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Entries in All Random All the Time (62)


Getting sucked in

My husband is away at a conference and I've been on my own since Monday. I have been gainfully occupied while he was away, but there have been a few moments when I've had time to scan my social media feeds. I have been using social media since 2007, and nothing really changes.

People still cry ad hominem while doing it themselves. You keep using that word . . . 

Trolls are still everywhere.

Bullies behave on social media pretty much like they do in person.

People are more interested in attempting to be witty than they are wise.

I participated in a brief exchange last night on Twitter, and while it was very cordial (although I still have some points of disagreement) I went to bed feeling rather discouraged. What was the value of that wasted 30 minutes? By the time I went up to bed, I was getting sleepy and my eyes were getting heavy while reading the details of the Council of Elrond. Those thirty minutes could have been better spent. Did those 30 minutes online edify me in any real way?

The other day, I wrote about being an older woman and seeking wisdom, and it's almost like as soon as those words left my fingertips, I was challenged in the very things I espoused. It's a daily challenge. I know myself; feeling like I have to correct someone or make them see my point of view is a pride issue. The reality is that even though two people may look at the same issue, the same implications, and yes, the same biblical passages, they may still end up at different positions.

I want so much to grow in wisdom. I want to walk with the wise, to listen to the wise, and learn from the wise. Step one is to go where the wise are. The wise listen more than they talk, so they are probably the ones who didn't fall asleep during the Council of Elrond.


Who I want to be

I want to be a woman who does not defame the name of Christ.

I want to love others as myself. And that means everyone.

I want to listen more and talk less.

I want to think more and react less.

I want to feel gratitude more and indignation less.

I want to listen to God's word more and man's word less.

I want to remember that it is my glory to overlook an offense.

I want to be responsible in how I understand and apply God's Word.

I want to learn until my mental faculties can no longer manage it.

I want to remember that my experience is not the protoype.

I want to acknowledge every day that my life has been given to me by God.

I want to remember that my God-given circumstances, by comparison to the majority of people on earth, are ones of affluence and privilege.

I want to look ahead to eternity, and let it affect how I see the here and now.


If there is a mercy in this . . .

. . . and there is always mercy, of course.

I have been on crutches for four weeks now, and I can't say it's one of the more enjoyable experiences I've had. I have pretty bad tendonitis in my forearms, and on Thursday, in order to avoid an exuberant puppy, I fell off a chair, which didn't help my sore forearms any. I couldn't help but think that God is merciful in that this didn't happen when I had small children. I was chatting with my mother last week, and I mentioned to her that in all likelihood, somewhere out there, a young mother has a broken ankle. I may have to keep a puppy under control while on crutches, but at least it's not a child to care for. That would be a whole 'nother situation.

When I began my seminary classes in combination with a new puppy, I knew it would be work. Puppies are always work. But dogs are a joy, and the work is worth it. Puppies calm down eventually. That said, I have had to confine work to times when he is asleep. When the weather was warm, I did a lot of work outside on the deck, and I was thankful for that. Now that I'm unable to do anything else but sit, I still can't do a lot of work when puppy is awake. A quiet puppy can mean trouble, and I've had to make feeble attempts to retrieve things that are better kept out of his mouth; like socks, kleenexes, and this morning, that little package of raccoon scat he felt he needed to bring in the house. Thankfully, my husband was here for that one.

Still, I'm plodding along, thankfully. I'm doing well, and I'm enjoying the work. But it reminds me again of how difficult this would have been with small children. I can put my puppy in a crate for an hour if I need to. One cannot do that with children. Children are infinitely more work than dogs. I could not have managed seminary and children. And I am thankful I was not tempted to try.

Perhaps it is the generation I am from, but I grew up accepting limitations (this is a topic I'm going to re-visit on Friday at Out of the Ordinary for anyone who wants to avoid Black Friday advertising aggression). I grew up understanding that one choice often meant leaving another behind. I did not grow up being told "You can do whatever you want." Today, children are told that. But I don't know as if I believe that. I dreamt of being a professional tennis player; the fact is I was limited in ability and in financial resources available to receive training.

When I had small children, I knew that making a choice to do something like school meant giving up something else. I did my undergraduate degree with small children, but I could only manage one course per semester, and during semesters when I had a baby, I didn't take anything at all. I did all of my work after they went to bed. It meant I didn't watch a lot of television. I've only ever seen two episodes of Seinfeld, and one I watched while I was in labour, to give myself something to do while I waited for the contractions to progress. My water broke in the middle of it, so that was that. In the end, I'm so thankful that things proceeded the way they did. I was here when my children needed me most. Perhaps some people are embarrassed by being "just a mom." At times, I did feel that stigma. And I shouldn't have. It was a gift to be here with them. And now, I'm getting to do something I wanted to do. All in God's timing.

I have no idea why I had to have a broken ankle at this time (other than the fact that I foolishly ran through the house), but along with time for study and time to learn new physical maneuvers (I am getting expert at lowering myself to the ground to sit with the puppy; my good leg is getting very strong), I also have time to think about God's mercy and about how he works things out for our good. 


Stop the world, I want to get off!

Have you felt like that? I think we all have. This past few weeks, I've felt it acutely. Fortunately, for those who belong to Christ, we will get out of this world, and a new one will be ushered in. In my Augustine class, on November 4, we talked about City of God, and the discussion about the Kingdom of God and what that entails was so encouraging.

And then the U.S. election happened; and all that entails. You know what I mean; the rancor, the condescension, the crowing of the victorious, and the despair of the defeated. I know the truth of the ultimate ruler of the universe. I know the eschatological hope. But my heart goes out to those who honestly fear what will happen. There has been a fair bit of jeering (and some if it is deserved) toward those who are very fearful of what is to come, but I wonder how many of those people are minorities. My kids live in a very multi-ethnic city, and they have friends from many different backgrounds, and the fear is real. I am reluctant to mock fear. 

It does feel like the world has gone crazy. When people I once respected reveal an ugly side, it bothers me. It also makes me re-evaluate myself. Have I come across like that? Lord, I hope not. I am torn between wanting to rant at the top of my lungs or retreat entirely.

We are so distracted by the world around us. Things are enticing. We end up wasting time, partaking of the mundane, the ultimately useless. "Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things" (Ps. 119:37). How much of our time is spent on things that are of no eternal value? And how many of those are dressed up as if they are "Christian?" Sometimes, I feel as if Christian commentary is more about pop culture or politics than Christ. Yes, I know we have to engage with those things, but honestly, I don't see a lot of good coming from either location. Some of it is not worth engaging.

We are studying the origins of humanity in my theology class. This has led to a discussion of being made in the image of God means. You see that phrase a lot these days, done up in Latin for good measure: Imago Dei. I thought that the few things I'd read on the subject were useful. Millard Erickson digs deep, and asks questions I have never thought of. This encourages me in a world where I want to get off. I encourages me to ponder who God is, and by extension, who I am. This is comfort to me. And quite serendipitously, much of the course material in Augustine is dovetailing with the theology class. I'm reading Augustine's book on the Trinity. Those ancient writers knew how to ponder God well.

I've also picked up The Valley of Vision for another read, and I'm following along with a daily reading schedule that I got from Joe Thorn's blog years ago. I want to ponder God more deeply. In the face of a crazy world, he is the one to whom we turn. Only he will suffice. He is our hope. Looking to people, things, and earthly kingdoms will only provide the most fleeting hope.

I do want to get off this world, whenever God ordains that to be. It often discourages me to think about what the future holds for my kids and their kids, but I guess I'm not the first woman to ponder such a quesion. All I can do is rejoice in the Lord, see his goodness, be grateful in the small things, and cling to the hope of the coming kingdom.


Is chivalry dead?

I had a very interesting couple of days at school last week. On Thursday, I went to my theology class, having been driven there by my husband. When one of my classmates arrived, she was quick to sit beside me and offer help. She handed in my assignment for me and periodically asked if I needed to put my foot up. My professor had told the class the week before what had happened, so there were a couple of people who were also willing to help. I had to write the quiz I missed the previous week, and when I was done, I stood up, and my prof came forward quickly, so I wouldn't have to get up. He's such a nice man. 

On Saturday, it was a different story. My Augustine class did not begin well. The doors of the academic building were locked, and even when the prof arrived at 8:50, they were still locked, and it took him a few minutes to find the key. I stood on my good foot (there were no benches at the entrance), leaning against a stone fence, but it was cool out. I could have gone back to the car, but in recent days, my elbows and forearms are beginning to ache a little, and it was easier to just stand. Thankfully, my husband was there to hold the door open once it was unlocked. There are no automatic door openers at the school.

Of course, I was the last student in. My husband dropped off my bag and left while I clattered my crutches and plopped down in my seat. It was announced at the beginning of the class that our marked assignments were available at the front of the room. I didn't even bother trying to get up, because I just got sat down, and everyone else was rushing forward. No one asked me if they could pick up my assignment for me. At the first break, a young lady (who also happens to be a friend of my son) asked me if she could get me anything. That was really sweet of her. For the rest of the day, however, I received no such offers. When lunch arrived, I didn't leave the classroom, which was how I planned it. Occasionally, one of the students came in and out, but not one word was spoken to me. This was weird. Earlier, when we were waiting for the academic building to be unlocked, my husband commented to me that my classmates weren't very friendly. It must be true, because he doesn't say things like that as a rule.

When break time and everyone was making quick trips to Tim Horton's for coffee, I was not asked if I would like something. For all intents and purposes, my injury was invisible. I don't mind being invisible most of the time, and I don't really need sympathy, but it was a strange feeling. I'm a big girl, and I was able to live without a mid-afternoon cup of tea. But I did wonder if chivalry is really dead. Here I was in a room where there were pastors and men who were going to be pastors, and not one offer of help, even at the end of the day when I had to carry my book bag and hobble down the hall to leave.

It occurred to me that those men were possibly apprehensive about offering help to a woman without being misunderstood. Or perhaps there is a reluctance to help someone with mobility issues for fear of insulting her. Or maybe they were just apathetic. I don't really know. But it is a curious thing. If I had a classmate on crutches and I was going to get refreshments, I would offer to get her some, too. What really struck me was the different experience between that class and Thursday's class.

It made me think a lot about how people with permanent mobility issues must have to deal with this stuff regularly. Having a good friend who uses a wheelchair, I've had more than one occasion to think of this. I do notice more now whether places are accessible. No, we don't want to patronize people with mobility issues and assume they cannot be independent. They certainly can be. But being mindful of someone who has limitations and being willing to help are not difficult things. I felt vulnerable knowing that I was in a building where there is mostly ceramic title and concrete paths (not to mention a lot of stairs, which I avoided), and having the potential to fall down. We take our working limbs for granted most of the time.

Thankfully, I have three weeks until my next Augustine class. I will still have my cast and crutches, but I'll be wiser and perhaps solicit my son who lives nearby to bring me a tea in the mid-afternoon. And I'll be a lot better at pushing open the bathroom door on my own than I was on Saturday morning.