bitter betty strikes again

Well… it happened again.
The bitter-Betty in me came out.

I know, we’ve had this discussion before.  And yes, I know better.  And I know God created us all different.  And I know that I don’t have to look like someone else to be valued and to feel good about myself.  AND, I know that I could make better food choices.  And I know that I am wonderfully made … and I know that I could … blah blah blah.

So if I know all of this, why does Betty still come visit?  She’s never invited, she just shows up!  She typically shows up when I’m struggling through some pain and know it’s time to sit my rear down to rest.  I feel guilty sitting down, and she knows that.  I don’t want to sit down, and Betty knows that too.

I want to volunteer at my son’s school and go have lunch with him.  I want to make cute things off Pinterest for my front door or trim up my flowers and bushes around the house.  I want to make my house look nice and work on curtains for another room.  I want to go for a run.  I want to go out and have lunch with friends.  I want to go to all of the birthday parties and baby showers and dinners we are invited to.  I want to go meet at the park with other parents so our kids can run around and play.

But I know that I should be resting.
So I “rest.”
And stew.
And feel bitter.

Enter Betty, stage right:  Betty points out all the people who take for granted all of those things that I WANT to do.  She will show me who is skinny.  She will show me who can run marathons.  She will remind me who the “cool moms” are.  She will want me to look at Facebook so that I can compare all of my shortcomings to other people’s strengths, and she will want me to zoom in on all of the pictures from parties or lunches that I couldn’t attend.  Her favorite thing to do is remind me that I don’t get invited to many things anymore.  Ooooo, she loves that one!  It’s a real zinger and she knows it.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.  Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.  Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT

  • My own wisdom: all the things I know
  • Turn away from evil: stewing and bitterness – and for crying out loud, turn away from BETTY!
  • Healing for my body: stop stewing = true resting = healing for my body
  • Strength for my bones: my bones are my framework, if my framework is stronger I’m less likely to crumble under pressure

My darling husband recently reminded me that it was much much harder for me to have to say “no” to the lunches, and showers, and parties, and ladies nights out than it is for me to not be invited to many anymore.  Because the truth is, packing my schedule full of all of those things isn’t healthy for me.  It will run me into the ground and my immune system will tank.  And I know this.  (reference wisdom bullet point above)

I have some spectacular friends who remind me gently to take some things off my schedule.  And I am so appreciative of that.  Because they help me do something that I sometimes struggle to do on my own.

I struggle to make the right choice.

It’s time to start choosing the path on which Betty is NOT standing with her coffee cup in-hand, eager to gossip and compare me to other people in my life.  Betty isn’t healthy for me.  And she isn’t healthy for you either.

Take a hike, Betty.  You wear me out.

just … stop.

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When I was a kid my mom didn’t use the phrase “time out.”  In fact it was a phrase typically used at basketball practice or when my dad would scream at the TV during a Hawkeyes football game (yes, I’m from Iowa — no, I’m not an Iowa State fan — but for the record, I don’t root for the Hawkeyes either).  Honestly, I don’t even remember my mom shooing us away so she could take a “mommy time out” and search for her sanity.  She was pretty even keeled.

She sighed more than she yelled, but for the record I would have preferred yelling.  Sighing just leaves you hanging … like “what is she thinking?”  My mom rolled with the punches and went to band concerts, volleyball games, softball games, basketball games, plays and girl scout meetings.  I’m one of three girls; we were involved in a lot of stuff!  I also don’t ever remember her complaining that she didn’t have time for herself.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Because I can’t help but wonder what has changed.  Now I constantly hear these words coming out of my mouth, “If I just had an hour to myself!!!!!” … interesting that I never finish that thought, I just leave it hanging… kind of like my mom’s sighs.  (my sisters are making our mom’s sigh-sound as they read this — that’s how impactful her sighs were!)

I’m calling a time out on myself.

I refuse to read another book about what I should be doing until I figure out what I’m going to STOP doing.  I think the first thing to go is this belief that I have to have an hour to myself especially when everyone is home from their busy days — says who?  God gave me this great kid and amazing husband and all I do is crave time to myself?!?!?!  Um… that’s a bit twisted.  Afterall, I couldn’t wait to get married, and I prayed and prayed that the infertility treatments would work despite my medical issues so that I could have a child to love and care for — and sorry for my transparency but, I think I’m sort of pissing it all away. (I take that back, I’m not sorry for my transparency)

I love my phone.
You guys know this already. And though I am temped to give you a list of things justifying my idolatry towards this piece of technology, I will just let it be.  Even though it’s killing me a little inside.

But do I LOVE my family?

So what if I don’t get to the next level of Candy Crush (for the record, I have not touched Candy Crush since I gave it up for … well not Lent but for Jen Hatmaker… I mean for ME).  So what if I don’t get a pedicure.  So what if I don’t finish reading all the posts on Facebook.  So what if I don’t gab with my friend for an hour about all the funny things that happened this week.

Moderation is the key… I dislike that word, it reminds me that I have to eat in moderation and that bugs me because I love food.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

I think it’s incredibly important that we model good friendships to our children and that we go out and enjoy ourselves with friends when the opportunity arises.  I think it’s incredibly important to have time away from our spouses so that we have fresh and fun things to talk about.  I think it’s important to stay connected to long time friends and even current friends — but ya’ll — I’ve been doing it wrong.  It should be God, family, friends (and everything else).  So an hour in the morning reading scripture or my bible study books?  Totally legit.  Or an hour having coffee with a friend while everyone is gone doing his own thing?  No problem.  An hour on the couch scrolling through Twitter while my son is glued to the television…. dude.  Right. Between. The ii’s. (for iPhone and iPad… see what I did there with the…. see the i’s… nevermind)

I know I just blogged about this the other day, but this whole idea of having a list of things I am going to STOP doing seems much more inviting than a list of things I am going to START doing.  It reminds me of New Year’s when everyone has these lists of cool things they are going to conquer, and by February they don’t even know where the list is.  I don’t want to be that person.

So what are you going to stop doing?

I have another game to delete from my phone, I can tell you that right now…
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

laughter overshadows pain

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This was a rough week.

If you have chronic pain you know what I mean.  I’m not talking about a stiff leg or a headache that is cured by a dose of ibuprofen.

I’m talking about not being able to turn my head to one side.
I’m talking about a headache that lasts over 11 hours and makes you nauseous all day.
I’m talking about not being able to hold your coffee cup due to cramped fingers.
I’m talking about feeling alone and terrified inside a body that fails you on a regular basis.
I’m talking about not wanting to smile or talk because it takes effort.
I’m talking about wishing your family would stop talking because the pain is loud.
I’m talking about pain.

A long-time friend asked if we could have coffee together one morning this week and I was elated to schedule that appointment!  But then it started.  Twitching in my shoulder.  Fingers acting a little cray-cray.  A twinge of pain up the back of my head and down the front of my face.  And boom.  Enter debilitating headache stage right.  The morning we were supposed to have coffee, I couldn’t turn or tip my head to one side – and I was late.  Typical.  My pain even robs my ability to be accountable and reliable.

I showed up, and was uncomfortable, but glad to see her face.  And after about 10 minutes the coolest thing happened.  I was so engaged in our conversation that I didn’t even realize I was talking and laughing and … I forgot about my pain.  It was still there — I still couldn’t turn my head! — but I didn’t CARE that it was there.

Our laughter overshadowed my pain.

My toes locked up while we were laughing — so I stretched them.  I had nerve pain down my arm and back while we were laughing — so I changed positions in my chair.  We sat so that I could turn my head and talk, no big deal.

I know what you’re thinking, “but my pain is SO BAD that I just don’t even want to go see friends!”  and let me tell you that I have sang that verse so often that I had started to believe that I am incapable of keeping my friendships alive.  But that’s all pain talking.

You are not your body, you are the living soul inside of your body.
You are not what your body is or is not capable of doing.
You ARE a good friend because you care, not because you can or can’t take someone a meal.

Get up.  Take a shower.  Make your bed.
Then call a friend and strike up some laughter… it just might overshadow your pain.

 

it’s a two-way street

What kinds of friends do you have?

  • I have friends who meet me at Starbucks and don’t care if I show up with wet hair and no makeup.
  • I have friends who tell me when it’s time to do my hair and put on makeup.
  • One of my friends lives in another country and we’ve only met face-to-face once.
  • A friend of mine has seen me, and aided me, during my absolute lowest points on my health journey, and she still loves me despite witnessing incredibly gross things.
  • Multiple friends just came and sat with me after a yucky surgery last year… just sat with me.
  • My husband and I have amazing friends who have moved to follow one of their dreams, yet we pick right back up where we left off every time we see them.
  • I am celebrating 25 years of friendship with one of my friends this Saturday, and she could probably still beat me in the original Super Mario Brothers.
  • One of my friends constantly reminds me to pray for myself. And there’s no sneaking by this friend, she is a Major Pain in the A…. Accountability department.  Which I happen to need.
  • I have a group of friends who would join me in singing the National Anthem in just about any elevator with no questions asked, then when the doors open they would proceed as though nothing happened.
  • I have a group of friends with whom I vacation twice a year for a weekend of sewing and crafting… and LAUGHING.
  • Ihaveafriendwhotextswithmelikethisandweboththinkit’shilarious. Andwearebothgrownups. Sorta.
  • I have friends who understand chronic illness because they too are suffering.
  • A friend of mine prayed for my salvation for YEARS, and I didn’t even know she was doing it!

What do all of these people have in common?  They are my friends because we encourage each other.

It’s a two-way street.
It’s give and take.
It’s grace.
It’s hugs.
It’s cards in the mail with stupid humor on them that make us laugh.
It’s patience and growth.
It’s forgiveness.
It’s tears and laughter.
It’s making mistakes.
It’s trips to the ER.
It’s a WHOLE lot of inside jokes.
It’s caring for each other’s children.
It’s illness and death, and new life and new loves.
It’s the excitement of new things and the comfort of the old things.
It’s praying together and urging each other to make wise decisions instead of running away when life gets tough.
It’s meals and coffee, cake and ice cream… and drinks from Sonic (rolling my eyes — you know who you are!)

Friendship is all of these things and more.

Are you struggling with your friendships?  I urge you to seek out what you can do to strengthen those relationships.  Is it time for forgiveness or confessions?  Is it time to pick up the slack because your friends are going through incredibly difficult times?  Is it time to ask for help because you feel like you’re drowning?

All relationships are built on honesty.  I have screwed that up many many times in the past because I was too proud to admit I was hurt or frustrated.  Don’t be that person.  It won’t work out well for you in the end.  I have lost friendships over my pride and a loss of words is no crutch to lean on.  It will crumble.

Pray about it.
Be honest and share your feelings.
Or stand up and pick up the slack because you adore your friends who are hurting.

What stumbling block do you see resurfacing again and again in your friendships?
What are you going to do about it?