Category Archives: One Word

I don’t know what it’s like to be you

K has invited you to join a Facebook Group.

Only one or two names were familiar to me in the group of nearly 1,000 women, but I was intrigued by the invitation, so I joined.  It’s a group of women from Omaha, Lincoln, Chicago, Seattle, Iceland, Tokyo, and I suspect many more know each other than know me.  The women live all over and their lives have been all over.  Some of the posts make me wonder if they sometimes feel like life is over.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a 22 year old single mom, worrying about how I’m going to pay the heating bill or put diapers on the little one.

I don’t know what it’s like to plan an intervention for an alcoholic father.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a lesbian in a conservative city.

I don’t know what it’s like to experience assault at a local bar, only to be ridiculed online and shamed for reporting the situation.

My life looks very different from that of many women in the group.  My parents modeled frugal living, faith clinging and practical decision making, and for the most part, I’ve walked a similarly stereotypical straight and narrow. Some might call me boring.

Some might call me lucky.  Some might call me privileged.  I can only call it grace.

I read posts and pleas for help about learning to love your body, about celebrating college graduation while working full time, about babies and bras, about favorite lipsticks and homemade skin care, about abortion and abuse and atheism, about feminism and faith and what’s for dinner, about fighting through misconceptions and bias, about pets and parents and postpartum depression.  They’re all posts about being a woman, about life.

Many women offer advice and helpful suggestions and encouragement.  In a world where women are often our own worst enemies, this group is a bright spot.  And I enjoy participating, I do.  Need ideas about what to give your mom for her birthday?  You want options for what to do with your new food processor?  Book recommendations for Christmas break? I’m your girl.

But the rest of it, I come up empty.   I’ve got nothing to offer in terms of advice for most of these girls.

So I’m learning to listen.  I’m learning to pray.  I’m learning to offer sympathy.  I’m learning to cheer on.

I’m so sorry you’re going through this.  That must be really hard. 

You matter.  Regardless of how this situation turns out, know that you matter and you are deeply loved.

I’m proud of you.  

These are the lines I’m practicing over and over.  I’m learning to simply offer grace.  And if I’m honest with myself, I’m learning to see individual faces and strong, beautiful women where I’ve sometimes struggled to see past a stereotype or circumstance or bad decision.  I’m learning to see these women.

I don’t know what it’s like to be you.  But I know you’re teaching me to love more freely.

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In 2014, I’m reclaiming (and writing about) the word GRACE with OneWord 365.  Read more here.

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Three Special Steps

Three special steps, that’s all you need!  Three special steps and you will succeed.  Step one: Fill an ice cube tray with juice!  Step two:  add toothpicks!  Step three:  freeze your juice pops!

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My niece’s little song played over and over in my mind as I sat in the waiting room.  It’s virtually impossible to get unstuck from your head.  Sorry about that.  If only it was all as easy as making juice pops, right?

I took a big, brave step this week.  A different step than I’ve taken before.  I started counseling.  It’s not unique, it’s not earth-shattering, but for me, it’s big.

It’s a step towards shaking off this unwelcome weight of anxiety that’s been hanging around lately.  A step towards replacing the tapes, to not listening to the lies I believe about myself.  A step towards pushing back against all-too familiar feelings of self blame.

I’ve noticed for a while some reactions and trends in my thinking that don’t feel healthy. I’ve noticed some places feel a little more broken and bruised than usual. A little more tender and raw. And honestly, some days I feel stuck there. So it’s time to take a step. A step towards caring for myself a little differently.

A step towards learning a different way to claim grace and growth and truth for my life.

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In 2014, I’m reclaiming (and writing about) the word GRACE with OneWord 365.  Read more here.   

Reclaiming grace

The pretty Native American girl stared back at me from high on my sister’s bedroom wall, the feathers in her headdress tightly stitched with embroidery floss.  Tiny Xs of thread formed her little smile.  Smug, I thought.  My insides twisted unpleasantly.

Sarah meant “Princess.”  Of course.  My perfect older sister with the pretty princess name.  Anna felt so plain, and the generic child clutching a blanket stitched on my own wall seemed to match my name’s ordinariness.  “One of Grace,” my wall hanging read. It was so simple, so old fashioned and boring. I felt anything but graceful with my knobby knees and double-jointed elbows.  I would never be a cheerleader or ballerina.  Jealousy clutched at my heart.

I was clearly an Enneagram 4 even as a child.

* * *

Time for our yearly action plans at work.  Cue all the eye rolling.  It was a busy season, with deadlines looming and projects overwhelming.  Sunday rolls around every week and if I don’t get my work done, things fall apart.  Just do my job – that’s action plan enough for 2011, I thought.  I stared at the bright empty form on the screen, little cursor blinking back at me.  Just get it done.

My fingers flew on the keyboard then, quick ideas and requisite industry jargon filling the pages.  The last question halted me.  A personal tag line for my life the next year?  I don’t even know.  I sat and thought for a few moments.  To experience and extend grace.  It sounded nice.  I typed it out, emailed the form to HR, added the phrase to the About page on my blog and didn’t give it a second thought.

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The One Word 365 project has always called to me.  In 2012 and 2013 I considered joining, but never did.  But for 2014, I’m all in.

The best thing about One Word is that there are no rules.  One of the lovelies behind the project did lay out some personal guidelines for choosing her own word, though, and I found them helpful as I thought through my word choice.  The word should promote growth and courage.  It shouldn’t be too narrow, should be able to be interpreted in a variety of ways.  The word has to resonate.

So in 2014, I’m reclaiming grace.

My parents gave me the name Anna, and spoke truth into my life with it.  One of Grace.  This year, I’m choosing to believe that it’s not old fashioned or boring, or just a quick phrase to finish a project.  This year, I’m reclaiming grace for my life in ways big and small.  I’m choosing to believe that grace can really make a difference.

May grace be the lens through which I see the world. May grace be the strength behind my love. May I really learn to let grace transform my life.  Yes and amen.