The Problem With Assumptions

braying-donkeyHave you ever heard the statement, “If you assume, you make an ass out of u and me!”?

Guess who is kind of an ass today.

I’ve had some really big changes happen in my life over the course of the last few years, but maybe one of the most unexpected has been suddenly having a relationship with my brother Michael. After decades of silence, suddenly we are talking again, and I have to admit, it is both exhilarating as well as terrifying.

Trust was a casualty in his and my life long before we ever even stepped into kindergarten. In fact, in all five siblings, there is a deep current of distrust between all of us. I can’t put my finger on the exact moment we all decided we couldn’t trust each other, but nonetheless, it is there. I’ve racked my brain to find the exact situations that made me decide I couldn’t trust each one of them, and the truth is, most healthy families have tolerated a million worse things from each other than anything any of my brothers and sisters have ever said or done to me. That makes me think that the atmosphere of the home had more to do with all of this than anything any of us have ever done to each other.

In the few weeks that Mike and I have been communicating again, we have had to address this underlying current of pure dadmikecathiedistrust a few times. He and I each have our own storage bin of wounds we feel the other one caused, and though I believe we both had long ago forgiven each other for those perceived wrongs, they were still there in our hearts, filed away and ready to be used to erect a wall for us to protect ourselves. I was presented with an opportunity this morning to pull out those reliable bricks of security and start erecting the wall. Instead, though, I chose to just be vulnerable to Michael instead, in the hopes that we can finally put to rest this ridiculous exercise once and for all.

Please do not misunderstand me…. I am just as quick to believe the worst about my brothers and sisters’ motives as any of they are about mine. It is just absolutely insane!

What is the point of trying to have a relationship with a person if you are just going to end up wrecking each other all over again? I do not want to repeat the mistakes of my youth and ignorance. I want to love my brother; I want to see his kids graduate; I want to make Thanksgiving dinners, and see my Dad beam in pride with every step of success my brother achieves. I want to pick up the phone to discuss Dad’s health or plan a vacation to each other’s houses. I want all of these things, but I am afraid of them too. I, like Michael and the others, do not know what any of this should look or feel like. I’ve never had it either. But I want to try. I have a feeling it would be nourishing, stabilizing, and fulfilling. I also feel like it is going to be a lot of work, learning to interact with Michael as another person I care about, and not like some insane member of an age-old blood feud that even I myself only partially understand.

I want the past and all of its mistakes in a grave, never to show their faces in my life again. I want something better for all five of us. And if I want that, then it my job to change my cowardly reactions to being vulnerable first, and stop worrying about how any of the other siblings might have dubious agendas when it comes to me. The fact that these shadowing fears of mine never actually manifest themselves in reality but only hide in the long silences between us is enough for me to accept, they probably don’t really exist at all. No one is out to get me; and I am not out to get them either.

brothers and sistersToday, Michael read my post about Dad, and it hurt him. There was a whole side of the story that I did not know then, and from his perception, it was blatantly unfair. In my defense, though, I had to tell Michael that part of that post I wrote out of sheer anger because of Dad’s pain, but also because I was beyond furious that Mike refused to even let me disagree with him in public. I was basically trying to initiate some sort of response from him that would prove he cared at all about any of his family, even if it was only to be pissed at us. Or, put simply, I was picking a cyber-fight with him.

Of course, when I wrote it, and he never even once responded to any of it, I added another little bleeding brick to my arsenal. In the end, it really never even once occurred to me that he hadn’t seen it, and thus, the lack of reaction. Instead, I assumed he just cared so little, he wasn’t going to be bothered with answering it.

When Mike and I started talking again a few weeks ago, I figured he was letting sleeping dogs lie by never mentioning it. I thought we were starting fresh, so I didn’t mention it either. Today, I got the reaction I was hoping for back in June, only this time, it sucked.

The truth tends to be pretty black and white in my mind, which is why I am always careful to remind readers that I write from my own vantage point only. That goes double if I write when I’m pissed off. I can’t even count how many times I’ve written something in the flames of a rage only to have to come back later and apologize or clarify. I’m passionate and impulsive….rarely, a good combination.

When I wrote that piece, I did so assuming I knew what Mike was thinking. As usual, I had interpreted Michael’s silence in the for fire-blushworst possible light, and assigned to him motives that were not really what was actually going on. For instance, even though I knew for a fact Dad had tried to reach out to him over the years, I have no actual proof that Mike had actually known about any of these attempts. None of them were directly sent to him, only to others around him. Also, what was interpreted as a snarky comment about our father, was, in Michael’s perception, a commentary statement aimed at our stepfather, who in my book, deserved it and more. Sadly, that thought had never occurred to me either. The truth is, there is actually an obituary on the internet for a man with our father’s same name, and we do not have a common last name. Another truth is, just as I have been growing and changing all these years, so has Michael. About the only things about us that have remained the same are the old childhood wounds and our traditional reactions to them. By assuming I knew who he was all these decades later because of the limited knowledge I once had about him when we were kids, I ended up completely wrong about a lot of things.

So, Michael, I hope you will accept my humble apology for attacking you on the internet, and for always assuming the worst about you, instead of the best. I have to unlearn some pretty crappy things I picked up long ago, but I promise you, I will no longer assume I know something to be a fact without even stopping once to think I might be wrong. Instead, I promise to go to you first and find out what is really going on. You know, basically the same amount of respect I’d offer anyone else in my life.

I’m sorry.

~ Your Sister, Cathie

You Are What You Read

Facebook is always good for a little distracting fun. My best friend, Audra (My Best Friend Cheats At Board GamesStonking Best Friend) posted this:

books

And since I’ve read a zillion books, I thought it would be fun and maybe even a little self-illuminating. I gave myself only 5 minutes to come up with the books, and here’s what I came up with:

The Eye of the World Series by Robert Jordan

The Light & the Glory Peter Marshall, David Manuel

Fox’s Book of Martyrs by John Fox

Touch the Wind by Janet Dailey

Bible by God

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

The Golden Key by Melanie RawnJennifer RobersonKate Elliott  

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Empire Trilogy by Raymond Feist, Janny Wurts

Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John

 One thing I noticed right off the bat is that I read 7 of these books as a kid, and 3 of them in my early twenties, except for the last of the Eye of the World series which took 20 years for the author to complete. Cool, right?

touch the windFor instance, Touch the Wind was the first graphic romance novel I ever read. I was about 13 and we were staying with my mother’s sister, my Aunt Pamela. Both Mom and Pamela were avid romance readers, and you could find those books everywhere in the house. I had been allowed to read Grace Livingston Hill (Christian romance writer) and a few mild Harlequin’s (boring!), but those thick books were off limits. I snagged Touch the Wind, and proceeded to spend the next 6 hours hiding in the bathroom and outside in the shed with a flashlight reading about Rafaga and Sheila, the honorable kidnapper/thief and the poor little rich girl. Let’s face it. It was hot. 

Decades later, I bought that book again and read it as an adult. Wow. What was I thinking? I laugh my butt off at how not politically correct it is to fall in love with your kidnapper, who raped you and convinced you he did it to protect you from other rapists. That is, after he gunned down your abuse new husband while he and his gang were robbing you. For obvious reasons, reading it again kind of took the shine out of the memory for me. Yikes.

Each of the books on my list has some other memory linked to them for me, and it was fun to recall some of that stuff.

I thought it might get some of you thinking like it did me.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend! 

~ Bird

The Dilemma of the Half-Eaten Donut on the Ground by my Truck

DUNTUMaybe it’s the delirium of a three day weekend looming large in my future, but I noticed half of a donut on the ground by where I parked my truck this morning when I got to work. It looked somewhat fresh, chocolate with white frosting, and I really didn’t pay it much mind on my way to the door. Kinda gross throwing your food where people walk, but I’ve seen worse.

At lunch, it was still there, looking equally as fresh as four hours earlier. Immediately, I noticed the suspicious absence of ants, or other bugs, and began to wonder why the 48 strays in the area hadn’t snapped up that sugary treat when they were making their rounds.

Now I wonder if it is really a donut at all.

I’m afraid to get a closer look and yet afraid I’ll step on it if I don’t.

What fresh hell is this??

~ Birddonut

The Unique Flavor of a Relationship

jesus livesHave you ever tried describing a relationship between yourself and someone to a third person? We use words and body movements to convey a picture, but we all know deep down, we can’t really do it justice. A relationship…any relationship, whether marital, friendship, acquaintance, or even adversarial… is completely unique between two people. And no matter how many generations of people have come and gone, this stands true. It always will remain true.

One of the really hard parts of Chef cheating on me was how instantly I felt replaced in that relationship. Through the filter of my broken heart, I illogically assumed that his new relationship with Tanya somehow was just an improved version of his and mine. It took some time for my perception of all that had happened to change ever so slightly to a different angle and reveal the reality I found myself in. It is patently impossible for anyone to be replaced in any relationship. I imagine we all do this to some degree. Abused children grow up and re-enact broken bonds with parents, looking to find a better outcome. Most of us have walked away from someone only to try to find that same person again, only with another person. Midlife crises are a good example of people wanting to start over, have the same parts of the last relationship they liked without all the parts they disliked. Spouses may betray spouses with other people, but the textures, smells, tastes, and overall aura of the relationship can never be duplicated. Some people may find that their new relationship is more satisfying for them, and others may find it disappointing, but they will never have been able to replicate what they walked away from ever again. We each bring our own flavor to a relationship that combined with someone else’s, makes ours completely different.

God-Hug-You-For a writer, you’d think I would have had a more finely tuned ability to describe something like this with clarity. And yet, every time I have tried to explain what my relationship with the Lord felt like, I could never quite find the right words. How do you explain both being fearful and yet trusting? Loved, but allowed to suffer? The truth is, if you can’t even give a detailed enough description of how you felt loving your husband, or how hard it was to lose all the good things you once felt in that union, how much more impossible is it to describe a relationship with Jesus?

I used to talk to Simon about God almost every time we hung out together. I can’t help it sometimes. I really do love the Lord. Often though, as hard as I was trying to convey how serving Him fulfilled something in me, or how distressingly crappy a Christian I seem to ever be, I simply felt like the picture I was creating for him wasn’t quite right.

Except, that is okay because you don’t want anyone going to God for a relationship based on expecting it to look or feel like yours. My relationship with the Lord, as it is with all the relationships in my life, changes, grows, and sometimes, it becomes more or less focused.

the shackToday, I read a book called “The Shack” by William P. Young. I think the author painted as close to a true portrait of God, His nature, His trinity, His motivations, and His level of participation in each of His followers lives as I’ve ever seen.

I have a different perception of God than a lot of people who attend church religiously, and that is never so clear as when I clash with religious people. I get irritated with dried up doctrines or congregational clichés. I get angry when movements get started in the church that claim we can demand the God give us whatever we want if we just give enough and try to summon up the correct amount of faith to believe it will happen. It infuriates me when supposedly mature Christians know nothing about God other than what they’ve been told, when we have so many bibles in this country, and are free to read them without fear of reprisal. And in all of my judgements, I lost something.

Without even noticing it, I had long ago slapped the phrase “God is Love” into some storage bin in my mind, along with calling fellow Christians “sister” or “brother”, and the generic salvation prayer everyone thinks miraculously saves you forever, and carried it up to the attic. Because the “church” was always professing it with their mouths, while their actions said otherwise, I started to instantly reject it as being important.. Except, it really is true, and it is the single most important thing about God…. Nothing that God does, or allows to be done, changes the fact that He Is Love.

I felt like I was reading about a person I know intimately, and some of the harder to explain mysteries about God that I have only had vague understandings about really became more focused. There were parts that were over my head, but it is clear, the Holy Spirit was dictating this book to one of His writers.

cultsNow, I also want to caution anyone reading this book to remember, it is a fictional story and not the Bible. Don’t go all L. Ron Hubbard on me, okay? This shouldn’t be the cornerstone for a new religion.

There was a conversation that vaguely seemed to imply that God has true believers in other religions like Buddhism or something along that line. I do not believe that all religions lead to God, and the author does say in another place that there is only one way to salvation…Jesus. But considering almost the entire book was conversations between the father of a murdered six-year-old daughter and The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, it is surprisingly on point with how I perceive God to be.

I can’t wait to give it to Simon. Hopefully, it will help him understand how I see God in my life a little clearer. I’m pretty sure he might secretly think I’m one egg shy of a baked cake. :-)

~ Bird

 

 

Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1

Bird:

I rarely reblog anything on this site, but sometimes I run across something so powerful and perfectly conveyed, I have to share it. Since we’ve been talking about churches and their glaring problems, this fits right in.

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

WalkingAway

Being on the other side of the Exodus sucks, don’t it?

I see the panic on your face, Church.
I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories and scan the exit polls.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control for the fence-sitters, and manufacture passion from the shrinking faithful, and I want to help you.

You may think you know why people are leaving you, but I’m not sure you do.

You think it’s because “the culture” is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that they are all walking away.
You believe that they’ve turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; chasing money, and sex, and material things.
You think that the gays and the Muslims and the Atheists and the pop stars have so screwed-up the morality of the world, that everyone is abandoning faith in droves.

But those aren’t the reasons…

View original 909 more words

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