Take humanity with its non-evil imperfections and pour grace all over it

Right now this has to be my favorite life recipe.  It has been a season of dishing out and receiving hurt, in separate circumstances with different people.  I am sure that I have unintentionally served hurts of which I have remained unaware, but a true friend has brought to my attention hurt and anger that I have caused her, so now I am thinking about my behavior.

I should have known that good intentions do not protect people from hurt, since I have tolerated a lot of “words of wisdom” from women who have no idea what it is like to struggle with unexplained infertility.  Has it been comforting to hear, “Just stop trying.  That’s when it will happen.”?  Uh, no.

And sometimes I think there are no intentions.  I have recently been hurt by what I theorize to be people’s absolute pain and frustration eeking out in an inappropriate way.

The ugly truth is that human relationships involve human beings who are incredibly complex and totally imperfect, as wonderful as they may be.  I suppose that the positive news is that a person can be wonderful and imperfect at the same time, but this perfectionist gets stuck on the imperfect part.

It was painful to realize that my unrealistic standards have been projected on to other people.  Again, unintentional, but hurtful.  As unfair as it is for me to expect myself to be perfect, it is just as unfair for me to expect others to be perfect (i.e. to never hurt me).  Is never hurting another person perfection?  It gets very complicated, doesn’t it.

That’s why I am inclined to simplify the mess with the image of non-evil humanity in a giant bowl and covering it with grace.  Mix until non-evil humanity is well-coated.  Then put it in a warm loven until you smell joy and peace.

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Sometimes a person needs to be a character

There were times when my parents would discuss people who went to our church.  “She’s a character.”, my dad would occasionally say, shaking his head with a smile.  The way that he said it made me want to be a “character”, even though my childhood self did not fully understand what he meant, but got that a “character” was someone who stood out a bit, pushed the limits a bit, and was decent and lovable at the same time.

You may recall, “Don’t read “The Grapes of Wrath’ when you’re feeling low”.  Well, I reached a point where I wasn’t feeling low, so I finished reading the classic.  Ma was a character who stunned me repeatedly with her strength and practicality.  Now, she’s a character, so perhaps it is impossible for a human being to actually be as strong and practical as Steinbeck portrayed her to be but…

Sometimes, when I hear music, I imagine that the music is a soundtrack to the ‘movie’ of my life.  It’s a little embarassing, okay?  Anyone reading this has probably been touched by the combination of characters, dialogue, scenery, and music that can make an excellent film.  My life is not an excellent film, but I have been thinking about being an extraordinary character.

Being fully present and fully feeling every emotion that arises can be a bit much, and can lead a person to freak out.  If I have understood his words correctly, Eckhart Tolle asserts that being fully present actually creates a small space between us and our pain.  I, enjoylifedarnit, assert that being fully present in difficult moments can lead one to bawl hard, face down, on the floor.  I do understand the general concept Tolle is trying to teach (and he might not be a fan of me calling it a concept…sorry…), and I do have an appreciation for it.  I’m from L.A. origins, though, so I’m bringing in my Hollywood twist.

When I’m wondering what to do with myself in a ‘new’ [okay, potentially challenging or just outright torturous, or even a positive one- they can present challenges too!] situation, I am going to think about what my favorite characters would do.  There are patterns, right?  Characters are our favorites for certain reasons, and there are often shared attributes among those we adore.  Why not summon thoughts of and inspiration from them when necessary, even though they are imaginary?

It’s another way of creating space between us and pain.  Another way to think about ourselves and pain.  Perhaps it’s evasive, but if it results in behavior that inspires us to respect ourselves later, some wisdom-based evasion might be seen as beneficial to not only ourselves but others.

When my dad called women (it was always women, never men.  there must have been another word for a male who was a ‘character’.  leaving it at that-.) characters, he made an impression on me that could be turning in to a coping strategy.

Dear few who will read: Who are a couple of your favorite characters in books, movies, TV, whatever, so far?  I’d love to know.

Ma would not shudder in the face of an expensive year and hormonal hijacking (secondary to fertility adventures).  She would simply make decisions and fry dough.  I may not be her, but thinking about her will not weaken me.

I also love Andy Dufresne.  “Hope is a good thing…”