Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blinding bird poop

It's been almost three years since I graced this little spot.

If I really wanted people to know my thoughts, I guess I could send a text message to the five people who read this blog and tell them my thoughts. I am sure my friends wouldn't mind a break from the regular messages of
So tired, please send coffee 
I need queso in my life 
How do I apply mascara without getting it all over my eyelids? 
and other equally compelling thoughts I send them throughout the day.

But I really no longer want to be heard, I just need to write. Even if it's to just look back on what I wrote and realize how silly and small I am.


I struggle sometimes with the Scriptures feeling relevant. I struggle all of the time. I try to do the readings for the day most days, but sometimes I am a heathen and skip right ahead to the reflection because I want instant inspiration. (I usually read the daily devotions over at Blessed is She.)

That's right, I just said in my small mindedness that the Scriptures aren't inspirational. It's not a Scripture problem, it's a personal problem.

This morning I entered the morning reading differently. After I made a cup of coffee with an embarrassing amount of half in half, I sat down like I was praying and not just gearing up to read a much dreaded homework assignment. I asked God to speak to my silly little deaf ears through the Scripture and sort of thought maybe He might give it a try if He felt like talking. (I've got faith that can move mountains I tell ya.)

I read the first reading 1 Tobit 2: 2-9. I am not a Scripture scholar. I know the basics on the background about the four Gospels, the Old Testament, the Letters of Paul. When I saw Tobit, wedding-ish readings vaguely rang a bell, that was the extent of my knowledge.

On the night of Pentecost, after I had buried the dead,
I, Tobit, went into my courtyard 
to sleep next to the courtyard wall. 
My face was uncovered because of the heat. 

Maybe God is speaking to me already...I'm 7.5 months pregnant in Louisiana. Tobit is wearing less because he's hot. I'm always hot. You're connecting with me already, God.

I did not know there were birds perched on the wall above me, 
till their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing cataracts. 

Connection lost. 

But now I'm propelled forward through the reading because of my morbid interest in what happens when one gets toxic bird poop in their eyes.

I went to see some doctors for a cure
but the more they anointed my eyes with various salves, 
the worse the cataracts became, 
until I could see no more. 
For four years I was deprived of eyesight, and 
all my kinsmen were grieved at my condition. 
Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, 
until he left for Elymais.

At that time, my wife Anna worked for hire 
at weaving cloth, the kind of work women do. 
When she sent back the goods to their owners, they would pay her. 
Late in winter on the seventh of Dystrus, 
she finished the cloth and sent it back to the owners. 
They paid her the full salary
and also gave her a young goat for the table. 
On entering my house the goat began to bleat. 

I called to my wife and said: "Where did this goat come from? 
Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners; 
we have no right to eat stolen food!"
She said to me, "It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.
Yet I would not believe her, 
and told her to give it back to its owners.
I became very angry with her over this. 
So she retorted: "Where are your charitable deeds now?
Where are your virtuous acts? 
See! Your true character is finally showing itself!"

By the end of the reading I am laughing out loud by myself in the living room because what could be more relevant than Scripture showcasing a marital squabble? 

When I am upset in an argument, I will sometimes google things that are, in hindsight, telling of what stage of processing a disagreement I am in. 

When tempers are still high and I'm trying to cool off, hoping for affirmation that my perspective is correct, I google things like "how to deal with unreasonable people."  The responses show me that other people have truly horrific spouses and toxic people in their life. This helps me feel less like a victim and I chill out significantly when I realize that my situation is not as critical as the poor other googling people.

As I start to cool down and just want peace but am looking for ways to be mature when I'm not feeling mature at all, I google phrases such as "how to settle a fight amicably" or "how to maintain respect in a relationship". Now I've got some concrete tools that I will 95% of the time fail in applying because after 30 seconds I'm all like 

When I am ready to move myself out of the way even a little bit to ask God for wisdom on a situation, He speaks. He probably has been speaking over my google searches the whole time. Although I imagine he is shaking his head at my pride and vanity, He's likely just patiently waiting for me to come around. Probably a benefit of existing outside of time in eternity is that you're cool with being patient.

He tells me things through (surprise!) those boring, uninspirational Scriptures. Depending on which party I am in the disagreement, He tells me to either recognize that I have toxic bird poop in my eyes that is blinding my senses before I am quick to assert the rightness of my perspective. Or to recognize that the other party in the disagreement is letting some ugly part of their character that they struggle with show through and that I have to suck it up and love them anyway while they work it out.

I'm tempted in arguments to get hung up on which party I am: the blind bird poopy one or the one struggling to love someone unconditionally when they show their flaws? The truth is, it doesn't really matter which one I am for two reasons:

1) In almost all situations, I am an unflattering mixture of both the blind and unloving/impatient person. Although I want to think that being the non-poopy person would be the higher position, what is admirable about being "right" if it's really just that my personal boundaries are too poor to let the other person just be imperfect without micromanaging them and pointing out their flaws without restraint? Sounds like I come out smelling like poop either way.

2) I am not called to correctness. I am sure my family and friends get a bad taste in their mouths when I accidentally sacrifice our relationship on the altar of my need to be right. As for with my spouse, I certainly did not say in my marriage vows, I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life as long as I always perceive myself as right. Although this type of conditional love would be easier if I am being honest with myself.

I have had stuck in my head all week the lyrics to The Servant's Song:

Brother let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony
I have read these lyrics over and over. If I were saying these words to my spouse or close family and friends, would they be laughable because I'm so bad at it? (Probably.) 

This concept of being a Brother's Keeper applies to any state in life: religious, laity, single, married. It just seems most applicable for me to marriage and family life because that is what is staring me in the face everyday as my own personal primary calling. 

It's hard. 

It requires a deep humility I do not possess instead of indignant righteousness that seems much easier to come by. I do not know how to apply it in my daily life except for clumsy attempts. Next time I get in a frustrating squabble, I will probably still google only slightly more dignified things like "how to overcome anger when I'm really right but know I need to get over myself anyway" before I exhaust all possibilities and end up in prayer again. 
And then most likely in prayer God will tell me that I have both toxic poop in my eyes and a humility/impatience combo problem. 
And then I will blindly fumble on how to implement these lofty concepts of servitude without being a doormat or a bulldozer and fail miserably.
And then I will google something. 

Rinse and repeat.

That is why this place is "the business of becoming" instead of "the business of having everything all figured out."

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