Chapter 15: Love, Sortof

To my daughters:

Hi Kittens.

I don’t have the time or the word count to waste, so here it goes.  This world is going to try very hard to get you to believe that God didn’t create you whole, it’s my job to help teach you to call “bullshit!”  Here are few theories I’ve field tested for you, I hope they spare you some of the UTIs, pregnancy scares, and broken marriage vows.

Sex does not equal power, or love.

For me, physical intimacy was a game, and the prize of winning (or losing) the match felt as real as the first fifteen minutes after an oxy dose.  You’re a Little Christ, you’re divine; power already pulses through every cell and membrane in your beautiful bodies.  Tender touches feel nice, but I dare you to find something as electrifying as True Love.

You don’t need a back-up plan.

For young girls whose fathers failed them, this one will mean more.  Your father hasn’t left you so it may not resonate.  Still, it’s a good one.  You can use it in your best friend’s room in college when shit hits your fans.  No number of men waiting in the hallway will help ease the hurt of the one you dismissed.

The sting of a lover leaving will never ache more than the pain of losing yourself, so stay near to her.  I will teach you how to do this as you grow.  It involves lots of journaling Truths and Joys, yoga, prayer/meditation, dancing, and “failure.”

You are wanted.

You are wanted.  You are wanted.  I pray that Daddy and I have shown you this.  I hope that, in our desire to raise loving humans, we don’t accidentally raise ashamed & insecure humans.  It’s hard sometimes, when all four of you kids are insulting my vegetarian bolognese in varied choral arrangements at the dinner table.  But even then, I want you there with us.  Mostly.  Love you.  Stop yelling.

Do not move in with the man who hurts you (the man you let hurt you).

This may seem logical to you, and if so, then I have succeeded as a parent.  It was not something that occurred to a younger Claire, because the hot chaos felt a lot like the fires in which I was forged.  The insults and rejection sounded truer than the alone-ness.  I pray your fires here at home don’t feel so hot.

Before you cheat on your husband (or wife), call me.

It can be distracting and fun to imagine how life would look with someone who compliments your make-up and opens your door for you, but those fantasies about another man (or woman) are invitations to start showing up in real life—less invitation and more red flag.  Call me, we will run into the pain together.

Secrets will give you cancer.

Or autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, pain, and a myriad of diagnosable physical & mental ailments.  That secrets cause cancer has not been proven yet, but my field research and the accounts of my associates has led to some convincing evidence.  I knew a woman whose Lymphoma disappeared after she came out as a lesbian.  I came alive after I completed my fourth step; confessing those last three secrets to Daddy and a few trusted sisters let me exhale for the first time in my life.

I promise you girls, nothing will shock me.

Good love exists.

Good partners exist.  Remember that Good and Hard are the same thing sometimes, most of the time.  Maybe all of the time.  The person, or people, you choose to walk Home beside will nestle into the spot that Goodhardgood-ness can hold.  If it’s only Hard, notice that and decide what happens next.  If it’s only Good, notice that and decide what happens next.  If it’s True and can hold both the Good and the Hard, keep breathing and lace up your hiking boots.

Drink a lot of water.

This doesn’t have much to do with love addiction or calling bullshit, but it’s something I think is very important.

Keep breaking the chain.

You three come from a long line of tall, powerful, seductive (read: wounded) women.  Wars in Europe and abuses in America reinforced the strength of that bondage, but something really exciting is happening.  Your mama doesn’t feel like a slave anymore, and I want to raise up women who call bullshit! instead of want me!  

I pray by the time you are all grown magazines will have stopped publishing lists of sex positions to make your man love you more.  If rage was an effective way to solve social injustices, then the cumulative internal fires of Millennial women will surely engulf the beauty and plastic surgery industries sometime in the next two decades.

You’re welcome.

Pop stars (ahem Salina Gomez and Adele ahem) might have found other topics to indulge than their ever-longing and tumultuous love lives—love addictions.

Maybe each of you is running from something that feels too Hard.  Food helps, so does alcohol and online shopping.  Imagining a life, relationships, and conversations that don’t belong to you can alleviate some of that pain, too.  I won’t lie, it all helps and it will all be redeemed.  Remember?  You can’t fuck it up.

But it hurts more to reject the Hard than to hug it.

Life is just learning how to hug the Hard and make it Good, okay?  Remember your lineage of women?  The lineage of all women?  We will help you, sweet kitty cats.  We belong to you, and you to us, and together, from our wombs and wounds we will all cry out BULLSHIT! until Shalom is un-shattered.

You are not alone, you never have been, you never will be.

Love you,

Mama

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I Wonder If God Is Getting Antsy…

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“Mama!  You said we can’t put any food in that trash can.”

Shit.  She’s right.  How do I explain to her that orange peels dry quickly and don’t mold the way banana peels and apple cores do?  One day she’ll have mastered the basics of trash etiquette — today is not that day.

Lucy is five.  As far as she knows, nothing that enters or exits her mouth may enter that trash can, the one that we use exclusively for overdue bills and Christmas cards.

Grapes?  Gross.

Crackers?  Yep.

Apple sauce cups?  No way.

Orange peels?  Yes.  They even freshen up the smell of the bills and papers piled on top.

One day it’ll click, that orange peels are okay.  In order for my daughter to mature and improvise creatively she needs a comprehensive understanding of my trash laws.  Before Picasso began abstracting he spent years mastering the true and literal human form.  Imagine the moment he realized the fullness of his capabilities!

I can’t wait for her to place that piece in the parenting puzzle.  My parent’s rules aren’t the only way!  My mama taught me to think and I think that the moisture content of an orange peel is low enough.  Plus this zest will make their bills smell great!

A couple weeks ago our church publicly and beautifully announced our support for our LGBT brothers and sisters.  The Love and Unity in that sanctuary poured out the big front doors, down the crumbling front stairs, and ran rainbow-y through the streets of downtown Denver.

“God!  You said that homosexuality was an abomination!”

Shit.  She’s right.  How do I explain that the Bible, My holy Word, is true and foundational, but also fluid, mobile, and alive?  One day they’ll understand that Jesus, My Boy, filled in those contradictory gaps with His boundless Love.  One day they’ll trust the gift of my Spirit in them enough to start building on the solid ground that Scripture established.

Gay?  Yep.

Trans?  Yep.

Muslim?  Yes.

Addict?  You bet.

Republican?  Sure.

Democrat?  Okay.

It doesn’t make sense to me, either—I have no clue how this Grace and Love thing works.  All I know is that God wanted me even when I put my son in the NICU after years of abusing pain meds AS I WAS, no questions asked.  Surely God wants my gay brothers and sisters, immigrants, and congressmen.

The American Fundamentalist & Evangelical church is riding a wave bound for the shore, where it will crash—destroying many egos, identities, and seminaries in the sandy collision.  For too long we denied the testimony and life of Christ and the power of the Spirit moving through all of us.

We were afraid of what a truly Christ-led life would look like.  Instead of looking at the vast forest of redemption, unity, and love that the Bible creates, we chose to look at the trees—abortion, LGBT rights, divorce, etc.  Wouldn’t you rather get lost in a forest of loving, redemptive, living Truth than spend your days arguing over whether a single tree belongs there?

We can honor the good doctrine Evangelical fundamentalism gave us, yes.  But I believe God is calling us forward, daring us to step deeper into that wooded, holy chaos.

The Law sets a good, solid, true foundation.  Period.  End Story.

I wonder though if maybe God is starting to get a little antsy with our reluctance to let His/Her Spirit of Love and Unity begin to mature our understanding of that Law?  Both/And.  What if, like a good parent, God can’t wait for us to get creative–abstractive even–in how we live, love, interpret & apply the Living Word?

“Babe, one day you’ll be able to put orange peels in that trash can, too.”  I assured Lucy.  And I smile, knowing that the day for me has come, it is here.  Yours is, too.  We are waking up!  Do you believe in a Loving Parent inviting you to build something bigger, braver, more inclusive, and more Loving?

The orange peels, the precepts we believed immoveable?  Turns out they may actually move.

We take our lead from Christ.  His very breath and blood flow through us all, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in Love.  We aren’t five-years-old anymore, we were born for this.

 

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What To Do When Your Grass Dies

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All the houses looked prettier this morning as I drove through my neighborhood to my chiropractor appointment.  Installed sprinklers and landscapers who visit weekly are the norm in Congress Park (a little neighborhood just outside downtown Denver), contributing to it’s recently-won title of “best place to live in Denver.”

Just so we’re clear, I don’t live in one of the famed Denver four-square behemoths that line the leafy streets of Saint Paul Street & Detroit Avenue; I don’t have a sprinkler system installed either.  And instead of paying for someone to mow my lawn and pick my weeds, I choose to see a chiropractor once a week who helps snap my poor pelvis back into place, #GiantBabiesRuinBodies.

My chiropractor is a Healer—she loves God and she believes that Love Wins, as do I.  So I get undressed and laid prostrate on the blue leather table, reverent and ready for the relief.  As she feels my body, I exhale.  Finally, someone to snap it all back into place.

“Hhmmm…”  She mumbles through her thoughts.

“What’s going on back there?”  I breathe sweaty breath into the crinkly paper covering the face/head rest.

“You’ve got to relax, Honey.”  She finally speaks up.  “I can’t even start working on you.  You’re too tight.”  Her touch and her words sink down into my flesh and bones.

Inhale.

Exhale.

“There you go,”  she coaches.  “What’s going on this morning?”

What’s going on is that my children yell “MR. WEINIE!!” without abandon every single time they see a dachshund while we’re out and about, and it’s embarrassing sometimes.

What’s wrong is that the two older girls planted pumpkin seeds in absurd places around the vegetable garden, and now we have pumpkin problems — huge pumpkins vines snaking around like hot lava, “No Mama!  Don’t step on my pumpkins!”

And don’t even get me started on the little boy who picks baby bell peppers before they even stood a chance—they chose life!  He didn’t.  At least the baby is sleeping through the night now.

What’s going on is that my sod is actually straw, because I don’t have sprinklers.  I know grass should look green, but what about when it’s brown and squirrels blend into it?  I know friends should text you back, but what about when they don’t?  I believe my pant size doesn’t determine my worth, but sometimes I get afraid that it is.

What happened this past week?  Life.  Life happened.

And here’s what I realized on that blue, sweaty, leather table:  I wanted a fixer, not a Healer.  I wanted a life that could be secured by sprinklers, obedience, loyalty, and weight loss. I held tight to my expectations of what a life should look instead of releasing.  Inhaling.  Exhaling.

If only the chaos and crazy (and beauty) of my full life could be snapped back into place with the same technique my chiropractor uses.

But that’s not how our Healer works, is it?  Nope.  God must go deeper, beyond the chaos, pain, and discomfort.  My chiropractor couldn’t do her job, she couldn’t access my injury, until I let her ease apart the scar tissue a shitty week left behind.

She laughed when I told her about the Dachshunds.  “Well I’m glad it made somebody smile,”  I chuckled.  And she reminded me that not every family of six is blessed with the outdoor space for three different pumpkin plants to comfortably invade.

Then she casually recalled that I’ve lost one-hundred-and fifty pounds, and I am a Love Hulk—fearfully and radically crafted by the Healer who cured my cancers and then gifted me FOUR miracle babies.

“Do you think any bit of your life is an accident?”  She teared up a little.

Snap.

Crackle.

And…Pop.

Everything adjusted back into the places God intended upon creation.

The drive home wasn’t nearly as awful.  Instead of resenting all the big houses I can’t afford to live in, I thanked God for the perfect little Victorian bungalow that houses all the healthy humans I love.

“I bless you, green grass.  I bless your lushness,”  I spoke while passing all the sprinkler systems.  And when I arrived home, to my own beautiful mess of a front yard, I thanked God for the hundred-year-old gate protecting the babies who make me better.

One day, things will stay tidy, I tell myself, noticing the chalk pieces and tricycles strewn about.

Life happens, all day, every day.  We don’t get to choose whether or not our kids listen.  We can’t control our income, our blood pressure, or the success of our marriage—even though we think we can.  Sometimes we choose to “fix it” by gripping tighter, controlling, manipulating, and ignoring.

But what if we choose Healing by inviting Truth and Gratitude into the fears that we allow to hold us hostage?

We can breathe.  And somehow, through the miraculous power of Love, we get snapped back into place, where we can receive the Good gift of content sort of kids, lower blood pressure, and happier husbands.

You are fearfully and radically made by a Healer who can’t wait to ever-so-carefully rip you apart, and then mend it all.  Once mended, you have power that puts superwoman to shame, and you realize that you can choose Joy, here.  Now.

Inhale.  Exhale.  Smile.  We are all gonna make it, even if our sod dies.

 

 

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🎃PS- It’s Halloween, which means I say a special prayer for all teachers everywhere tonight as I fall asleep.  “Lord, help them handle the cocaine-candy angels tomorrow.”  In our house, after we arrive home from our hunting and gathering, we do something that really pisses of the kids, but also really excites the parents and teachers.  The kids dump out their haul on the floor and pick three pieces of candy they would like to eat over the next three days.  You’re welcome.  Amen 🙏🏼

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