Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hold on to your guilt until you have thoroughly enjoyed it.

  Friday night I hosted my parents in my home. This was a first and I was quite nervous about it. Things are pretty calm presently, but the conversations about why I don’t love Jesus and how I could walk away from “what I know is true”, have left me a little less open to their presence. Why I would quit a job that I hate to travel and pursue a life I love makes no sense to them either, and they do not hide their disapproval. And so, I thought that I was the one being accommodating and generous with my time, by taking them in for an evening.
  There were no conversations about Jesus (praise the Lord). There were however, conversations about my career, but ….just maybe they don’t know how to relate to me, so this is the only thing they know to ask? I wasn’t as open or kind as I could have been, and growing up in the church, I have no lack of a guilt complex, for not being better about this.
 We attended a family gathering Saturday morning and then we parted ways. I came home to a rather stressful financial circumstance and was ready to numb the anxiety with a little whiskey, when my parents randomly showed back up at my doorstep. They had read the wish list I have on my refrigerator, had gone and purchased a cast iron skillet, which was on my list, and were delivering it to me.
  I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I couldn’t stop myself from turning back into the helpless child who just needed someone to take care of me. Even at thirty eight, and despite the frequent tension between us, I let my mom hold me while I cried, and it felt good.
  Strange that today is mother’s day and for the first time in a really long time, I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my mother. How she could still love me, when I show her very little love or affection, blows my mind.  Always giving, always loving, always encouraging, despite the lack of those things in her own life. I guess I wasn't really the one giving after all.

  Enough sap, here’s a little recap of giving this week:  Ever heard of Flat Stanley? My niece sent Flat Ella to my house, who joined me in gardening, composting, cooking, job interviewing, yoga-ing and band practice. Considering my niece is eight and I have never given her anything (how horrible am I) can I count that for multiple days of giving?  As a side note my brother never should have allowed his daughter to send me flat Ella, because it was all I could do to not cut out a flat baby, say she got knocked up, and send it back to a classroom full of eight year olds. I also volunteered at the beer tent for a charity food truck event. Proceeds go to help my favorite food pantry and I got to drink 8% craft beer for free, not that that had anything to do with which area I chose to volunteer in. I gave to my one of my favorite podcasts. Skipped yoga to spend time with the parentals. Let a friend pick out a pair of sunglasses she wanted and use my store credit. Smiled at several people (which was balanced out by silently yelling at people in traffic) so that I could leave the world in equilibrium rather than too cheery because of my great smile.
  I didn’t give anything Tuesday which I still feel guilty about, which I may be able to let go of in a year or so, but I would hate to not thoroughly enjoy my guilt. 

Lesson: Hold on to your guilt until you have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A long story does not always lead to a burger.

I'm not a complete sucker and I'm not completely heartless either, although I do have my moments. I was standing in the street (like any reasonable human being does), waiting for someone, when a man asks "is this ---, KS"? I immediately put up my guard because who says something like that? He got here somehow and it probably wasn't knocked out in the back of someone's trunk. I would bet that he had some say in the city he stopped in, to randomly ask, if he was in that city, that he chose. (Am I being rude?) So yes, I reply, you are in that city. He obviously thought that I took the bait, hook line and sinker, as he dove into the rest of his story. I'm from so and so, someone took my such and such, I need so and such, I can't get such and such, because I don't have so and so, and I am just trying to get enough money for a burger. (That's a long story for a burger). I took the hook out of my mouth, that he had tried to catch me with, and mentioned that he could get everything he needed at a specific agency, which was only a few blocks from where we were. No, he says, they are closed, I was just there. Now, I have volunteered many a time with this agency, and am pretty familiar with their hours. Today being no holiday, I was pretty sure they were open. I offered to call. Okay, he says, but I just came from there and they're closed. While I'm calling, I'm thinking, if they really are closed, I have no problem taking this man to get a meal, it interrupts my plans of rushing home to do nothing, but I'll manage. The man gets impatient while I am listening to all the phone options of which extension to dial. He starts to say he's just going to keep moving, and I'll admit, I give him an ever so slight amount of attitude and tell him that I am still listening for the right extension. Sure enough, they are open, and yes, they are serving lunch. The man gives me some fake enthusiasm (I shouldn't say that, maybe he had gone to the wrong building before, so he is flooded relief that they really are open..), I then mention that they can help him with all the such and such(es) and so and so(es) that he needs.
 At some point in talking to this man, my guilt kicked in, of not doing anything for him, which makes not sense, as clearly I was willing to hear his story, and help him in whatever way I could. Why not just give him money? or take him out for a meal? Can't I just realize that it is enough to point the man in the direction of resources, that have already been set up to help him? Why do I still feel guilty? and how can I feel guilt and pride at the same time? Pride that I didn't fall for his shenanigans, guilt for even thinking they were shenanigans, pride for helping someone who needed help, and guilt for not doing more. My brain hurts. I'm definitely counting that as my giving for the day. The end.

Lesson: A long story does not always lead to a burger.