Word Arrows

That is quite a statement to make, Nancy...What I can't resolve is your actions of evidently being a complete fake, someone who must have "played a part" as a pastor's wife.  

name withheld to give them grace

Words are like arrows. And those were a direct hit. I re-stumbled across her harsh message while cleaning out notes on my phone. It fell between a note to remember an awesome Mark Twain quote and my Netflix password. It was date stamped 7/14/2014.  More than six years had come and gone since this former parishioner messaged me those words 4 years post divorce. I had well gotten on with my life by then. Today as well.

The sting hit me again. The statement she was referring to was the earlier part of her written dialogue with me and my response that she did not know the truth of 25 years of our marriage or divorce. The harsh reality was I would not fling dirt, nor would I convince someone of truth. You cannot get in a peeing contest with a cow my oldest brother-in-law says. He is correct indeed. I marveled yet again at the fact she felt she had a right, with very limited information or even remotely correct information, to weigh into something that was long over and not done to her. 

A few years after our divorce, I asked to meet my ex husband to get some things off my chest. I discussed this one sided church blame game with my ex husband and asked why he did not correct people's mistruths and the damage that had done to me. He said he didn't say anything bad about me. I said that was the problem, you didn't say anything in response to those close to you and their obvious assumptions that were not at all true so you could look good. I went into that meeting not needing him to resolve or own it, but to let it loose out of me. My mom had set me free from it the night before when she said, "Go give him hell honey!" Her affirmation cleansed me from needing anything from him. I love her for that more than she probably knows.

Reading those words again, I wanted to scream the truth all these years later, to exonerate myself adequately.  I though never have felt those details should be or need to be healthily shared. Perfect I am not for sure, but I was not fake in that world. It wasn't what she thought that mattered, what ricocheted in my heart was she made my life appear null and void because of divorce - of which the real dirt she had no clue about.

Blame is funny. There must be something in our minds that does not easily allow us to hold something that we cannot concisely categorize or understand as right or wrong, black or white, honest or a lie, real or fake.  And because we are wired to need to know and understand, we will make up what we need to get us to that place of filing it succinctly away. It's what we do both consciously and subconsciously as humans.

I have lived two totally  and radically different lives. Whether it is divorce, illness, or tragedy that someone is in the midst of, they are still that same person inside. I hope those in 25 pastoral years were encouraged and cheered on by me in their journeys, that they felt loved by me no matter what was happening in their lives. Though it appears by her harsh words, judgement and ownership of something that is not hers to own, I failed to saturate the lesson of love overrides it all to the church.  If our response to one of our own is that harsh, what are we as people who say we love God painting the world with?

I am still Nancy, even in my radically different life. The difference is I can now be fully me - something I was never able to do in that other life. Being fully loved by your mate makes a world of difference. Being loved by someone who loves you fully for who you are, the way you are and how you maneuver in life is akin to living in blue skied sunshine at 70 degrees everyday.  One can flourish.



Do you know why there are margins on printed paper, books and even in digital print? It's fascinating, really. You may even want to jot down a note or two in the margin!

Dating back to when important things were contextualized on scrolls, space was allotted between the rolls/sections to show a pause, a new thought, and even just to create protection between scrolls. Margins carried onward when the printing press was invented around 1436. Mass printing utilized margins for a myriad of reasons including; greater ease of reading, space for scribbling notes, a place for hands to hold and not cover the text and not the least, protection against critters [more prevalent in a considerably more rodent filled societal way of life] that might chew the edges. 

Jump to the the digital print era. You will still see margins around digital print to enhance brain and eye communication. It seems white space allows our brain to process things faster. I'm married to a marketing guru who would say that white space accentuates the text clearer and with great stand outability. White space is used in all digital print and advertising - a visual margin of sorts designed to help you gulp down faster, entice you to buy a product, return to a web page, etc.

I am far better when I live a life with margins. Far better!! To do so goes against the chaos of our fast society, how our synapses are bombarded daily, and my constantly shove ahead Enneagram 8 Type A personality. Regularly, and relatively easily, without my margin in place, I can feel like I didn't get enough accomplished. But, if I redesign my pages with margins I can more clearly view the frenzied accomplishing hamster wheel with accurate disdain and perspective. Developing margins makes me healther on so many levels! They develop the environment to a temperature that grows a more sustainable existence of peace and right priorities. Without margins, I feel like I'm running with scissors. Our health also takes a hit in a life without margins. All things connect.

I am a hare by nature - constantly restless and a bit unrelenting. Those form the basis for my operating system. I have come to know I need margins in life even more critically just to combat myself! No matter your operating system, we all need to develop margins in life . . . Enough money saved that if we had a car accident, a tragedy, lost a job we would be ok until we could find life's rhythm again. Enough time built into our day to spend time daily with God/meditating/praying or just in solitude, free thinking not on a timetable, to at times just me, exercising our body with some sort of movement and creating clean meals that feed us well. 

We also need margins to make room for unforeseeable interactions with people - surprise people moments. Far too often I can view those as inconvenient blips that suck time from my frenzied schedule or checklist living. Giving someone our present self instead of brushing them off, being open to the universe as people flow to you is part of how we connect with all of humanity. It is no doubt part of what is missing greatly in our culture.

Margins also create space between things in our schedules as a buffer zone. None of us like to go to a doctor's appointment only to find they have not allowed space for running behind. Stuff always takes longer than we think. My husband is notorious for saying a small home improvement fix will take "10 minutes". Never ever ever is that accurate. Without margins we set ourselves up to feel rushed when things don't go as planned. Margins allow breath, stillness, realistic expectations and responses. Life does not need to be gulped and sprinted though I do more times than I don't. My sisters still call me guzzler:)

I explained to my five year old granddaughter recently, in reference to her being in kindergarten, there is never a day that you quit learning stuff - learning is part of life like breathing. I told her that her Nana constantly learns new things. Margins allow for notes - the space to constantly learn and reflect, to not rush, be present, and create. She has a current love affair with three ring binders, which by the way need margins to work well.


Go Down Hard vs Do It With Grace

I couldn't contain my inward thoughts much longer. Though I was listening to every word she was saying, my internal monologue was firing. [What in the world!  How is she 63? There is not one wrinkle on her forehead, her skin is smooth. That seems to be a Botox texture forehead, but who the hell cares - I would take that forehead in a heart beat. It does look a little like Joe Biden's forehead in the first Democratic debate earlier this year. She must have a tanning bed as her skin is the crayon color woodland brown. My skin is sun kissed for sure, but her tan is a quasi not natural color enhanced by some chemical. Oh how is it she looks better than me and she's 10 years older!  Can I evoke the powers of Dolly Pardon?!]

We were waist deep in conversation about COVID 19, the state of race, the prognosis of humanity, the goodness of God, you know all the big issues currently swirling when, in mid societal issue, I blurted out, "What the hell! You have no wrinkles on your forehead and virtually none on your face! What are you using and can I get a 50 gallon drum to dip myself in?!".  She smiled, without a facial line on her forehead and said, "Botox, right here", pointing to the space between your brows where nearly all of us should have furrow lines by a certain age. 

Speaking frankly to the tenth power, I do not like what age does to my body - this massive gravitational decline of all cellular activity and a cease and desist order on the production of all youthful buoyancy. I much prefer what aging does to our spirit, mind and heart. Our culture, and my own thoughts, are far too centered on the seen and less on the unseen. 

What is it that makes coming to grips with the changes in my body and face so difficult? I definitely do not want to be held captive by my own constant negative or overly consumed thoughts. Over the years I have asked lots of women, ahead of me in the gravitational pull line, if they reached a point in their lives where they stopped thinking about age or their looks. Though there have been a myriad of different responses, there were several overlapping and constant undertones.

I was too critical of my younger self. I thought I was too fat when, looking back, I looked great but didn't even know it! They voiced regret over not enjoying what they had before it wasn't anymore! They voiced a sense of irony that there is an allusiveness to not loving ourselves wherever we are at that is an unquenchable monster.

The mirror betrays me but doesn't show how I actually feel  inside - still young and with many of the same thoughts I had at age 19. They reminded me that looking in a mirror as we age can startle us, but also highlight though outwardly we change and weather, we are still ourselves inside!

I made as much peace as can be made with the changes in my looks and age when I embraced that all of it is by design.  They said a light bulb slowly brightened helping them to see we are all mortal and finite. We are given a life that includes both youth and old age.  It is unchangeable, and though we can fuss and fight and be negative, it is reckoning in its cycle.  Move on to things that don't fade.

Life moves faster the older we get.  They realized less is before them than is behind so they wanted to enjoy and be content with what they have and even, what they didn't have.

I was there. Fighting over unchangeables. Getting frustrated that all the things I used to do to get a result just couldn't keep up with the natural process of aging like they once did.  Unless I wanted to spend tons of money for a temporary never ending chase that still would take me to the same place one day, I needed to find gratefulness in it all. 

Age is God's constant reminder to me that I am not in control. And, since I easily think I am the great Oz, I need the curtain pulled back to see I am not. Often I say to my sisters, youth is wasted on the young!  It is true indeed as you do not even have even the slightest awareness of that gift while you have it.  

My sisters always told me growing up that I would be a horrible old person and would go down fighting. They were right, I am horrible at being old ER. It's not a war I can win though. There is possibly a need on my part for a white flag surrender or, at the very least, an armistice.