Thursday, January 3, 2013

Charred Potholder on My Back Deck: An Arrival

“Most of us arrive at a sense of self and vocation only after a long journey through alien lands.” —Parker Palmer

I was in an alien land this week. The evidence of my journey is in the snow on my back deck.

Alien land: the kitchen. Evidence: a charred potholder from when I almost started a fire making lunch on Tuesday. Further evidence: a bandaid on my hand covering some minor burns.

After almost two weeks of vacation, it was clearly time for me to return to the office. I smiled yesterday when I saw my sticky note on my monitor that says, “This is what you do.”

Sigh. Yes. I do.

I haven’t always been this glad to be going in to work. For the larger part of my life I thought a cubicle would surely be my foreign land and the kitchen my haven. At least, I think I wanted it to be.

I remember the summer in college when I watched Martha Stewart nearly every morning. I proudly declared to a family member that I knew how to make my own mayonnaise.

She looked skeptical. I think she knew me better than I knew myself that day.

It’s taken a long time and a lot of less-traveled roads to get where I am today. In fact, I think I’ve spent more time as a traveler than I have at home, living and dwelling and being okay with the place where I belong.

I write about writing a lot and about my kitchen failures not because I think that what I do is superior to individuals who find solace standing next to a stove. I write about writing because I need to be reminded over and over that the steps through the strange lands of godly woman classes and shoddy Bible studies designed to help me deny my emotions and my desires are not my true self—the self that God made me to be.

I know it’s a fine line between what is taught about denying myself and living into who I am. And the billboards along the way falsely advertised “taking up my cross” as a denial of all things, including my feelings, my passions, and my dreams. But, as with most advertising, I was subjected to a lie.

It has taken many a trusted friend and a late-night talk with my husband to help me see the right signs. They’re small. They aren’t flashy. Sometimes I even need to slow down to see them. But they are there.

They are the whispers to a riot taking place around me. They are the voice of my Savior saying it’s okay to live into the pain that I encounter. He did. Willingly. It’s okay to face reality and to allow my emotions to show. The emotions that He gave me. They are a gift.

It’s okay to be overwhelmed with joy and to be honest about my shortcomings. It’s okay not to smile every week at church. Sometimes we must weep.

It’s even okay that I burned up a handmade potholder I received at my bridal shower ten years ago. It was given in love. But perhaps it’s now time for me to retire such things. For, I was a different woman back then. I wasn’t me. I was still looking for something. Someone, I guess.

Maybe even a couple of Someones—the real me and the One who made me. Truthfully, He’s been there all along. I just didn’t know it. I was too busy putting out potential fires and running from the confines of my kitchen. Screaming.

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