To chance or not to chance, that is this question. My mom, being only 20 when I was born, taught me that sometimes things just happen. Since I was a young child, I pondered reasons and meaning behind everything that happened to me or other people and I distinctly remember my mom’s frustration at my persistent questions (must have been so annoying) to the point where she said that some things just happen, opening the door to the idea of chance. I thought a lot about chance and the idea of it, studied it in school, explored it in games. I realized that chance has very slim chances of existing. There are laws of physics, laws of math, laws of science, facts that have certainty that dictate it to be so. Some items that do not have brains of their own may have statistical chance of happening, such as a coin you toss. But even that can be guided by wind or a strong magnet or a skilled thrower. There is a myriad of things that effect a myriad of things. There are forces at work upon the forces at work also, spiritual forces, wind forces, water forces, all which may be commanded by One stronger than they are. Is it chance or design? Is it chance or purposeful test or blessing? Is it chance or skill that some win and some lose? I decided that chance is off the table of possibility. My mom in her youth had not yet grown her faith to heights of seeing the unseen reason behind occurrences. It was not chance that placed this little girl in a small town in Michigan. It was not chance that I had the church I had, the family I had, the bad to es I had, the good times I had, the school and teachers I had, etc. God’s hand is at work continuously. As is our enemy’s. And another controller is other people’s wills and underlying motivations. The last piece of the puzzle is our own wills. We often cause much of what happens in our life. With so many controllers at play, the chances of chance existing go way way down and the interplay of the divine and dastardly comes more into focus. Design is everywhere. Order is everywhere. Chance is an idea only, a phantom thought.
Many of the greatest sentimental people/romantics come across as having hard exteriors to guard themselves. Some are shy, some are guarded, some are both. Sometimes the people who appear or come across as blatantly sentimental or feeling or romantic are pretenders, want attention, are shallow, are easily read by those whose empathy gift is natural and highly tuned. It is difficult to separate the way something feels with the logic of its explanation. How it feels is how it feels, despite the logical arguments. But feelings and logic must meet to live in real society where we have to work to get paid and have a roof over our heads as opposed to quitting for a while to help out a needy friend or do some volunteer work at a homeless shelter or help build a house with Habitat for Humanity. There is a balance with every type of person in life. But some dear people naturally gravitate to the feeling, sensitive side of life. These amazing ones have a true gift. It is the gift to see beyond, they see or rather feel the inside of so done through their eyes, through their skin, past their facades. They instantly (if they have honed their skills) whether someone is trustworthy, whether or not the situation is shady, whether or not someone is truly hurting or faking it for attention, what that person or situation needs to feel better. And then they help. If they are too shy, they regret not helping but when their soul and heart are stirred, there is nothing they won’t do to make things better, helping any way possible, share love. These people are the true and invaluable treasures of society. They are the hands and arms and helpers of God to the world. I respect these beautiful people and their gift. Truly they give flavor and grace to any society. One cannot help but be in awe of that ability to feel what most cannot, read a person’s hidden soul, discover a method of care and do it. How much more like Jesus Christ can you be? I find many of these individuals gravitating towards music because of its emotional power and feeling drive and my musician friends are the dearest in the world to me. I try to emulate them and be still enough as many are to observe more but am reminded often that we all have our different gifts and callings. I am content to quietly learn from these giants of love and try to listen more than speak. Being around them helps me love better. Being loved by them keeps me humble and encouraged and special. These meek souls are the most powerful on earth because of their closeness to emanating Christ and I can see why God has a blessing on them. Often overlooked or abused or taken for granted or unappreciated or used, where people are concerned, they should be the respected leaders, the revered counsellors, the go to sages of heart knowledge. They, in a perfect world, would receive places of honor for their abilities and in God’s kingdom they will. So, I wish to be more meek, more empathetic, more loving, more giving, more helpful, more in tune with people’s pain like these treasured souls. This is my new prayer.
When people ask, I say I grew up on a crop farm in Buchanan, Michigan. That is true but not the entire story. Truth be told, up until I was 10 years old, we lived in a trailer park on Red Bud Trail Road North in the back row. People didn’t call them “mobile home” parks at that time and truly it would have been too fancy for the place. We were at the farm a lot helping with things on weekends but largely, we were there. There were wonderful neighbors and questionable ones, some were the best of the best and some were pretty scary. In the middle of the park was my true hangout, a huge (seemed like at the time) playground with the tall swings, taller monkey bars (the square steel bar ones), a really high metal slide that mostly gave you butt bruises at the bottom, it was so steep. And free of charge, for no additional money, came plenty of rough and ready children (and I am using the term loosely). And of course, plenty of time for me to practice my boxing skills Daddy taught me because my mom used a huge triangle to ring us when to come home for food and of course rough and ready children think this is a great way thing to tease a child about (once). 🙂 We (my only living sibling, a sister) had bikes, but I was at the playground alone because she never wanted to play. So I would pedal back after I heard the annoying bell and after making sure my pride was intact from the bullies and eat contentedly. Rainy days were hard because my bedroom was small and gloomy because of dark fake wood paneling and one small window. I was every superhero I knew of at some point in that trailer. It was my imagination that saved me from the fate of so many there, some abusive, some abused, most poor, some held down by their own belief that the insults hurled upon them through life were true, but fairly some extraordinary and the most generous souls alive. When Grandpa Batterson died and I was 10 and my Daddy cried for the first time ever, I think, Grandma bought a modular home on the hill of their property and our family moved into the old farmhouse. And that began the best, most hard working childhood I could imagine. From darkness to light the contrast was. From cats only to cats and dogs and guinea pig and fish and hermit crabs because there was plenty of room. All that to say this. When we have lived in a dark place for a long time, the dark looks like it is as light as day, we get used to fighting to get by, we protect ourselves by escaping into our minds, we are always on guard with brief moments of splendor, like when we went to church. But just because your eyes have adjusted to the dark does not make it light. When we move to the light, when God graces us with light, the darkness is revealed and light can start to dispel that darkness in time. We don’t have to be bound to the darkness. I say I am from the farm not from the trailer park. I don’t own that bleak time. I own the light. It is my choice, my decision to change my point of view and focus on what saves and not what crushes. Everyone has that choice in life. Everyone can choose the light.
What makes us bond in life is mutual experiences, going to movies together is a great option for that because it is something seen and experienced together, holding hands is another connection point, laughing together creates a memorable joke that can be recaptured when life becomes too solemn, which it always seems to do. Movies, even bad ones, give you a commonality that connects us with each other. That is more important than the entertainment value in removing you from the moment and giving you something else to think about. Going to a movie together is valuable to aid in bonding. Bonding can also be done in crisis or sharing bad times. Of course, relationships can also call apart during these. The difference is either the strength of bond already in place, depth of love between the two, level of commitment, or strength of desire to help each other and not just self. Of course walks and hikes are good options and of course mutual hobbies and music also but the whole point is that bonds will be strengthened when both parties want them strengthened, when there is more value to each as a unit and bonded than separate. People bond when they desire it enough to work on it. They lose the bond when they decide to. Once one or both choose to break the bond, it breaks easier than you would think. And that glue can get old and dried out when unattended, so choosing not to refresh the bond is a slow death sentence for it in of itself. Desire is the key. Those who wish and long and desire to remain bonded together will. Those who do not won’t. Minds can change for so many reasons and so many circumstances may change over time. Bad choices, good choices, other commitments and responsibilities, etc. But if two people commit to being together, the bond will remain, even when stretched as long as they both want and choose it. The bond depends on the choice and very little else. And some bonds are precious enough to hold on to, precious enough to maintain. And when God guides the bond, herein lies the most powerful force in the universe to sustain it. The wills of the couple merging with the will of God and no force on earth can kill that bond. Feed the will and you feed the bond.
Life continues rolling on and on and on, despite our greatest efforts to slow it down. As valiant runners we press on and sometimes actually feel like we have gained some ground. Today, for example, I accomplished so much for my Dad (who is now bed ridden) and his furry companion who is by His side much more vigilantly lately. My heart tells me he is not long for this world. His body may remain longer but it is harder and harder to pull his mind back to me. His exceptionally strong boxing Marine will fights to remember but it is losing ground. Dementia is a cruel master. It doesn’t appreciate that I want to have one more conversation with my Daddy before he goes on ahead to Heaven. It teases me with moments of remembrance and then steals them away again. It robs him of voice and energy. And through this grieving process, I am forced to be the complaint department to my mother who daily complains about taking care of this great man who I love that always took care of everyone. There is grieving for my father who I am losing and grieving at the callousness of a mother. It is more than I can bear sometimes, especially when combined with caring for my family and normal life and responsibilities. I find myself forgetting to do important things I regularly and faithfully do like coach PE class, which I completely forgot about yesterday. I find I really desperately need arms around me that are not. I find a demand of teaching my kids unchanged for I am shielding them from my grief so they do not grow up too quickly. I find that whatever I do is not enough, not the best I can do, sometimes not recognizable as my work. And my eyesight is now needing attention, as well as a chipped molar. So, all amazing very real examples of one person’s struggle to keep up on the treadmill of life. Seems bleak. Yes, it often does. But. However. Except. In this same life are beautiful opportunities and shows of love from a loving God and His people. I find opportunities to play music and sing, therapy to my soul. I find a kind and encouraging word from a friend. I find very rare but still precious hug from a loved friend. I find smiles and laughter from my Dad who seems delirious to the selfishness around him. I find miraculous moments where he says my name clear and loud. I find opportunities to talk to a close friend about my day, a treasure, to still feel human and loved. I find my children discovering some new talent or gift they did not know about. So. So on this treadmill that has hate and evil and grief is also right alongside hope, blessed hope and faith and love and encouragement. You can easily miss one when focusing on the other. I would rather miss the bad by focusing on the good. It is a good choice, I think. Everyone has to make their own choice. But as for me, I will choose to focus on the good. It is more humane and fun and hopeful. It is a good choice I think. And my best friends will help remind me of this choice when I lose that focus again, for it is bound to happen. But not today.
Women do not need romance but we have a deep desire to have it in our lives in order to feel secure and loved. Women know that a man will not be romantic with a woman unless he loves her, whether just because of that love or to reciprocate or get something back or because he is guilty of something. Women (most) are not stupid. Romance is a warm, safe, loved place to be. We feel appreciated and loved when we are attended to softly. It is much more important than I ever realized. Without romance, the emotions and hormones inside us force us to doubt love, to doubt security, to doubt importance, to doubt sincerity, to doubt appreciation. And each woman sees romance differently, according to how she’s cut, how God designed her, her experiences, her love language. Some women love receiving flowers, others (like me) could do without that forever but love planting flowers outside to see them longer and represent life and not dead flowers (no bias there). So those women want a potted plant to nurture and that is very romantic. Some women want a massage, touches through the day, hugs in abundance. Some women want love notes and encouragement. Some would find it romantic just to pick up your clothes off the floor or wash the dishes once in a while. Everyone is different and the beauty and bonding in a relationship allows for exploration into what works best. But not exploring that or doing anything about it once you know is not an option if you want to stay warm and cozily loved in your woman’s heart. A woman will remain long after her heart has left. And also, a woman (most women anyway) is quick to forgive when attempts are remade. To prevent this heart numbing and cessation of full life and happiness in the relationship, efforts must be made. Men need romance too, now. It is important to provide what each other needs for happiness to be possible. The efforts are rewarded richly (unless sense is not involved).
I cringe when people say they are doing their best. Why? Because our best is subjective to the power we believe we have at that moment and our level of concentration. My kids often us this phrase when they are actually putting up a half-hearted attempt in their own timing while daydreaming or attending something else at the same time. If we actually did our best, the world would be a very different place right now. If we focused clearly on our task and poured all our energy into said task until the job was complete, litter wouldn’t be an issue, good customer service would not be so difficult to come by, people would drive better so fewer accidents, things would be cleaner, people would have more of what they need in life. Especially true if we see our power as believers in Jesus Christ and use the power that lives in us from Him, the Holy Spirit. Now there is more meaning in the words because we are talking about the greatest power in the universe being inside us to draw from. Suddenly then, doing our best means doing His best with is right up there with the best that can be done. Now, as humans we cannot maintain that level of energy and connectedness with God and focus and clarity of thought without constant contact through prayer or Bible reading and we have to work also and pay attention to other things as part of our job and responsibilities. So there is the rub. But we can reserve the phrase “doing my best” for when we actually are. Words mean something. If you say it, think about it first to see it that is an accurate description of the action. When words are misused, they lose power and meaning. So, maybe if we actually do our best, we can do a heck of a lot of good.