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. 

Make Room For Feeling

Lately I’ve noticed a lack of elbow room for feelings.  No open spaces left for a feeling to show up.  For if one appears, quick as a flash there’s a fuss, and a shunning.  ‘So and so has it much worse’, my mind tells me.  Along with your lips.  “You could have so much more to worry about”.  “Grow up”, I say to myself.  Round and round my thoughts and your words chase the feelings that arrive, until they find a deep hole in which to dive underground.  And before I know it, they are gone. 

One unexpected day, arrives on scene the drive to stuff my face with food.  The fixation to pull at my hair. The need to buy too much, cook too much, Facebook too much, drive too fast, rage at my kids.  And I wonder, suddenly after months of not needing my horrid coping behaviors, why they have surfaced again.  I wonder why I’m blowing up in situations that normally wouldn’t anger me.  I act in ways that aren’t ‘me’.  And I forget to connect the dots back to the feeling that tried to join the conversation of my life.  I neglected to notice that I would not have it!  I forget I would not care or listen or lovingly respond to the feelings that God put in my body to help me cope with the realities of life.  And so I viciously attempt to stamp out the annoying coping habit I don’t want, and the embarrassing reaction has been caused by denying an inborn healthy coping mechanism called my feelings. 

Feelings help me know if I’m catching fire.  If I’m freezing solid.  They help me know if blood is being cut off from a limb.  Feelings let me know dust has made it’s way onto my eye.  Reminds me when I need sleep.  If my teeth need flossed.  Feelings also allow me to notice when I’m being disrespected.  When I’ve said ‘yes’ too many times.  When I’m being used. 

Feelings are not popular.  The catch-phrase ‘too sensitive’ exists because feeling a thing is deemed as a character flaw.  Allowing myself to notice a feeling and say out loud that I feel sad, fearful, anxious is to agree to being branded as ‘moody, thin skinned, touchy, immature’, you get the idea. 

Life hands us a two edged sward, really.  Expects us not to feel, and also expects us not to react.  Only problem, when I don’t notice my feelings and respectfully address the red flags that feelings wave in my face, when I shove underground these warning signals, the body takes over. No longer my frontal lobe in charge, physical reactivity takes the place of choices.  And who wants that?  I can either decide to take charge of me, or let my reflexive, my reactive self take the place of my choices.   

Not only are reactions caused by ignoring my feelings, at times so are my conditions.  Conditions such as depression and anxiety.  Clients often sign up for treatment to ‘fix’ depression or anxiety.  They don’t realize that it’s an end-stage condition.  Much like diabetes is deemed the problem rather than an end stage condition that points to the myriad of problems ignored before diabetes came into full bloom.  The goal is to address little things that cause the end stage.  And one of the simplest fixes is to stop ignoring and being ashamed of feelings.  Treat feelings for what they are.  Mighty helpers.  They tell us the truth about a situation.  And as we give attention to them and address them, we become stronger. 

I can hear the ‘You are what you think’ critics now.  What about all those feelings that are not accurate?  First rule of thumb.  Feelings are not right or wrong.  There are only wrong actions for dealing with that feeling.  A feeling is neutral.  Decisions about that feeling and the actions taken are not.  Many actions (responses) way over the top are triggers to shame about that feeling.  Once there is no shame for a feeling, it can be rightly and empathetically dealt with.  And the adult me can make the decision for how to respond.  As long as there is shame, the responder is functioning in a fight, flight or freeze state. 

Make way, I say, for feelings. They are the first responders to a healthier me.    

No Earthly Good

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“It’s a dump” says All Mr. Business evaluating the hotel we have checked into. After 2 weeks on the road, taking in multi-star sheets and whirlpools, the room we are peering into makes us all a little queasy. And I wonder why. No foul smells. The sheets are fresh, the sink basin clean. At this stop we wanted a place as close to our chosen location as possible, and no impressive hotel sits just here. Hunting down the finest grand places for the price seems to have harmed the character of our 10 year old son, and mine for that matter. How much charm and hospitality can a person take before it warps us into no earthly good? I don’t like the idea of choosing the worst accommodations for the purpose of my child’s soul, sometimes the prices are exactly the same…. so what to do?

We have never lived in five star accommodations. The house we now live in we built ourselves – unfinished, no granite, no fireplace, nor trim round floors, doors and windows – none yet anyway. Still, we live in a neighborhood that would be considered upper in every way. This is the home our youngest children have always lived in. My husband and I, however, have lived in old college apartments, in a travel trailer almost 2 years, as children, in simple places with no frills – one bathroom to share. Regardless, when we stay in a hotel able to “up” the other options in town with its upgrades and beauty, our acceptance of simple and clean seems to have disappeared. Almost as though having the best shrinks the portion of the heart that holds contentment.

The road trip has afforded some extended conversations.  Adored Husband and I have been discussing what Jesus meant when he said it’s harder for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. I told him I thought Solomon might say it like this…. “I have seen one thing on this earth, no two. A man makes foolhardy financial decisions early in life, and as the years fly by too fast to correct these problems, the man dies before the mistakes can be rectified. Another man makes wise financial choices from the beginning, and because of reaping what he has sown (significant financial gain) he thinks himself far wiser than the average, becomes prideful and because pride creates arrogance and relational distance – he self destructs bit by bit till both men end of life arrive at the same place…. at a state of regret.”

No Mother wants her child to make foolish financial decisions, foolish decision of any kind… or for her child to see himself as desperately in need. Nor does a mother want her child to make such a collection of poor decisions that over time causes him to reap hard times later in life. And yet, if life is about growth toward Jesus, maybe she would.

The natural inclination is to give our kids everything we never had – and more. To shelter them from things that hurt us, and from what others have that they may not have – make sure that they feel cared for by giving and giving and giving. Even the Bible acknowledges that God, like any good parent, likes to give good gifts to his children. Nothing wrong with that. Then if giving is OK, yet because of being human, our kids come to expect… become entitled, how do they grow to become comfortable with people and their surroundings that have much less than themselves? How do we help them relax in a situation that is clearly lacking in every way? In my estimation, in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we all must be able to relax enough in various environments and with a variety of people to love people well.  You may be envisioning a judgmental child mocking someone’s old car… that may fit.  I am thinking, however, of pictures I have seen of poverty so sever – often in third world countries – that basic cleanliness is lacking, fumes from the filth are painful to experience.  And everything in-between.

Poverty in Ethiopia

I know that I am most accepting when I remember where I once was, where God brought me from, and what He has given me that I have not deserved.  These ideas have grown my love for others.  The question then is, what is it that develops gratitude toward God for His grace and mercy towards us? For myself, this has been best learned inside the hopeless, messy, painful parts of my life. Oh dear, my kids have to experience a disaster in order to graciously love others? That is not a happy thought.

Henry Cloud – Amelia’s revised version – says that if your child has not acted like a self-absorbed brat by age 21 or so, he will be a real mess later in life. And why would this be? Because for a child to separate from adoring forever providing parents – to set off on ones own with no guarantees of winning in life – requires more than just a decision to accept misery for the sake of growing up. God is fully aware of this, and so has built in a “push away” at the very age a child must do the particular task needed to grow …. the age the developmental task needs mastering that will move him from dependance on some level, to autonomy. I could go on and on about the inability of a child to achieve these tasks if Mom and Dad are not safe enough to push away from.  However, we are focusing here on the over-doting parent.  Even if Mom and Dad allow for autonomy, if they protect and provide beyond reason, will their child ever experience the pain of making a mistake that hurts him? How will the child come to really need Jesus? In order for there to be a need to be rescued by Jesus, there must be some painful pit to fall into that would hurt without the Lord not providing padding for the landing. Faith is not hypothetical, it’s actual. When there is an actual mess needing rescued from – and Jesus is called on – when He hears and answers prayers not even deserved, dependance and trust in Him grows, and the sense of superiority and self grandiosity shrinks quite nicely. If a parent can’t bear to see their child experience consequences, ignoring the child’s necessary developmental tasks, padding the child’s pain of life, the parent may be unintentionally creating an adult with narcissistic tendencies, completely lacking in empathy, and thinking themselves superior.

This is a dangerous topic to write on as there are parents who are already way too hands off, who won’t respond to their babies cries as they perceive crying as manipulative. Parents who won’t rock their babies to sleep. Parents who don’t have any capacity to hear the sadness in their child’s heart. Parents who give themselves permission to “let him figure it out” when they absolutely should be intervening in and involved in their child’s life. This blog is not for those parents. It is for the parents who can’t stand it that their child doesn’t have all the opportunities others around them have, and puts their family in financial jeopardy by giving the child unnecessary extras. It is for those who neglect their marriages to keep their children in select sports. It is for those who buy 80.00 jeans for their child when their own clothes are decades old and look like garbage. It is for those who are still bailing our their children’s financial messes well into their 20’s and 30’s. The way to know if this blog is for you is to ask yourself one honest question. Do I tend to be self protective in relation to my kids in ways such as my listening ear, my energies, in terms of having difficulty seeing the ways I’ve been wrong and hurt my kids? Do I find myself pushing them away as I’m too busy for them – or do I tend to be somewhat immeshed? Do I do my child’s chores too often, take their lunches they neglected to make back to school again and again, forget my schedule to become observed in my child’s late homework? If the answer is that you tend to be immeshed, this blog is for you.

Other trips we will take. The granite bathroom countertops will at times be grand marble, other times pre-formed, stained formica. We are trying to intentionally expose the kids to a wide range of real life. Trying to listen, trying to teach. Working to pray…. and pray and pray. But most of all, we now realize that a deep trust in Christ which develops true empathy, grace and mercy towards others is developed as we pay attention to the developmental tasks the child should be moving through, and working to manage our own task of letting go.

554169_10152224854529307_1865464944_nAmelia

The Stocks of Face-Saving

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Clipboard under my arm I approach the door.  “Knock, Knock” I say aloud, pulling back the curtain and moving into the room toward the patient, I rub slimy germ busting formula into my already chapped hands.  There in the bed, blanket, standard white pulled tight under unshaven chin, blond and balding, he waits his turn. 

Eyes turn shyly toward me, embarrassed.  “Are you the social worker?” he mumbles.  “Ya, that’s me” I say.  He adjusts his long legs into a sitting position on the gurney, wraps the blanket around his knees as we proceed.  At first glance I decide this guy is from the world of the arts; sensitive and starving.  Working through the preliminaries, the myriad of questions, I learn he’s a musician, he’s hardly making it financially, and the silent flow of tears tells more.

He’d been a good kid from a good family, grew up in the Midwest, complete with loving mom and dad, brothers, grandparents, Uncles, Aunties, Cousins.  “I’m the only one, really” he says in answer to my asking him questions regarding the family history of chemical dependency.  Says he got “into some trouble” 10 years ago, but after treatment and a half way house, went about setting straight his life.  He found a girl to love and marry, they had a baby a couple years ago.  He says the marriage is over now.  “We grew apart, I guess.”

He tells me last night he overdosed on drugs he’s never touched in his life, others he’d been terribly addicted to 10 years prior, plus a handful of a friend’s old prescriptions for sleeping, some for anxiety, and added with that a handful of pain pills that were the cause of all his problems in the first place.  He can’t say for sure that he was trying to kill himself or not “I don’t really know what I was thinking” he says mopping up the stream of silent tears.  All he can tell me is that after being “clean” a long time, he’s an addicted mess again.

He says that four years ago he hurt his back. His doctor gave him prescriptions for Percocet and oxycontin.  Two years into the medicines his back didn’t hurt anymore, instead everything else hurt – vicious and demanding hurt – every time he tried to ditch the meds.  He told me at my request the step by step process he had gone through trying stopping “the pills”.  Now he’s up to “30…. no 60 dollars worth every morning to even stand upright…I can hardly get to work and make it through the day.”  

His hands shake as they fist the blanket in his lap.  “I can’t miss a day without my body shutting down.  I can hardly walk, I can’t live without it.  Everything’s wrong.  I have diarrhea, I sweat, I chill, Haven’t eaten for three days.  I can’t sleepI can’t fucking go on like this.  OK, I AM suicidal.  Ya,I was last night too”. 

Unstoppable tears shame him as he works through the details of his situation.  Of all the hurt he moves through in this sterol over-lit room with this total stranger asking him to recount hard things to admit even to himself, the rawest of all relates to his adored 2 year old daughter.  Little is spoken.  What he does say is that since the divorce, he gets to see her a couple hours a week.  “It’s my fault.  I can’t have her anymore then that, not her Moms… I’m barely getting to work.  I drop the ball for the pills.”

You might think me a bit sadistic, but in my spirit I’m having a party for this young mans despair.  Down the hall in Exam 3 in spit hood, four pointed to the gurney, thrashing and growling is a guy I’ve seen before.  The last time I saw him, a couple years before, he’d been in much the same situation as the man sitting before me, but without the vulnerable truth telling of the dozens of ways his life was an utter disaster.  Everyone else was the reason he was in the ER that night.  He hadn’t cried in shame that he couldn’t be a dad to his kids, keep a job, function as a husband.  So instead of the humiliating process of admitting he was a mess, surrendering to the process of detox and treatment – allowing others to help – instead of that humiliation, his small and terrified six year old son got to be the one tonight to call 911 telling the operator he thought his daddy was dying.  Now the boys daddy is trapped like a wild animal after assaulting two of our staff in a drug craze, trapped until the Haldol kicks in.  I wish sometimes that all my patients could be an invisible mouse on my clip board, following me around from room to room. 

As my thoughts return to the young man before me, he and I work the details and challenges through, one tangle at a time.  It becomes clear that regardless of why, after a great childhood, he took a wrong turn, that what matters now is he’s ready to do all the painful parts of taking a right turn. He still has a great family.  Yes, they are sad and shocked to received a call from us 3 a.m. with news he had overdosed in a suicidal attempt , that he has been hiding this addiction for 4 years.  He is the one to make the phone call and openly tell them the whole mess he’s been hiding.  Yet they are there, more than willing, from 8 states away, to buy the ticket he needs home, to willing to set limits in ways that will help him heal, to join him, not in an enabling way, but from a place of strength, as he surrenders to the process of a new beginning.

I stop by his room just before he is discharged.  “Just came in to tell you I’m happy for your new beginning. Take Care” are the words I say,… but inside what I’m REALLY saying is “God, like the rest of ’em, right turn or no, great family or not, please stick with this guy.  He won’t make it without you.”

“The Truth Will Set You Free” John 8:32

Amelia

Random and Regular

 

If you don’t believe in ADHD, come follow me around for a day or two.  I will make you a believer.  I don’t mean to be random, I just am.  I spent a lot of my life thinking I was stupid.  Wondering why I couldn’t hear a word spoken, busy with a thought far away from whatever was being said around me.  Couldn’t sit still.  Sitting in the tortured stillness of church or school impossible unless I distracted myself by bumping my knee up and down, relentlessly doodling or standing up intermittently and pacing at the back of the room.  Or the forever late problem.  Loosing friends because of being late, forgetting what I said I’d bring, or forgetting altogether that I would be meeting them.  Getting lost going places I’ve been dozens of times.  Loosing things.  Paying bills late with plenty of money in the bank.  Having no idea it’s picture day for my kids because I didn’t remember they bring a backpack home, let alone remember to read the papers in their backpack.  Not remember its chapel day although it’s the same day every week every school year.  Not remembering names.  Not remembering to make lunches though kids eat lunch five days a week – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called by the school saying my child has no lunch at all.  Not remembering to set my alarm.  Forgetting to buy groceries although we eat all the time.  When I do remember, carefully making a list, placing it in my pocket, having no idea about looking at a list when I get to the store, never thinking once that I might have a pocket – wondering around the store, no rhyme or reason, without a clue as to what is needed at home.  Showing up with items we already have a dozen of.  I am not kidding.  Ask friends who have come to visit.  I have at any given time 3 to 5 open mayonnaise, mustard, milk, peanut butter, jelly, butter, salad dressing and applesauce containers in our fridge.  See, folks with ADHD overjoyed with life and embracing the moment have lots of kids, and sometimes their kids have the same challenges.  Therefore the problem is compounded as many times as the children that live like their random parent.

There is no way to fake this problem.  One day at work I walked the nearly ½ mile in distance from our office to the cafeteria, got myself some salad, put it in a takeout container, set my clip board and phone atop the lid and walked the ½ mile down halls, up stairs, along the very long hall, a turn, more never-ending hallways, the code punched in, through the open door to finish the long walk down another long hallway to the office.  Once through my office door I set my salad and clip board down, plopped into my chair and started nibbling at my yummy salad while working on a chart on my PC.  A few minutes later my thoughts were disturbed by a loud knock on the door.  I walked over to open, and there stood three security guards with very pale and frightened faces.  “Are you alright?” one stammered?  “What?” I asked.  They pointed to the floor where there was a trail of deep red blood starting at my door and going down as far as I could see.  The guards said it started at the cafeteria.  They wondered what in the world had happened.  I glanced down.  From middle of my shirt to the bottom of my white pants was a wash of red.  The guards saw it too, and almost looked panicked.  Laughter.  Laughter until tears were flowing down my face.  Doubled over, howling, gasping for air.  No way to talk through the gasps.  I walked the guys over to my desk and opened the lid of my salad.  Beets.  Lots of them.  Now this could maybe happen to others that have no ADHD, but I have these situations constantly.  No two incidences are the same.

Just two weeks ago I was on a trip with my husband and kids.  I went to the local drug store to fill my ADHD meds.  The pharmacist said it would be 10 minutes or so.  I wondered around with the kids.  About 10 minutes later the pharmacist tracked me down in the store, held up some keys, asking me if they were mine.  Of course they were.  I would have been in such a mess if I’d lost them because they were the only set for our rental car , and of course my phone was dead, couldn’t call my husband, and he had no car to pick me up.  I had the car.  The pharmacist had a bit of a smirk on his face when he told me that he could see I needed my ADHD meds. 

Many people don’t understand that ADHD is not, first of all, a kids disorder, and secondly, a disorder created by ‘the drug companies’.  There are so many misconceptions about ADHD.  Many think it’s a descriptor of a person who cannot concentrate.  WRONG.  The brain wiring causes hyper-focus, which prevents focusing on the moment, the task needed attending to at hand.  Forever there has been concessions made for men with these characteristics.  The Mad Scientist and the Absentminded Professor.  People will talk about how men are not able to multitask like women.  There have been no allowance in culture for a women with these same characteristics.  I am all woman and can not multitask at all.  And even for men, comments have been often heard such as “He sure thinks he’s smart… that college education and all, but not a lick of common sense”.  Now that there are advanced ways for measuring exactly what is going on in a persons brain that has this make-up, it is known that what is happening in a brain with ADHD is radically different from a person without ADHD.  At last there is no denying the disorder is real, unless one has no regard for basic science.  Yes, there can be dozens of other causes for the symptoms mentioned, however when those many reasons have been ruled out, meeting all criteria for the diagnosis and can effectively be treated with medication, coaching and understanding, the diagnosis can positively change a persons life and future.

wasn’t diagnosed until my 40’s when our son was evaluated and diagnosed.  This happens often.  A parent seeks answers and treatment for a child facing challenges that are limiting their ability to win in life, and ta-da – Mom or Dad have the condition, too.  It has a strong genetic component. My scattered state has seriously affected our son who needed badly for Mom to help him order his life so that he could have a little hope with brain wiring that was causing him to not live up to his potential.  My chaos has caused pain to our other children, and pain to our marriage.  Everyone needs predictability and order.  Lack of order does damage.

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Most of us with ADHD marry someone as opposite and ridged as God makes em.  This, you can imagine, creates a lot of fun, and a lot of pain for both, and generous portions of shame for the always confused one – having a desire to be the most amazing husband or wife ever, and yet forever failing.  Don’t misunderstand.  A person with ADHD can transform the house into a work of art, cook an amazing meal, and can pay bills, they just have major difficulty sustaining these activities for any length of time.  And if they do those three things right three days in a row, they will completely miss other very important things like locking the door at night, feeding the pet, getting a cavity filled, or putting the washed clothes from the washer to the dryer in the same day. If the spouse becomes the one who reminds, they become a sort of parent, and there is no attraction in that… who wants a romantic relationship with your Dad or Mom?  YUCK!  So the challenge is taking on these impossibilities yourself, maybe with the help of a coach, but not expecting your spouse to pick up the slack for you. Choose to forgive your spouse for anger they feel regarding unmet expectations.  Own what is yours, stay vulnerable, yet never allow any kind of emotional abuse from your spouse (put downs, derogatory comments, taking control, minimizing your freedoms, etc..) even though you have provided an easy target for your spouse to justify their negativity regarding you.  Grieve for your unmet expectations of being able to live a bit more free and spontaneous.  Work at respecting your spouses’ needs without being the one to meet every last one, setting yourself up for failure and he or she up for dependency.  Your spouses natural internal stability and rhythm can be a great benefit to you if both of you are respectful and want to see each other win in life. 

The best part of being ADHD is that life is never boring.  If one never runs out of gas, one never get to explore out of the way towns, meet helpful people, and is never necessarily grateful for the seemly insignificant blessings like the times one hasn’t run out of gas.  Really, I only need to watch a few movies in my life, because they are brand new for me every time, even for the 35th time.  I know who my real friends are.  The fragile sort who can’t take my constant forgetfulness and have me pegged as a thoughtless flake last about a week and are gone.  The ones I have long term know they are truly loved by me in ways that may not be conventional, but are signals of love nonetheless.  ADHD allows me to think about an idea and go deep with what I’m thinking about.  Allows me to look at things through different lenses.  My life is a dance, a song, a twirl, a twist.  It’s an amazing collection of challenges.  I’m lucky I have ADHD.  Glad I have plenty to laugh at myself about.  What would life be like to do it all perfectly, with one rare mess up, the complete and total undoing of my image.  That would be painful. 

Life is getting easier.  The more grace I receive from others, and grace I give myself, the less impossible creating some pockets of order has become.  Routine is the key for me.  But very flexible routine.  If I find a system for laundry that works, but can’t get it done the day I choose for laundry day, I use the same routine the day I’m able to take the task on.  That sounds like daahhhhhh for most people, but for me it has been a brand new and exciting realization.  Less works better for me.  I provide myself giant margins in my life.  We don’t have our kids in sports, music, AWANA, Scouts, anything but school and church.  I’m not in choir, singing for a big band, in a women’s Bible Study, or on any boards.  We’ve done those before throughout the years, and will return to them once I get past the complications of this breast cancer, but I have to keep sanity, connectedness, stories, listening, and a crazy slow pace at the top to manage life.  When we do add in activities again, it’s one at a time for each of us.  I use alarms many times a day.  I even put my list on my phone alarm.  Like set the alarm so that when I think I’m going to be at the grocery store it will go off and remind me to remember I have a pocket with a list in it that I need to look at.  Our trunk is continually being filled with bags of give away.  The more stuff there is to manage, the more difficult life is.  I have friends that give me ideas, that sometimes help me organize, that help me catch up on life.  Friends that know me and my mess and love me anyway. 

If you struggle with any of these symptoms, go find a doctor who has respect and a broad understanding of Adult ADHD and ask to be evaluated.  If you don’t struggle with these challenges, love your friends and family that do.  And if you’re not a believer in ADHD, come on over.  If you still don’t believe, I’m sorry to inform you that you have a different disorder called PAHTHSLDFAE – People Always Have To Have Some Lame Diagnosis For An Excuse – also refereed to as AAKD (Arrogant All-knowing Dweebs).

Amelia

How To Develop Begging In Children

 

I have never read a book on how to develop begging in children. Dependent and insistent.  I don’t know anyone who appreciates that.  We are all about fostering independence, competence, self reliance.  Givers, not takers.  My kids ask for something twice and I get cross with them and emphatically inform the child I’ve heard them already, and will let them know when I’ve changed my mind.

God is quite upside down in this way.  He requests that his children ask him, and keep asking.  There are places in the Bible where God answered someone’s prayer as they sobbed and ripped their clothes in sheer panicked grief. We are encouraged to pray constantly, fervently, sometimes through the night in a sloppy mess of tears, but to never stop.

I prefer easy.  Not the difficult task of staying the course, hearing my children out as they continue, through broken hearts, to repeat the same story, the same request, the same anger.

God invites the tirade.  He prefers to hear his children ask him for help all day long, no matter the tone.

For 20 some years now, a few girlfriends and I have had phone prayers. One of us will call the other.  Sometimes we pray when nothing much is the matter.  There have been prayers interrupted by screaming kids.  Prayers during dinner prep.  Prayers from an airport, from a Dr’s office.  Some have been texted, emailed, or left on voice mail.  Sometimes we burst out laughing in the middle of a prayer, thinking of what we’ve just asked God for.  

The thing about prayer is that it calls us each to honesty with not only God but each other, no matter the disaster or shame of the thing, regardless of our wish to be the put-together one this time. How often have we said to each other “I wonder if we would still be here if it weren’t for the prayers we’ve prayed”.

We’ve prayed when our anger has caused pain to the other.  Prayers about bills, dinner plans we can’t think what in the world to make.  Asking God to give us a desire to make dinner at all, as the depression has gotten so bad.  Weight that can’t be lost, quilt still undone, a marriage hanging by a thread, prayers for keys lost, prayers that rip our hearts in half as we know what we prayed for so long, on knees, faces streaked with tears, that will never come to be due to the choice of someone else.  That’s the hardest part.  When my prayer is answered and her answer is “no”.  So we pray on, bothering God incessantly, because that’s what He wants, and because it keeps us sane while the roller-coaster of life continues.

I find God to be an amazing parent.  He asks for the good, the bad, the ugly.  He requests we bug him non-ending; he listens, and makes all things right, one way or another. I’m thinking I need to foster this begging dependence in my kids – towards God.  I want to show them through my attentiveness and patience that they can come to me every-time they need to.  I want to learn to listen well.. if I could just focus in on what they have been saying for the last half hour, now at a pitch that is hurting my head!!  I prefer God’s upside down ways to my typical rigid indifference.  A better fit to the upside down life that is ours.

Which of you if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  … If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:9 and 11.

Amelia

The Dung Gate

Sitting in church, I’m pretty sure I got a point that wasn’t meant to be the main one.  The sermon was an overview of the book of Nehemiah, and the dung gate was mentioned.  Names were listed of people who’d helped rebuild the wall, and the guy who worked on the dung gate was noted.  I had an ADHD moment (well, hour or so) and the bit of random information sent me on a long exhaustive examination on the topic.

Today I thought about extreme fumes, and what it all means.  The kind that burns eyes and makes them run.  Like the time I had an hour long interview with a patient who literally lives in bed most of his life, such depression he had not bathed in over a year.  Flat and colorless, except for a hint of blue eyes, skin breakdown, soul breakdown.  Sweating profusely, his agoraphobia made the interview terrifying for him.  Much of the time he saw no one for months but the familiar mother he lives with. His story is slow in coming, as he fight his nerves.  His depression has nearly defeated him.  So many attempts at shock treatment, medication, more medication, hospitalizations, attempted suicides, of course a long history of loss and abuse early on, and a lifetime of trying to survive inside the catacomb of depression.  I remember the challenge staying in the room and completing the interview.  My eyes ran, the tissue I had stepped out to get when fumes hit, now soaked as I tried to prevent him from seeing that I was reacting to the powerful odor coming from his terribly sick body.  As soon as the interview was over, I tried not to rush from the room in escape, but know I was feeling that way.

I’m thinking of the frail old lady brought in by Aid Car, at request of police, found in house, laying on floor, herself and carpet covered in human feces, broken wine bottles, rotting food and cat messes throughout.  The broken down skin, malnutritioned, demented.  The concerned Officer tells me of the squalor she lives in.  Begging me in so many words to find a way to get this lady placed where she will be cared for, as so many loopholes could make it easy for us to send her back and just make the referral call required to make, and leave it at that.

The drunks that come in, covered in sickness from too much alcohol intake.  The suicidal patients matted hair and hung over, that have had to use the charcoal, dried around mouth, down chin, it blackens the teeth, ashamed and trying to tell me how they got to this place.

This sounds crazy, I know, but stench is holy.  It is the place from which most clearly the dignity and value of a person is seen.  A place from which God is magnified.  The same with darkness.  I like to use black to matte my color pictures.  Darkness intensifies color and beauty when it surrounds it.  The polished, bathed, made over; they took the time and effort to clean themselves up.  They deserve the clout they receive.  When absolutely nothing can cover the shame and disgust of an individual, and still, the dignity and value of that person is there, that is Jesus in the room, and I am talking to his child.

I have never been in a third world country, but have heard the smells can overwhelm those of us sheltered and fancy.  I wonder how many of us say “no thanks” to Gods Call to missions and ministry and people care because of our inability to tolerate filth.

As a mom, I have always hoped for my kids to grow up and one day become a teacher or doctor, engineer or lawyer.  Never have I encouraged them to become a garbage man, run a septic company, or manage waste of any kind.  Our son is working as a nurse’s aid in a memory care unit.  Yes, it involves cleaning up filth, even the bodies of patients he’d become fond of and cared so carefully for, before they passed.  These are hideous jobs, and yet, they are holy tasks.  He is studying to be an engineer, and yes, I know that is a calling as well, but I will never be as proud of him as I am now, doing the hardest task of his life, caring and loving for confused, difficult, fragile and needy patients.  Cleaning up messes no one even wants to think of.

God bless the man who rebuilt the Dung Gate.  And now the service is over.  I’m on my way to a day of fun and friends and living large.  And I ask myself, am I up to the task of holiness today?  I hope so.  

Amelia