Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sweet, Sweet Days of Summer

Do you ever have those days where you know the disharmony in your home is wafting through the air like perfume? The kind of perfume you wouldn't give your worst enemy? And you'd like to be able to wave a wand and make it go away but some days all that will do it is time? And you have company coming and you really want the smell to be gone by then but it is totally out of your control? It's that kind of morning here. Oh, sweet Sunday, Sunday.

I had company over yesterday who I want to blame for the disharmony. I don't want to take any of the blame myself (as per normal). I don't know about this being honest with my feelings thing I have started. It often ends up so ugly in the end. It doesn't make me feel any better. And it definitely doesn't make anyone else around here feel better either. It was much easier when I stuffed it and waited for it to come out in the run-off-at-the-mouth-screeching-nastiness spiels that I can do. The kind of sharing my feelings where I am honest and quiet about how something has affected me and calmly stating, 'Ouch, that hurt" without attacking anyone is much harder work.

Oh God, this is going to turn into one of those whiny posts about my humanity where I alternate between telling myself to get over myself while my finger hovers over the delete key and telling myself that it's okay, other people get whiny too. What's that saying? Oh, yes - misery loves company. You still with me?

Tomorrow I am having company of a different sort. The kind of company that if the smell of disharmony has not vanished it will be okay. I will be okay. She will remind me I am okay. I met this woman, my company for tomorrow, on one of those "sweet Sunday, Sundays" about 14 years ago. Three years into my sobriety, I had just returned home from a visit with my parents. Back then the fallout from those visits brought out every screeching-nastiness within me. This Sunday that screeching happened all the way to church. Ugly, pain filled stuff. The kind where I made the kids' oh-so-human behaviour all about being a (nasty)reflection of me. Where all 5 of you are in a packed Datsun car and you are flailing around trying to smack someone else so that you don't hurt so bad yourself. That kind of nasty.

We made it to church in one piece and most likely pasted on one of those frozen-caught-in-the-headlights-kind-of-smiles of "I'm fine" that we Christians do so well when we are scared that our humanity makes us less worthy than the next human being. But during the time in the service, where one can stand up and ask for prayer, I stood up with tears just a streaming down my face and said, "If not for God I would be dead drunk right now instead of standing here in church." My self loathing was off the scale at that moment. The pain was all the way through my gut. A beer would have been so much easier to down than admitting that the pain was bubbling up and over.

People didn't quite know what to do with that kind of honesty. My sobriety hinges on my honesty so I gotta do it, especially when it ain't pretty. So often during prayer times we ask prayer for someone else. Someone who needs prayer so bad. Someone other than ourself. Have you ever unburdened yourself like that and then had the feeling that people are squirming in their seats because of the tension within them to stand up and with relief shout, "That's me too!" and the urge to get away from you lest their facade breaks and their humanity is revealed? It was one of those kind of mornings.

But this woman (a stranger to me from far away) stood up to talk right after the prayers that day. She works with homeless people in a city across the country, and related the pain I was in to the pain these people are in. It was such a blessed relief to have someone acknowledge that the pain was understandable. And not only understandable, but acceptable. That morning she talked about how some people are at a -6 when they come to Christ and others are at +4 (through no virtue/fault of their own) and yet we especially judge those who we think are still on the negative side of the line instead of rejoicing at the progress. We hold it against each other that we are where we are. We hold it against ourselves too.

After her appearance at church I started writing to this woman several times a year. I would pour out my heart to her. Most times I would be embarrassed that my humanity was spilled across the pages. I often wished I could just bring my scrubbed up image onto the paper and leave it at that. Instead, I felt like my words were those of someone with spiritual whiplash. She witnessed me going off on one tangent after another. It seeemed like my life was just one big crisis. She never held it against me. She just continued to encourage me to grow, to be okay with where I was at. To not beat myself up for where I was on the number line but rejoice that I was progressing. She applauded my honesty. She held up my pain to the Light, trusting the One who could heal it to do so. She believed in me.

And so tomorrow she will come to my little haven in this world and see the real me again. And maybe the perfume of disharmony will still be in the air. I don't know. I do know though, either way, it will be a truly sweet Monday, Monday.

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