I used to smoke a pipe.
Well, I did, once.
My dad smoked a pipe and made neat smoke rings, and when I saw that pipe sitting in the window as I graced the seat of our commode at the wise old age of, oh, probably four, I gave it a good puff. IN. Yeah. You can imagine. Never gave in to that temptation again.
I used to bite my nails like a fiend. I’d bite until my fingers looked like little nail-less nubs that hurt and sometimes bled. It took me until my senior pictures to grow a nail with white on it. I guess my nerves were a bit frayed. It was better than sucking my thumb which I did for much too long until threatened enough times.
Back then, my pink blankie I got as an infant was my only real friend. Still is when I don’t feel my best.
And my Great Dane was my other pal. She made for a good snuggle and tear-catcher. I got her when I was three. She and I were quite the funny little team. I had her until I was fifteen and over the years I got bitten three times. I learned that, though full of love, giant dogs have big teeth and even a “nibble” can create a need for stitches. Now, I have a Jack-Russell.
I didn’t want to be a mom. I didn’t think there was any benefit for me. I also didn’t think I came equipped with the right tools for that job. But something about pushing a human out of your body gives you an inkling of an idea that maybe, just maybe, you can do more than you thought you could before.
There was a time before I knew the absolute joy of a hug from a son to his momma. The fascination of watching his muscles and Adam’s apple grow and his voice and mind become that of a man–a protector. And the beauty of watching his little flower-filled fist become a good man’s heart–love poised and ready.
Once upon a time, I absolutely panicked at the thought of having a daughter–or TWO!! Little did I know the indescribable beauty they bring into a home, the sweet spirits they infuse into a momma’s life, the fascination I would find in their nurturing, caring hearts. It was so unexpected. It is the stuff of miracles that these treasures are mine to spend my life enjoying.
I used to think friendships were about what they could take from me. They needed me to look and behave a certain way to be accepted. And honesty in a friendship was relative to what that friendship could handle. Now, I know that a true friend even loves the ugly, and lets me be just that if necessary. Honest is honest. There is no such thing as relative truthfulness.
I once believed that love in marriage was a temporary, youthful thing. If it got old, it also got frumpy and dusty. And undesirable. Now, I know it gets sweeter and more tender and blessedly, fuzzier around the edges. I mean that the rough places wear down a bit and you know where they are more so you don’t bump into them as often.
And a well, and long-loved item is what you pick over the shiny new one every single time.
I used to think that holidays had to stink. Bad. Like the smell of someone else’s idea of what you had to do because someone else said so. I’ve learned that tradition is a living, growing idea that can change and morph into whatever the heck we want it to look like.
Train rides and corn dogs on Easter.
Friends PLUS family at the movies on Thanksgiving.
Cocktail sauce and ketchup smeared all over a plastic tablecloth for Christmas. It’s about heart, and smiles, and PEACE, and laughter and being together with folks you choose to be with. And some meaningful reflection shoring up the underside.
I used to be afraid of everything. Shoes dropping. Dreaming. Loving.
Now, I’m only afraid of the real stuff.
Like snowy road driving.
And BUGS. Or should I say miniature monsters?
And if the bathtub were to fall through the floor when I’m in the tub with no clothes on. I’m not kidding. I saw when they put these floors in; they’re not that thick. And a tub full of water plus me is pretty heavy stuff!
I used to think my God was as old and stodgy as the deacons from some of the churches that judged me, as unaware as the earthly father I knew, as critical as my mother, and as bland as colorless as the future I saw for myself.
Not so much.
I don’t have words for the vibrancy of His love, the depth of His concern for me, the technicolor dreams He put deep inside me and has already fulfilled.
I thought He needed me. And my deep and martyr-like sacrifices. And the WORK He had for me to do…
Little did I know He just asked me to let Him love me and fill the broken places and then my heart became a teensy bit more like His and my corner of the world started to change as a result.
I used to long to write a novel. To tell my story.
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