Not that i thought my friends were bad, but i've had some nice things happen lately.
First, there was that whole birthday thing in September. My sister and i have talked about how we both have some deep-seated dread of our birthdays. Nothing to do with the amount of years, though that carries its own trauma. So there i was, dreading my birthday the whole week previous, trying to put on a happy face, and then it all started flowing. i got to chat with a long distance friend, got to see my beautiful long distance grandkids on the webcam, got calls and cards from local friends and children, not to mention the perfect gift of a bag full of chocolate bars from my husband. And they weren't just any cards, and they weren't just any chocolates, they were special and thoughtful and funny cards, and lovely special chocolate bars. The kinds of things where you know the person really thought about you when they bought them. And on top of all that, i got to go to lunch and shopping with friends and daughters--TWICE!
But why just feel bad about my birthday? There is of course the whole fibromyalgia thing. Again, i try to not be a big crybaby about it. i do whine some. i do get grumpy a little. But it does tend to get me down from time to time, what with that whole crappy-sleep/constantly-achy-body thing.
And then there are always finances to worry about--why the heck our electric bill is as high as it is, why i am seemingly incapable at age 53 of making a simple budget and making it work. As somebody who believes in the God who made the universe (and me) i believe i'm to be a good manager of what resources He's given me. But can i ask Him for a raise in my allowance? That would be so much easier than trying to learn to live within my means!
And then there are my fears--the fears that keep me from doing things i would like to do. There's the fear of New, the fear of Failure, the fear of Large Bodies of Water. Recently daughter Corinne and i were discussing what we would do if we could have any job. She'd really like to know that about herself, since she's currently spending hours and hours finishing her college degree and considering going into a Master's program. i said i would love to write and publish--one thing i am passionate about is writing. i do some of my best thinking that way. Now, if we were talking about the fear of New Kinds of Chocolate, i'd be willing to try some total immersion therapy, but when it's the fear of something where i think others will be judging me? That gets pretty darn different.
So those are a few worries, a select few of the worthless crop i am currently fertilizing. But again, i am somebody who believes in the God who not only made me (and the universe!) but that He actually cares about my life. And that includes my birthday-dread, and my fibromyalgia-sleep-deprivation-crabbiness, and even my phobia about opening my electric bill.
So i've been conversing with God lately about the above-mentioned stuff--living within our means financially, dreams and passions i'm afraid to follow, pretty much all the stuff above except i'm not really ready to chat about the whole water thing just yet. And i've been trying to not only talk, but listen. You know, the kind of thing that makes a real relationship--the sharing, the not-one-sidedness. And i put a disclaimer here: if you are the sort of person who feels strongly that the creator of the universe (and you!) does not dilly-dally about having chats with 53 year old women about their fears and dreams like some cosmic slumber party, you should probably stop reading. Because lately i have been having a hard time hearing His voice, and i've been asking God if the stupid little crap of my life matters to Him. These are the ongoing inner conversations in my head as i go through my day doing laundry and such.
So i've been thinking about getting a new cell phone. i realize a cell phone is a frivolous thing, so how can i think about getting a new one if i have one that works? Well, this cell phone thing applies here because i have been saying to God, in the mode of trying to be responsible with the money we have, "i will not get one if it costs." You see, in our house, we are gadget fiends. We do love our cell phones and computers and cool tools. So a cell phone, here in the land of plenty, is not a big thing. Twelve year olds have cell phones here. i decided to be content until i found a freebie that i liked. And then my friend got a new cell phone. It glimmered in the light as i felt the gadget fiend within me rise up. But no--i've made a commitment. It must be free. i had been looking on our provider's site every week at what they might have. One similar to my friend's was, with rebates, $80. Not free. Now, again, here i know that to some, 80 bucks is two weeks groceries, and to others that's just the price of a good lunch. But, remembering my decision, no go. Not free.
But what's the harm in looking at the features and comparing reviews on Cnet and Amazon and such? This will fill my gadget cup for now. So i open Amazon to see if there are more details not on the Cingular site, and look up the phone.
It was there for $0.01. One cent. One penney. Huh. Cool.
A couple of days later i received my copy of "Simple Scrapbooks" magazine, and start flipping through the pages. i'm one of those people who tends to read all the pages, even the letters to the editor. So i perused the ads in the front, i started reading the letters from readers, and one sounded so very like me until i realized, it IS me--it's an email i sent them a couple of months ago. Not a piece of writing i sweat bullets over, but an email i just sent off one day because i like their magazine. My thoughts, my name, published right there on the page of a magazine. i laughed. Huh. Cool.
So, last night with my Bible study homies, i shared these two bits of news about the phone and the magazine. i asked them, "So, do you think God really answers stuff like that?" i mean, can God answer prayers through a cell phone? Am i just nuts to think He cares about the cell phones and the writing desires of my heart? If i had not been talking to Him about these very things for the last couple of weeks, i might have thought these were random acts in a random world. But no, i think they show God has a sense of humor.
So, here's where we get back to that concept of relationship with God. My most valuable friendships are ones that are reciprocal--not just me giving, not just them giving, but the give and take that creates closeness and trust between us. God, for all that parting-of-the-Red-Sea kind of action is still seeking to have a relationship with me. i know i've made the mistake of putting my parents' faces onto God. i know i've struggled long to separate what i saw as parenthood when a child from the truth of God's care as my Father. i read a verse yesterday in the book of John, chapter 14. It's verse 18, where Jesus is telling his disciples that even though he was leaving them soon he would ask God to send them the Holy Spirit to be with them and counsel them. He said, "No, I will not abandon you as orphans--I will come to you."
Abandonment. Speaking for myself, feeling abandoned like an orphan is an underlying fear of mine. Sometimes parents are too busy with their own problems to be involved with their children, and those children can end up feeling pretty alone even though the parents are physically present. Parents can be emotionally absent, physically absent, mentally absent--there are all sorts of abandonment. There can be the sort of abandonment that happens when parents don't like their grown children having a different opinion or belief or child-raising strategy from theirs. So first, in my life, there was that whole emotionally absent thing going on with my parents, and then Dean and i lost one parent after another until we found ourselves adult orphans in 2001. Abandonment. Not always intentional, but always painful.
But Jesus said He wouldn't abandon me, wouldn't leave me alone--He would send me the Holy Spirit to take his place.
My friends said, "It sounds like God is relating to you in a way that speaks to you--with a sense of humor." i like the thought that a relationship with me is important enough to the God who created the whole pickin' universe (and me!) that He would not abandon me. That's an active thing. A two way thing.
Oh, and the topper for good friends? i have one that actually says she thinks i'm organized. (Thanks, Adina!) But the subject of why that is worth putting out front in lights is another subject for another day.