Monday, April 14, 2008

The Jones's

Transition brings with it a sense of sadness that one no longer fits comfortably with any particular set of Jones's. Yet I find myself unwilling and undesirous of retreating back to the familiar, the predictable, the comfortable. Ironically, this is somewhat uncomfortable; a sensation we've been trained to do our utmost to alleviate, and as quickly as possible, at that. I mean- who wants to feel sad and uncomfortable?

I like what Judy said in a recent post.

"I could tell you exactly where and when it was, over a year ago, that I realized I was falling head first into that deep abyss called depression.
I could tell you, but I won't.
Like with a migraine, there are several variables that must align just right and WHAM, there I am.
Oh, yes. I dug out my paper with the list of ten things to do to ward it off and dig myself out of it (i'm not knocking this. it's a good list.)
But I thought differently about it.
Quite a bit differently than usual.
I thought that maybe it wasn't something to be avoided. Maybe, just maybe (and i am still not sure about this, so do not try this at home) I should just 'go' with it.

Quite a bit of life IS depressing. I don't intend to wallow in it. But, when it does happen, if all I can do is float along on top of it for a while, I think I shall. If I feel I'm starting to sink into it, I can always link arms with a fellow floater.
.........sometimes just the simple act of embracing something awful brings greater reward than concentrating on eliminating it."

I WANT to rush figuring out "where I fit" in this world and what I really believe the center of my life looks like. Well, I'm partway done that- I know for sure that Jesus is gonna be God in my life, and that I would like to get more proficient at imitating Him. Exactly how that is going to look is cloudy to me. I don't seem to fit the "Christian Women/ Women Alive/ Christian Woman's Club/3D/Happy Clappy" category. A lot of the Christian-ese words confuse me now. In fact, I remember getting dragged into a 3D group once (Diet, Discipline, and Discipleship-- Why, oh WHy did I not see through that within one second?!) After a few weeks of leaving my three preschoolers at home crying with a baby-sitter whom I really could not afford to pay, and dragging myself over to the pastor's wife house to listen to the thin church women talk about how they were learning to munch on flax seeds at movies instead of popcorn.... Well, I was pretty sure it was a poor fit. But to magnify my feeling of aligning myself with Joneses-of-a-poor-fit; the leader took the oppurtunity one week of telling me what tremendous growth she had noted in me since the start of the study. "Hmmmmm, I thought to myself. "This woman didn't really know me when we started. She doesn't really know me now. Yet, this is the appropriate thing to say to a tired mother who has agreed to attend a study that she doesn't actually agree with. It is what the proper Mrs Jones would be pleased to hear."

I absolutely don't mean to knock women's groups. Nor growth. It just seems mysterious to me that someone whom I don't actually know would be able to evaluate whether I had gotten to know Jesus better, or had some sort of change of heart that would make my life less confusing and more in tune with the Spirit. These things make sense to people within a particular context. It is a specific language within a specific thread of life. At that particular time in my life, I really wish the pastor's wife had asked me what I needed. I wish someone would have told me that I could "grow" by staying home and tucking my own kids into bed, and not worry too much about all the "commitment" propoganda I was hearing week after week at church.

Is this about semantics then? Partially. It is likely that all sorts of people experience "growth" in their life and have different words for it, depending on their Joneses. Now, I actually believe in a lot of the concepts behind the Christianese words, so I don't mean to suggest that people just string a bunch of words together to make others feel better. (although that's true too). Sometimes I wish there was a set of words to explain things like: "Take it to the cross"; or "Rest in Jesus". Maybe I just think too much, but I just haven't really understood what it is that people mean when they use those words in attempt to fix a problem, or make the ugly feelings go away.

Yesterday on my walk, I passed by a number of large campers that were being taken out of winter storage. It made me think about those people's Joneses. Was their camper big enough? Fancy enough? Unaffordable? A fantastic way to have family memories? Maybe the husband's Jones was his wife- a wife who insisted on a camper and a husband who complied. Maybe all their friends had campers and they felt weird enough about it to go out and get one themselves. But none of that is really the point. It was just another example of a context. A specific reality. A possible Jones.

Church was another one. Sitting alone made me feel a little out of context as well, hearing husbands and wives throw out their simultaneous "amens". I was glad for them, glad for the security in that unity. But I realized at the same moment that what for me used to be predictable, comfortable, and secure had shifted considerably. I no longer fit the same context.

Other of life's circles that intersect mine come with a wide diversity of beliefs and unbeliefs. They sometimes grate on me, irritate, inspire, frighten, or encourage me.

And I think about Judy's words about "...embracing something awful bringing greater reward than concentrating on eliminating it". It's good exercise to sit with the uncomfortable. I think it allows for honest change. I sincerely want God's wisdom to be central to whatever changes continue to come my way. I don't know exactly what that means, or exactly how it will look . I expect that with the embracing of the less comfortable may come longer, more distinct periods of sharp discomfort.

It's a distinct sensation to recognize that I don't even know who my Joneses are any more.
Maybe that's a sign of growth.


Roo said...

i don't know what label i fit with either. sometimes that's ok with me....and other times it makes me cRaZy.

i carry this ache for something i have not fully experienced yet.

i like what judy said here, ...embracing something awful bringing greater reward than concentrating on eliminating it".

wow. that's powerful when i really think about it.

Crystal said...

I totally agree that the only way to grow is to constantly make yourself uncomfortable. The sooner you figure that out the better off you will be.

(ps...I don't have a camper, just a tent)

Anonymous said...

I totally "got this" Joyce....L-lew

Anonymous said...

Yep. I think I've spent most of "life" figuring out trying to "fit in" to what people mean and do. I think I'm learning that my own definitions are ok, and to just go ahead and "be" and "do" and not worry about "fitting", because we'll never completely "fit" anyway. Not to say that I love feeling uncomfortable, I actually don't like it at all, but it's not always a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Joyce, when do you think about this stuff...about growth...for many of us raised in the church, growth meant how well or how willing we were able to prescribe to a certain standard of behaviour. Maybe instead of following a linear path and striving and pining to achieve holiness, we are meant to meander in circles and just enjoy being one of His children. Someone told me this not too long ago: "Maybe God's will for my life is just to be thankful I am alive. And maybe it's not anymore complicated than that". That is dogma I can live with.
Awesome post. And I have a big ass fifth wheel. Do you still love me?

joyce said...

ha ha. I was trying to make the camper thing an observation, instead of a potential judgement! I'm not sure now how well I did in that regard. I brought up the camper thing because I noticed that it was one area that I don't have any Joneses. Not that I don't love getting invited to someone's kickass big hauler dealie to sleep in after a hot day at the beach! My insecurities in other areas are just so much larger that they overshadow any potential "camper envy".

Valerie Ruth said...

i like it

gloria said...

i dont have a camper OR a trailer.

Anonymous said...

me again....I too have a 35ft. trailer, but we keep it parked/hidden in the States, so that no one knows about it : ) L-lew

joyce said...

sheesh, people. The post that turned into a confessional about who has trailers.

Next week: Yogurt containers vs Tupperware- The Moral Implications.

Unknown said...

great post joyce although i did have to get my sister to interpret a bit, i absolutely get what you are saying. i especially love the quote from judy's post about embracing instead of eliminating. i truly think that that works. just be still through it. i know that has helped me in the last few months.

thanks for always sharing what's on your heart.

Anonymous said...

I used to think I fit into this world...but that was before everyone I knew began to get married and have kidlets. Now I'm just seen as the barren woman who lives down the street but don't want to have over cause she has no kids for our kids to play with. I'm not bitter. Sometimes lonely...but I have learned not to let others define me. They may not want to get to know me because I don't have kids, but then again, would I be happy if they wanted to be my friend just because I had kids? Probably not. Now I know who my true friends are and appreciate them all the more. Thanks for being one of them Joyce!

Linda said...

"Sometimes I wish there was a set of words to explain things like: "Take it to the cross"; or "Rest in Jesus".

I think the problem is that those words are kind of like a TV show. There's a problem that's always resolved within the hour. Seems way too easy and life is just a lot more complicated than that.

Thank you for this post.

Leanne said...

I've been thinking about this post for days, Joyce.
Thank you.