The Harshest Judgements Upon Ourselves

Hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes our harshest critics are the future versions of ourselves.

I recall a woman being heavily berated online for her folly of bringing her child to see Deadpool in theaters and then expressing her disappointment in having to leave. People came down on her pretty hard for having not already known what to expect. “It was rated R,” someone pointed out. “It was easily searchable; who goes into a movie without researching first?!” But let’s be real here: an R rating means very little. And who DOES research movies before they go?! Up until Deadpool, no one really had much reason to do heavy digging into super hero films; the precedent had already been set. Deadpool was the first of its kind, but the basic TV commercials didn’t do much to distinguish it from Spiderman or anything else. I thought it was a bit unfair of them to laugh at her for tripping while paving the way. They were casting judgement upon her based on information that was given AFTER she made the mistake.

Changing gears here…I’ve never been much of a worrier or struggled with self depreciation. However, parenting has added into my life colorful flares of both. I find that with all the criticisms that come pouring off my back from the rest of the world, the most difficult ones to slough off are my own. It’s easy to look at what I do wrong and cringe over my own mistakes and worry about the consequences that my children will face for them. But I need to recognize that – while it is important to remember and learn from our mistakes – I’m doing the best I can with what I have at any given time. It’s unfair for me to cast judgement upon my former selves for not having capacities that I do now (every time “now” comes around).

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Happy With Who I’ve Become

“Never change!” is terrible advice. I look at who I was in high school and think, “Wow, I was stupid.” I look at who I was five years ago and think, “Wow, I was stupid.” A few years from now, I hope I look at my current self and think, “Wow, I was stupid then too.” My point is not that I’m always stupid, or that we should constantly be knocking ourselves. Rather, that I’m always growing, always changing. A more mature version of myself can see the foolishness of the less mature versions of myself and appreciate the growth that I’ve been gone through.

I look at where I am now and I’m happy with my progress in life. I’m glad for some of the ways in which I’ve changed and grown. One of those ways is the practice of guiding others to their conclusions by asking them questions and discovering the answers with them – together. I’ve always wanted to be able to do that. I have known quite a few people who were really good at it, and I’ve always admired that.

I’m glad to look back at my life and see that I’ve changed, grown, learned, matured. May that never stop.

The Power of Written Word

There’s a frequent internal (and sometimes explicit) battle over the reality or illusion that is relating through social media. You’re constantly connected, yet you only catch the highlights of one’s life. You only catch the highlights of one’s life, yet you’re constantly connected. You passionately type out your best stated truths on controversial matters. But does that change anyone’s mind? We can quickly busy ourselves online in ways that feel important at the time, but what greater effect have you had? The internet can become a mental treadmill (or perhaps a rocking chair would be a better comparison) – constantly moving, but never really going anywhere. We spread our nets wide to just barely touch many people, but they aren’t REAL relationships.

Or are they?

Written word has been used to express the deepest parts of oneself since ever words were written. We pour out our affections and tribulations to our loves through poetry. We “know” our favorite authors through their books. Today’s entire character of the apostle Paul is built exclusively through his writing. There have been as many letters that held fast the bond between loved ones during times of war as there are insects in the jungle. Entire relationships – personally, some of my most meaningful relationships (Hey there, Bekah! Hey Esther!) – have been built and maintained though no other means than written words.

So considering that, where does social media fall? Clearly, this depends on how we choose to use it. It would be foolish to pretend that our little blips and bloops of insight into people’s lives is an accurate reflection of who anyone is. But then again, it would be reckless to pretend that words – even small words – hold no power or meaning.

In the end, we ought to be careful with our words and use them wisely. Personally, I like to try and use mine to build relationships, while trying to avoid busying myself with meaninglessness. That’s easier said than done, but my point is that I try to be deliberate with my verbal investments.

A Thing (The World Will Never Understand)

God said to us: You trust me, don’t you?

Us: Of course! Wholeheartedly!

God: Then why are you holding back that thing?

Us: *look down at our clutching hands* Oh this? Well, uh… We trust you with this, it’s just that… You’re not really asking for it, right? 😅 … Are you?

God: You’re not really trusting me with it, right?  Are you?

Us: Oh, well… I mean, if you really want it… then um… here you go. *Nervously hands over the thing.*

The World: hey guys! How’s it going?

Us: Hey World! *High five* Life’s been great!

The World: That’s cool, that’s cool. Wha-… Where’s the thing?

Us: Cool thing about that! See, God asked for it, so we gave it to him. We’re not sure what he’s doing with it, but we’re sure that it’s gonna be awesome!

The World: Oh! OK, so you’re planning x for the thing?

Us: Well no, not exactly. It’s just that we gave it to God.

The World: Oh I see…so the thing is against your religion?

Us: No, it isn’t that; it’s more of a heart issue that lead to giving God the thing…

The World: Hm. Well good luck with that. *Walks away whistling*

Us: 😞

God: Do you still trust me?

Us: Yes.

God: Then don’t worry; I still have the thing right here and I’m taking good care of it. It’s OK that The World doesn’t understand that; The World never understood me, either.

An Unexpected Journey (When “There” Comes Back Again)

Friendships, just like all of life, ebb and flow; they come and go and the depth, temperature, pressure, atmosphere, pH balance all shift and change. Recently, there has been a great shift in a vast percentage of my friendships, both old and new. This is especially true in the category of my deepest friendships. Some are crumbling, some are drifting, while others are adding strengthening cables or rising from their own tombs.

This latest tide has brought with it an unexpected surge of emotions. Normally, I would say that I handle the changes of things pretty well (not great, but pretty well). I appreciate and cherish the friends and memories of days past without clutching at them, realizing that you truly cannot maintain all relationships with all people and now is a special time as well. I embrace new friendships with a certain amount of boldness and openness, without holding unreasonable expectations or delusions of permanence. And I believe I normally handle my own feelings pretty well too – taking time to grieve and allow myself to feel sorrow, or giving myself little celebrations when appropriate. But this time the change seems to have repercussions that I don’t know how to deal with. I’ve found myself caught in an unexpected storm of feelings that I’m struggling to even identify, let alone properly address. How does one figure out and process feelings that are ten, fifteen, and twenty years old? And how can one navigate the nuances of opening up and building new relationships while trying to fix the rudder behind you? I would have never thought that this would be a problem. I assume it’s only a problem because it’s been so much change all at once. Or maybe it’s just indigestion. It’s probably indigestion.

 

To any of my friends who may be reading this and suspecting that you may be part of it: don’t worry. I want to keep moving forward with you and have no interest in backing down. Writing this is just the process of processing.

Technological Cigarettes

Facebook is the cigarette for the modern man.
It’s just as addictive and just as toxic.
Those who use it frequently don’t REALLY want to be doing so.
But it’s convenient, easy, a chill way to keep your hands busy when you have a quick moment – instead of doing just nothing.
In reality, doing just nothing would be healthier. For that matter, doing nothing would likely be exactly what you need most.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to reality and breathe some clean air. No wait. Lemme check my feed first; it’ll just take a second…

Today Sure Showed Me!

In snow heavy, piercing cold weather, I ran. For about forty-five minutes, I ran (actually, I was not running the whole time; I paced myself pretty well.). I wasn’t trying for an exercise; I was looking for two dogs that had gotten loose and wandered into our yard. I never did find the dogs, but I did find out some things about myself.

1)  I can run! I can run way more than I thought I could! Although my cardio system is weak (else I wouldn’t have gotten what Michael called “blood lungs”), I’m in pretty good shape! I can do more than I previously gave myself credit for! This experience reminded me that I want to start to exercise regularly soon and showed me that I can do it!

2) I must have had some crappy boots and gloves as a kid. Between playing in the snow with my toddler and chasing the dogs, I was out in that blizzard for over two hours and got neither wet nor cold. As a kid, wearing three pairs of socks was a given; you knew your fingers and toes (and probably everything in between) were going to be well soaked by the time you came inside.

3) I’m a Nord. In a recent series of texts that I wrote to a friend, I said, “We have the BEST kind of snow falling! I mean, I knew it was supposed to hit this weekend, but I didn’t know what KIND of snow to expect. I don’t love snow or anything, but you know what I do love? Hot chocolate, flopping onto my back into soft powder, the satisfaction of a cold breeze after getting way too warm by dressing into a snowsuit, feeling so durable and impenetrable in the harsh chill, and – my favorite favoritest favorite of all – the satisfaction of taking off my cold, wet clothes and putting on soft, warm, dry jammies. Coincidentally, I usually play the Nord/barbarian in RPGs!” This experience highlighted the accuracy of those texts.