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Old Towels and Being Human

07/29/2010

Ann here. It has been awhile since I’ve posted. Here are a few things that have been running around in my mind.

I just had to have them. These two old towels that I got from my wedding registry ten years ago. Those were in the “definite” pile as we packed for Thailand. I remembered missing good ol’ thick, wonderful, towels when I had lived here before so I wasn’t going to put up with that this time. So into the box they went. I knew then that they would probably not dry as well in the sun and end up smelling moldy—but I thought just maybe they wouldn’t. Well, we’ve been here for almost 11 months now, and those two towels are in the trashcan in front of my house reeking of the “not-quite-dried” smell that just about sends me over the edge. I hate drying off after a shower and then detecting the faint hint of “not-quite-dried” smell on my skin. So there you have it. Those two precious towels are now trash. It’s funny how life goes on and you start to let things go…big or small. A year ago I didn’t want to leave the country without my towels, they were a comfort to me. And now I can’t stand the smell of them. And I love my two new, paper-thin, easy-drying towels that I bought down at the local Lotus (our Wal-Mart).

I’ve also had to let go of some pride lately. For a long time now, I have loved for things to be smooth. I want life to be smooth. I want my children to be smooth. I want to look like everything I do is effortless….and smooth. I want people to look at me and say, “How does she do it? How is she so smooth?” 🙂 But the reality is that life is anything but smooth. I am anything but smooth. Now when I say “smooth”, I don’t mean perfect; but, I do mean pretty close, at least giving it your best shot. I didn’t realize what this was doing to me. To my friends and teammates. To my children. To my husband. About a month ago I found out that I was human….all over again. I was sitting at the Come Before Winter renewal with my aunt, bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t stop yelling at my kids, I turn to comfort food way too often, I am easily frustrated, and I feel like my emotions carry the day. I ended with a snort and the question, “What’s wrong with me? I’m not supposed to feel like this.” And with love and a hug, my aunt said to me “Ann, I think you are surprised by your own humanity.”  Surprised by my own humanity. That was it. In my pursuit of “the smooth”, I put myself in a place that was unforgiving of the “not so smooth” or the “rough”. There was no place for those things. The places that it showed up the most was at home with my girls or in team meetings with my teammates. When emotions ran too high, a decision was slow to be made, or my children didn’t act like I wanted them to, I became so hardened, angry, and frustrated.  To the point where I realized that I didn’t want to feel too deeply, at least not too much, not too publicly—that’s not smooth. I wanted God, but not too close, not too deeply, not too publicly. I thought I could move to Thailand, faithfully following God’s call, plant a church effectively/mechanically/smoothly, then move back to Texas, raise my children—who now have a healthy dose of culture–and live happily, wisely, spiritually maturely, smoothly ever after. But, alas, that is without the raw emotion of it all.  The humanity of it all! In Psalm 103, verses 13-14 read, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” If He is compassionately mindful, and not surprised at all that I am human, why does it surprise me so much that I am—especially in my most human moments of happiness, loss, anger, joy, fear, frustration, or sadness?

I am by no means perfect now that I’ve had my little revelation. But I am a more patient mother these days. I’m choosing to let my kids off the hook of doing things just like I want them done or acting like I think they should. I’m a better teammate these days. I’m choosing to let my teammates that I love off my hook of doing things my way, and trying to listen better and share honestly. I’m choosing to remember that just as I am my Creator’s “dust”, so are the people, the humans around me. When life isn’t smooth all the time….He is present. He is faithful. So I’m trying to pay more attention to the people and nature around me. To soak in this human experience that He created for us. I want to feel more deeply. I don’t want to just make it to the end so I get my gold star of “The Smoothest Contestant”. I want to feel, to experience, to live more fully!

So for all of you out there that have also perhaps forgotten from where you have come….take some time today to sit outside and remember. Let yourself be human. Love who God has created you to be—with all the rough edges.  And I think it will help you love those around you more fully as you focus on the fact that He created them too.

I’ll leave you with these words from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World:

“My body is what connects me to all of these other people. Wearing skin is not a solitary practice but one that brings me into communion with all these other embodied souls. It is what we have most in common with one another… The daily practice of incarnation—of being in the body with full confidence that God speaks the language of flesh—is to discover a pedagogy that is as old as the gospels.  Why else did Jesus spend his last night on earth teaching his disciples to wash feet and share supper? With all the conceptual truths in the universe at his disposal, he did not give them something to think about together when he was gone.  Instead, he gave them concrete things to do—specific ways of being together in their bodies—that would go on teaching them what they needed to know when he was no longer around to teach them himself.”

These are my confessions/thoughts/prayers for today. Pray for me on my journey of learning what it means to be human and continually shaped to look more like Jesus. God bless.

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13 comments

  1. Ann – I love this! What an important reminder that our humanity is an important part of the journey we’re on. Thank you for sharing this. I love you!


  2. Thank you for your honesty! I can relate to SO much of what you said.


  3. So vulnerable and honest, but so you. Thank you for your willingness to share. I love you!


  4. Ann, thank you…I appreciate your wisdom and insight. I definitely relate to many things you said. You are not alone, sister! Thanks for sharing your struggles and successes!


  5. Thanks Ann. I am so very proud of you. I wish at your tender age I could have reached those decisions … my how I could have matured! Not complaining … God has been very good to me … and, bless Him, VERY patient. You are my shining star! I can’t wait to see you soon. I love you.
    Daddy


  6. You are a beautiful, thoughtful and wise person. Thanks for those words this week; that quote from Taylor perfectly fits your insight. I’m so proud of your first year. At the end of the year, with God’s armor firmly in place, you are standing. And that is no small thing.

    Love you,
    Jess


  7. I loved these words when you spoke them at CbW and I loved reading them today and knowing how the Lord is growing you in this area. I so get these thoughts and struggles because they are my struggles as well! Thanks for putting them down and sharing them with us. Blessings, friend!
    Sara Holland


  8. I am right there with you. God is stripping away my permission to be demanding in any way. The wording that keeps coming to mind for me is to let go of my ideal for everything and everyone else, and pursue God’s ideal for me.

    But that whole perfect smooth, cultured, effective, holy life sure sounds appealing! Thank God that He is bigger than my ego. : )


  9. Anner, what an amazing post! Thanks for sharing your heart, I think we all need to be reminded of everything you said…at least I certainly do. Your words are filled with such grace, love, humility and honesty and your testimony is one of praise and faithfulness to our Father. What a blessing you are!
    Can’t wait to see you guys soon! It’s just a matter of weeks now. I can hardly.stand.it!!! Looking forward to daily Sonic runs and roaming around Target. A-w-e-s-o-m-e
    By the way, to help with the whole anger thing… go break some plates, I’m just saying. 🙂 I love you!!


  10. That was truly amazing, my wonderful daughter in-law. We’re anxious to see all that God will show you and do in you this next season in your life. Can hardly wait til all of you get here. Love you.


  11. Sweet Ann- I love the way you so clearly expressed your struggle…and I can definitely say I identify with at least parts of it! Its funny that you mention that particular verse from Psalm 103 – I had the privilege to attend the Come Before Winter stateside renewal a couple of years ago & God used those same words to challenge me: “he knows you are dust.” All at once humbling, and freeing. I’m still challenged by that Psalm. Thanks for being willing to share your heart! Love you friend!


  12. Ann, Thanks for being so open and honest. Amen to all you said. Thanks for teaching me today. Love and miss you~ Donna


  13. Precious Ann:

    I have been too long in writing you. I LOVE YOUR HUMANITY, every part of it. What an amazing post, it is good to hear how the Lord is growing you and growing in you. What an amazing woman, wife, mother, and missionary you are.



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