27 August 2009

You're not ok, I'm not ok

I don't know if you've noticed. Our culture, the sandy environment in which we dwell, is constantly shifting. Most currently I have witnessed the change in wind from the aura of perfectionism to flaw-ism.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, everyone tried to be perfect. They strove to put on the happy face and wear the facade that their life was, in fact, everything they'd ever dreamed of. They did this in an effort to fit in because, truth be told, everyone around them was wearing the same mask and so they were absolutely certain they were the only ones on the block who were, indeed, not perfect.
Lately, however, I have noticed the trend to not be perfect. That is, in this age of social networks and blogging, we have decided to take the masks off (or at least pretend to do so), to wave our freak flags proudly. We're not perfect, we know it, we own it, in fact, we're darn proud of it. We laugh off our flaws and try in vain to identify with each other in our imperfections. In fact, now it's the perfect ones who are looked down upon - they're hiding something, we know it! It was like a breath of fresh air, a sigh of relief: everyone knows I'm not perfect and, guess what, they're not either! Woohoo!
While it seems all well and good to revel in our messy lives - not trying to hide who we really are, we fall into a trap. In not trying to hide our flaws we have also mistakenly come to the conclusion that flaws are okay. Not to say they some aren't. It's okay if I don't clean up my house every day - if I have a basket of unfolded clothes sitting in my kitchen or messy bibs strewn on my kitchen table. That's not a problem. The danger lies in priding ourselves on our internal imperfections.
I gossip. I'm lazy. I'd rather spend time on Facebook than in God's Word.
Those are sins. Slandering God's children, wasting God's time instead of seeking how to put this life He has given me to good use, these do not honor my God. And I should not allow myself to be lulled into the sense of false security sung to the tune of, "That's ok, I do it, too."
It's not ok! We've heard it before - if everyone else was jumping off a bridge . . .
Here's the deal - we who have called on the Lord are called children of God. We are not perfect, no not one (Romans 3:10). And we know that. And it's good to recognize our imperfections, but we need to be spurring one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), not letting each other off the hook just to make ourselves feel better. Our feeling better is not the goal. We should constantly be sloughing off our imperfections in a never-ending goal of Christ-likeness. We should be sharpening one another as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Don't laugh off my fatal flaws - call me on them! We'll both be the better for it - or so promises the Word of God.
Be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

14 August 2009

Phantom Lip

I had a wisdom tooth removed this afternoon (yes, a tooth, and as my wonderful board game from the 70's purchased for a $1 at Good Will calls it: I had a tooth excavated - seriously? It's not like my mouth is an actual cave!). Anyway, my mouth, or at least one side of it, remains entirely numb. I had my husband pinch my lip as hard as he could earlier (I practically forced him to, he didn't want to cause repercussions such as a fat lip, but I thought it would be fun) just because I couldn't feel it. And now? Now my chin itches. The question is: how to scratch an itchy chin that feels nothing? I suddenly feel bad for amputees (not that I didn't feel bad before, but I now feel a new sort of empathy). Hubby tried to convince me to watch myself scratch it in the mirror, as apparently that's how the amputees solve the problem. I hope it works better for them than it did for me.

07 August 2009

Suckers 'R Us

I don't think I have ever felt the ooze of materialism and wasteful spending any more than I did this past week. I had never before been in a building which was designed with the sole purpose in mind to play on the emotions of expecting mothers and the well-meaning loved ones who plan to dote on this tiny new being.
I'm talking about Babies 'R Us.
It is true, I registered at this spending mecca in the past, before I knew the lions' den into which I was pulling those I love. However, I had never actually set foot in the building before this week. And my eyes have seen the light, or shall I say darkness, that is the baby super-store.
From the moment I entered the parking lot, my over-spending sensors began to weaken. The sight of slightly pregnant women who had just finished filling their registry or new babies being pushed in strollers after their mothers had pampered them began to cause me to swell inside with joy.
Ah . . . babies!
What could be more simple and pleasurable than a tiny human being?
As I crossed the threshold, my senses were overwhelmed with baby . . . calm music playing overhead which made me want to rock a baby to sleep (in a brand new glider sold on aisle twelve), soft baby pinks and blues decorated the racks of tiny sweaters and leggings (on sale!), I could smell the baby powder (aisle 2, next to the baby wash) and my fingers longed to reach for the soft plushness of the yellow baby blankets (which would fit perfectly into that beautiful new crib!). I saw complete matching sets of bouncers, play-yards, strollers, high chairs, car seats - everything in a young life that must coordinate because, heaven forbid the Pack-n-Play not match the baby carrier!
The registry section, an entire corner of the store, was outfitted with helpful sales associates and plush chairs for the expectant mother (so as to not exacerbate the swelled ankles, I'm sure). All angled precisely so as to allow an ample view of the necessary goods the store is there to provide.
As I shopped for a needed booster seat (purchased with a gift card which was nearly a year old, much like my little cutie), I was nearly poisoned by the toxic un-necessities of portable placemats, designer wipes covers, decorative potty training seats and tiny sandals which perfectly matched the design I had been searching for for myself.
Never did it become more real to me, though, the dangerous nature of this place, than when I began to check out. This is when I discovered that no one is actually expected to purchase anything for themselves in this wonderland. No. The sole purpose of this establishment is to suck dry the wallets of those who would only spend exorbitant amounts of money when they can justify the spending for someone else and to convince mothers-to-be that this "stuff" is necessary and will be an appropriate display of affection from those they love best, but who, also, would never dream of owning something so over-priced unless it were a gift, which somehow makes the process of spending way too much for something the child won't even remember owning (or sleeping in or riding in or playing with) all okay. Normal, in fact.
And, thus, I watched the older woman in front of me in line pay $50 for a diaper bag (for her new grandchild, most likely). Which, while cute, was a bag. A bag to hold diapers (and other necessities, it's true). An amount which, were it to be spent on any other bag, would seem a waste, but because it's for the baby somehow seems just fine.
Then, when it was my turn, I was asked (a question required to be asked or I would receive a free drink . . . from where, I wondered? The decaffeinated coffee bar in the back that I must have missed?) if I was purchasing from a registry. No. Did I want to take advantage of the free gift-wrapping service. No, thank you. Oh, and here's my receipt, gift receipt included, have a nice day. As if it's completely absurd to believe that I was actually purchasing a product for my child that would, that very afternoon, be covered in cheerios and uneaten vegetables, rather than re-gifted or returned for the purposes of buying the cheaper model at Wal-Mart and pocketing the difference.
At this point, I ran for my life from the jaws of the monster, vowing never to return or register there again. Until, you know, my next child comes along and this store happens to be the only one carrying the print for those crib sheets I just have to have . . . even if they are a little more expensive than the ones elsewhere. Someone else will buy them for me, right?