easy

My news feed lately has been more political than usual.
I get most of my news from Facebook or John Stewart so I rarely feel like I can jump in.
But there is too much in the last week to ignore.
Confederate flags coming down.
Rainbow flags going up.
And for the most part, people supporting those decisions.

Four or five summers ago I got an email from a friend in Peru who had just had her heart broken. By a girl. And I think wanted me to make it hurt just a little bit less.
Sometimes I have good words. But this day, my words only made the wound so much worse.
Her heart ached from rejection, but more than that.
She thought that maybe this was god’s punishment. That she would never get to have her heart stitched back together because maybe something inside her was wrong.
She asked me flat out if she would ever be able to get married.
And the question was less about the law that banned it, but her faith that often made people avert their gaze when she took her place in the pew next to them.

It is one thing to feel rejected and heartbroken by someone you love.
I have experienced that.
It physically hurts and makes you not want to get out of bed or shower or listen to anything but terrible love songs. But I can’t imagine the ache that she was feeling because it was so much bigger than the damage one person can do to your heart. I knew she wanted me to say that of course God wanted her to get married…but more importantly that she was not wrong. Or broken. And that like my favorite Psalm says that she was "perfectly and wonderfully made". 
Instead I crafted what I thought was a beautiful response on heart brake and threw in a few Air Supply references that I am sure she didn’t get because she is younger and cooler than me.

She didn’t respond. For a week. 
And when she did she was not encouraged, she was pissed. 
I had told her that this was her issue and her fight and that I had plenty of my own issues to sort through. 
Pretty much in those exact words.
Words that I wish I could take back. That I thought had been spoken in love, but were really spoken in fear. I was afraid of condoning what I wasn’t sure of. Of wrestling along with someone else.  She eventually responded and said “if people like me were not going to stand up for her, who would?”
I guess I was hoping that someone wiser or braver would do it.

Her hurt taught me something.
You can not love someone fully if you are not willing to stand up for them.

There is fear in fighting for people who aren’t like you.
There is fear in being mistaken for the other.
I am not nearly as wise or brave as I would like to be, but I have heard that “perfect love drives out fear”.

A few years ago I briefly changed my profile picture to a red equal sign and I hated that I hesitated before doing it. That I worried what other people were going to think or say or judge. (and they did).
Me with my husband, 2 kids and a dog.
Me with all my health benefits and I only get funny looks at PTA meetings because my shirt is on inside out.
Me with clean water, more food than I can eat and white skin.
Me with all me easy and advantage and fear.

A few months ago I emailed some of my friends. Friends whose toast I gave at their wedding….(which is now finally legal!)…and I asked, what can a busy straight girl do to love your family better…because I am starting to think that my faith calls me to do that…not the other way around.

Her answers were surprising.
She didn’t ask me to put a rainbow sticker on my car or march in a parade with her.
She said things like let your kids play with my kids, talk to families like mine at church or school events. Especially if no one else is. Actually, I’ll use her words because they are better than mine, “Make sure your kids know that there are all kinds of people and families in the world - girls who like boys, boys who like boys, girls who like girls, families with a mom and dad, with two moms, two dads, (two moms and a step-mom...lol), etc. Ask them what they think about that, if they know any families like that, etc., just keep TALKING to them and don't be afraid of it. If you're not afraid of the subject then they won't be either.”
That’s it.
That is all she wanted.
That I could "do something just by being a safe and open person to talk to.”

Sometimes we make it hard.
But it isn’t.

Love it turns out is pretty easy.


punctuated equilibrium and pizza


A few weeks ago, I sat at my kitchen table with dishes piled high in the kitchen sank and we ate pizza off of paper plates and drank from mismatched wineglasses.
Our kids ran in and out of yards. Drank 23 capri suns and left them laying on coffee tables and counter tops. 
While the kids weren’t looking we ate ice cream straight out of the tub. Even though it wasn’t on everyone’s diet and washed it down with cheap bubbly wine.
The conversation ran the gamut. From marriage to children to parents to work. To just plain silly.

It was just after 5:30 on a Friday which is sacred time for me.  Time I am usually spent from my week and find myself in pjs way too early and scouring netflix. or redbox. or anything that doesn’t require thinking or pants.

But this was better.
Our kids found a trampoline in a nearby yard and bicycles and nerf guns. And we kept talking.
Trying not to look at the clock because we all had other places we were supposed to be.

We used to be just down the hall. Or share a lunch. Or bump into each other in the copyroom. There were no children to take to soccer, basketball, or tball practice.
It was easy, then to be friends. 
So easy we didn’t even realize it.

These days it is still easy.
Just a different kind.
The scheduling is hell. It can take months to end up in the same room. 
Our kids don’t always get along.
We don’t always get along.

But there is no need to put away the laundry or straighten my hair.
Our words are not careful.
They are real. And funny. And hushed. And snarky. And all over the place. And occasionally all at once.

It is this thing that I come back to. Over and Over again.
Back then we were so different we thought. One was the most negative person I knew (and also the most loyal), another was the most positive (and also generous), and the other they said was the funniest (and also me).
But we followed the same bell schedule and had a lot more in common than we realized.
Over a decade has passed and the differences have widened.
We have all moved.
We have all changed.
We have all dyed our hair at least two dozen times.
We have changed churches and doctors and medications and pant sizes.
We have had babies and weddings and new groups of friends.

My husband was trying to tell my son that he grows just a little bit every night. That it is slow and gradual and so subtle that you hardly notice it until your jeans are too short and your toes jam the end of your shoes.
I told him that I thought he was wrong.
That I swear just this week that my daughter grew an inch overnight.
That there is this thing in Biology called punctuated equilibrium. 
It says that most of a time a species doesn’t change much. That it is often in some extended period of stasis, and then suddenly all at once there is rapid change and growth. Occasionally even enough to make it no longer the same thing it started out as.
That things can evolve in spurts and bursts and sudden leaps, rather than slow gradual accumulated steps. These leaps are not random. But they are caused by some kind of pressure on the system.
Climate change, disease, a new form of competition. 
And that people are just the same.
Just with slightly different pressures.

My life feels like it is in some kind of punctuated equilibrium.
That all this change is hitting all at once.
I have spent years feeling like I was in a loop and that the only thing changing was my children.
And suddenly…
I spend the hour between my kids soccer games doing research so I can get my paper done in time rather than chatting with the moms next to me or on my phone.
My garage is piled full of boxes to move into a new home.
Some of the things I used to love doing, aren’t really options for me anymore. 
I updated my resume.
Next year my son will be going to intermediate school.
With bells, class changes, band and bullies.
I have emails, coffee dates and conversations I could not have imagined five years ago. Things I used to hold so tightly seem easier to let go.
Things that used to fit. Don’t anymore. (and I’m hardly talking about clothes).
There is so much that I don’t know in the next five years or even five months that I don’t even pretend to plan. Even though part of me would still like one.

Punctuated equilibrium explains the changes, the pressures and the shifts.
These pressures dictate so much.
But it does not get to decide who I will be and who I will share my time with.
I decide what to keep. What to change. And who to share my pizza or coffee or my heart with.
These days it is one of the few things I get to pick.
My health, my address and my bank account all seem out of my hands at the moment.
Growth and change have to be measured against something constant.
For my kids it is their shoe size and sharpie marks against the doorframe in their room.
My feet don’t grow anymore, and I suppose I grow more out than up.
But there are people and things in my life that are steady and constant and true.
And most of them even laugh at my jokes.

There are boxes to pack. 
There is surgery to schedule.
There are papers to write.
There are kids to take to the pool.
There is pizza on paper plates.
There are spurts and leaps and new equilibriums to find.
And reminders all over the place, that so much can change so quickly.

And some things. Important things. Can stay the same.