Porch of hearts

I woke up this morning and read the headline about the shooting at the Synogogue in Pitsburgh. All I wanted to do was to pull up a chair on the porch of my friends who are Jewish so that I could cry, or rage, or be quiet with them. I wish they could know that essentially that’s what my heart did all day.

I feel like that’s where I am on a lot of the world this weekend. There is so much pain and chaos swirling. There is so much hatred being legitimized and stirred. There are false fears being stoked which are making real fears into reality.

And I don’t know what to do except to pull up my chair and sit with those whose hearts are shattered by it.

So many of my friends are in the Christian community, and so many of my friends are white, and straight, and I think for us it can feel like not much changes in the day to day. But for people who don’t look like us, or pray like us, and for people who are in the LGBTQ community, the things that are happening today aren’t just talking points or rhetoric. They are threats. They are real, tangible, terrifying things that are turning their worlds upside down. Some of what is doing that is straight up policy from our government right now. And some of it is language and actions that have been not just tacitly accepted by looking the other direction but actually encouraged over the last few years. Our friends are hurting. We talk about mourning with those who mourn and weeping with those who weep. Now is the time.

And after that “now,” comes the part where we go beyond thoughts and prayers and act. We vote. We write to our representatives. We engage in conversations that might change the way we view the world. We listen.

Friends, I am pulling up my chair and sitting on your porch. I will weep, or rage, or sit in silence with you. And I will stand with you and for you in all the ways I know how to as well.

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Dear Navy–They Say It’s Your Birthday…

In all seriousness, to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Navy, I am so grateful to you and I celebrate YOU everyday–not just today. Thank you for the sacrifices you make, thank you for the work you do, thank you for the living conditions you cheerfully (most of the time) endure, and know that even with this heavy dose of snark, my love for YOU ALL is boundless.

With that said, my slightly snarky salty Navy wife message on the 243rd birthday of the U.S. Navy:

Dear U.S. Navy,

How about we hold off on celebrating your birthday in person for a few months because “A Day is just a Day on the calendar!” after all? I’m sure we’ll be together next year… or maybe the year after that??? Hrrm…, Well… I guess we’ll just have to see….

I’m sorry you didn’t get the birthday care package I mailed you. It must have gotten lost in the mail or damaged when it was being transported out to the ship….

What?! The card isn’t there yet either? Give it another month or two. I guess the mail system just hasn’t caught up to where you are in the ocean yet…

And the happy birthday email didn’t go through? Oh, silly me. I guess coms are down AGAIN and you all have gone dark at just the *wrong* time. I know how that feels…

How about this… . the next time you are in port, we’ll light some candles on a cake and show it to you via pictures on Skype or Facebook video. No you won’t actually be able to taste, or touch, or smell the cake, but “We get to Skype all the time,” and that makes it all better, after all!

Since these celebratory days are so fluid, I hope you’ll understand that we just have to keep a stiff upper lip, put on our big girl panties, and “keep calm and carry on!”

After all… that’s what Navy families do…..

Dear Parents,

Dear friends who are parents:

You are rocking it. We live in a society that is hell-bent on telling parents just how wrong they are doing it, how dangerous and harmful every choice they make is, and how the downfall of society lies squarely on the shoulders of the current crop of parents at the helm.

Every time I look around I see parents putting it all on the line for their kids. I see parents who are praying and sitting through the heartache of pain as they fight for their child in some way or another. I see parents doing research into the wee hours of the morning that makes them able to be an expert on their child and to advocate for them with wisdom and clarity.

I see parents making educational choices that are right for their kid whether that’s public school, homeschool, or private school.

And I see parents who are exhausted, tired, frayed around the edges, and just need a break who nevertheless say–It’s all worth it for these little people that I love.

I spent a few minutes this morning reading through one of “Those Facebook Threads” where people come from all angles to shame and berate parents. And I just couldn’t disagree more.

The parents I see every day CARE SO MUCH and TRY SO HARD and do both in a landscape of pressure and few concrete answers.

And for once, I wish that was seen.

So I am seeing it. And saying it. And putting it here today.

We are rocking it. And the people we are raising will change this world for the better because of it.

Dear Girlie,

Your psychologist says that I can’t hug you or calm you when you are in the middle of an anxiety event or attack.

What I know you don’t understand is that is probably the most counterintuitive thing that could ever be asked of me.

I know that you need to come to know from the inside out that YOU are a formidible foe for your anxiety.  I know you need to know that you have the power within yourself to ride out the storm of OCD and anxiety.

I know that when I hold you and calm you that I complete a feedback loop that reinforces the anxiety meltdown and convinces you that *I* am the only thing that can fix it.

But that’s just the thing.  I desperately WANT TO fix it.  I desperately want you to be ok.  I desperately want to put together the broken pieces for you.  I desperately wish that I could trade places with you and let the storm fling hail and wind and rain down on my back instead of yours.

It is really hard to give the control to you…  even though I know I never really held it in the first place.  I trust you little girl.  I trust you to be able to do this…  But I still want to protect you from it.  I still want to take on the pain for you.

This disease, this terrible disease.  It twists things for all of us.  I was telling my best friend how desperately I hate the thought that by my impulse to take it on for you I am making things worse.  I was telling her that I hate any hint that any of this could be my fault.  That by comforting you…  which is what a Mom is SUPPOSED to do when her child is coming apart was somehow the wrong thing.

And she said–that’s the disease.  It’s NOT the wrong thing to do.  Unless it is feeding the OCD.  Its the disease that’s twisting things.  It is the OCD that is at fault.  Not me…  and certainly not you.

I think it is one of the things I hate most…  The way things are twisted.  The way they must look.  The messages that I worry you get from it.

I don’t ever want you to think that your feelings are unacceptable.  I don’t ever want you to believe that you need to go elsewhere and not be aroud me when you are hurting.

I worry that this road will eventually lead to residential treatment…  And it’s the same sort of terror.  I worry that you will think I am abandoning you when you need me most.  I worry that you will see me walking away and not have any concept of how deeply that will hurt me….  In the end it will be more my pain than yours as it WILL be part of your healing, but it will always be the day I left my baby to a system I coudln’t be part of.

The primary way I try to support the people I love is by simply being with them in their pain…  but instead I’m told not to comfort.  Instead I’m told to go to another room.  I’m told not to reassure.  “Are you mad at me Mommy?”  “That’s the OCD talking, I can’t answer that.”  “Can I have a hug, Mama?” “When you get to the other side of the anxiety wave, I’m here, babe.”

It is growing us both.  It is stretching us both.  We are both learning new ways to show up and do our pieces.

But don’t for a second think, baby girl, that I want to do anything but be right next to you in your pain.  Don’t for a second  think that I don’t accept you–all of you. In your anxiety, in your fear, in your sadness, in your anger, and yes in your joy, your content, and in your victory over challenges.

Don’t for a second think that I am not on your side.  Always.

Love,

Mama

 

 

 

Breath

Five hours of driving.  Hushing the kiddos.  Tired of the drive and the feeling of the road beneath us. Just ready to get there.

The fog is thick when we arrived.  We dropped off our bags, inspected the place where we were staying and then, we headed to the beach.  It’s why we’d come after all.

There is the usual Mama goading as we wander along, and pick our way down the path.

And then we were there.  The sand beneath our feet.  The wind rustling through our hair.  The waves crashing in.

Immediately I noticed it.

I could breathe.  I breathed deeply, in and out.  I breathed and I sighed and something deep inside welled up and overflowed and without knowing exactly why my eyes brimmed with grateful tears.

Deep breaths, deep luxurious breaths.  The tension in my shoulders begins to unwind.  My hands unclench, unfurl.

Four days.

The sea was different each day.  The wind whipped mist off the backsides of the waves one day with the backdrop of a clear, blue sky.  The fog rolled in and out.  The sun shone.  And the last day it was rainy and cold and almost oppressive.

But I could breathe.  I uncoiled.  The lightness was effortless.

The weight was lifted.

I could BE.

OCD

When she was seven she started pulling her hair out.

We went to the doctor and he pulled up some Google images that went with a mouthful of a word–Trichotillomania.  An MRI under sedation to rule out a brain tumor, some therapy sessions, and a lot of worry and prayer later and we found out that was a solid diagnosis.

We started seeing a doctor in Seattle with some experience with kids with Trich.  He happened to also be an OCD specialist:  honestly?  Probably the best in the region.  When he met her he said, “I think I see some symptoms of OCD too.”

Within the span of a year she was diagnosed with a hard to pronounce hair pulling disorder, severe dyslexia, and OCD.

Right now, it’s the OCD that is rocking our world.  We find ourselves back in weekly appointmens with that same specialist and oh, how I thank God for him every day.

When people hear the words OCD they think of memes.  This pisses me off.  They think of Monk.  They think of “As Good as it Gets.”  They think of handwashing and they think of clean rooms and straigthened picture frames.

They don’t think of a child sobbing in her bed at night for hours becuase she is convinced if she leaves her heater on a fire will start and burn her parents to death.  They don’t think about a kid who can’t get dressed in the morning, every morning because her clothes don’t feel right.  They don’t think of her freezing and having panic events all over town.  They don’t think about my kid.  They don’t think about the excruciating reality.

A few weeks ago we sat across from that specialist as he told us that OCD was still a big enough part of our world each day, despite the interventions he was helping us with, that in his professional opinion he believed we should put ourselves on a waiting list for an Intensive Inpatient program that would take our baby over 2000 miles away from us for a minimum of 2 months.

My sweet girl can’t and won’t go to sleep at night unless I sing her a lullabye.  My beautiful daughter’s world is rocked when the door is not opened just the right amount.  She depends on my hugs.

And the truth is?  I depend on hers too.  For this reason we are staying our current course, and hoping, hoping, hoping that we won’t come to the decision that we need to move forward on that waiting list.

Every day I wake up and wonder what will happen?  And my girl…  my brave strong girl is going to battle with her own mind.  Her doctor has made a list of things that cause her anxiety, worry, or fear and each day she spends time with those things.  We have watched hours of videos of fires and of snakes.  We have practiced wearing clothes that are uncomfortable.  We have walked high places.  We have challenged habits and rituals.  We have leaned into the places and things that cause panic and ridden the storms of panic event instead of backing away.

It is excrutiatingly painful to watch.

It is breath-takingly brave to see.

This is our world of OCD.

Some Thoughts on 3-14-18–The Day of the Nationwide Walk-Outs for Parkland, Florida

Idolatry.

Sacrificing children to the altar of Molech.

It is abominable and despicable and unthinkable.

We are far too civilized to even consider such an abomination today.  Thank God we’ve come past that.

Except.

Except…

 

When Black Lives Matter pointed out that White Lives have been elevated over Black Lives to the point that a national movement had to proclaim that Black Lives Matter TOO with their slogan…

After Michael Brown and Philando Castille and Eric Garner and more all lost their lives… and the black community lamented and mourned…  while the white community remained silent.

We  amended it to “All Lives Matter” and tsked about the importance of being color blind.  We found ways to make the police violence “their fault,” and made sure the lines drawn put you either on the side of “Black Lives Matter” or “Backing the Blue.”
When Black Folks began kneeling for the Star Spangled Banner we shamed them for protesting.  “NOT THIS WAY!”

And then we pulled out our favorite false dichotomy: What About the veterans?  What about the soldiers? What about the people who fought and died for that flag?

Never mind that the flag was never supposed to symbolize ONLY the soldiers and the veterans.  Never mind that the flag and the anthem were supposed to be symbols of all of us… And symbols of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and JUSTICE FOR ALL at that.

Never mind that further verses of that song literally reference black slaves upon whose broken and bleeding backs our nation was literally built upon.
Never mind that kneeling was non-violent–a quiet action in a moment that mattered.

Never mind the explanations from those kneeling about how this action had been thoughtfully chosen to show respect for those who serve while publicly stating that they grieved that justice seems to not yet be for ALL.

Again, we said it “just wasn’t civilized.”  

Again we said there were better ways to “send a message.”

 

And then came the shootings.

Shooting after shooting after shooting.

“It’s too early to talk about why it’s happening.  Let the families grieve.”

But in two weeks another would happen.

Men, Women, and Children lost…  Mowed down.

 

And finally–or perhaps more accurately I should say–most recently: Parkland, Florida.

14 CHILDREN and 3 TEACHERS all DEAD.

When we talk about the constitution these days we tend to blow past the first amendment–the one that promises our right to freedom of religion–any religion.  The one that promises our right to a free press.  The one that promises our freedom to peaceably assemble.

We blow right past the first amendment and into the 2nd.
“Don’t take away our right to carry guns.  Any guns. Don’t even limit the ones that we know were designed with one purpose and one purpose only–To take human lives en masse.”

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure…” said Thomas Jefferson.

And I recently heard a conservative friend add, “And sometimes that blood is the blood of innocents.”

Children.  He meant our children.

He meant that it’s ok that 14 children with their entire lives stretched out in front of them–bursting with potential and possibility–were suddenly and viciously massacred.That’s the price we pay, he said….  For the right to bear arms.

And at that moment I remembered Molech.  I remembered the children sacrificed to idols.  Suddenly I understood that one’s mind could become so twisted by the visage of something we purport to support and to stand for…  Of a side, a party line, a color and a symbol… Essentially, something that we worship–that we can believe it is ok for children to be slaughtered in sacrifice to that idol.

Let’s call this what it is:  Idolatry. Our nation is rife with it.  

 

Today I watched kids be villainized, demonized, and made the butt of jokes for standing up, using one of those very rights given to them in the Constitution that so many purport to believe in so strongly.  These were children who took time today to stand in solidarity with other children who are grieving the loss of brothers, sisters, and friends. Children who are grieving the loss of safety and security.

Children who are doing drill after drill huddled under tables and in back rooms attached to their classrooms trying not to make a sound, trying not to even breathe….  Children who see over and over and over again that it’s not safe to be at school. That school may be a place of learning, but it can also be a place where you come to learn, but instead get shot at and die.

People criticized these kids who instead of quaking in terror dared to take time to ask the question, “What can be done so that this terror can stop?!”
We are a people of idolatry.  We are a people who elevate the status of a piece of music and a piece of fabric over the value of black lives.  We are a people who believe that it’s worth the blood of children to protect our “Right” to carry assault rifles.  

 

“But we are Christians!” You tell me. “We love people.  We care!” We are fighting for One Nation Under God! We are fighting to put God back in the schools!  We are fighting for the unborn (and make no mistake, I believe that our inability to confront the horrors of abortion is another Molech like idol that should be laid low)!

Are we hiding behind our self-righteousness?  Are we hiding behind our Pro-life stance in the abortion fight and patting ourselves on the back for protecting the innocent while ignoring other life that matters just as much?

Those children in Florida were innocent too.

They are leading us now.  Leading us with dignity and honor and power.

And a people who would denigrate them and tear them down…  A people who would say hateful things about them… A people who would say in veiled language or plain spoken words that “Sometimes kids gotta die so we can keep our guns,” are a people who are elevating the totems and asherah poles of the Conservative Right over the Sacred.  

How have we forgotten?  LIVES matter more than Anthems.  Babes matter more than bullets.

Let’s call a spade a spade here, friends.  This is idolatry.

This is idolatry that has blinded us.  That has made us call that which is up, down.  That has made us call that which is cruel, righteous.
We must stop sacrificing our children to Molech.  We must start standing for the sanctity and the humanity of ALL life.  By all means, fight for the lives of the unborn, but let us also stand for the life of the refugee, of the black man, the woman, and the children who just want to go to school and learn.

I thought that barbarism of sacrificing our children to an angry and capricious Molech was far in our past…  but perhaps it’s not.

Perhaps we have some idolatry to reckon with.  Perhaps we need to reclaim what is sacred and put down the wooden idols of party lines.

 

Note:  I use the word “we” here because I am a white Christian in the U.S.  I believe I need to reckon with my part in all of these things and to topple my own idols as I do.