And love overcomes

So finally, here is the time to write, the time that I’m finally ready to share my thoughts, the schedule, finally, willing.

I hope these words help, sincerely I do.  Keep in mind I won’t be winning any awards here for the words I’ve written or any book contracts, but that’s ok.  That isn’t the point.  The point is to share that I’m with you, holding your hand in pain, in grief, in love, in rebuilding.  And the hope is that in some small way my words help heal.  This is the greatest gift of writing.

There are so many tragedies in my friends’ lives lately-big ones and small ones, ones full of grief and shock and the word that is deeper than sorrow, the one that hasn’t been invented yet the one where your stomach falls to your knees one day and can’t seemingly return to it’s normal position.  Lots of that lately, regardless of the time or the season. And some days it feels like fate is ruthless and really has no manners at all.  So many bad manners it can’t even leave us well enough alone during the holiday season when so many of us are wearing our heart upon our sleeves anyway.  So many of these days I’ve wondered-what’s a person to do? To think? To feel?

But it’s not about fate is it?

It’s about God, not fate.

And we can go into this whole big nasty debate about what He allows into our life and what he doesn’t, we can go into this big argument about evil and it’s role in the world and we can keep going on, fighting with each other and forming sides and groups, trying to understand the whys that maybe we aren’t meant to understand in this lifetime.

Or, maybe we can remember this truth and hold it blue-knuckled tight:

There is more than enough love to cover this.

More than enough.  So often in stories like what’s happening in some of my friends’ lives, in Newton, I wonder what happened to love, to respect, to kindness.  Like you, I’m taken aback by the sheer outrage of what happened, of where there are no words for this sort of hell on earth.

And if you read the stories, a lot happens along the way to something bad, something this so outrageously bad happening.  And yes, there is a solid and elephant-sized case for way more and way better mental illness care in this country.  This is not the point of this post, but I will not back down from this stance; just because someone has a broken head  instead of a broken arm does not mean they should have to jump through hoops of fire to find decent and affordable care.  Care needs to be available quickly, easily, and affordable.  Period.  And we need to eliminate the sense of shame with this, in admitting that someone has a problem.  We all are broken in some way; the last thing we need is shame and guilt to accompany that and for that to keep us from the care we so desperately need.

But this post is not about that.

I’ll say it again: there is more than enough love to cover all of this.

And I’m sure this makes you shocked, and I’m sure this makes you quickly jump into math mode like me and wonder how? How could there ever be enough love to cover all of this hate, of this sorrow, these big gaping holes in our hearts?

And it sure feels like there isn’t enough.  So many days of our lives the love we give to ourselves and to others feels so sparse as if love is a fruit tree that’s already been harvested, as if someone has run ahead of us and picked off all of the fruit leaving us  with only two bruised cherries.

But that’s not the truth about love, is it?

There is more than enough love in life, in this world.  There is more than enough love to help us all through this, help the families through this. There is more than enough of the strong sunshine of enduring love to get us all through.  There is an excess of that.  And it of course, comes in the form of God, of forgiveness, and of fighting with all of our collective power to overcome the bad in the world.

And like you, I’ve also been questioning whether the bad is winning out; there is so much on the news that makes me convinced that this is true, that this is a fact, that bad wins.  I stare at the news feed and wonder and look down and do the math again, and for some reason the love, the good doesn’t add up in my amatuer calculations.

And then I think of those who rise and to volunteer their time, their care and their hearts,  I think of those who will never stop knitting hats for preemie babies, I think of those who create quilts for the homeless, I think of those who bake for anyone, any time, no matter how big or small the celebration, I think of so many hearts and hands wrestled into position with knitting needles and prayer, so many who answer the call to help and heal daily, in whatever form or fashion that comes in: prayer to words to shepherding children to casseroles to simply standing by someone else through it all.

And we cannot dismiss this.  And we cannot ignore it either for if we really look around, we will see that it surrounds us in an excess that is as overindulgent as God’s love for us itself.

For when you need mothering

So, a couple of new posts lately. It’s only taken me an eon, but that’s a story for another time.

First, the latest one is the one directly above this one, the one that talks about grief and pain and love, how love ultimately wins.  And yes it does, and it will, I promise.

And then here is this.  This is sort of a quilt of a post-knit together for my need to be mothered by words, as if somehow, by writing them down it becomes my truth and a binding statement for my life.  I’ve woven it together with some advice I’ve written for my child.

I’ve pulled these from a long, long Word doc of advice that I want to share with my child, and in editing it the other day I found it calming and reassuring in this incredible mess of pain and grief I’m in. It was comforting to read these words as if they were indeed truth, which they are.  My truth.  And my challenge to live them.

So, when you need to read about grief and how love overcomes everything, read the post above this one.  And when you need mothering, need a warm blanket around you and someone to affirm to you that yes, it’s going to be alright, read below.  And as always, hope you enjoy.

Mother’s Little Almanac about Life

-Don’t go it alone.  Life is best with others.  Sure you need to know how to be alone and stand on your own two feet, but don’t be an island; engage with others, be a friend, be giving.  Life is so much better spent in the company of others.

-Life isn’t about extremes nor is it about playing it safe.  Life, well lived, is somewhere in the middle of these two ideas.

-Just because your life is different than other’s does not mean that your life is lesser.

This is a key point to remember throughout adolescence and adulthood.

-Your life (and attitude) is mostly what you make it.  God plays a huge role, but more or less, if you want to be happy, that’s your call.  You can have all the opportunities in the world and God’s blessings, but if you have a sour attitude, you could miss it all.

Your attitude is your choice, and a potent, heady choice that flavors every experience in life, so chose wisely.

-Your father and I have never (and never will) stopped loving you.

No matter what.

-Say ‘I’m sorry’ more times than you are comfortable with.

Likewise, ‘I love you’.

-Sometimes the very things you don’t have time to do (pray, take time for yourself, have fun) to do the very things you need to do in order to get through the un-fun stiff like errands, chores, etc.

-Always be as polite as you can.  You never know what someone else is going through, and you may be the only person that treated him or her with respect all day.

-Listen.  It’s amazing what people will tell you (mostly non-verbal, non-directly) if you just give them your full attention.

-Listen to your feelings, your intuition, your gut.  This is your inner compass that guides you through life.

-Be yourself.  Be yourself always and make sure you are always true to yourself…you are the only one who can stand up for you.

-Be a class act.  Be the best version of you, and one-of-a-kind.

-Faith.  When in doubt, faith.  When in trouble, faith.  When in happiness, faith.

Faith should be the cornerstone of your life, and your compass to guide you through all the times and seasons of your life-be it good or bad.

-Be honest. Be kind, be truthful.  If I could only instill three things in you, I would choose these.  That and, be happy.  Love much, to excess, and be safe.  Choose a safe career and safe hobbies for your mother.  I don’t need a heart attack because you decided to take up skydiving.

-Dance, sing, do art, write.  Do something everyday to express yourself, even if it’s only be-bopping in your car to the radio.

-The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.  They are content with what they have.  Society spends so much time, effort and money trying to be happy.  Which is so much money; time and effort just in vain to be content.  Contentedness is under-rated and under-valued.  Keep reaching for the stars, and having goals, but remember to be content along the way, to enjoy where you are at in the process, in the change, in the goal, in life.

-Speak up for the little people.  Speak up for the ones who don’t have voices, or have been so wounded by life that they have lost their will to speak up.

God is always bigger than your pain or suffering or problems.  Always.

So is love, and so is your parent’s love.  There is more love in the world than you think.  Always.

-Sometimes we as parents get so concerned with protecting you from pain, suffering, life, etc that we end up actually causing more pain and suffering.  Please know that we never do anything purposefully to hurt you.  We always want to very best for you, and try as we might, sometimes we trip and stumble over ourselves and our own problems that sometimes our love for you is lost in translation.  But here it now: I love you, and have always loved you.

-Remember, your example, your character either draws others closer to Christ or pulls them further away.

-Life is way more than pretty clothes and spectacular events and famous people.

I promise.

Remember that your mother gave you life so you can live it.

Don’t live in fear. Don’t live in denial; don’t live in a box of safety.

Just live.

Be kind.  Serve others.  Listen.  Know yourself.

-Do little things well.

-My hope for you is that you always know your worth, that you were created for awesome things; that you are very, very precious to us and to God.

-There will be about 5 to 7 big things to fight for in this life.  People, causes, issues…know that you may be only one person fighting, doing something, but that is still more than one person doing nothing.  Doing nothing is still a decision.  Fight.  Fight for whatever you believe in; for the basic rights of humankind and animals.

And know that while there are 5 to 7 big things to fight for, there are at least 1700 small things to fight for too.

-You deserve the luxury of downtime, away from technology and constant chatter, visual and auditory clutter, you deserve, you have the right, to unplug, every day for at least an hour.   We will do things during your teen years that I imagine will make you cringe because we are adamant about safeguarding your downtime, your time to think and process and dream, but it’s all to help you, to protect you.

-You deserve the right to: see the potency and beauty of a sunrise; the peace and settling of the sunset; the perfect detail of a spider’s web, the natural music of birds chirping and rabbits scurrying.  You deserve this; to be present in the natural world; to experience things that I did…. fight for every right to safeguard the ecology, environment and animals.  God made them, not man, so they deserve to be here as much as we do.

-Being cool is highly overrated.  Being responsible, caring and dependable, always with a kind word of encouragement is far from being cool, but it is what I hope you remember about me.  No, I probably won’t be cool to you, but at least you can say I was always there for you.

-Let faith, family and a sense of purpose be the foundations of your life, and make sure you have fun along the way, too.

-The family is also an endangered species…lost to cell phones, wi-fi, the illusion of being connected while seeming to me sometimes, being the most disconnected generation on earth.  Fight against the family extinction  (and remember, families come in all shapes and sizes) with all you have.  I know I am.

-Manners.  I cannot tell you how much manners make a difference.  Use them.  All of them.

-Bad things happen to good people.  Likewise, sometimes it seems that nothing but good things happen to bad people.  I know how hard this is to digest, this little unfair fact about life-I know how hard this is to get.  But hang in there, be kind, be a good person, despite whatever happens.  It’s worth it.

-People can be intentionally mean, petty, selfish and insensitive.  It’s sadly true.

But, the key is not to return that to them-most of the people who are that way didn’t start that way; they all were born happy babies, who, somewhere along the way got hurt, bruised by life and/or circumstances they couldn’t control.  Just remember that whenever dealing with any of these people.

A lot of life is being open; is being vulnerable, of being afraid and yet being trusting. And half of life is trying not be bitter, angry, hurt; of walking around with a scarred heart on your sleeve.  Know when you are getting this way about things, and turn it over; turn over a new leaf, turn it over to God.  Refuse to be one of the ones walking through life hurt, scarred and scared.

-Some days it’s going to seem like your life is held together by nothing but safety pins and paper clips….don’t worry; that’s not a new thing.  Everybody feels that way sometimes.

-Life is not fair.  Not now, not ever.

People get away with things they shouldn’t; criminals don’t get caught, businesses and huge companies scam people out of money.

In a phrase, shit happens.  But, it’s not up to you to make it fair, to retaliate, to make sure that all the injustices of the world get figured out…. you’re not Atlas, holding up the world on your shoulders, nor are you God.  You should do what you feel called to do (help the homeless, rescue animals from abused homes, provide comfort and support to a lonely friend, are all good examples), but the rest, dear child, is up to God.  Leave the big stuff (and all the stuff) with Him.

-A lot of life is simply not knowing, and reacting and planning in the instance that one day, life is going to handle you something devastating that you never predicted, and in the same token, life will also hand you something devastatingly beautiful that you will have never predicted.

-If life was perfect, there would be no stories to tell; likewise, there would be no great, intense beauty and color after the rain….life is all about contrast and context.

-Let God be your God of Everything, not just the small stuff you trust Him with.

-Another thing to remember: ‘The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake’ -Meister Eckhart

-Life is a lot about finding your sea legs.  And mostly, you don’t find your sea legs until you step off of the boat and leave the safe harbor.

-Life is a lot about not knowing, but making your best guess.  A lot of the people that you think really ‘have it all together’ really are just good guessers.  Remember that.

-Everybody’s family is crazy.  Remember this when dating-if they appear to perfect, there may be a lot of skeletons in the closet, or, they may be certifiable.

The sanest family is aware of what exact type of crazy that they are.

-When in doubt, trust your gut and trust your God.

-Chose your friends wisely and carefully.

-Life is full of so many moments that you might miss if you don’t pay attention, aren’t invested or engaged in it.  Pay attention.  Close attention.

And pick up a camera; pick up a pen, something to document the really lovely ones.

-Help the poor, feed the hungry, love the unlovable, be a good, caring person.

Heart matters just as much as smarts.

-Be mindful, be present, and be disciplined in caring for yourself and your needs.

-Remember that no matter what, God is with you.  No matter what.

Even if you travel down the wrong path, He is always there, to guide you and protect you and help you get back to Him.

Believe in miracles.

-Ask questions.

-Don’t be afraid to get involved or take action.

-Love people with complete intensity and utter foolishness.