All posts by Meg

Daughter of Christ. Die-hard Feminist, liberal. Continuously political. Lover of cats, Art Nouveau, gin, pouring rain, baking, and black coffee. Avid reader, relatively well traveled. Competent knitter. Lousy dishwasher. Irritated by bad drivers, bad conversationalists, wishy-washy political affiliations and uncomfortable shoes. Generally listening to music. Also, humming. Excellent cook. Always mosturized. Still a little whimsical in the brainpan. Indecisive, but working on it. Adores tattoos, red lipstick and combat boots. Mama to 2 beautiful boys Wife to the most handsome man in the world A novel writing, theatre going, opera loving, 32 year old woman

Help! I need somebody!

I broke last week.

More specifically, I dislocated my patella and (hopefully only) sprained my MCL and meniscus. My lovely and hilarious doctor said “no running for 2 months, wear your knee brace every day all day (except when sleeping) for 2 weeks and take these anti-inflammatories and these pain pills. I mean it. I’m the boss of you. Do it. See you next Friday for a follow up”

I hobbled out to the waiting room and looked at my friend Lisa, who was patiently reading a magazine, (Dr. Reed has the best fashion and celebrity gossip magazines, she was having a mini mommy vacation) “ok,” I sighed “I’m ready”. She looked up at me and grinned, “ok we will stop by the drugstore to get your prescriptions and is someone home at your house? Cause I don’t want you to have to manage alone” I stared at her, open mouthed. She had already given up multiple hours of her day (in the middle of finals!) to drive me to the doctor, wait while I got examined, and now she was cheerfully treating as a foregone conclusion the fact that she’d drive me to the pharmacy and get my medicine. More hours wasted lugging me around.

I hate asking for help. Hate it. It stirs in me some of the worst feelings of weakness and inadequacy. I couldn’t tell you when it started, but I can tell you that injury and illness as a form of weakness and lacking has been a theme throughout my life. When I was a kid and I got hurt my family’s rally cry was “is it bleeding? Are there bones sticking out? No? You’re fine”, ballet teachers wrapped up wrenched ankles and bleeding feet and pushed us back out on the floor, I had a friend tell me at 15 that my period cramps, made debilitating from endometriosis, were all in my head and exercising would fix it – I limped and puked my way around the track, my ex-husband told me time and again that I “got sick to much” and that the food poisoning I got while we were moving apartments was a mental block to get me out of lifting and carrying. Over and over the message I received and internalized was “You are not really ill or injured, sickness and injury are weakness and make you less than, and if you were just strong or smart enough you’d never get sick or hurt”, this message, I realize, is incredibly stupid, and yet somehow my brain applied it with vigor and only to myself.

Because I love taking care of people. I love bringing meals to people who are under the weather, rubbing my babies backs when they are poorly, bringing my husband cold drinks when he gets a rare cold. I love feeding people  who come into my home and offering them a place to stay. Allowing oneself time  to heal and take the best care of one’s body is something I hold in high regard as a health practitioner. To me needing help FROM ME is not a sign of weakness but of acceptance and welcome. “I trust you enough to be vulnerable with you” a person who needs me seems to say.

But I have never been able to fully get to that headspace for myself.

When I fell on Monday my friends were there to literally pick  me up  off the ground. They fed me and drove me around because I couldn’t. My mother and stepdad  came up to watch  the boys so I could go to the doctor. My husband took off work early to get our oldest and people volunteered meals…and wine…and alternative healing therapies. I had help coming out of my ears. And I was freaking out: ALL these people could see what a drain I was, how weak I was. They had to know I was injured so they could understand why I couldn’t go to events or was wearing a brace but now they also knew what an idiot I was for allowing such a mild injury slow me down. I would take a pain pill and get so fuzzy and sleepy that my husband did all the housework and cooking to give me a break to rest, but as I fell into a fitful sleep my thoughts were of anger and defeat and shame.

I sat down with my Bible in the midst of this. I’m not  doing a study right now but I try and read my bible every day, I pray a little about what’s bugging me and ask God to guide me to some scripture that will ease it, I give a little thanks every day for a handy dandy guidebook to life at my fingertips, that sort of thing. So I sat down with my Bible and I prayed about how frustrating it was for all these people to see how weak I was. How angry it made me that all these people thought I  was stupid and less than for getting hurt. Couldn’t God do a little miraculous healing magic? And I cracked the spine right to 2 Corinthians 12.

Now those of you familiar with the good book are nodding sagely. The passage God led me to  is less than a whispered wisp, it is a firm LOUD command. (Sometimes God recognizes that we need it spelled out for us, what can I say?), in2 Corinthans 12, Paul is recounting the story of a time when he was in great pain, when he was brought so low. He prayed fervently that God remove this weakness. And God said this:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”

And I was stopped cold. Because the next lines spell it out even further:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I WILL BOAST ALL THE MORE GLADLY OF MY WEAKNESSES, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME.

Dang.

And I realized that asking for and accepting freely given help is really a tiny little version of my conversion played out every day: I was broken  and hurting and limping along and I asked God to carry me, that I would admit that I couldn’t do it alone and without hesitation, with great joy and love, He swept me up into His arms. God wants to help you, to hold you close, to rejoice over you…you just have to admit you can’t do it alone, that you are broken and hurting and you NEED all of those things and He will lavish all of His grace and goodwill upon you. This stupid injury, painful and debilitating, was forcing me to ask for help from  my friends and family…and they gave it freely and joyfully.

What an incredible gift God gives me when He allows me the chance to ask for help: A tangible reminder of His endless grace in the form of a ride to the doctor, a casserole, a sitter.

I have a couple more months before my  life can get back to normal, but in the mean time, I’ll ask for help when I need it. And praise God for the opportunity to be weak…and rest in  Him for a little while.

On friendship

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I think that we can all say that at one point in our lives, in one way or another, we’ve been changed by another person.  Some of these changes are small, I always think fondly of and slightly curse the young woman who first introduced me to Marlboro Reds. I can thank a boy from Australia for sharing his fried egg on a hamburger with me so I could love it as much as him. I always pay my utility bill on time because of a rotten roommate I had once (don’t ask). These changes make up a lot of who we are. They are lovely and terrible and necessary and small.

But sometimes, we meet people who change us so profoundly that the course of our lives is irrevocably changed. These people extend to us so much joy and hope and love that we are saved from the possibility of the heartbreak might have been.

I can literally thank God for the three women in that picture up there, in part because of His limitless wisdom in bringing us together, but also because we literally met through church. One I got to know in the mountains, swaying and bouncing her new baby, and enjoying, for the first time since converting, a Christian woman who was as brassy and passionate and fierce as I was ( Truth: brassier, more passionate and a thousand times more fierce). One I met for coffee one afternoon, who knows how, and as my toddler splashed in a nearby fountain, marveled at her wisdom and her spirit, soft and strong, steel and velvet.  The third came to me through the first two, blinding in her beauty and dazzling me with her brain. Like a living sparkler. And the four of us fell together easily, like we’d been waiting for each other.

There is no perfect formula for making friends, no list to follow that tells you: “and once you’ve completed step 15, you will be lifelong friends. Congratulations!” More likely than not, most people you meet will move in and out of your life without changing you to dramatically. You will measure other people, new people by those old acquaintances, measure them rightly or wrongly, finding them wanting or exactly what you need.  And so on, and on.

Some of these people, the ones that wash over and around us, some will change us. They may soften an edge, or make a new chip. If we are wise, we view each change as an opportunity and learn and grow and change. If we are very lucky, the change is for the better and leave our mark on them as well. We call these people our friends, because we know them, we choose to share our lives with them and we are changed by them. Some people will round us out or sharpen our edges and some will pass over us like so much water. There is no same set of perfect circumstances for making friends, and what might crack me in two? May merely soften the edge you’ve been honing for decades.

If you ask me, (and you’re reading the blog so you basically asked me) this happy tide is no accident. We were placed here by a loving creator, the same being who set the stars spinning, shaped these fragile silly bodies and knows what will make us perfect. God knows about the deep scar you’ve got running through your heart, He knows about the glitch in my mind that psychiatry calls obsessive compulsive disorder, He knows our most crushing sorrow, our soaring joy. And He knows the people to send to us, while we wade through it, the ones who will sob with us, the ones who will throw us a party for no reason, the ones who make us laugh. This sea of humanity is an extravagant gift to us, a way for God to reach out and cradle us close. “I sent this person to you, to slow down your haste. I sent them to break your heart so you could learn. I gave you this one to give you the hug you needed this morning. I am here. I am here. I am here.”

It’s not a pat theory. There are people who have come into my life who almost destroyed me. They were cruel and vicious and the changes I got from my run in with them left me damaged and broken. I’d like to think that God didn’t send them.There are people who I have spent an afternoon with, who I know almost nothing about, that I came into contact with totally randomly, who have basically changed some of my fundamental beliefs. It’s odd that God would be so anomalous. But even in those cases, those people were necessary. They created the me that I love, the me that sings praise to her Saviour, the me that rejoices in her kids, the me that my husband adores. Those people prepared me for meeting these women that God sent me and helped me see that these friends are precious.

Those three women up there? I can say without hesitation that they saved my life. Multiple times. They have prayed with me and cried with me. They have cooked with me and we have raised our children together. Those women are light and joy and truth. They are challenges and sustenance.  They give the best hugs and let me rest against them when I am tired. They are hours and hours of conversation and laughter.  They are one of the greatest, most lavish gifts my God has ever given me.  I don’t deserve even one of them, but I was blessed with three.

This little essay is just a ramble. There’s no profound advice here, no sound moral. Just a love letter to my girls and the truth: It’s hard to feel like you can make friends, I know that, but the people you need are out there. They will be with you right when you need them. And isn’t that the most wonderful thing you’ve ever heard?