Naked Disparity

This is a slightly more casual chat about nakedness than we have been having here lately. But, it struck me so bluntly Sunday morning that I just had to share.

My girlfriend texted me: “My son is so funny. When he’s naked he kinda goes goofball silly on me!” (her son is almost 2)

Body image
Credit: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/b/body_images.asp

I replied: Aren’t all men a bit that way?

Now, certainly I’m not an expert on all men and I haven’t seen but one man naked, but nonetheless, I think it’s a widely accepted fact that most men are pretty proud of their nakedness. If you spy on a naked man with a mirror (who thinks he’s alone) you’ll probably find him flexing, dancing, admiring and pinching (his biceps.) Replay that scenario with a woman and you’ll find her hiding behind her towel, dressing as fast as possible, or moaning about the jiggle on her right butt cheek and pinching (what she calls flabby thighs). Am I right?

How did such similar bodies, both fashioned in the image of a divine, creative Master become interpreted by one as near perfection and by the other as nothing short of a pariah?

Food for thought.

Bearing in this broken frame

Your stamp, your glory, emblazoned name.

Bearing within His mortal dust

Your hope, redemption for all of us. 

That now inside our fragile flesh,

We can know your heart to bless

Breath, shape and perfect form.

Christ’s life in us, naked flesh reborn. 

Advertisements

Hereditary, Painful Privilege

My friend knelt beside her 10-year-old son. She was torn between shaking him and crying right along with him. He didn’t want her to know he was crying; she wished she didn’t know.

It’s my fault, she moaned silently.

Wednesday, after our workout, Delaney relayed this story to me. She hadn’t told her husband, and didn’t plan to tell him. He had just returned from a year-long deployment, during which the depression that had been mounting in her since her own childhood collided with the anxiety of being a single parent while he was gone, the fear of losing her husband in battle, the loneliness of establishing “temporary” homes every two years.

“My fears, anxiety and depression must have bubbled over to Tim,” she told me through reserved tears. “I don’t want him to suffer with this the same way I have.” Delaney had bravely shared with me her brief suicidal impulses during the last year. “Selfishly though, I don’t want to deal with him dealing with depression. I scared myself when I registered the thought, I wish I had another son.”

Delaney drudged through the pain in her heart, piling big shovelfuls of muck to the side her pit of despair. It helped to air out the anxiety, before it sucked her down into its tomb. Watching Tim, she feared that she could spiral back into her old depression.

A Bible verse came to me.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Cor. 1:3-7

I am no stranger to depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, despair. In fact, if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, or if you’ve even just selected a random post, you probably understand that most of what I write are the shovelfuls of my own muck, thrown up on the side of my pit to air out my own anxiety.

“Delaney,” I said. “God has specifically prepared you to be Tim’s mom, more perfectly than anyone else. You can empathize with his weakness, comfort him as you have been comforted. You will know the right things to say. You can rest in the fact that God has delivered you from this pit and He will just as assuredly deliver Tim.

“It is absolutely not your fault that he feels this way. It can’t be. Tim is Tim and is in charge of his own decisions and feelings. Besides, if he observed your pain, he will observe your deliverance.”

Actually, I wish I had thought to say all that. I did say most of it, but as usual, when I write, I gain greater understanding of my own thoughts. At the time, I didn’t even know the whole passage, but I looked it up to share with you. Amazingly, in Great-Godness, the whole passage is more relevant than part of it.

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,b about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Cor. 1:8-11

There is a privilege in pain – it is preparedness. If our prodigy is a blessing, then so is the pain that fills us with the wisdom and understanding to love them fully.

 

Wagon Driver

I wrote this little fiction story for a contest based on the one-word prompt “employment.” To all my stay-at-home-mom friends and especially to my own mother – Thank You!

Bethany laid her head down on her desk. She felt the flame of tears seeping toward the corners of her eyes. “I can’t cry, I won’t cry,” her daily mantra marched through her head. “I’m doing the right thing.”

Just as she gained composure, Conner appeared before her, hauling his little red wagon.

“Conner! How many times have I told you not to bring that inside?” her tone raised in frustration, her voice cracked too,  belying her near brush with tears. Muddy tread lined her white berber carpet from the garage to the school room where her desk was. One more menial job to add to her pathetic to-do list. No pay, no commendation, no recognition, just endless days of the same: muddy shoes, nightmares, temper tantrums, breakfast followed by lunch followed by dinner and a stack, make that stacks of dishes.

Yesterday, she had met the new neighbors on their tiny cul-de-sac of rental homes in suburban Virginia. “What do you do?” It was always the first thing anyone asked. They meant, “What is your employment?”

She imagined they were mentally comparing their paycheck to hers. “I work at home.”

“Oh? What is your business.” Bethany tried to be glib when she endured this conversation. “It doesn’t pay very well,” she would always smile. “I’m a stay at home mom.” She willed herself not to say, “I’m just a stay at home mom.”

“Oh.” No one ever knew where to go from there. Usually, she offered them a way out, returning the question and asking about their occupation. It never failed, “I’m a pediatrician,” “a teacher,” “a lawyer,” “an accountant.”

“Mom!” Conner was still parked at her feet, his wagon shedding clods of dirt. “Can you take me for a ride?” Bethany realized she was staring a hole into space as she replayed yesterday’s scenario.

“Take the wagon outside. Then come help me clean up the mess you’ve made. After that we’ll see about going for a ride.” Her throat squeezed even as she stretched a smile across her face for Conner’s sake.

It took a full half hour to remove the muddy tracks from the carpet. The whole time thoughts of how many more valuable, wage-worthy things she could be doing traipsed across her mind.

What do you do?

“Well, today I spent half an hour scrubbing the carpet.” She might not know law, or be a teacher, but she could tell you how to remove blood stains from white socks. She might not own a pair of pumps, but she could find the best generic deals anywhere.

Finally, Bethany bundled Connor against March’s chill. As she lifted his

dough-boy, four-year-old into the wagon, she felt the ache in her throat relax slightly. She held him to her chest of an extra second and let her chin rest on his straw colored curls.

Before she had gotten pregnant, Bethany could run a 3:45 marathon. She had been proud of her athletic ability. More than once, a complete stranger had touched her upper arm and marveled at her toned triceps. Short skirts had made her feel a little smug, knowing that few women had such shapely thighs.

Now? Tedious wagon walks were her most strenuous exercise. Rising early enough to have 30 minutes to herself before Connor woke was the only reason she was tired – no more long runs. Bethany locked the front door and picked up the wagon handle.

“Mom?”

“What, Connor?”

“I have to pee.”

Pants zipped, shoes re-tied and perched once again on his royal, red throne, Connor rode happily for three blocks.

Bethany knew better than to push her luck. Anything longer than 40 minutes and they ran up against hunger pains, multiple bathroom breaks or nap time. They rolled up to the front porch and parked the wagon, outside.

“Thanks, Mom,” Connor clambered over the side of the wagon, not waiting for help. “Wait out here, I’ll be right back!” Still roiling in her own thoughts, Bethany didn’t argue but sat down on the stoop.

She began to worry when Connor was gone for a full 10 minutes. Finally, she heard the screen door creak behind her.

“Here, Mom,” Connor stuffed $200 of wadded Monopoly money in her hand. “You’re a great wagon-puller!”