Thursday, June 27, 2013

Maybe Not.

I read a great essay today about agreeing to disagree. Additionally, I've been following the amazingly talented Molly Field as she takes on some of Carl Jung's most famous quotes--check it out! And I've been reading Revelation (aka the crazy book of the Bible.) That smell? It's my brain. It's frying. No worries.

At some point a few years ago, I hung up a note card emblazoned with The Four Agreements (Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best.) This is how I take on challenging life changes. Some people go to therapy; I write shit on a note card and hang it in a place where I'll see it all the time. One of my best friends does the same thing, so we encourage each other that this is most effective. Our bathroom mirrors and cupboard doors are brilliant.

Some of the cards really are brilliant such as: "In search of God I went to Mecca and to Rome. I visited many churches, temples, and mosques. I climbed the tallest mountain. I looked in the books of old eastern religion to no avail. I opened my heart: That is where He was"-Mevlana. And some of it is more banal: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"--on the pantry door. Whatever. Sometimes it keeps me from eating a bag of Doritos. Not always but occasionally. You can judge me. I'm not taking it personally; remember? And as long as we're examining ourselves, what does your judgement of me say about you, hmmmm?

All of this brings me to a central idea: Controlling my thoughts rather than letting them control me. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) says "...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." This blog is called Adventures in Overthinking because that is what I do. Overthink everything. If you and I had a conversation ten years ago, you might not even remember meeting me, but I still probably revisit that conversation from time to time. Taking captive my every thought is exhausting and nearly impossible. But I'm trying. 

And God helps. The Holy Spirit nudges me, and I have a forehead-slapping DUH moment. You might call this same thing your conscience, your inner voice, whatever you choose. I believe it's God, but whatever you believe, try to listen because they can be ever so helpful. 

These nudgings often come in interactions with Lily, my six-year-old clone and life coach. She's not my life coach in a gives-me-amazingly-sage-advice way--that's Chloe. And she doesn't teach me by drawing remarkably enlightening parallels--that's Peyton. She gives me great lessons in very basic ways. 

For example if Lily eats junk food, she gets wild. If I eat junk food, I get cranky. If Lily doesn't get enough sleep, she whines and too. If you yell at Lily, she yells louder at you. If you talk kindly and patiently to her, she listens and understands. If you tell her to do something "because I said so," she doesn't do it, or she does the opposite, but if you explain to her the logic behind what you're asking, she gets it and does it. And on and on and on.

Maybe we have Oppositional Defiant Disorder--I haven't ruled that out. Maybe this is just a lot of projection and overthinking. Maybe this is the result of too much reading, analysis, and an overactive imagination. Maybe this is pathological self-awareness. But maybe not. I have great faith in God and the maybe not.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More Martha than Mary

Last week, my husband and I were in a bad place. A rut. We were out of sync. This happens from time to time, sometimes during one of our MEN-strual cycles. I'm just saying. The word MEN in right there. I am fully aware of mine, and the others in the house are alerted to it by an increase in screaming, door slamming, chocolate in the pantry. Because if you can't climb out of your rut, the next best idea is to fill it with food.

The food doesn't help, as if I needed to say that out loud. What does help is having a co-conspirator in Pittsburgh who runs on the same cycle. Usually one of us is able to talk the other one down from a ledge with a gentle reminder that this rage could be hormone-related. That reminder, however, is punishable by death if issued from a man's lips.

Back to the rut. In this rut, I can't function. Brad, when we are in a rut, doesn't look at me. It bothers me when people don't look at me. I think that if I were ever to be tortured for information, withholding eye contact might be an effective technique. Just to clarify, you can pretty much just ask me anything, and I'll tell you. Unless it's someone else's secret, I keep those. But I won't look at you if I'm keeping a secret. Now, if you're my husband--or anyone reading this--you now know that if I don't look at you, I'm protecting something. Sometimes, it's my heart, but sometimes it's something that belongs to someone else.

I give so much away through my eyes so if I don't look at someone, it's intentional. I might not trust them. I might think they wish me ill. Or I might be afraid to let them see into my soul for fear they might use that information in bad ways. And sometimes, I'm afraid that if someone looks at me, they will see someone else's secrets that I'm keeping. This happens pretty rarely. Usually, I look so deeply into people's eyes that they are uncomfortable and look away. Then, I begin to wonder what they have to hide. Because, I assume that like me, if you avoid eye contact you must be hiding something.

All of this brings me back to the same lesson: Just because people don't do things the same way I do them doesn't mean that they're wrong, and I'm right. God reinforces that all the time. Last week, my pastor said to view people as "works in progress," and that resonated with me not only about others but also about myself. Then, listening to my favorite online preacher, I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha. (Martha was mad that she was cleaning and cooking, while Mary sat and listened to Jesus. Martha wanted Jesus to make Mary help her, but Jesus told Martha maybe she should check her priorities.) I can identify with Martha, because a lot of times I serve begrudgingly rather than humbly.

Today, we are out of our rut and analyzing how we got there and how not to get there again. Today, I'm cleansing the salt, sugar, and other toxins I overindulged in the last few days. Today, I am asking God to help me see with His eyes. Today, instead of beating myself up, I'm embracing the fact that I am a work in progress.