Owning the Flaws and Failures

I always open mail from the unknown with a bit of trepidation.  Having written a weekly newspaper column for a decade, I’ve received a fair amount of criticism.  Strangely, the writings which usher in the most negativity are my humorous writings. As I put the finishing touches on what I think is “kinda funny,” I tell myself there’s no way anyone could possibly take offense with this!

And then someone does.  That’s something that never ceases to amaze me.  I guess when I read something with which I disagree I think to myself, ‘Huh.  I disagree with that.” I have no desire to set someone straight or throw my opinion into the mix.  I figure they are entitled to their opinion and I am entitled to mine and that’s that. If I really thought it was super crazy, I might talk about it at the dinner table with my husband.  Radical, I know.

Obviously, I may be a bit sheltered from the realities of 2019.  Probably, the funniest incident I had was when I’d casually mentioned in a column that I planned to be cremated.  Cremation, in no way, was even the main point of my writing, but an elderly man from our community called me up to tell me I couldn’t be cremated and that I instead I should be embalmed and buried.  After getting over my initial shock, that a complete stranger thought he had any say-so or influence as to my wishes upon my demise, I ended up trying to kindly state the obvious, “Sir, I don’t know you, and what happens to my body when I die doesn’t have a thing to do with you.”

He didn’t like that answer.

So when I recently received a note from an unknown reader, I opened it with my usual cautious and fearful attitude.  What she said actually brought a smile to my face and peace to my heart.

She thanked me for being real.  She thanked me for not pretending that I handle every situation perfectly and being willing to write about it.  She was appreciative that my writing goal was not to present a perfect mother and wife (and family), but that my goal was to present a perfectly flawed human being who oftentimes gets herself into some hot water, yet always tries to hold onto God and His goodness and grace through it all.

  • My husband and I sometimes disagree and sometimes fight.  Usually over something absolutely stupid like dried food not being rinsed out of the sink.
  • I think I have all the bases covered, and then I realize I was viewing the situation through my intentions, and when someone else views the situation through my words and actions,  I come across as an idiot.
  • My kids do and say stupid things sometimes.  Which makes sense, since genetically, they got that 100% honestly from me.
  • I want to do right, but I often do wrong.  I judge. I jump to conclusions. I don’t give others the benefit of the doubt.  I pretend there should be a very black and white answer when the answer is really somewhere in the middle.
  • I struggle with how truly unfair life has been for my family the last 3 ½ years.  I still struggle with the fact that the aftermath of the wreck which lead to my daughter’s paralysis can happen within the current criminal and judicial systems we have in the USA.  I want justice! Shouldn’t that driver have to pay? Doesn’t she get her license taken away or at least suspended? She has no jail time, really? Well, I want that dumb driver to experience justice, but I really don’t want justice for myself.  I want grace. There are days when I overflow with grace for that driver, and then there are a few days a year where I’d like to give her a piece of my mind!
  • There are people in my life who can’t stand me. I mean, absolutely can’t stand me!  I try to be nice to them and continually take the high road, but sometimes I truly would like to throw in the towel and say, “Forget it! I am tired of your bullying and bossing and overall negative behavior!”  Then I wonder how many times others have not thrown in the towel with me, but instead, have kept going.

So I will continue to write about successes and failures with an emphasis on my failures.  I don’t think that makes me special. I think that makes me human. And Dear Reader, I believe such humanity is really the only way anyone can relate to another person

Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows. . .

on the train2