Monday, December 28, 2015

A Letter to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I have made this image for you. Just in case you needed some validation today.

I have a friend who, when suffering through a transition in her life, decided not to call me  or see me, saying "you are SO optimistic; sometimes I want someone I can whine to who I feel will let me be in the muck."

I was thinking about this in the shower, where all the best and most brilliant thoughts are born.

And as I was imagining my friend walking through the muck, a few memories came to mind:

1. My Life Coach telling me years ago that sometimes, when someone is suffering or complaining, the only right thing to say is: "Yep.  That sucks."  (I never used that expression before, and had feelings about using it at all.  But it turns out, there are times that is the only thing a person wants to hear.)

2. Liam walking on a muddy island in a stream even though I told him not to.  He was confronted by an angry goose and as he fled, the mud sucked his shoe off.  I had to go retrieve it because he was too dirty and scared to face the goose who was now holding the shoe hostage. It's a story we still tell today with great laughter, though at the time there was nothing funny about it. Except me confronting the goose. Caleb says that was pretty funny.

3. As a young girl walking in 2 feet of snow to our elementary school to go sledding, I came upon a gully so filled with snow it looked like flat ground.  I stepped into it up to my waist, and while climbing out lost my snow boot. John saved the day by crawling on his belly, digging into the wet, sucky snow and getting my boot out for me.

Analogies and all that, I'm thinking that for me, emotionally speaking, the boots are a protection or coping mechanism. They work for almost every unfortunate situation.  Rain, snow, dirt, we are covered.  But sometimes life combines in such a way - our choices converge in such a way - that we get thick, sticky mud. And life just sucks the boots right off of our feet.

I get that.  I've had the boots sucked off my feet, too.  It's dirty and messy and cold and wet and uncomfortable to the point of misery.

As a journal keeper, a life chronicler, a hind-sight recorder, I have learned about myself that wallowing only does good in small, short doses.  Somehow I guess that translated into me thinking that was the same cure for everyone. Maybe it's not even a "cure" for me, just simply how I do it, for better or worse.

So I've discovered through this self-exploration, that if and when you are looking for someone to help you heal with laughter, help you fight off the angry goose with comedic and compassionate flair, someone who will offer you a "ra-ra!"or walk you home barefoot, I'll be there.

But there is only one guy who can save our boots, if the boots are worth saving. You know the one I mean. He will even offer a piggy back ride to safety if we are too tired to go on, booted or barefoot.

I'm not saying or implying that any of you don't know about Jesus, only that perhaps I didn't know it about me.

Cheering and Comforting, that's my thing.

Sharing simple joys.

It's what I do still.  It's how I roll with it. So, yep, I'm optimistic. I can validate. I can acknowledge the muck. But I will, sooner rather than later, change the subject to lighter, brighter, warmer fare.

I hope this letter finds you well, because I always hope the best for you. May you always remember that I have a pair of rose-colored glasses you can borrow anytime you may need them.

All my love,

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

From a Savior Complex to the Simple Savior

Last week an old friend drove me to a party.

We waited in line for a buffet dinner and a couple friends were passing out chips and salsa to us as we slowly inched our way towards the food. They came to me, happy with party energy and said something along the lines of "We want people to take a plate and have some chips and salsa.  Chelsea, show them how it's done!" I didn't want any salsa and really didn't want chips. I said so and then the next thing I knew, I was holding a plate of a few chips and some salsa. I didn't eat it. I didn't want it.  But I had dished up because I wanted to help them.

This is a very small illustration of a common action.

My friend drove me home and I mentioned the curiosity of my behavior.

" you think you have a Savior Complex?" She asked

"No - it was just chips!" I laughed, "I don't think I'm going to, like, eternally SAVE someone.  I just want to help. I want to use my talents and abilities to help others feel better, live better, be better, be happier. It's pretty normal."

She nodded, taking me at my word. She dropped me off and I went to bed.

The next day I was grumpy. I just couldn't seem to shake it. The next day my feelings and behavior were even worse. I tried music, I tried service, I wrote in my journal and I sang, I tried "going outside myself" and it just made me upset until I was honestly furious.

I finally put on my husband's boots, took his keys and said, "I'm going to the Field."

It was dark, it was snowing, but it wasn't that cold. I wore a light coat and a scarf as I found a snowy, muddy field not too far from our house and with a pen light walked my way out as far as I could before the mud tried to swallow my shoes.

I took a deep breath and threw a sizable tantrum.  Screaming, cussing, crying, you know the drill. Tantrum.

I can't even tell you what I ranted and screamed about, because I left it in that field and I don't remember it now.

But there is something I do remember ...

There was a moment when I was complaining/shouting that I was exhausted.  I was so tired of trying to do everything and be everything for everyone. Furious that somehow it was my job to keep my energy up, keep my mood up, to power up my family.

"I have to be a source of light and love for my family!" I complained.

And then these words came to me, clear as day:

"But Chelsea, I AM the Source."

All these pieces clicked together in my head:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  - John 8:12

"I want to be a messenger, a conduit; clean myself out so the good stuff can come through faster." - Kirk Duncan
"Don't dump your cup." - Ann Washburn
"I want to be a window to His love, so you can look through me and you'll see Him.
And some day shining through my face, you'll see His loving countenance,'cause I will have become like He is" - Julie De Azevedo 

"Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do." - 3 Nephi 18:24

"You will reflect to others the Light of Christ in your life." - Henry Eyring

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." - John 7:38

I DID have a type of Savior complex: I thought I had to be the source of goodness, light, energy, and love. I thought I had to be like: 

But the truth is more like this:

Of course! No wonder I was so tired ...

Embarrassed,  humbled, relieved and answered, I started laughing.  Tears still on my face, I laughed and laughed.

I laughed for probably a full five minutes. I kept thinking the laughter was over, but no; it kept going.  It was that funny.

I'm serious, those of you know who know my laugh, can you imagine how insane that must have sounded if anyone could hear me? My stomach hurt for two days afterwards.

It was wonderful.

I am fascinated to see where this learning takes me as I allow Jesus to love me. You read that right: as I allow Jesus to love me. Because He has lots of love and to spare. If I let Him, He'll love the garbage right out of me.

And then that love will spill out onto others, who - suddenly wondering what that is - will turn to Him for more. That will be so awesome.