i was in middle school…and if you were ever in middle school (especially if you were a girl in middle school), you know how much that season of life can suck. one minute everyone is your friend and you are queen bee and the next day you can come to school and for no reason you can think of, the whole pack of she-wolves has turned and you find yourself the victim of their prey. it was seventh grade and i thought i was on the up-swing, sitting in a good social position. i had ‘friends’, i got good grades, the boys liked me. all was swell. i had planned on going to see some of these so-called gal pals play volleyball after school until i was told by the group ring-leader that the game had been cancelled. so i went home after school, not suspecting a thing. i will never forget sitting in science class the next morning when the announcements came on over the loud speaker…and the scores of the previous night’s volleyball game was announced. it only took a minute for the light bulb to go off in my brain…the game hadn’t been cancelled. my friend lied. i wondered why and looked around the room at the snickering faces. everyone had known. they didn’t want me to be there so they lied. i was the butt of the joke.
the rest of the day consisted of fighting back tears and avoiding eye contact and begging the hands on the clock to speed up toward 3:10. finally that last bell rung and i was free. i walked briskly to my mom’s car parked in front of the school, looking as aloof as was possible after such a grueling day. i kept up the facade until we were out of sight of that old brick school building and then i burst into sobs and spilled the whole story out to my mom. “jerks”, she muttered just barely audibly to herself. she broke my sobs with only one statement as we pulled down the long drive to our house , “kate, if people like you, they like you. if they don’t, screw them” screw them? did my mom just say that? there was a awed silence while i wondered that and she probably wondered the same. then we both started laughing.
that statement, crude as it may be, has gotten me through more than once when the tide of public or not-so-public opinion has decided to drown me. whenever one of us (meaning us adelsbergers) says that phrase, mom cries ‘seriously, of all the things i have ever taught you, is that what you are going to remember?’ yes, mom it is. (if she is reading this, she is wincing. *grin*)
“kate, no one can handle their life”. mom said this to me a little while ago and i keep coming back to it again and again. i was in the middle of another sob story (not that unlike the middle school one) about how hard life can be(see “marriage and porcupines”)…and those were her words to me. i clung to them.
i don’t know about you, but i really can’t handle my life 99.9% of the time. things happen so fast and i am often caught like a deer in the headlights completely unprepared for the event approaching at lightspeed. i am finding out that the more i live with myself, the less i know myself. this is also true with the people i know and love…the more i get to know them, the less i understand. there is so much to be known about the Bible and the ‘meaning of life’ that i could hungrily lap up all of the evidence and still get only a miniscule percentage of the material. i can do my best to be compassionate and embrace servanthood and still there will be pain in the world that i can never reach…forget the world, how about my neighborhood! or my friends! or my family! or shawn! and don’t even bring God into the picture…talk about finding out the more you know the less you know…
so, no i cannot handle my life.
what a relief. at least i am not alone.
i think i have been really trying to handle it. my mom’s words gave me permission to just lay that all down…so i gladly unstrap that weight from my shoulders…the weight of trying to ‘get it’- the weight of trying to hold things together- to get the big picture- the weight of planning and fixing and endlessly fixing…. whew.
remember that church i was trying out sunday? well…the jury is out, but either way the message the pastor had really hit me hard. he spoke of not trying to change the whole world or make broad, sweeping alterations in the way this fallen world works, or even trying to do ‘big things’ for God…not making the problem ‘out there’ (if only someone else was in office, if only we weren’t at war, etc etc), but he challenged us to look inside and see that the problem and solution to fallenness both lie within our own hearts… to realize the reason bodies can be floating in new orleans for 5 days before the nation makes a dent in the problem…to realize that this issue has its roots in my personhood…that these tragic things happen yes, because we live in a fallen world, but more so because i am a fallen person who often prefers to look after my needs before others. he challenged us to consider what Jesus said “you are the salt of the earth…” and also “be transformed”… it must start with me.
you know the best i felt all of last week was when i did one small kind act. it was the moment i felt the most alive. and i had a good week too, but helping an older, asian, non-english speaking woman carry her grocceries up a flight of stairs in downtown seattle made my spirit soar.
i felt like a member of the kingdom right then. and not because i had a member’s card in my pocket, but because that member’s card meant something in that moment. something small, but real and tangible. i am not sure i have a grasp on that simple command in the scripture “be in the world, but not of the world”…in essence, how do i live here on earth, but FOR another place? how do i find or create (whichever the case may be…let’s no get into semantics) the kingdom here on earth? Jesus said pray like this “bring You kingdom on earth like it is in heaven”… i want to pray that and mean it. sometimes i wonder if this kingdom that Jesus said is ‘forecefully advancing with forceful men taking hold of it”- i wonder if that is actually much different from what most of us have been taugh to think it is. i want to engage with this world and i also want to be separate… shawn said the other day “the amish and the hippies aren’t that different, you know” it was a funny way of saying something that is true…both groups have given over materialism and living by what others think and don’t mind being separate. sometimes, this appeals to me. but then there’s the other side of the coin…shouldn’t we engage? shouldn’t we be a force in culture?!?!?- you know, i am finding one the major tenants of being a believer is learning to live in tension.
“be IN the world, but not OF the world.” Jesus, teach me…birth this is me.
is this the most ‘all over the map’ blog yet or what? i think i will blame it on the fact that i left my headphones at home and have been forced to listen to the schitzophrenic playlist in the coffee house..(its been johnny cash and jazz and then out of nowhere we are listening to common…strange)
i am just full of thoughts on this morning before we leave for the month long tour…hopefully i will have consistent access to internet…looking forward to hearing from you.