Departing

Even though I write honestly on my blog, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual goings-on of my life. If it did, then the vast majority of recent posts would have been related to my upcoming trip to Moldova, because it’s been all I’ve been breathing and planning and talking about for the last several weeks. I’m heading to the airport at dinnertime, and it’s mid-afternoon now.

I chose this map to show you because it shows where exactly in Europe Moldova is located.

Mapa-de-las-Principales-Instalaciones-de-la-Industria-de-Defensa-de-Moldavia-4491People keep asking me if I’m nervous. I think nervousness is the emotion that I am probably feeling the least, to be honest. I feel peaceful and happy. Back in February I posted a letter here on this blog explaining how this trip came about. This morning I was reflecting on all of that and feeling the weight of this day. The importance of this moment. How long I’ve been waiting, and all the streams of life that God worked together to intersect in today. It’s amazing.

And yet, even though it feels like a completion, it also feels like a door. I’m about to step through to something that I absolutely cannot see. I don’t where I’m going. I don’t know what I will be doing or feeling. I can’t imagine what it will look, see, taste, smell, feel like. Feel like. I don’t know. But God’s in it, and I’m excited.

My plane leaves in a few hours and I’m not finished packing, so I’m going to leave this post right short. I just wanted to say goodbye to you few who read it. I’ll arrive home July 10th, and you should hear from me shortly thereafter. I just wanted to give you a goodbye hug of sorts. So goodbye. Hug!

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Overview

In light of recent posts I know this one should be longer, but it’s after 11 and this girl needs to head to bed.

Reasons why today was awesome:

1. I got to stay in the meeting.

2. The meeting was awesome.

3. Someone else cleaned my house.

4. Someone else cooked my dinner.

5. I saw about a billion people that I love.

6. I got to stay up late and work on a photobook of our trip to Oregon a year ago.

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7. My husband is a dreamboat.

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Jealous

The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves. – William Penn

So this will make for three woeful posts in a row. Or if not woeful, then certainly not upbeat. At least I’m blogging right? Haha.

I assure you that I’m not as melancholy as I seem. There have been a lot of good times lately, and life these days is generally less stressful than it has been in years. But when something is prickling at me it helps to write it out I guess.

So the other day I had a pretty cool moment. I learned a little lesson about myself, and I simultaneously received an answer to a question I’d been having in my heart for sometime. The question had to do with 1 Corinthians 13 which is one of my favorite verses in scripture, and it is all about love. I first encountered this scripture as a young adult and new Christian. I was attending a lot of weddings at that time, and because this verse is so pretty, and about love, and brimming over with beautiful ideals, it is frequently read aloud at weddings. I got to know it as the wedding verse. A few years later, in one of the more challenging times of my life, I rediscovered 1 Corinthians 13 when I realized that it wasn’t intended for married couples at all. This verse is given as a teaching on how the church – Christians – are to treat one another. I actually think it describes what our approach to all other people should be. And when you take the time to consider each description separately, and really meditate on what they means for your own life, it is actually incredibly challenging. For several weeks that spring I took each point and tried to focus on each one for a week at a time, and tried how to emulate it better. I’ll never forget that season. I learned a lot. I loved a lot. I grew in love.

But that was years ago, and I have forgotten the verse! And this has been the question on my mind – how, exactly does that verse go again? I’ve got the first two points down pat: Love is patient. Love is kind.

Again. Love is patient, love is kind, love is patient, love is kind, love is patient, love is kind.

I have my moments but I feel like I’ve maybe even mastered these two – okay, maybe not mastered. As I said, I have my moments. But I do think on these two and exercise them regularly. And I do know what some of the others are: Love never gives up. Love doesn’t put itself before others. I understand the general gist of the scripture. I have a lot left to learn, and I’m far from perfecting love, but I try and live by these truths everyday.

So it was nagging at me that I didn’t have this very central and pivotal verse memorized. I want to know them all as well as love is patient love is kind love is patient love is kind, so that I can be mindful of them and try and live the life that Jesus modeled for me.

Which brings me to the lesson I received the other day. I was thinking about my life, and how it’s pretty good. And I was trying to get to the root of why I don’t feel awesome and fulfilled in spite of having it pretty good. I was mentally evaluating all of the things in my life that nag or bother me or that I consider my “problems,” and it suddenly dawned on me that in every case that I feel a great sense of dissatisfaction, or worry, or fear, it is because I feel jealous of someone.

Actually, wait. That’s not how it happened. I just remembered that I was reading in scripture when the jealousy issue dawned on me. In church we’ve been learning about our identities in Christ. In 1 Peter chapters 1 and 2 it says, among other things, that we are chosen, that we are a royal priesthood, that we are a holy nation, and all kinds of other wonderful, almost unimaginably wonderful things. So I was back in those scriptures trying to get a handle on how those truths apply to me (because I certainly don’t feel some of those things). Reading through chapters 1 and 2 that morning, I noticed that it also says, essentially, that because we are all these things, we are called to holy living and should “show sincere love to to each other as brothers and sisters,” and also to “get rid of all evil behavior” such as “deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy and all unkind speech.”

And that’s when my jealousy problem dawned on me. You see, when I think of evil, I think of slave traders and rapists and murderers. Maybe even the sins that have to do with lust and greed. Abuse. Things that we, in our society, would consider truly vile acts. But scripture is often a mirror, and there was nasty jealousy staring me back in my face. I quickly realized just how deep and far-reaching I had let it creep through my heart and my life.  I immediately began searching for a solution.

The remedy, I thought, must be love.

So I flipped right to 1 Corinthians 13, thinking it must have advice to offer. And there it was, Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. Yes. The very next item on the list. I might have laughed out loud. God is a wonderful parent and teacher, and I delight in his ways!

So that’s where my focus is now. Rooting this nasty weed out of the garden of my heart.

It might be slow going. That realization occurred almost a week ago, and just today I tried to express my feelings of inadequacy to my husband. In so many areas of life I feel like he is awesome and I am mediocre, and I feel like it’s not fair. Yep. He’s so awesome that I got upset at him for it. After the fact, I remembered, Oh yeah. I’m trying to work on that.

Have any of you dealt with this before? Do you have any advice? I feel like I’m going around in a bit of a circle. The antidote to jealousy is love, but the instructions on how to love well say not to be jealous. And the first two commands of love – be patient, be kind – are positive actions and attitudes. Don’t be jealous is presented as a negative. How does one not be jealous?  Appreciation maybe? Thankfulness on the other person’s behalf?

Dear husband: I’m so thankful, on your behalf, that everything you touch turns to gold, and that everything you attempt transmutes into unbelievable success!

Dear neighbor: I’m so thankful, on your behalf, of you thin tan legs, your enormous rack and your fun loving, easy going approach to life. And your kayaks.

Dear co-workers: I’m so thankful, on your behalf, that you are invited to participate in the staff meetings. Especially you, the eighteen year old summer intern whose paycheck is bigger than mine (To be fair, it’s because of summer -intern – government- grants that the church receives, not a reflection of reality. But still.) I’m brimming over with happiness for you!

Wow. I’m really wearing my immaturity on my sleeve today! Clearly I need to somehow move from sarcasm to genuine care, here.

I decided to look up some quotes for inspiration. Some of them were downright depressing, like the one I started this post with (although it is certainly true!) Here are some more:

“Jealousy is, I think, the worst of all faults because it makes a victim of both parties.” – Gene Tierney (ouch!)

“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.” – Fulton J. Sheen (Yep. I covered that one already.)

“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” – H.G. Wells (ouch again!)

“Jealousy is the jaundice of the soul.” – John Dryden (Okay. I’m starting to get the point.)

And some of the quotes offer a little more good advice and hope:

“The surest route to breeding jealousy is to compare. Since feeling jealousy comes from feeling less than other, comparisons only fan the fires.” -Dorothy Corkville Briggs. (I don’t know who you are Dorothy, but this is a good reminder to weed out comparative thoughts.)

“To jealousy, nothing is more frightful than laughter.” – Francoise Sagan (I don’t see the direct link, but more light-heartedness has got to be good.)

“Magnanimous people have no vanity, they have no jealousy, and they feed on the true and the solid wherever they find it. And what is more, they find it everywhere.” – Van Wyck Brooks (If that is true, I should aim to become more magnanimous. As soon as I look it up in the dictionary. )

“Jealousy would be far less torturous if we understood that love is a passion entirely unrelated to our merits.”  -Paul Eldridge

and

“Jealousy contains more of self-love than of love.” – Francoise de la Rouchefoucauld.

Those last two remind me that the answer of real love lies in being less focused on self. The more I recede in importance in my own regard, the less I will be bothered by my own shortcomings. If I can focus on others with appreciation and thankfulness without comparing myself to them, I can transform my jealousy into love. because I’ll be thinking about them. And not me.

What do you think? Am I getting close?

Help.

On Hormones

When my daughters were little there was a lot of ribbing towards my husband about being the only guy in the house. We always joked about ‘one day’ when we would all be PMSing at the same time.

That day has not yet come.

But sh*t is about to go down.

My oldest daughter, who has always been the quiet, straight-laced, drama-free one, has spent this school year going boy crazy, and now at the age of ten and a half is suddenly crying for no reason. I’ll find her weeping in her bedroom and try and comfort her. “I feel so sad, but I don’t know whyyyyy,” she moans.

Sometimes she just wants her Daddy. He was the only one who could get her to settle when she was an infant. It’s kind of funny to see him rocking her in his arms with her ten-feet long legs hanging out the side of the arm chair. She asked me, “Do you sometimes just feel so emotional around Daddy?”

Oh dear.

So the other day I had a full blown pre-menstrual blowout. I screamed at my kids. Then I slammed my bedroom door for full effect. Then I slammed the ensuite door because I felt like I just hadn’t slammed enough yet. Then I was so ashamed of myself for all that slamming that I turned off the light, closed the curtains, and lay face down on the floor behind the bed and began to sob. My husband eventually found me and crawled in beside me and rubbed my back and murmured understanding things.

This was me: Nobody ever listens to me until I have to be a bitch and then I’m a bitch and I don’t want to be a biiiiiiitch. I listed off about six scenarios from the previous few days, including the exchange I had just had with the girls, where I felt that was the pattern of my life. My complaints were weak and I knew it. The more I tried to explain, the more I realized that I had no reasonable explanation for my behavior, and I realized that my period was due any day. Finally I admitted, I’m probably PMSing which is making it all seem worse than it is. 

So I’m 33 years old and I had a temper tantrum.

It was so bizarre. I don’t do that. I mean, I have mood swings, but screaming? No. Door slamming? Nuh-uh. I can count on one hand the instances in my life that I have lost it.

This crazy incident did reveal that my husband and I have both grown. I, for the first time ever, admitted that I was experiencing PMS, all on my own, and apologized for my crazy. And he, for the first time ever, rubbed my back and said ‘I know how you feel Baby, I sometimes feel like that too,” which is THE BEST THING A HUSBAND COULD EVER SAY, instead of the thing he used to say, which was, “are you supposed to get your period soon?”

Which brings to mind this funny video, that I’m sure you’ve already seen:

And in the end, my episode and my daughter’s crying jags happened within a short enough time span that it opened the door for me to sit down with her and talk about hormones and our changing bodies and draw parallels between her weird feelings and my weird feelings. After talking about periods (which she knew about) and PMS (which she didn’t), she said, “So, boys don’t get this? This never happens to boys?”

“No,” I said.

“That SUCKS,” she said. “Women did NOT get a good deal on that one.”

No, they didn’t. But I’m not sure my husband got a good deal on this one either, 3 for 1, but he sure is being a trooper.

Reassess

I didn’t plan on blogging today. But I found myself with a small pocket of time and I was already in the basement switching loads of laundry over. The blog called to me. So I left the laundry basket on the landing and allowed my afternoon plans shift into soft focus and my feet to follow my heart into the computer room.

And now what? I think about writing on this blog so often but I never get here. Now that I’m here I don’t know what to write. It all wants to come pouring out, but I don’t have that kind of time. Regular blogging would be the answer to that, of course.

Hopefully there is a new laptop in my not-so-distant future.

I’ve been mentally reassessing my blog. Blogging is definitely a part of my life that I don’t want to let go. I learned that when I deleted my long time blog, Danka’s World. I still feel it was the right thing for me at the right time. I don’t regret it, exactly. After just a few months I found that I really missed blogging itself, even though I still felt that I did right in deleting my old one. So after a short blogging hiatus I started this blog. New. Fresh. Anonymous.

But I haven’t settled into it. I thought that writing anonymously would allow me to write about things that I think and feel deeply about without offending or embarrassing people in my life. In fact, I haven’t blogged about that stuff much, if at all, on this new blog anyway. And the thing that sucks about being anonymous is that you can’t talk to very many people about it.

And I’ve never really settled into the blog’s name or my silly moniker.

I’ve been thinking about doing it again. Deleting my old blog. Starting a new one. Danka 2.0 or something. Fresh. New. Public.

IF I decide to go that route, I’ll wait until I’m set up with a computer again. I can’t blog at work, and all of my other internet usage is currently being done from my iPhone, which is not very conducive to writing.

I feel like I could close this post here. Wrap it up, all tidy-like. But while we’re on the topic of reassessment, I’ll let you know that I’ve been spending some time reassessing  other parts of my life as well. My job, for instance.

(For a moment I hesitated to write that, because one of my regular readers is a board member at the church where I work (Hi Aneta!) but then I remembered she is also a near and dear friend, mentor, all-around amazing lady and blogging is what brought us together in the first place, so pshaw!)

Just over a year ago, when I was about to graduate from university, I was pretty much begging and pleading God to give me this job. And he did. For which I am grateful. Except that I’m not sure the job is the best fit. I love my church. I love the people I work with. I try and do a really good job of what I do. I just don’t love what I do all that much. I feel like I’m bored 60% of the time. 25% is good and productive and the last 15% is stress. The things I find stressful don’t matter all that much, and I realize that stress is a normal part of any job anyway.

It’s the boredom that gets me most. I’m a receptionist. Being a receptionist is just not intellectually stimulating in any way. Or creatively stimulating. Or skill building. Or resume building. The worst part of the week is Tuesday staff meeting. I make coffee and compile sheets of data into neat little packets and greet my friends – all of my co-workers are my friends – as they come in the front door to gather in the Lead Pastor’s office. Sometimes I am welcomed in to go over calendar details and receive a task-list. And then I am dismissed. That’s the hard part. I believe in the work of the church. I am passionate and eager and want to do everything I can to contribute. I have been participating in the life of this church in particular since 1999 when I first met Jesus. But every week I am dismissed as the meeting gears up. I close the door behind me so that my friends can discuss ministry and vision and what God is doing, and they plan and pray together, and I fiddle with the photocopier or reorganize the filing cabinet or stare off into space waiting for the phone to ring. By myself. In the quiet. Tuesday staff meeting is the hardest part of my workweek because it is the time when I most closely stare this question in the face – what am I doing here? Not much, it would seem.

It doesn’t sound like I’m all that grateful does it? But I am. When I say I begged God for that job, it is true. I begged so hard. I feel like he is a Dad who let his little kid have something frivolous because the kid was just SO excited. That being said, just because God let me have it, doesn’t mean he called me to it, and in the past I have found it a lot easier to struggle through difficult, menial, and seemingly meaningless things, if I felt God wanted me there even if I didn’t always understand why.  I don’t necessarily feel called by God into what I am currently doing.

I’m glad for my job for other reasons too. My husband is very publicly an atheist, so I felt it was a great grace and miracle that I would be allowed to occupy such a visible and involved role in the church at all. I’m not being derogatory about my husband’s position when I say that, but having diametrical beliefs in a marriage does bring some complications to life. We do pretty well, and I’m just thankful that our marital dynamic didn’t prevent me from working in my church that I love. There are lots of practical benefits. I just mentioned that all my coworkers are my friends, which is the truth, and how many people can say that? And the number one benefit of my job is what it allows in my life – to put family first. I work 32 hours a week. I basically work school hours. Being able to get back to my kids after school instead of finding other care for them is a luxury not many working parents can boast about.

So yeah. Pros. Cons. I’ve been reassessing my job choice but I haven’t landed anywhere with that one yet. I’m pretty certain there is a Master’s degree in my future. But that is a whole other blog post.

Thanks for reading.