In recovery circles, I might be described as codependent. That is, it’s easy for me to completely tie my own sense of well-being to that of others.
This tendency is reinforced in our culture by being a woman and being a mother. Even today, our role in families is to be the tend-er, the one who sees everyone has their lunch money, clean clothes for school, and food in the refrigerator.
In my daughter’s family, I am heartened to see the caregiving role more of a shared one between two parents, but my mother and much of her generation were true caretakers, the ones who made sure the house was straightened up and quiet when Dad came home at the end of the day; the one who bought the holiday presents and made the dental appointments, and the one who drove Fido to the vet.
It’s not bad being a caretaker, but this care has to extend to ourselves, and sometimes care of self can conflict with care of others we love. How to choose?
I was facing this decision earlier this week. I had made a decision to put self-care ahead of other-care. I had thought about it a great deal, discussed the specifics with trusted friends, done “research” as I am wont to do, and had decided on a course of action.
And the day came to implement my plan, and I faltered. I felt guilty at my decision. I second-guessed myself. The familiar was so seductive. It was painful.
At the most critical point, I was driving in my car and had to stop behind a brown van. In the middle of the back door, was this bumper sticker: “To thine own self be true.’
Don’t tell me God doesn’t show up…..
God is showing up at St. John’s now, too, in many ways.. At Adult Ed last Sunday, our wonderful speaker Richard Bryntesen told us that “the hardest art of a transition is the middle.”
I think that’s because in the middle of a change, you’ve lost the energy that propelled you originally, and the goal still seems a long way off.
And that’s where we are now as parish.
Writer Brian McLaren was in town this week, speaking to Episcopal clergy and laity, including being at Breck School tomorrow night at seven. He writes this in his newest book: “Something is trying to be born right here, inside us, inside you, inside me. You may feel it as a curiosity, a desire for better answers than you inherited so far. You may experience it as frustration, knowing that there must be more to faith than currently you know. You may know it as hope that God is seeking humble people whose hearts and lives can be the womb of a better future……Something is trying to be born, indeed, indeed..”
(A New Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming Faith, 2010).
That “something waiting to be born” is here at St. John’s, for sure. It is also in each of our own lives, if we are honest with ourselves. To help the birth, McLaren echoes Martin Luther 500 years ago: “Poenitentiam agite” – repent, become pensive again, rethink everything.”
And at some point, God will show up. Maybe even on a bumper sticker.
See you in church.