Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas is Nuts

What I'm listening to: James Taylor Live, Disc 2

So, to only have three family Christmas events to attend isn't so bad. I'm fortunate to have any family at all to spend the holidays with. On my dad's side, I have lots of cousins about the same age and they all had babies in the last 3-4 years. So, this year (in which the most recent 4 were born) that Christmas was a little nutty. Not everyone could come, but there were still 6 children under the age of three in one house. 7 more children (under the age of 8) are part of our family.

That. is. nuts. If my grandparents were still alive, they would boast 13 great-grandchildren. All under the age of 8. Nuts.

As one of the three cousins who don't have kids yet, it's great practice in case I ever do.

And once again, we did not have a white Christmas. I'm was really holding out for one this year. It's snowed quite a bit, but we've also had 40-50 degree weather. So all the snow is melted. For at least the 5th year in a row there was nothing but dead grass and empty tree limbs to look at through the window.

For some reason having snow on Christmas takes me back to my childhood. I needed that this year. I wanted to remember snow ice-cream, snow clinging to my back after making angels, snowball fights with my brothers, snowmen so tall I had to stand on my radio flyer to put his hat on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Boys vs. Girls

What I'm listening to: Happy Christmas Vol. 2 (Which was the best version of You're A Mean One Mr Grinch on it I've ever heard.)

I never much enjoyed hanging out with girls when I was younger. Too much drama. The backstabbing, petty, mean-girl behavior never appealed to me. I don't like hurting people's feelings, and even when it happens unintentionally I'm upset for days after discovering it. Those girls who make fun of the kid who only has 1 pair of shoes to wear to school and an out-of-date haricut are MEAN. And I never understood how behaving that way made you feel superior. I always felt worse after I did.

Boys? Way less drama. If bad things happened, they dealt with it and moved on. End of story. No heavy emotional baggage gets lugged around with them, so months later it doesn't sneak up and take it out on you again.

However, I am very happy my preference for men friends is no longer with me.

What would I do without my girlfriends? The kind of friends you can laugh silly with, can understand what you're going through at work because you're a woman, and feels with you when are deeply hurt by someone. For many men, it just flies right over their heads. I never feel embarrassed crying during a movie when a woman is next me. And only a woman can find joy in driving around town for and hour and a half just to listen to Christmas music and look at houses decorated with twinkle lights. (By the way, Clay Aiken's Christmas album is the worst thing I've ever heard.)

Nothing can take the place of a really good friend who "gets" you. And a man? Just can't do that. We are too complicated. And men have this strange desire to fix us. I know it's part of the whole "chasing after" thing, but sometimes? Men - we don't need to be fixed. We just need someone to listen to us and love us. If we want you to fix something, we'll ask you. (At least those of us who aren't passive-agressive will.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Bleak Mid-Winter

What I'm listening to: First Call's Beyond December

In the bleak mid-winter, the frosty wind did moan
The earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone

Snow had fallen softly, snow on snow on snow
In the bleak mid-winter, oh so long ago
Our God, heaven cannot hold Him nor the earth sustain
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign

In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed
For the Lord almighty, Jesus Christ

Oh what can I give Him, woeful as I am
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb
If I were a wiseman, oh I would do my part
Yet, what can I give Him -- I will give my heart
Oh what can I give Him -- I will give my heart

It does feel a little like the bleak mid-winter here. Snow has fallen, the sun has shone a little and melted some, but the cold has set in. Now as the earth remains too cold to melt the remaining, ice has formed on the roads. The leaves are all gone from the trees - there is nothing green left nor any more vibrant colors of autumn anywhere in my sight. It is offically winter.

I Called It

Well, not exactly. But still, did I not say? Did I not claim that Matt Dillon's performance was incredible?

His Gloden Globe nomination is well deserved. Perhaps this will redeem this previous missteps of tasteless comedy and raunchy teen flicks. (However, I always liked "The Outsiders".)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Silence of Adam

What I'm listening to:
Harry Connick's Harry for the Holidays

I have not read the book that bears the same title as my post. But the book and it's topic recently came up in a conversation with some friends. However, the basic premise of it is extraordinary enough for me to want to explore here.

Here's a basic overview of the book (from Amazon):

Taken from a customer review:

Instead of depicting Eve as being deceived and then subsequently deceiving Adam, the book describes that Adam was there the whole time, yet said and did nothing.

Taken from the editorial review:
They trace the problem with men to the silence with which Adam became complicit in the first fall from God's grace.Adam failed to trust in God's word and example, and modern men do the same when, instead of following God's example in dealing with uncertainties, they retreat into self-righteousness and toughness that mask anger and fear.

Do I think all men do this? Of course not. To believe that is unfair and ignorant. But it does take some of the pressure off us women. After all, for centuries upon centuries Eve was the one who was first deceived, who then in turn deceived Adam. The one who fell first. The fall of man has been our fault all this time. As a guy I once knew used to say to any woman who frustrated him "Give me back my rib." So, it feels good to think we weren't alone. That Adam just stood by and let Eve become deceived.

My knowledge of the book's contents are this: it's a call to men to step up in their relationships (any - not just male-female) and be honest, courageous, and willing to fight. Adam was passive when the serpent spoke to Eve. He didn't ride in on a white horse to rescue her. So perhaps it wasn't all her fault. I'm sure the book spends more time on telling man how to step and overcome their fears, but I'm not interested in that for this post. What I'm interested in is this: Do men fail to come through for us out of fear of not being enough?

Is the reason some men fail to fight for us is because of a fear of failure? John Eldridge thinks so. After the fall, women were cursed with two things: the pain of childbirth and the submissive role to our husbands. Men were also cursed with two things: futility ("though painful toil..." and failure (it [the land] will produce thorns and thistles for you").

I recently had a man fail to come through for me. It hurt. I placed an expectation on him I believe he earned, that he told me he wanted. He said he would help me and he didn't. He retreated and I was left to fight on my own. It's true I don't see him in the same eyes as I once did. I once saw him as generous, loyal and true friend. When he didn't come through for me (after he said he would, of all things) I lost the part of myself I gave to him in friendship. So, this recent experience has me asking if he retreated because he was selfish (with his time, or maybe just didn't want to), or because he was fearful he couldn't come through for me?

Is there even a difference?

Is it selfish for men to not come through for us because they fear they fail when we need them? Part of me thinks it is. After all, there are things I do on I weekly basis I fear I'm not good enough to do. But I push though them anyway, because I know if I don't I'll always wonder if I could have or not.

I find this whole topic very intriguing. I think it's so fascinating to me because I believe most women feel the same way - we worry about being good enough. Not necessarily towards men, but in the general day-to-day living. But does that stop us from coming through for men? Not to me; it doesn't stop me from coming though for anyone. When someone needs me, I'm there. End of story. It doesn't make me a saint - I think it's how most women react.

So if both men and women have these same feelings of inadequacy, why do women act and men retreat?

I think it's because women think acting will help us become "more loved". Whereas men are afraid of what will happen if they fail.

I don't know, men, am I close?

I think I need to have a converstaion with a guy about this.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Of College and Painful Memories

What I'm listening to: City on a Hill

I'll be the first to admit - I'm lousy at keeping in touch with people.

The electronic age has certainly helped in this endeavor. It's easy to shoot a quick email to an old roommate just to check in and say hi. In fact, it's because of email I got back in touch with an old college friend and ended up being a bridesmaid in her wedding.

But some old memories and emotions surfaced in me recently that make me wonder if not keeping in touch with those old friends is intentional.

College is an abberation. You're in this place for a definitive matter of time, you are secluded from the real world and trying to decide what future you want. College usually happens at an age where a huge part of who you are is developed - you're finally away from home, on your own and you're thrust into an environment with a bunch of strangers that all of a sudden become your substitute family.

I haven't thought about college in a very long time. It's only consumed me recently because I came across a fellow blogger on this sight who attended the same college as I. Reading through his posts... well, made me smile and yet upset me at the same time. They made me smile because he is exactly how I remember, the baseball-obsessed, movie-loving, big-hearted guy who is still a talented and thoughtful writer who secretly harbors the desire to be a musician. He is now a more mature, better version of himself. (As I hope I am as well). But what bothered me was I realized the astronomically small amount of people from college I've kept track of. These were people who had a huge part in shaping who I am. Though I have many good memories of college, I have not kept in touch with the people attached to these memories. The people who made me laugh until my sides hurt, held me when I cried, encouraged me when I was defeated, loved me despite my selfishness and kept me accountable in my walk with God.

Granted, a couple have attempted to keep in touch with me. About a year ago, I got an email out of the blue from Travis, the only person I would consider a true accountability partner, asking what was up in my life, where I was at, and let me know he'd just become a father & was about to finish up seminary. About 6 months ago I got an email from a friend who'd been AWOL for at least 4 years... and there are the few I've never lost touch with, but all in all, it really isn't much.

As someone with the spiritual gift of mercy, I've noticed hurting people are drawn to my personality. As a friend of mine said to me just the other day "I know that when I spend time with you, I can calm down and just be myself." And looking back over the close friendships I've had, I've noticed a pattern. They all tend to come into my life for a season, usually when they are going through a difficult time. When they are past that difficult time and go though the process of healing, they move on. And I don't usually see them again. I do have a few that helped heal me - with names like Ryan, Maria, Missy, Travis, Daniel and Andrew. I also had a few that were just fun - with names like Scott, Tricia, Emory, and Tarah. And those I would consider my dearest, sweetest friends from that time - with names like Angela, Nathan, Andy, Lesa, Rebekah, and Sarah - the names that when I hear them and type them even now, I'm welled-up because my love for them is still so strong. They are part of me and always will be. However, the list for those I helped heal and move on is a longer list. And I have mixed emotions about that.

Please don't mistake me, I'm not trying to lament "poor Stephanie, the girl whose friends always leave". I'm not attempting a gigantic pity party here, I promise. This is simply a time of reflection for me. I've accepted my gift for what it is and had to adjust accordingly. That doesn't make it easy, but nothing worthwhile in life ever is.

So am I intentionally not staying in touch with these people because of this?

The painful memories of college and lost friendships are whirling back to me in light of my recent reconnection with this old friend. (not because of him, not in any way, but just because he represents this specific time in my life). The painful college memories have certainly dulled - partly due to time but also admission on my part that some of that pain was my fault. But as is with the nature of every woman - we want to be pursued. Chased after. I admit I'm sad no one from that time in my life is really chasing me. Self-doubt and insecurity have seeped in. I wonder if I made an impact at all.

The mistakes I made back then - the plentiful amount of them - have rushed through my heart today. "I should have done it this way..." "I can't believe I actually behaved that way..." "What was I thinking?" "It's a wonder anyone could stand to be around me". These thoughts attack both my head and my heart. The desire to be good enough and thought well of is normal for most people. The question I should really be asking myself is if God is honored by who I was and am and will be.

I wish I knew the answer.