My heart is an open sore
My heart is a living entity
from my body
My heart is a selfless specimen
open, to love
willing to serve
I guess you could say I got my strongest “faith” foundation in middle school at Calvary–my home church. Our middle school pastor is one of the best teachers I’ve listened to in all my life. How he lived his life matched up as well. He was more than willing to have fun with us kids (game nights were a monthly occurrence in the youth group), but he was also very much a mature adult and a teacher. The environment he and the youth leaders created was safe for a self-conscious teenager, and fun-filled for a young woman who loved little more than being a kid.
When asked what the best part of my life was, I say “middle school.” I know that’s not common, so let me explain further. I’ve always thrived best when I’m surrounded by a group of friends who are close to me. During that time in my life, I was surrounded by my dear gal friends “the girlz,” and I was a content young lady. Being introverted and not prone to go out and chat with strangers, I also have found it easiest to connect to other people when playing games. I loved the thrill of the games, whether it was Capture the Flag, complete with finger rockets; scavenger hunts around town during a Christmas party; or flashlight tag up in the mountains on winter retreats.
The structure of the youth group was great as well. I process ideas best through “thinking out loud,” and I love studying for the sake of studying. I wasn’t a know-it-all, but I enjoyed answering questions that our pastor put to the youth group during the sermon. I enjoyed listening as well, and taking notes. I drank up all the historical background given to the Bible stories we were learning. I loved learning about the original Greek and Hebrew words, and how that brought the text alive for me. I put roots into the solid foundation that was being laid. And even now, in my early twenties, I still remember sermons that made such a deep impact on my life.
I tried to revive that feeling of “group” when I came back from university. I didn’t try it out at Calvary though. They’d always had a very small young adult group, and I hadn’t ever really felt at home there. So, I tried another young adult group. I ended up being less than satisfied with what I found there. You see, being homeschooled, and having gal friends who had my back as much as I had theirs, I didn’t know much about “drama.” Sure, I’d experienced some off at university, but I doubted I’d find it at this new place. I was wrong. Since then, I’ve haven’t really tried to “fit into” any group. In a lot of ways (emotionally, physically), I keep my distance from all the other young adults. And I tend to go for the same sort of social group I had in middle school: a small group of close friends.
I awaken to rain falling hard, like a monsoon season, slapping hard on the patio like a million tiny, drumming hands. Autumn is creeping upon us after a hot, dry summer of wildfires in the arid regions of the state. I roll over, snuggling deeper into my jumble of blankets. Mmm. Rain, sweet rain. Zzz.
My two gal friends walked out the screen door like a single entity, wrapped in my pink comforter. We giggled as we made our way out onto the dark lawn. I left them to their chatter as I wandered around the backyard, trying to find the stand-alone hammock and recliner. It was time for some stargazing.
I made my way over to the garden shed, fumbled with the latch, and opened it. I peered into the darkness. No hammock. I swung the doors shut and latched them. Where the heck was it? Garage? Hmm. I looked up at the sky as I thought on it.
Darn. Darn, darn, darn.
“Umm, ladies,” I said. “Look up at the sky.”
Their heads raised as one. “I don’t see anything.”
“Exactly,” I said. I sighed.
It was overcast. Darn.
It was on my lunch break, and I was tired from working with the kids all morning. He said to me that he wished they wouldn’t wear me out so much. He said it bugged him that they took away my energy for spending time with him.
There’s some merit to that, but not much. That was just the sort of job I had. And kids need time and energy. That’s the way things work.
He told me that I’d make a great mom someday. But I don’t think he knew what that meant.
Kneel on the grassy ground at the feet of the tree. A leg up to my threesome as they reach for the nearest handhold in this ancient apple tree. One at a time, they shimmy up the tree, barefoot, their arms wrapped around the trunk.
I remember. My apple tree, at our South Bay house. That was my special tree, the one who taught me how to climb. White blossoms in the spring. Perched high. Branches pruned by my parents, to make a living ladder.
The harbor is in the distance. Later, we’ll play Lava Monster on the playground and they’ll squeal as I reach for their feet.
This is home. God bless us all.
Bubbles and beauty. Iridescence bursting sudsy on my sun warmed arm. Sometimes, life is very good.
I sit and write as they scribble in the blackberry ink I showed them how to make–one of my better ideas. Telling them that in Israel they whack trees to get the olives down wasn’t one of those good ideas. The poor plum tree.
Honest children’s voices. Unexpected insight how they see me, despite my scoldings.
“The boys are imps,” writes the eldest. “They were able to pull and shove Arielle off the couch. I think it is hilarious and entertaining… Maybe we’ll watch the movie Turbo. Arielle is awesome, kind, silly, sweet, understanding, smart, funny, amazing, nice, and epic.”
I have an impact. They see me as this, despite my faults. My God is a good God.
Sometimes I get so sick of being (or acting) brave
For my birthday a few years ago, one of my close gal friends got me a cute ornament from the movie “Brave.”
On the card she wrote: “You are one of the bravest people I know.” She wrote that when I was going through a very hard part of my life, there off at university.
It was true: I was very brave. I think that’s my norm (being incredibly stubborn helps too. And having a strong sense of right and wrong). But sometimes I get so tired of being brave. I just want to curl up into a tiny ball and be scared of life.
I want my heart to stop hurting.
I’ve heard this from two gal friends over the years, as well as from my own experiences. Be careful when your significant other (a guy) says the following to you:
“My primary love language is physical touch.”
In our Christian culture, the “Love Languages” book(s) are fairly popular. They’re good too–well written, and insightful. Unfortunately, they’re also a key instrument that “Christian” guys can use to mess with their girl.
When you’re in a relationship, you want to please your significant other. And more, you want to make him feel loved. Just be careful of the boundaries, and of the guy.
All three of us, my two gal friends and myself, heard this from our guys. And in all three cases, there were some serious “issues” with the relationship. It’s not that we “fell,” but our boundaries were pushed to a lower degree than what we wanted, or what we’d originally intended when we started the relationship. Sometimes guys can be very persuasive in how they phrase it all. And often, there were a lot of things underlying what they meant when they said “my primary love language is physical touch.”
Just be wise. And be aware.
Dear Gal Acquaintance,
I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through. No one, no matter their character, should have to go through that kind of heartbreak. I thought I’d feel happy that your life has taken a turn for the worse, but I don’t. My heart just hurt, and I prayed for your healing.
I finally understand David’s song for Saul at the news of Saul’s ruin. It’s a God thing–David’s song. His heart for us. That we should mourn with those who mourn, even if we counted them our enemies in their actions toward us.
Heal. Heal, and mature in God.