I'm listening to Quiddity, The Read Aloud Revival, and Catholic Stuff You Should Know mostly, though I have Fountains of Carrots, Audio Sancto, Fr. John Riccardo, and a couple of other random homeschooling ones waiting for me. All of these are actually for me only, the kids would be bored with them and sometimes they talk about not-so-kid-friendly topics or use a couple of words I'd rather not hear in our home. ;-) I've yet to find any that are FOR kids- any suggestions?
Last night Ryan and I were talking about what we've been hearing and learning, and I said a few things that he thought I should blog about. So here it goes.
I've always struggled with community, for as long as I can remember. As an elementary student, middle school student, and especially as a high school student, I was jealous of girls who had best friends. I attended 4 different elementary schools, and by the time I reached the fourth one in fifth grade all of the kids knew each other already and had already formed their group of friends. I still remember struggling to find my place as we all grew into middle school students. I did have a few good friends but... It's hard to be a group of 3 best friends- someone always gets left out and it was always me.
Moving into high school I thought would be a fresh start. But I became a person who had a lot of friends in many different groups of people, because I was that kind of person. Even as involved as I was in band, I never really found my close-knit group of friends because they had already been established as a group before we even entered high school. I always felt left out.
In college I was still sort of the same way, dipping my toes into the waters of many different ponds, but I was able to become close to two of my three roommates because we actually lived together. They're still women to, to this day, I would be sure they'd be there for me in a heartbeat if I needed them. I don't stay as close to them as I'd like to be but I still love them dearly!
Then I grew up and got married. All of my friends who were guys suddenly wouldn't be my friends anymore- and I guess rightly so. But they were some of my closest friends in college and I was up a creek without any good girlfriends. I still remember finding out about a gathering of some girlfriends who excluded me because I was "that old married woman" now and they thought I wouldn't want to see them. I had Ryan- and really in my heart I knew that he's all I needed.
Having Beth opened up new avenues of making friends. I then became a "young married with a kid" and that grew quickly into "kids." I got involved at church and made friends with some new-in-town neighbors. It was good for awhile until the neighbors moved, we moved, and I fell into a slump of postpartum depression that crippled me and basically brought my introvertedness out in full force.
Over the years as I've grown and changed, tried to find friends in a culture that I don't belong in, I've been challenged. I bring baggage of not feeling like I belong, and I've hidden the part of me that I thought were unacceptable.
But one podcast was talking about humility. How we have to expose our faults without gloating about them. I feel like it's a tricky fine line because I want to expose and explore my life, my past, my feelings... But I don't want to glorify my faults to the point of making others think I only talk about me. I've really struggled with that too, feeling too self-centered, so that's always something I think about.
But the other part talked about community, and how to have a successful community, members must be vulnerable with each other. I like that word, because it conveys honesty. Members- friends- must be honest and true with each other, be willing to admit our faults, because to hide them would be to lie in a way. I think of it like when I whip my house into shape super-fast before someone arrives because I don't want them to think I'm a failure of a housewife for not having a clean toilet. It's partly because I want them to sit on a clean toilet (haha), but also partly because it's embarrassing to admit I can't do it all.
So we have to be honest and vulnerable...But we have to be humble and make sure we're not making it all about ourselves. This is the part that gets tricky for me. I am currently working on being honest and vulnerable, and trying to cultivate community for the sake of my children. But I think due to my past and problems cultivating true community, I have an unflattering quality of wanting to be pursued, otherwise feeling left out. This is probably why so many dating relationships failed to work out, and why Ryan won my heart! But now it's not just about me. It's about our children. And due to our dietary restrictions, I feel like we get left out more frequently that I'm comfortable with. It breaks my heart to the point of tears thinking that my sweet girl may have to travel the same lonely road as me because of her diet. It's so absurd that FOOD of all things, what usually brings people together, would bring us apart from people. But it's happened before and I'm sure it will happen again.
I guess I'm ranting now but my heart's on fire and it kind of hurts. Ryan pointed out that of all the people in the world, the five that need me most are here within 20 feet of me at all times. And they pursue me around the clock. ;-) Still, there's that desire that I can't seem to quench. I told Ryan that in the past, I've thought this was a cross given to me to carry all the days of my life. Or that maybe it's that God-shaped hole that I've been trying to fill with people instead of Him.
As we prepared for bed last night, I wanted to read a quick meditation from Blessed is She, and it nearly made me cry. It pretty much edified the entire conversation Ryan and I had that evening.
"I try to be real, I try to be honest, but in a world where we can easily project on to people a life that is perfect, dreamy and put together, portraying the real mess of life isn’t easy and has to be intentional . . . it’s humbling. It is important that in this world full of human beings, we do not lose what truly makes us beautiful . . . our humanity."
I know I am imperfect and in need of His mercy and grace. But all of these years, I don't think I've been allowing the same grace to others in my life. Yes, I always try to assume the best- that the person who cut me off really has somewhere important to be, or that we didn't get invited somewhere for a good reason. But I think I've expected everyone else to have it together and of course truly, none of us really do. I've expected them to know what I want, but how could they if I've never articulated it?
So here's my beautiful mess of a life, my brokenness, my insecurities. Because it hurts to grow; muscles have to break before they become stronger. I'm emotionally sore and I'm fine with that, because it means I'm growing.