Jealousy by mail

I was super stoked about my postcard from a person who is a member of an online group I belong to.  It was a surprise – we’d not been in communication.  There is a file where group members can share their addresses if they would like to get mail, so I left mine.  (I’ve covered up our addresses here with cough drops).

I thought it was really cute and inventive. The postcard has washi tape with botanical images on it, and rubber stamp markings. There is also a tiny envelope! How creative!

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This is what was inside.

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The cleverly designed thing folds out into a strip with washi tape with constellations on it.

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…but now I feel left out because of all that this person got.  She posted it on the group page and tagged her, so I know it is from her.

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…and here is a picture from another person – more stuff that she got from this member.

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Both say it was a surprise – that they weren’t already friends with her.

I’m really jealous.

Which is a terrible thing to feel because it wasn’t like she promised me anything at all.  I should be grateful, but in comparison to the other people’s mail, I feel sad and jealous.  And I hate feeling like that.

They had no way of knowing that there was any inequality.  But I’m sure there are others in the group who didn’t get a letter and they are wondering “why not me?”

It is something I wrestle with on my personal page.  Do I share pictures of a party I went to where some friends weren’t invited? They will know they were left out.

I remember in school we were told to bring enough (of whatever) for the rest of the class – or don’t bring it to share at all. We had to include everyone.

I hate it when my friends invite people in a shared group to go to a new restaurant or experience, and don’t invite me.  I know they didn’t invite me because they either don’t tag me on the invite – which I can see because I am friends with them, or because they post pictures of the “good times with good friends”, and I wasn’t there.

I hate it.  And it keeps happening. It happened all the time with the SCA “household” I was a part of. It is part of why I finally left. It made no sense for the head of the household to question why I wasn’t hanging out with the others. He implied that my husband was controlling me, that there was something ugly going on. Yes, there was something ugly going on. The head – and his wife – and other members of the household – didn’t invite me to these gatherings. Over and over and over. How could I hang out with them if they didn’t let me know? I was especially hurt when they decided to take a jewelry making class together and didn’t invite me – knowing that was one of my interests. But to then think that I wasn’t social with them because I was in an abusive relationship? Insane.  

And last night I’d finally had it and cried big ugly tears and I still don’t feel better about it.

Social media isn’t social sometimes.  Sometimes it just lets you know how much you are missing out on.  It feels like bullying.

Think before you post. Think about the feelings that will get hurt. Think about who you are excluding. You don’t have to share everything.

Do I invite everyone to events? No. But I’m discrete about it. You don’t have to invite a whole group to some happening. You may not want a large group. You may like certain people in the group more. But be mindful that you don’t let the people who were left out know that they were left out.

Now, I can’t control if other people who were invited tell them inadvertently and thoughtlessly. But I try to do my part.

“Some for the Road” is now available!

cover of SFtR

“Some for the Road” are meditations and milestones on the road of recovery, in a reading-a-day format. It took me two years to edit and assemble, and two years before that to write. The paperback is 484 pages, in a very readable 11 point font, and costs $25 if you order it from Amazon. The Kindle version is $9.99 to buy, free with Kindle Unlimited.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1507633580/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1492955412&sr=8-6&keywords=Some+for+the+road

Bone music

skelhorn

Harold loved playing the French horn. The tone was mellow and warm, inviting. He knew it would never be the lead instrument like the trumpet or guitar, and he was fine with that. He wasn’t one for being in front, leading the way. No, that was for the peacocks in the world. It was more a pigeon, behind-the-scenes, anonymous. He never wanted to be a manager, bossing people around. He was happy being a team member, a cog in the wheel, someone who got things done without any fanfare.

And then he met Lydia. She loved him exactly the way he was, for who he was. She wasn’t put off by his meek nature or unassuming presence. She certainly wasn’t concerned that he was a skeleton, either. While most women were loathe to live with someone who looked like they escaped from an anatomy class, Lydia saw the advantages. Because he had no skin, he was never too hot or too cold. She could adjust the thermostat to whatever she liked and he’d never fuss. He never spent any money on clothes either, so they had plenty set aside to go on vacations.

And go on vacations they did! Every month they ventured to a new part the world, seeing a new place and meeting new people. They picked their destinations from their list of numerous pen-pals, strewn all over the globe like Easter eggs, each one a treasure to discover. Every year they had to get new passports made because they’d filled them up with stamps and visas. Lydia had a plan that the pages could be used to re-wallpaper her art room one day.

Mr. Buttons, their cat, never got to go on a trip. He never even left the house. The vet even came to him. He was terrified of the outside world. Trees sent him into a tizzy. Clouds? Forget about it. He’d run and hide under Lydia’s dress, cowering there until she picked him up up and carried him back inside. Otherwise he’d stay there, trembling, paralyzed. It was kind of embarrassing really, but it meant that they never had to worry about him sneaking out when they opened the door, or be bothered with him asking to go out and come back in every 15 minutes. No, all in all he was a good cat, and he seemed to enjoy Harold’s home recitals almost as much as Lydia did.

They met at one of his performances – that time in a mutual friend’s house. Jane had suspected they’d get along smashingly and set up the recital as an excuse for them to meet. It was the blindest of blind dates – neither one knew that they were being steered toward each other. Harold brought his French horn and Lydia brought her harmonica. While listening to the sousaphonist playing his solo, (a piece he wrote himself for the occasion) they began to talk.

 

Lydia was certain that she’d heard undertones in Harold’s playing – notes that she was uniquely capable of hearing because of her unusual ears. Nobody in her family talked about her ears, but she knew she was different. She assumed they didn’t want to talk about them out of kindness, to not make her feel different, or perhaps it was out of embarrassment. Nobody really was certain who her father was, after all. Sure there was a man who filled the role, who was married to her mother. Jack had raised her since she was a baby. Everybody knew he was Dad and not her Father. The only person who knew for sure was Martha, Lydia’s Mom, and she wasn’t saying. She’d retired from the circus when she got pregnant and that was as far as the story went. Sure, there had been a mule act as part of the show, but nobody went so far as to suggest anything that questionable. Maybe it was the illusionist, spurned at the end, and he performed some real magic instead of those sleight of hand stunts that were his bread-and-butter. No matter, they didn’t know and it wasn’t worth the bother to make up stories, so they just acted like things were normal.

Harold said that yes, he regularly played more notes then were normally heard, basically playing two songs at once. If it was a depressing song, he played a cheery one at a subsonic level simultaneously to even it out. If it was a rousing march, he played a dirge for the same reason. He just felt it wasn’t right to bring people’s emotions too high or too low. Somewhere in the middle was best, and since he could, he did.

Nobody before had discovered the extra song weaving its way into and under the first, like how the framework of the house is hidden yet integral to the house itself. Nobody until now, he thought, and there and then he decided he would have to make her his bride. Partly it was out of admiration for her rare talent. But partly it was out of the desire to keep his actions a secret. No wife could testify against her husband – that was law. It was like testifying against yourself since “the two shall be of one flesh”. It stood to reason she wouldn’t tattle on him either, as a logical extension of that law.

She hadn’t told, and he never had reason to worry. She wouldn’t have anyway. Nobody ever believed her when she told them anything she’d learned from using her unusual talent. They had no way to check if it was true, and honestly they didn’t care. In some ways she was like a five-year-old boy, fascinated with trains or dinosaurs, telling everyone within earshot about the most minute details of her obsession. Even though what Lydia said was true it didn’t really concern them, so it wasn’t worth the bother. “Uh-huh!” and “Is that right?” they’d mumble to not appear rude, but they were already off thinking about their own interests. She never took it personally, knowing their actions said more about them than her, and learned to keep her own counsel early on.

 

The Clower twins

5

Emma hated her siblings. All day long she had to rock them back and forth. Even if they’d had arms and legs they were too small to do it themselves. Rocking was the only way to keep them content, but more importantly, to keep them quiet. Her shoulder was getting tired, but she kept at it. To stop meant noise either from them or from their parents. Or both. She wasn’t sure which was worse, but she was unwilling right now to learn the answer.

The twins were born three years ago but they looked half that age. They were so tiny, still. The doctor in Millersville was unable to tell Mr. and Mrs. Clower if they would always be this small, or if they would ever catch up. He also had no answer to why they had no arms or legs. He didn’t have a lot of answers for most of their questions, but he was all they had. They couldn’t afford to take the twins into Baltimore to get a second opinion. It was only 22 miles away, but that was forever when you didn’t have a car. Sure, it was only two hours by bicycle, but those babies couldn’t travel that way, no sir! How would they take them – in the basket like they were a package to be mailed, or a bag of apples bought at the market? You can’t hold them and steer, either. Plus it would mean Earl had no way to get to his job at the field, picking beans or tending the goats. No, one opinion would have to do, even though it wasn’t much. If the good Lord had wanted them to know more, He would’ve provided more. This was their burden, and they had to carry it.

Now, to be sure, Mr. and Mrs. Clower never said out loud that their newest children were a burden. They never intentionally sounded ungrateful for any gift the Lord gave them, no matter how odd it seemed. Their pastor had said years ago that nothing from the Lord was bad, only bitter sometimes. Medicine was bitter, but it was good for you. And it took a while to see the effects. They remembered his words when the twins came, and thought about them often.

Why, wasn’t even the Lord Himself born in a barn? That sure didn’t seem appropriate for the One God to make an appearance. Surely God would be born in a palace for at least a manor house. Never someplace so anonymous or dirty as a pen for animals. Imagine the noise! Imagine the smell! So if the Lord could be born in less than ideal circumstances, so could their babies. They’d just have to wait and see how things turned out, just like Mary did.

Emma didn’t have the patience to wait. She wanted these babies gone and she wanted them gone right now. They were getting on her nerves. She hadn’t asked to be a big sister. She was fine being an only child. She sure didn’t want the limelight taken away from her, and even more she didn’t want to have to care for these interlopers.

Her parents never thought twice about making her tend them. It was part of her job as a member of the family. They didn’t charge her rent or expect her to pay for her food or clothing, so how else was she supposed to do her share? The same had been expected of them, both first borns in large families. Of course you needed large families then. It was free labor. Having children was like printing money. Need more help? Have more babies. Of course you had to plan ahead a bit – look down the road a piece in order to see what you might have need for. It didn’t do to have a baby right when times got tight – then you were doubling your trouble. Best to have one who was at least five, so he was able to feed and clothe and go to the bathroom by himself. It didn’t count as child labor if it was yours, you know.

But these babies weren’t going to be a help to anyone, born as they were without limbs. They sure were happy, though. That made it a little easier. All day long they laughed and smiled, eyes gleaming at everyone and everything. Some thought they were soft in the head, being so happy and all. It takes smarts to see the troubles in the world. But they really were smart and happy at the same time. It was weird. Maybe that was their gift. They’d been cursed physically, but blessed spiritually. They were happy no matter what was happening, which was good.

 

The Passion is a code

When Jesus was dying on the cross, he said several things that were direct references to the Psalms.  Those who were nearby would have known the references, having grown up with them just like he did.  Orthodox Jews recite the entirety of the Psalms once a week at a minimum.  These references would have been familiar to his listeners.  He didn’t have time to say the entire Psalm, but he didn’t have to.  One line was sufficient to recall the rest.

In Matthew 27:46 we read

46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

This is a reference to Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from my deliverance
and from my words of groaning?”

But it is helpful to read the rest, because within it are more prophecies that were fulfilled at that time.  Notice in particular verses 8, 16, and 18, which perfectly mirror what happened at the crucifixion.

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from my deliverance
and from my words of groaning?
My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer,
by night, yet I have no rest.
But You are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You;
they trusted, and You rescued them.
They cried to You and were set free;
they trusted in You and were not disgraced.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by people.
Everyone who sees me mocks me;
they sneer and shake their heads:
“He relies on the Lord;
let Him rescue him;
let the Lord deliver him,
since He takes pleasure in him.”

You took me from the womb,
making me secure while at my mother’s breast.
10 I was given over to You at birth;
You have been my God from my mother’s womb.

11 Do not be far from me, because distress is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong ones of Bashan encircle me.
13 They open their mouths against me—
lions, mauling and roaring.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength is dried up like baked clay;
my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You put me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people look and stare at me.
18 They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.

19 But You, Lord, don’t be far away.
My strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my only life from the power of these dogs.
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me
from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will proclaim Your name to my brothers;
I will praise You in the congregation.
23 You who fear Yahweh, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!
All you descendants of Israel, revere Him!
24 For He has not despised or detested
the torment of the afflicted.
He did not hide His face from him
but listened when he cried to Him for help.

25 I will give praise in the great congregation
because of You;
I will fulfill my vows
before those who fear You.
26 The humble will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise Him.
May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember
and turn to the Lord.
All the families of the nations
will bow down before You,
28 for kingship belongs to the Lord;
He rules over the nations.
29 All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down;
all those who go down to the dust
will kneel before Him—
even the one who cannot preserve his life.
30 Their descendants will serve Him;
the next generation will be told about the Lord.
31 They will come and tell a people yet to be born
about His righteousness—
what He has done.

So even though this utterance of Jesus seems to indicate that he feels God has abandoned him, he knows that this is not true.  He knows the rest of the Psalm by heart. By verse 22 the Psalmist (and Jesus) is praising the Lord.

The last words Jesus said upon the cross as cited in Luke 23:46 –

46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.Saying this, He breathed His last.

This too is a reference to a Psalm – in this case the specific verse is Psalm 31:5.

Into Your hand I entrust my spirit;
You redeem me, Lord, God of truth.”

Here too it is worthwhile to read the entire Psalm, because instead of being a sign of resignation, Jesus’ words are a sign of total trust in God.

Lord, I seek refuge in You;
let me never be disgraced.
Save me by Your righteousness.
Listen closely to me; rescue me quickly.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a mountain fortress to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress;
You lead and guide me
because of Your name.
You will free me from the net
that is secretly set for me,
for You are my refuge.
Into Your hand I entrust my spirit;
You redeem me, Lord, God of truth.

I hate those who are devoted to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love
because You have seen my affliction.
You have known the troubles of my life
and have not handed me over to the enemy.
You have set my feet in a spacious place.

Be gracious to me, Lord,
because I am in distress;
my eyes are worn out from angry sorrow—
my whole being as well.
10 Indeed, my life is consumed with grief
and my years with groaning;
my strength has failed
because of my sinfulness,
and my bones waste away.
11 I am ridiculed by all my adversaries
and even by my neighbors.
I am dreaded by my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street run from me.
12 I am forgotten: gone from memory
like a dead person—like broken pottery.
13 I have heard the gossip of many;
terror is on every side.
When they conspired against me,
they plotted to take my life.

14 But I trust in You, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 The course of my life is in Your power;
deliver me from the power of my enemies
and from my persecutors.
16 Show Your favor to Your servant;
save me by Your faithful love.
17 Lord, do not let me be disgraced when I call on You.
Let the wicked be disgraced;
let them be silent in Sheol.
18 Let lying lips be quieted;
they speak arrogantly against the righteous
with pride and contempt.

19 How great is Your goodness
that You have stored up for those who fear You
and accomplished in the sight of everyone
for those who take refuge in You.
20 You hide them in the protection of Your presence;
You conceal them in a shelter
from the schemes of men,
from quarrelsome tongues.
21 May the Lord be praised,
for He has wonderfully shown His faithful love to me
in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I had said,
“I am cut off from Your sight.”
But You heard the sound of my pleading
when I cried to You for help.

23 Love the Lord, all His faithful ones.
The Lord protects the loyal,
but fully repays the arrogant.
24 Be strong and courageous,
all you who put your hope in the Lord.

(All Bible translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

The dessert

Remember the Pink Floyd song “The Wall”?   There is a lyric in it that is really meaningful for Holy Week: “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!”

In some Christian denominations, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are just days of the week. Nothing special happens.  In others, they are holy days of deep reflection and fasting.  They are dark days right before the biggest celebration of the Christian year – Easter.  Within those denominations are people who don’t make time to go to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services, and I feel they are shortchanging themselves.

So many people want to skip over the bad and go straight to the good. But if you don’t go through the bad, then the good doesn’t have the same meaning.  They want their pudding, but they don’t want to eat the meat.

The “meat” is Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  They are hard to chew, and even harder to digest.  They are difficult.  They open us up and break us down.  They take us along with Jesus into the pain and despair of that time, that time of loss, of betrayal, of abandonment.  They take us along with the disciples into that time of fear and confusion.

The “pudding” is Easter – it is sweet and easy to eat.  It is a day of joy, of promises fulfilled, of knowing that God is supreme.

But you have to go through the darkness to appreciate the light.

The Garden

I am struck by the parallel of the story of Adam and Eve, and the story of Jesus.
The very first example of disobedience happened in a garden – the Garden of Eden.

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Adam and Eve went against the will of God and decided to do things their way.  Because of their choice, they were banished from the place of peace and harmony, where their every need was provided for.  Because of their choice, they were subject to pain and death.

The ultimate expression of obedience to God also took place in a garden – the Garden of Gethsemane.

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Jesus knew what God wanted him to do.  He’d read the words of the prophets and knew that this is what had to happen.  He didn’t want it.  He said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV).  He was hoping that there would be a way out, like the ram that appeared when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac due to God’s command. He was hoping that there would be another way, that he would not have to suffer and die.

And yet, he accepted what had to happen. Knowing what was going to occur, yet trusting in his Father, he submitted.  He was fully obedient, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Because of God’s love, he gained his life back.

Because of his example of total obedience to God, we now have a pattern for how to live our lives – trusting, without fear, knowing that even death has no hold over us if we are following God’s commands.  The doors to heaven are open to us if we follow his example.