took the shoes into the closet, I saw that there was no room on the shoe rack.

So I rearranged the shoes on the shoe rack so they would all fit.

As I was rearranging the shoes on the shoe rack, I noticed all these empty hangers sticking out everywhere among the clothes hanging above me.

So I gathered them up and hung them all together.

When I gathered them up and hung them all together, I saw a plastic dry cleaning bag slung over the rack.

So I grabbed it and took it over to the trash can.

When I carried it over to the trash can I saw that the trash can was full.

So I picked up the trash can and carried it downstairs to empty it.

When I carried the trash can downstairs to empty it, I remembered that I hadn't cleaned up the dishes from lunch.

So I started loading the dishwasher.

When I started loading the dishwasher, I saw my water glass next to the sink and realized I was thirsty.

So I walked over to the refrigerator to fill it.

When I walked over to the refrigerator to fill it, I decided I was hungry, too.

So I looked in the pantry for a snack.

As I was looking in the pantry for a snack, my husband came in from the backyard.

"Okay, gotta go! Did you iron my pants?"

So I went upstairs to get out the ironing board and bent down to plug in the iron.

Through A Child's Eyes

Look at yourself.
The outside.
The inside.
The parent you are. 
The friend, the spouse, the daughter, the son, the sister, the brother.

Do you like what you see?

My son is in 3rd grade. Despite the fact that he goes to a relatively small school, it consists of a considerably diverse (both cultural and religious) student body. Sometimes when I drop him off at school I watch all the children play. This morning I watched. What I witnessed was nothing short of beautiful.

What if...

What if the media never focused on people being skinny or fat or ugly or pretty. What if, instead, you had no reason to believe anything other than YOU are perfect. Your height, your weight, your skin color, your hair color...are all exactly how they are meant to be?

What if you knew you could have different beliefs without being judged? If your religion or political stance or sexual preference were all just part of what made you...YOU...and that was okay?

What if other moms/parents/people were indifferent to whether you had a career or stayed home or breast fed or bottle fed or spanked or didn't spank or fed your family organic or went out to eat 5 nights a week? What if they parented completely different than you...but would be your friend anyway?

What if when making friends, you didn't give a second thought to what kind of clothes you wore or how much money was in your bank account?

These things...they are all true for children.

Until they are taught otherwise, that is.

Children see people for who they are on the inside.

Until we teach them not to.

photo source

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolve to Find Joy

It's been quite a few years since I made a New Year's resolution. The times that I did, they were almost always the typical empty promises to lose 10 pounds, exercise more, become a morning person (that one is particularly hilarious), or eat less junk food. I would generally start off with a bang...until the first opportunity arose to send them flying out the window (usually sometime mid-morning on January 2nd), at which time I did exactly that.

2013 was a year of reflection for me. I probably owe a majority of that to my writing as I now spend a lot more time "in my head". 

In response to all I have learned about myself in the last 12 months as a result of my "reflecting", I have decided to bite the proverbial bullet and make a resolution for 2014.

A couple of months ago I came across a silver pendant with an inscription that read, "Find Joy in the Journey". I rarely purchase jewelry of any kind for myself, but I bought it. I wear it on a necklace and it is the first thing I see when I look in the mirror each morning.

This year my resolution is to find joy in my journey. That means different things to different people, but to me it means...

  • I will be content with who I am. Not to be confused with complacent, as there is always room for becoming a better me. But I will work to do just that...become a better ME. I will NOT strive to be someone else.
  • I will stop comparing myself to others. I will not allow someone else's life or achievements to minimize the significance of mine. The only person in control of that is me and, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy". I mustn't steal my own joy. 
  • I will feed the relationships that bring me happiness, and walk away from the ones that don't. 
  • I will remember the serenity prayer and the part about things that are out of my control. And I will let them go.
  • I will stop beating myself up for the times I "fail" at parenting. Some days I will yell and some days I will pack sugar and preservatives in my children's lunches and some days I will let them watch television for 4 hours straight. Some days I'll spend too much time on my phone or my computer. I will take those days for what they are and then I will rejoice in the other days. The ones when I don't do any of those things and instead have a myriad of parenting "wins". The days when I cook homemade meals and play at the park and read bedtime stories. And regardless of which kind of parenting day I have, I know that each night I'll tuck my kids into bed with a kiss and a hug and they will have no question as to how immeasurably they are loved.
  • I will be mindful of my health and my body, but I will stop worrying so much about what society says my "outer self" should look like. I will be okay with the fact that I may no longer wear a size 2 4 6 (You get what I'm saying. P.S. I've never been a size 2.). I will spend more time working toward becoming an extraordinary person in what most would consider an ordinary body rather than the other way around.

This is probably the hardest resolution I've ever made. It is also one that will, no doubt, need to be re-resolved year after year. 

So, friends, whatever your resolution for the next 365 days may (or may not) be, my wish for you is that you will find joy in your journey.