Bike. True Bike.

Theory goes that 5 love languages exist.  According to Gary Chapman there are five primary ways of expressing love and five ways of feeling loved. 

They are as follows:

Gift Giving

Words of Affirmation

Acts of Service

Touch

Quality Time

They forgot one. 

Bikes 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped by bike shops thinking to myself ‘if only Mom, Adored Husband, Sister, Daughter, Son, Teacher, Friend, Patient just had a bike that fit his/her body, their life would forever be changed’.  Bike is my own personal love language.  I know this to be true.  If it were simply a personal obsession, I would have filled my garage with fancy bikes for myself, which I have not.  I still ride my old trusty 20 year old beater that the kids have taken over a jump one too many times.  Yes, it’s my love language.  Rather odd, I know.  Especially if the person I love doesn’t happened to ride a bike. 

Some might say Bike fits into gift giving.  Nope.  BIKE is it’s own category, and all categories in one.  GIFT, TIME, TOUCH (If you don’t believe me, ride awhile and then tell me you’ve not had a physical experience), ACTS OF SERVICE (what could be more service – like than to work them muscles and get those corpuscles jump’n) AND WORDS FOR AFFIRMING THE BIKE AND THE RIDE AND THE GREATNESS OF THEM BOTH. 

Over the years I’ve bought two bikes for Adored Husband.  I could never get him into a bike shop, nor a test-spin around the block… an absolute must for finding a bike that is really an extension of your body and not just a hunk of metal to be ground beneath you. But what can I do?  He’s a farm boy, after all.  To him, bikes are simply parts and pieces.  Any ‘ole bike ‘ll do.  One of these days I”ll get him to the bike shop with me. I know there is a bike that will become his baby one day.  I just know it! 

My kids have experienced my love language.  Redline mostly.  I was visiting our oldest son a few weeks ago.  He informed me he was selling his bike.  I remember the day we bought it…. was a really big deal, even though he paid half, the total cost was amazing.  He’s married now, baby on way.  No space in life for fancy biking… so it’s a goner.  WHAT?!  I wonder to myself.  How in the world did I concoct a reason in my head for my son to need a very expensive bike?  Now, I know bikes these days have come down in price.  That same bike with same functions might be much less, these 5 years later.  Still, what was I thinking!?  Adored Husband helps me out.  Says he’s pretty sure that if I thought Martians were in need of bikes, although Martians have not yet been cited by most of us, I’d send a ships-load over, just in case. 

Yesterday I took our 14 year old son all legs and arms on a bike shopping excursion.  Cycle shop after shop, he’d point one out, try it – and onto the next shop.  We finally found the one.  No need to look further.  An absolute beauty mountain bike with matted paint and bright expression.  All the important pieces, solid and usable.  He has to work another couple weeks to afford the extra, but it’s love, I tell you.  LOVE.

If you happen to ever get a bike from me, think of it as a kiss.  Or in your case, think of it as a handshake.  Think of it as a smile.  As a good floor scrubbing.  As a thoughtful hour of listening.  Because some of us are made more of tires and spokes then roses.  Just Say’n.

Listening Church.

My church.  I could spend a blogs worth listing the strange and unchristianly practices under roof called ‘church’, as power does corrupt absolutely amongst human types, this truth is consistent.  There is one practice, however, in my church, that I believe is the therapy and growth of some who decide to grasp on.  That of devoting a Sunday now and again to listening.  Church members telling their story while we the parishioners sit quietly and take it in.

The hour sometimes drags a bit.  We are not a generation of listeners.  The details of another persons life might escape us.  We can barely tolerate a 3 part sermon with a few overhead movie clips thrown in.  And still in that hour, if we allow for it, we learn to care.  Caring has gone out with front porches.  With Sunday afternoon lunches after church.  With aluminum kitchen table legs and oatmeal mush.  And with it, we’ve hardened our hearts to each others details.  We become irritated if the other hasn’t gotten to the microwaved point.  We judge when a person tells ‘dirt’.  “TMI, TMI!!”, we set each other straight.  We shame, and throw sideways glances.  We shift in our seats.  The discomfort of it all. 

Unless a quieting of our spirits… 

Unless we really listen to what is being shared… 

Underneath our shouting defenses, if we hush and be still, we find a current of life that resembles someone very much like ourselves.  Rather than noting all the ways I am far removed from this show-and-tell, I choose to feel the rawness of what we have in common.  I notice the way the teller’s story parallels my own and many I love.  I experience the saving of a life. The saving of a soul.  Of mine and yours.  The face seen from a distance is now known.  In the telling, it’s evident she knows more of my story than I ever imagined.   

Kitchen table worship, that’s what I call it.  Worshiping a grand God who knows all of my story and yours and stays near in the knowing. 

Kitchen table

Sat with you

The morning sun came shining

I told it all

The hard part too

Is hard to speak dark truth

Checkered cloth

A few toast crumbs

A cup of tea and salty tears

They run through me

And now you know

And so does God

Both still quite near.

Kitchen table

Sat with you

The morning sun came shining

I told it all

The hard part too

Less hard to speak dark truth.

A Sunday listen, even for the masses, is a good kitchen table’s worth of worship.  Good to know and be known.  Living the Gospel, really.  Good news that we are a mess, God knows it and moves near just the same.    

Surrender – I Hate It.

I hate words like surrender.  I hate actions like surrender.  I hate to surrender.  And what I hate I’m attempting.  And don’t like it.  It’s been two years and a few months living a jellyfish status.  A new me brought on by a total thyroidectomy February of 2015.  A self I have never known. 

Weak.

Sloppy walking. 

Buzzing head. 

Awkward.

Clumsy. 

Fumbling words. 

This past week I hit my limit.  That same day I heard a talk on the radio about a famous swimming champion Michael Phelps who kept a paper calendar.  Each day he swam, returned home and with red sharpie cut a line through the day.  He was determined to keep an unbroken chain of red marks on the calendar, and did so for many years.  His collection of medals show how effective his unbroken chain of swims had been. 

His story inspired me.  Inside I’m an athlete.  Yes, an athlete who never was, but still inside I house the drive and dreams and the planning of one who is driven by such things.  I have a hard time walking much at all these days.  Still, down in the bones I tear through brush to the top of grand mountains.  I run and run and run some more. Bike till I’m in shreds.  Swim till I’m gasping.  I want to be all that, and can’t.

And so this week, I decided to start an unbroken chain of movement.  I have moved plenty in the past 2 years, with no results.  This time I decided to take the advice of those who help people with my condition for gaining momentum.  I decided to force myself to not overdo.  What that looks like for me right now is to swim 20 minutes per day, six days a week, with one day of palates and hula and stretching, the other 6 days lap swimming.  Just 20 minutes. 

Kind of like eating 1/2 spoonful of ice-cream when my body wants the bucket.  Because although 20 minutes is all I am able to manage the first week, my core is screaming at me to swim that – times 20.  To push myself.  To count laps to a mile, two, and then three.  Kind of a strain-the-body junkie.  An acceptable addiction in this culture, but damaging, nonetheless. 

Which brings me to surrender.  Surrender what I want to do for what just might help me get my health back.  Surrender the fix for what heals.  Surrender looking lazy, old and lame for what my body needs.  I don’t care for surrender.  In fact I hate it.  Will following direction and doing what is best for me prove beneficial?  At this point, I’m 30 pounds over.  I sleep more than I would like.  Am foggy brained and weak and limited.  I’ll keep you posted as day after day my calendar takes on a sharpie mark.  I pray for an unbroken chain. For a stronger body.  And a newly discovered contrite spirit. 

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,

to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

Romans 12: 1 and 2 (a)

To Push and Control is to ABUSE.

Most bigotry repulses me.  But I do have one prejudice of my own.  I loathe everything about pushy clueless brazen people.  No matter the race or gender.  Not the uniform. Not the take charge types with good boundaries who assign themselves their own tasks, and organize others who belong to their team.  No, I’m talking about the types who mind others business they have no business minding.  Another prejudice, they are usually church ladies.  And as I think about why it bothers me so much, I remember that control and pushiness is at the bull’s-eye of abuse. When you are trying to control and push me, you are abusing me.  When I’m attempting to control someone, I am disregarding that person as an individual.  As an intact other who is entitled to make choices about his or her life.  Controlling people usually arrive with a smile on the face.  They think they are so subtle, when they are not.  They use especially cheerful words.  A simple ‘no thank you’ to their demands will reveal how friendly their interchange was really intended to be. 

Control is a good thing in some settings.  Of corse there are laws in place that must be reinforced.  Laws for controlling my behavior and yours.  And there are consequences that also act as prevention for certain behavior.  When I steal an item, the enforcement of a law is in place to stop me from stealing.  I might have to pay a fine or do time, depending on the kind of stealing.  The consequence of stealing, beyond doing time, might be loosing my reputation.  Making it very hard to find a job or hold a position in the community. 

Many would argue that controlling another is a healthy thing to do, such as a child. They suggest that if you don’t, the law will.  I know one thing, we can guide, and educate, and give consequences, but we can not control another person without abusing.  Take teaching a child to eat something they do not like.  Horrific abuse has been perpetrated upon children around eating.  A child can be introduced to a food.  They can be encouraged to eat it (take a couple bites and then you can have your favorite juice), but when the child decides they do not want to eat any of what is being introduced, forcing a child to eat – shoving it down their throat, or feeding the child this food for days until the child eats it happily – is to abuse.  It is to degrade the human right to make decisions as an individual.  Children will not die from not loving peas, but they can die from abuse.  And if they don’t physically die, a part of them dies when control is pushed upon them.  So much could be said about parenting and control.  It’s the parent’s job to give the child an ability to control himself or herself by using routines, encouragement, boundaries, consequences, etc…  Much of the time, children can be persuaded to eat peas by kind words and encouragement; “let’s take one tiny bite, I’ll take my bite, you take yours, ready, set, go.”

Most issues in life concerning control don’t center around peas.  They are about what I assume you need to be doing, and what you assume I need to be doing. 

Say it together, shall we;

‘BOUNDARIES’

!!!

I don’t get to decide what you should be doing.  I can communicate with you my concerns, if our relationship is a collaborative one.  However if I don’t have a relationship with you, and you don’t have one with me, we don’t need to be telling each other what we think the other should be doing.  If we do have a relationship, for the sake of our relationship we might share our own feelings about something that is or isn’t being done in the others life.  We are our BROTHERS keeper.  Which implies empathy and love.  Not our brothers busy body, controlling pushy judgmental know-it-all. 

Next time we think of how to ‘make’ her do it, ‘get’ him to behave, ‘put a foot down’, we must remember, we are acting as an abuser, and I’m pretty sure you and I both would rather not be abusive, regardless of the wish to control another person’s behavior.