In the Eye of the beholder

Warning: I am wordy today.

Once upon a blog post I wrote about the top 3 qualities I esteem. Beauty, function, and durability.

Well today I am pondering such things, and a few branches from them. It has been brought to my attention by vairous sources that I seem “down”. Perhaps in my posts on here or facebook or in conversation I have been too honest. Perhaps I say things more dramatically than I should. For all of those, I am sorry. As Inigo Montoya says, “Let me esplain. ..no. there is too much. Let me sum up”

1. On beauty I am no expert. And like all humans in this fallen world, I can be hypocritical in this area. I find it so awkward when people try to “cheer me up” by complimenting my physical appearance. For one thing, it is not an area I have ever put much stock in. I desire to be presentable, sure, fit, yes, but have never valued physical appearance as high as most other things in life. I’m not the kind of girl who wants to put on make-up (do I even own any?) and nail polish and get her hair done to feel better about herself, and therefore perhaps less sick. My daughter is that kind of girl. She will forever be frustrated with my lack of appreciation for all she deems important: jewelry, polish, glitter, color, being noticed because of the packaging she’s in. No, I am simpler in my tastes. Earthier. My husband wishes I would “doll up” a bit more, at least once in a while. At least care. Sorry, everyone. It is fairly low on my priority totem-pole to begin with, and since dealing with Lyme, it has not come up in the ranks. I am not trying to be down on myself or appear sick and miserable. I just do not place my self esteem with how I look and therefore do not spend my energy units on this. If you think I should doll up a bit more for the sake of seeming better than I actually feel, then let’s talk. As my dad likes to say (in Italian accent) “It is better to look good than to be good, eh?” but then, I’m not Italian and I think I believe the opposite to be true. Like Jesus said, “woe to you..whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside…” (Matthew 23:27). Now, if anyone wants to come beautify my house, I am all for it! I have to look at that all the time. I’d rather be surrounded by beauty -blues, greens and earthtones, polish pottery and leather books, natural wood and stone and ceramic and glass, than try to appear beautiful. I honestly think I’m more selfish in that way. Its all you other people who have to look at me. ;p

Right, moving on.

2. Function.  I am at a pretty low place in terms of functionality right now. Not the lowest I’ve been, to be sure. But in general, kind of low. Starting a slew of new meds does that to a Lyme patient. I expected that. I am not at all deterred by that fact. Actually I am encouraged by it. It means the meds are doing something! They are breaking through the cysts and cell walls that the Lyme bacteria is hiding itself inside, releasing the bacteria again into my body where it may rage a bit, but where it can be killed! It is what I prayed would come from seeing the specialist –a plan with lots of ways of battling this disease. I am prepared to deal with that battle, and hope and pray my support team is well armored for it. I pray for each of the precious people who are in this with me. My case is mild compared to many stories I have come across, my symptoms are not so scary as they could be, and my situation is about as good as anyone could hope for. So though I may not function quickly or as well as I once did, my life is very VERY good. I feel good about where I am; I just don’t feel good. I am glad for where I am, because it is not where I once was, nor is it where I will end up. “God’s not finished with me yet” (Brandon Heath‘s words)

3. Durability. A funny thing. In this temporal life, a blip on the radar of eternity, things do not last. Yet, the longer something does last, the more highly it is esteemed. Ancient ruins are world treasures. 120 year old people are revered. Old writings, buildings, songs, movies, messages, themes, ideas, teachings, medicines, just about anything –it they’ve “stood the test of time” they are more valuable. And I totally agree. God, being completely beyond time, deserves the highest rank of all in this department (and all others, really). As for me, I am simply astounded that I get the privilege to take part in any of it. There is nothing I could do to earn a place in this world, but I was given one. So, perhaps in this department of life more than any other, I celebrate humility. Again, I must enter the disclaimer that I am not being down on myself, but rather the opposite. I am seeing how much grace I’ve been given. And keep being given.

I do not work quickly or very efficiently, yet have a few hours’ a week job where I am appreciated, valued, and feel a great sense of purpose. I do not keep the house spiffy clean, or meals prepared; I often forget details, appointments, conversations, messages, and the like yet my family has been fed, loving, helpful and understanding. I have been given gifts, funds, rides, meals and help planning them, clothes, conversations, prayer for healing and blessing (along with many answers!) and so much more. So as I sit where I am, I find myself feeling far more valued and unconditionally loved than ever in my life –especially more than those times I was working so hard to earn it all of my own power to DO. I’ve never known such hope. Such peace. Such self-esteem. And I pray everyone reaches this place: acknowledging your neediness. It’s harder than doing things for ourselves, keeping up our walls and earning our own keep. At least, psychologically. We go against our human nature to admit we are in a state of perpetual need, and have little to nothing to give in return. But let me just say how beautiful it is to actually live there. Why? Because there is a God of hope who desires to fill you with all peace and joy as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with joy by the power of His Holy Spirit within you.

Being “down” might be how I appear, and physically feel. But it is not how I am.

One more rabbit trail in this long post: Safety.

It too is mostly made up of what we perceive. Safety, you might say, is in the eye of the beholder. One of the four pillars of Gentle Teaching, A foundational step on Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, necessary to get anywhere in the seven dimensions of wellness, safety is of course a basic human need. We all want to feel safe, and we avoid things that feel unsafe. If we perceive danger, we fight or flee. I walk slow because I feel safer going slow, less in danger of falling over. I avoid loud or bright or busy places. I even avoid phone calls or conversation. I avoid high emotion. Those all fuel my symptoms. They feel unsafe. But I long to be like Jesus, who slept through the storm while in the little boat in the middle of the raging sea. (Matthew 8:24) While the disciples -those seasoned fishermen who knew the dangers of the sea and perceived each one- freaked out, Jesus slept. He perceived more. He perceived God’s control over it all, and rested in that. Again, I am as hypocritical as any human in this, and I will continue to operate in self-protection and see all the dangers I fear. But I am also growing more secure, knowing that whether I freak out or sleep through it, suffer or have pleasure, live or die, my God is greater. His plans work for good. While I do not wish suffering on anyone, and pray for relief when I see loved ones suffer, I recognize that suffering happens in this world. And pray it becomes a tool to show each soul who weathers the storm true safety. That lasts. and works. and is beautiful.

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