Who I am because of you {The friend I didn’t know I needed}

She was my friend, my confidant, my sister. She was there when I needed her and when I thought I didn’t.  She could mow a lawn like nobody else, in fact she took great joy in mowing a particularly tricky lawn. I think that’s why she comes to mind every time I get on my lawn mower. ‘Girl, have I got a lawn for you!’

She taught me a lot of things. She taught me how to drive…at 24, when I should have already known, she took the time. She taught me how to truly enjoy a cigarette…. Not just smoke it. She taught me what it looked like to love people…. To love them deep down where it counts. I am a better person for knowing her and the heartbreak is that she has no idea. 

When I got married, she should have been there. When we brought our children home she should have met us in the airport. When we’re young we say foolish things, we think foolish things, we believe foolish things. Grace can cover much, but not all. Sometimes the pain goes too deep and it’s too real. Sometimes it takes years to understand….and even then….

11 years ago my life changed… Just about every aspect of it. I moved to a new city, I took a new job and for the first time I knew what it was to be totally alone. I spent months sorting out my faith, and trying to figure out who I was.  Although she wasn’t present, she impacted my thoughts regularly…the memory of her friendship still does.

I’ve lived a life time since we last talked. I’ve gotten married, adopted children, I’ve started and closed two businesses and moved a few times. I often feel like the person I was is only a shadow of who I am today, that doesn’t make the loss any less great. I have returned to this saved draft at least six times over the past three years. Each time I come back I update it…add to it, take away the things that don’t seem to fit…Each time I think about hitting publish, but don’t.

I figured this entry would be just the right place to star my ‘Who I am because of you’ Stories. Thank you old friend for all that you gave to me. You have been missed over the years. If you ever read this, I hope that it finds you well.

The night ‘that was me’

Well, here we go.

Tonight I said something so horable it left me a bit speechless. I totally wrote off an entire group of people! I was completely dismissive. I was speaking to my child!
I was actively breeding into her a misrepresentation of reality. I am NOT going to repeat what I said, but let me be clear, It was harmful. The deep rooted type of harmful that worldviews are based on.

The worst part? I didn’t realize it. Mike looked at me with surprise on his face and I literally had no idea why. The word out of his mouth, “really?” I still had zero clue. He had to walk it back for me, hold up the mirror so I could see it, before I realized what had come out of my mouth. Oh did I mention this was a teaching moment at the dinner table? AND we had company! Yep! Just yes, this was my awesome moment!

SO here we go….This was my teachable moment! This lesson was for me and it was about a whole lot of things.

Let me share a little about me, about how I grew up. This was/ is me in a snap shot…
conservative christian
middle class
college graduate
I have been so incredibly blessed! my life has been good and I am so deeply thankful for it. I am thankful for my fathers work ethic and my parent’s faith, I am thankful that I have never known hunger or what it feels like to be homeless, my upbringing afforded me the opportunity to pursue an education and I did so with fewer hoops to jump then many.

I know these things about who I am. I also have a deep heart for people who are not at all like me. I’m really good at placing myself in another person’s shoes. I tend to be able to step back from a situation and see both sides, or to see the steps that brought someone to the place they are at. I like that about myself.

Here is what I don’t seem to have time for…people who were raised just like me, and choose to stop asking hard questions (or never start), People who don’t take the time to understand or value what is other then their own life experience. I don’t have a lot of grace for sterio typical conservative christianity. I just don’t, and it is one of my blind spots. It is easy for me to switch on the auto pilet in my brain when I’m talking to someone form this group…because I grew up here…in this mind frame…in these teachings…I know why you believe what you believe…because I was taught the same thing, believed the same thing.

Tonight I opened my mouth and out spilled the cultural norm that I grew up in. There it was. Without thought. Without reason. It sat there, and my 6 year old took it all in. Looking at my husband, hearing my own words I realized something…Sometimes people say things because that is just what they were taught. What they knew when they were young. The culture they grew up in. What I said was wrong. But it was a reflection of the culture/ time/ experience I grew up in…In that moment I found grace (small as it might be, it’s a start) for people who come from the place I come from….but have chosen to stay. In that moment I was grateful for a number of things…
a gracious husband
a gracious guest
the ability to realize what I had said
that the Lord knows my heart
that I was teachable in the moment

Most of all, That I was able to show my child what repentance looks like in the moment and choose a new narrative for our family.