Friday, October 28, 2016

woven threads





So I had to bake a peach pie.

Those words came into my mind on my drive to work this morning. 

The trail to get there went something like this:Memories of feeling left out -> a chosen blog post -> a forgotten chosen blog post - > bread -> sacramental baking -> I had to bake a peach pie

(Welcome to my brain.)

I wrote about making that pie in a blog post a couple of years ago. I wrote it in response to author Preston Yancey’s call for submissions for his blog on the theme “An Everlasting Meal and a Movable Feast: where food and faith intersect.” He was taking a break from posting while he finished up his first book, Tables in the Wilderness. In the end, he had 90 submissions and only 12 spots to fill. I was one of the “chosen” 12. I was chosen among a lot of other amazing authors I respected and loved their words very much. (Some of them had published books!)  It felt like a huge honor.

And then he forgot to post it.

He posted it later as an “open call” for guest posts on Thursday, which felt a lot less special to me. I wrote it specifically about the idea of faith and food intersecting. It was a powerful story from my life, and it changed me. And it was forgotten by the very person whose choice had made me feel special, and someone whose actions inspired the story to begin with. (He not only chose my post, but his class was why I baked the pie to begin with.)

As someone who struggles with rejection, this hurt. It hurt a lot. It hurt when I read the last post of the series, and realized I’d been left out. It hurt when I asked him about it and he apologized. It hurt when he suggested it be moved to a different guest post series. It all just hurt. And yes, people may say I’m overly sensitive. But I had a reasonable expectation, was excited about the opportunity I had to be published somewhere else (and the fact it was chosen by an author I respected) so I told people about it. They were waiting to read it. It was all so anti-climactic when it finally was published – because it felt like it was only published because I had to point it out to him. There I was, sitting on the floor in gym class, as the captains of the kickball teams chose classmate after classmate with my arm kind of half-raised, mumbling, “I’m still over here…”

Here’s the thing, though. I needed to tell you all that in case didn’t know the story, or remember that I once guest posted for an author. It was, after all, a few years ago, because the memory of this, while unpleasant (when it could have been such a joyful one) isn’t where my mind went after the words, “So I had to bake a peach pie” entered my mind this morning. That was the title of my post, and it’s the story itself that has me all turned around into knots right now.

Here is the post: http://bit.ly/1UaRihf

This story is no longer a sweet memory, or a positive one, and it has nothing to do with the fact it was forgotten about almost three years ago. It’s because the people in that story are no longer in my life. I made a mistake and it was too much for them.  Things remain unfinished because after I reached out to make amends, my amends were refused. My phone call was never returned, my voicemail never answered. This also, hurt.

It got me thinking about defining moments. A lot of people have defining moments that are huge… marriage, pregnancy, finishing a degree. For me, I look back over my life and the big stuff doesn’t come to mind. But little stuff does. Like the story of me and the peach pie. I guess when you are single and childless, defining moments just look different.

This was a defining moment for me, and that’s why, when Preston first announced that he was looking for guest submissions, I knew immediately what I could write about. The fact that it was chosen among 90 submissions just confirmed what I believed in my heart: that this was an important story. That it mattered. That it was a big deal. A tiny moment, a big deal… for me, for my heart, for just so much. 

But honestly, it no longer feels like a defining moment for me. This moment has been marred by circumstances that have happened since. It’s no longer a nice memory, because I am struggling to have nice feelings about the people who are in that story.

One of the most important takeaways I have from the counseling I went through in seminary is that your past does matter. Because it’s part of your story. When I first walked into my counselor’s office, I told her I didn’t want my past to define me, because I didn’t want to give people who’d hurt me the satisfaction of changing me. In my mind, that wasn’t fair – I wanted to be the sole person responsible for who I was.

But I’m not.

Our lives are made up of complicated and messy woven threads of people we like and dislike. Of people we trust and don’t trust. Of those that hurt us and those we hurt. People that healed us and people we healed. What are we to do with these woven threads? Threads that have the good colors and the ugly colors, colors that fit neatly in our color scheme and those that don’t? I know, deep down, that the people and situations we dislike are part of our story and what matters is what we do with their part in our story. But my inner child wants to have a temper tantrum because those big ole’ mean people JUST DON’T DESERVE IT. *harrumph* *stomp* *fist clenched* *snort*

My adult side will simply say that my sense of justice hates that the negative stuff has altered me. I should be stronger than that, right?

I wish the negative stuff didn’t matter. I wish when I was a child in music class, the one class where I excelled, that it wasn’t a painful moment to not be chosen when we had to partner up in the 6th grade for the spring concert to play ukuleles. And since our class had an uneven number, I was by myself and it was immortalized on film and in a photo album. (And in my brain, too, I guess.) I have a lot of stories like these. I hate that they still sting. I hate that they still matter.

The negative defining moments in my life often make me angry. Mostly, because there was some element out of my control and something bad happened. As well as an unmet expectation of mine. (As you may remember, expectations are something of a vice for me.)

What I’m realizing, with all these messy and mismatched woven threads of my life, is that they still matter not just because they are part of my story, but they still hurt because I am working through the grand, overall lesson I must learn: that I am an accepted child of God and his love for me is bigger and grander than all those people who’ve hurt me. There are days I get this truth. There are days I don’t.

Someday I hope to look at that picture of my 6th grade music concert of me without a partner and not feel the rush of rejection I felt back then.

Someday I hope to be able to make that bourbon-caramel peach pie and not get a horrible pit in my stomach.

Today is just not that day.

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