02 November 2009

The Good

In which I try to explain why I feel like often when I speak honestly it's sad and angry, because on the whole I don't feel like a sad and angry person, and if you ran into me at church or on the sidewalk you wouldn't think I was either.

The trying and tiring and disheartening and isolating are easy to write about, because everyone has known them, and we long to be known as we endure them. There is no mystery in weariness, because everyone has cried out "Why?" and "How long?" We share our sadness so that we will not be sad alone.

But while happy families may be all alike, the Good is much harder to share. It is too easily caricatured into the insipid, too quickly candied by a sentimental recipient mind. Finding a word truer than an innocuous "wonderful" to express the mystery of our private joys is dangerous. The Good is too intimate to describe or share; even, sometimes, to think about. To touch it is to risk cheapening it, and to share it is to risk turning it into someone else's boredom.

The weight of a warm, confused baby when you lift her from her nap; the way a little boy trotting along clumpily in overalls supersaturates the heart; watching how a bowl of grapes (!) can make a little one the single happiest person on earth; the extemporaneous sacred yodeling of an aspiring hymnwriter; the incisive question unexpectedly sprouted from the hidden mind of one's own child; that hour when everyone is together and laughing and a mother knows she's the center of all these people by God's grace--that is already being shared with the only people who can truly delight in it, in the moment in which it is real and now. It's Better that way, if you ask me.


Gauntlets said...

Yes. Yes! Yes. You are right.

This is why I have a lock on my other blog . . . Some things are too precious to make public.

MooreMama said...

Maybe I'm hormonal, but not only can I appreciate what you say, I can look forward to it, and the thought positively makes me teary.

I think, on a regular basis, that my husband, daughter, and this new creation are the most precious Gifts and I am the most blessed of all the women on the planet.

Dakotapam said...

Yes! And this is what I most adore about motherhood.

And you know what...to an outsider, it probably appears that this is how you feel most of the time. It is what I choose to focus on. I have a thirteen year old, and he is a joy. He asked me how to do laundry last night. And yet...I still miss his mispronunciations, and his innocent spirit, and the funny faces he used to love to make. There is something downright adorable and lovable about every age.

I was watching the Duggars last night...Michelle mentioned that she hopes to always have a toddler in the house, some way, some how...all of a sudden her words resonated with me. We've gone a few years without a toddler, and now we'll get two to make up for lost time. I just wish that I weathered pregnancy as well as she appears to.

lisa said...

When I went to school in the South I'd often hear this phrase, "Bless her heart, ..." followed by some horrible criticism.

"Well bless her heart, she's a harlot, poor thing."


When people on this blog say rough and tumble things about home life, I don't get that same "bless their heart" feeling. When people here say, "Oof, today was rough." And then, "Come Lord Jesus," well - I think they mean it. Both things. It was a rough day. I lean on my Saviour.

Reading CSPP can often be Enter At Your Own Risk :) If Mama's having a bad day...you'll hear about it :) (Ouch!) And, taking me for example, if a person has been very receptive to society's indoctrination that a woman should have a high-powered job, awesome wardrobe and tons of (child-less) free time, some days of having our selfish wills broken by Christ are going to be mighty rough and ugly to look at.

If we border (or cross into) sinfully despising our blessed estate, we all do need correction and I hope a Sister in Christ would love me enough to do that for me and my children.

That said - I think it's best to take a blog for what it is. If it's snarky, then so it is. It's a matter of opinion and frankly, only the opinion of the authors really matters. BECAUSE: The internet is a dangerous thing, but it's all enter at your own risk. There may indeed come a time when any one of us is called to account publicly for what we have written, but if our husbands are OK with it, and we're OK with going down to the internet washing hole and talking to other mamas...then I suppose we will show discretion as best we know how.

So it goes.

Untamed Shrew said...

I personally find it edifying to listen to others' struggles. Either I find myself relieved that I am not alone, or I am reminded that it could always be worse.

Metacomplainers unite!

Rebekah said...

Gauntlets, ditto that on the private outlet.

And oh yeah, as far as the public writing goes, I have assumed from day 1 that everyone I know will read this, including my children and real life neighbors and family members who think I'm screwy. So far none of those people have that I know of. I don't expect my children to be any more offended than I am by my mom's honesty with me about having raised me (ie, none since I now get it); my husband has never objected to anything I've posted here as being potentially damaging to local ministry though I would surely take down anything and everything at his direction or even suggestion; and my family members are going to think I'm screwy no matter what. If I've learned anything, it's that the things I fear will offend someone won't even provoke comments, the things over which people do become offended (by which I mean hurt, not annoyed) are nearly always complete blindsides, and no matter what one writes or where it is published she will be misunderstood by someone.

lisa said...

"If I've learned anything, it's that the things I fear will offend someone won't even provoke comments, the things over which people do become offended (by which I mean hurt, not annoyed) are nearly always complete blindsides.."

That's so true. Sometimes I wish I had a "hey, am I upsetting you?" feeling detector. Although, I'm a jerk and would prob get lazy about using it. Sad truth.

On a separate note, I think that kids being upset is an important issue and one to avoid whenever possible, but it comes back to Gauntlet's (?) assertion that it's not complaining about the child being anything less than a gift, it's being frustrated that I'm broken and I'm struggling to receive that gift.
Our kids aren't perfect but they are such perfect beautiful gifts.

Anonymous said...

14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Philippians 2:14-16

Rebekah said...

Hey, could the saints under the altar please keep it down? Some of us have kids still sleeping.

Seriously, Anons of the world, thanks so much. You can return to your uncomplaining lives now.

Lisa, amen. People who know me know that I am not an emotionally/affectionately expressive person in public. Still waters and all that.

Gauntlets said...

Anon, I get the impression that you mean well, but you don't know us as well as you seem to think. Better just leave it alone. Our husbands approve of us, our fathers like us, and our Father Confessors have got our backs. If these men, who actually have authority over us, aren't commanding us to shut up, perhaps your chiding is misplaced. And, lest you think us Antinomian, we're not. Trust me.

Shoot us an email, if you really think you've got a bone to pick.

As for "complaining": I refuse to think that saying, "Wow, hurricanes are destructive!" is somehow destructive. I just don't like rose colored glassed; they never did fit me right.

JenniferH said...


Seems as though the very Scripture of which you so boldly reminded the writer/readership is just the thing to remind all of us again of the following:

1. We're all poor, miserable sinners.
2. None will be cleansed without Christ's blood.
3. We read all the time on CSPP about how these gals long for Christ's return. I'm wagering a guess that it just *might be for reasons such as these.

I mean, really. Have ANY of us NEVER complained? Lest we forget, a complaint unuttered but still thought in the dark recesses of our mind is equally sinful to the Father. His sacrifice covers ALL of them.

lisa said...

Dear Anon II,

You and your post have been on my mind. I don't wish to be redundant, and after re-reading the other replies to this post, I don't think I will be (too much). Here's part of what you said (Assuming it's the same Anon II):

"I think attitudes need to be adjusted. Otherwise, you’ll just be so darned miserable for the rest of your life. If you don’t enjoy it now, you won’t enjoy it at any other stage either. The problem doesn’t lie with your children’s ages or stages, it lies with you. What is making you all so unhappy? What is it that you would rather be doing? I had other dreams, too, but I feel pretty certain that your vocation as mother is a much higher calling."

To be blunt, and only speaking for myself, I wholeheartedly agree with your accusation against me. Because, I mean - your accusation is leveled at many folks and I'm one of them.

I do believe that King Solomon was right right right. It is good and right for us to take correction. I've had your phrase in my head for two days now - stop complaining - One. At. A. Time.

And - further - (I'm longwinded when I'm thoughtful) I don't think criticisms have to be couched perfectly (or couched at all) to be accurate or deserved. One gets into the question of "is the accuser doing this in Christian love" but I can't know your heart. It's kind of like when my relatives think I'm "unloving" bc I explain closed communion, and the complaint is usually, "Well, you don't have to say it in that way." etc There may never be the "perfect way to explain it" - bc the word I am saying is offensive, but - I guess I should still try.

I think part of the problem (as I maybe misunderstand it) is that complaints are being made and cataloged online for backtracking (as opposed to disappearing in to the air or our faulty memories and then the communion cup). And, also, that outsiders can then look these up - people who are looking at Christians and saying, "Where is that hope that is within you?"

I don't think your complaint will ever be adequately resolved on this blog. That's just my perspective as an outsider. It is - a blog. It is public. Should it be private? I'd love that. But - then again - it would still be a blog - and all those whines that normally wisp up into the atmosphere would still be captured and set in "ink" here - not solving your (or rather, our) complaining problem.
And - if the blog were private - then mothers like me, who needed to find other women who thought I wasn't nutty for breeding, won't have access to lurk and then begin interacting, or - remain comfortable lurkers, taking some that is edifying and leaving crumbs that are not.

I think you did say that you like a lot of what is on here and even liked a lot of Gauntlet's previous post. Excepting the complaining. Well, that says a lot about you. You're probably a really (and I mean this) wonderful, beautiful mother. The kind of mother, we are - believe it or not - trying to be like.

I really really wish you hadn't posted anonymously, and I really really hope you do email the three ladies who make this machine work.

There was worth to your admonition and I guess today I'll try to stop myself One. Whine. At. A. Time. We shouldn't persist in sin, but I do think that if you are prepared to tell someone, or folks, that is what they are indeed doing - then that merits being done sister to sister and not anonymously.

As it is, thank you for what you were able to do. As I have asked you to - I will now take the wheat and blow away the chaff.

Yours in Christ, Lisa

Anonymous said...

To begin, I (Anonymous II) posted only one comment.

I really wanted to reply to Lisa’s post and to a few things that have shown up the last few days.
Did I criticize some posts and comments? Yes. Did I speak too harshly? Maybe, but criticism is rarely well-received. Did I say you were horrible people? No. Were some things blown out of proportion? Yes. I think Lisa’s last comment really hit upon what I was trying to do.

I did not ever say that complaining was horrible. I could really give an earful after my day today. And commiserating is also healthy. But what I did say concerned complaining too much. Somebody wrote in one comment something about a line being crossed (?). That is what I was trying to get at. I think some of the post, as well as some of the comments, crossed a line into what I believe is dangerous ground.

Lisa wrote: “ Because, I mean - your accusation is leveled at many folks and I'm one of them.” I am also in the cross-hairs. I struggle every day.

LIsa also wrote: “ One gets into the question of "is the accuser doing this in Christian love" but I can't know your heart.” I commented (after days of deliberation and multiple drafts) out of concern. I truly do not want things you write to come back and bite you on the butt and cause a problem that has no pretty solution.

Also, the question was asked, “How does one go about appreciating each day?” I attempted to answer it. Stop complaining. Complaining will not lift you up. Friendship does lift you up, but complaining will not. Altering your own attitudes and expectations will help you enjoy both enjoy yourself and others. Simplistic, but not easy to do. I try. Sometimes I succeed. More often I fail. But if I’m happier at the end of the day because I try, then that’s good, right? I am an optimist.

As for anonymity, I do not want things I write to come back and bite me in the butt ;) And I do believe that most of the responses to my comment confirmed that such was a good choice. If you don’t want people to have that option, you can change it, can’t you? (This is not a rhetorical question; I don’t know the answer, but I have noticed that other blogs I’ve seen don’t give that option.) I am thankful for the cowardly option because I do love the community you have created-- for the same reasons Lisa gave--and it makes me able to speak my mind more comfortably (double-edged sword).

One last thing, I disagree with you, Rebekah when you write: “that is already being shared with the only people who can truly delight in it” How could somebody not delight in the descriptions in your last paragraph? Can we grasp perfectly that moment? No. But we can connect your images with that of our own in which we truly delight. Again, I love your writing.

And I promise never to comment anonymously again.

Anon II

lisa said...

Anon II,
Your post brought this hymn to mind: "I Walk in Danger All the Way"

God bless us all this day.

Rebekah said...

No hard feelings and whatnot, but I will say re: anonymity that my personal opinion which is as always worth absolutely nothing is that dropping an embarrassing question in the Question Box or sending someone a secret admirer note is not exactly the same as sliding a message into the smelly girl's locker that says, "U smell take a shower signed A Friend." This is why the 4th Lateran Council outlawed crossbows.

Happy Guy Fawkes to all and to all a good night.

Untamed Shrew said...

And I must add (though I doubt anyone will hear) that anonymity somtimes isn't. Just as I can determine within a few measures whether I'm listening to Beethoven or Brahms or Chopin (even if I've never heard the particular work), so also I can often distinguish writing styles. I can always tell within a sentence or two who authored posts on this site.

Luzia said...

Hi all. This little run brings me in with a little question/observation(s): isn't it hard for us (in our human flesh) to take correction, but easy to complain? I was invited here with an assurance that I could post freely here (as opposed to another place where everything I tried to say was distorted in a sinful and hurtful way. I haven't posted here much because 1) I am not a young mother with young children, and often think that would make my response too not-a-fit, so I just observe. 2) The aforementioned blackballing was shocking treatment by supposedly Christian women, especially in light of what I had revealed to them about the painful things I have been going through, and it isolated me even further than I already was, so, MORE pain. 3) I know you ladies need a place to vent, so, hey, ok, I know how to use the internet...sometimes it's like walking in on somebody in the bathroom, and you just turn around and leave. ;-}
But I would like to say that the Eighth applies in both directions: putting the best construction, etc. It does mean ASSUMING a writer has Christian motives in their comments until troubling evidence to the contrary appears, right? Right. So, occasionally the response is going to be a form of disagreement, or reminding to reflect whether the complaining is getting just a bit over the line. That is a loving act, actually. I did note that the ONE thing of that nature that I have posted was promptly pulled, and it was not "snarky", so, my point is basically, Patience, friends. Best construction, heh?
And Anonimous, heh, don't hide... It's almost like wearing a burka, and I don't think you need to do that. Although... All these 'handles' you ladies have amount to the same thing... You inner or longer time ladies may all know who each of you are, but I certainly don't, so you are all "anonimous" to me.
So, finally, can someone tell me why my post was pulled, so I can have the chance to put the best construction on that? Thank you, ladies. And I still enjoy dropping in from time to time. (hi to ML'ers out there;) )

Rebekah said...

Luzia, the only comments we remove are those that make a mockery of the Christian faith. I've started subscribing to the comments via email and didn't see another one from you come through, which means the posting process must have somehow gotten messed up on Blogger's end. Please feel free to share your thoughts here.

Luzia said...

Oh, thanks Rebekah. I saw my comment post, and then the whole thing, original poster's writing and all, just disappeared. So, it vanished, is that what you mean? Got it.
Oh, I DO know how to spell anonymous (most of the time ;D)
Thanks for posting!