Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I told Jefferson this morning that tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent. "What is Lent?" he asked, to which I replied, "the forty days before Easter." I then tried to explain how people often choose something to give up for the Lenten period to honor the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jefferson replied, "O.K., I'll give up being King, because Jesus is the real King." I said that sounded good, but in spite of the fact that that morning he had been wearing his Burger King crown and had announced that he was king and therefore overruled mom and was not going to school that day because kings don't go to school, I reminded him that in all truth, he wasn't king, so that wouldn't really be a sacrifice. He said, "O.K., I'll give up fits." I thought this sounded much better... but then said maybe he shouldn't promise something to God that he had almost no chance of achieving. So we left it at he should think of something and get back to me...

I decided to give up chocolate and fast food for Lent. These are two vices of mine that when I am caught in their grasp just get worse with time - I crave more of both more often. So this is a healthy choice. But is it honoring God? Is it in line with the kind of sacrifice Jesus made? Can a middle-aged housewife's attempt to give up some binge foods, while leaving others like donuts as totally optional, really be much of a sacrifice at all? And am I doing it for Jesus' sake, or for my own? Does it matter?

I struggle to comprehend Jesus. I struggle to comprehend God and the universe and Christianity and spirituality and all that jazz. Lately it seems I'm especially ping ponging between wondering if it's all just a hoax, just a bunch of stories patterned after earlier stories made up to assuage our deepest fears, answer our most basic questions, and give us boundaries about how to live so that everything seems a little less chaotic (for those of us prone to anxiety, rules actually feel safe much of the time). I'm sure having seen Bill Maher's "Religulous" recently has played into that - for all his diffident, arrogant comments and attitude toward organized religion, the questions he raised are ones I've often asked myself. On the other side of the table (to get back to the ping pong metaphor), I think about my own personal experiences and feelings - specifically about how I felt the day I was doing laundry and basically said, "O.K., Jesus, if you're real help me here," and realized Mercy Me's "I Can Only Imagine" was playing on the radio. I felt then and there as if a warm spirit had come into the room and was with me. I really did. I felt that same spirit, the feeling as if someone (Jesus) had slung their arms around me and was sitting with me the night I was lying in a UVa hospital bed as a hospital chaplain was praying with me because I was about to lose my baby girl. I hadn't asked the chaplain to come, wasn't even sure I wanted him there, but when he prayed and asked that Jesus walk with me, I swear I felt Him near me, with his arm around my shoulder, and I did not feel alone. No one can take those feelings away from me, and that is why the ping pong game continues. My intellect argues against faith all the time, but my soul longs for it, and I just *feel* like God is there, like there is something bigger than me, bigger than all of us, that links us together. The stories of Jesus feel good to me. Would I like to be someone who just believed everything in Christianity and felt secure in my faith - heck, YES! Am I one of those people? No. But God knows that. Maybe I'm supposed to be like that. Maybe in the questioning and the arguing and the rebelling and the doubting and the craving and the fearing and all of that mess, maybe in all of that God is working on me, waiting for me to come out of my toddler years, waiting for me to grow into relationship with Him. Or maybe it's a bunch of hocus pocus. I don't know. This inner argument always reminds me of the book "The Life of Pi," where at the end you find out all may not have been as it seemed, and the question is asked, "Well, which version do you prefer?"

There's no real point to this blog entry today, no sudden epiphany, no lightning bolt on the head. Is sacrificing chocolate and fast food (and recommitting to 10,000 steps a day, which I also promised) really a good Lenten vow? I kind of think so. I know it will be better for my health, and I think God wants me, wants all of us, to be healthy - physically, emotionally, mentally, creatively, lovingly, spiritually healthy. Is it on par with the sacrifice Jesus made? Of course not. Nothing is. But at least Lent has me thinking about it all again.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I turn 37 in one week. 37 has been my favorite number for about as long as I remember. No, I don't know why. But it does seem to pop up in my life a lot, along with my second favorite number, 17. When we went to Graceland, the address of the Graceland center? 3717 (although Elvis' house is actually 3764). When we used my silly numerology book to analyze my future husband's name? His first name added up to 17, his entire name to 37. I notice 37's everywhere - on apartment doors in movies, on the odometer in the car, and yes, I seem to glance at the clock a lot when it hits 37. My husband argues it's because I'm hyperaware, hypersensitive to 37's presence. Perhaps.

What I do know is, 37 holds special significance for me, and so turning 37 feels like a huge deal. I feel like something momentous is supposed to happen, like I'm supposed to achieve something amazing (not necessarily amazing to the world, just to me). It's a lot of pressure. I did, after all, graduate from high school and then live in Germany when I was 17 - and that was a major transformation for me. What will happen when I'm 37? What will I MAKE happen when I'm 37? Because that's key - I can wait all I want to for a spectacular event, for a new me, but, in all likelihood, waiting won't bring anything. Graduating from high school and going to Germany didn't just happen, I worked for that, long and hard. I learned German all my years in high school and worked a part-time job to be able to have money while over there. It didn't just happen, I made it happen.

So expecting great change without changing myself is unrealistic. I want it - I want to magically wake up and have all my character faults gone, to have it be easy to eat well and exercise hard, to suddenly be free of the fear and perfectionism and self-confidence and control issues that have plagued me all my life. But I won't. I may want God to strike me on the head with a lightning bolt to show me which way to go, to transform and transfigure me, but I'm not Moses. I'm not Jesus. I'm just little old Anne. And I'd better start making a plan. Because I'm going to be 37, baby, and I'm not going to waste it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

So This Is Isolation

In OA, they talk a lot about how these addictions are diseases of isolation. We tend to use them to escape whatever it is from which we want to escape and to isolate ourselves from others. I've always scoffed inwardly at that last one. Me, isolate myself? Are you kidding? I love people! I love to talk! I thrive on social interaction, even though, as half intro/extrovert, I also value private time and solitude.

Only lately I'm realizing, I am isolated. I am. I've complained about it in the sense of feeling lonely, a common feeling for me, and telling my husband it's in part because many of my friends with whom I hung around in playgroups, etc., when Jefferson was little do not have young kids now and so have moved on to jobs or volunteering or just things that don't revolve around toddlers. With Eleanor I tried briefly to have a playgroup, but it seemed to fail from lack of interest. What I guess I didn't know was part of it was lack of my interest... with Jefferson I was bound and determined to get out and meet people, so I did - we went to the library, the children's museum, the Mommy and Me playtime at the gym, anything and everything. And I found a good playgroup and socialized regularly.

I'm not doing that now. And as much as I don't want to admit it, a big part of that is me. Yes, some of my friends have moved on. So I should make new ones. Yes, Eleanor is easier than Jefferson was and is happier at home so it's easy to stay at home - it doesn't mean I should. But the big question for me is, why am I isolating myself? Why am I not making an effort in so many ways to connect with people? Sure, I'm on Facebook all the time, and even chat with people there, but it's not face to face, not verbal, not intimate - and easy to walk away from.

I don't know the answer yet. I don't quite know why I am hiding. But admitting that I am is probably important, I guess. I know I feel shame from having gained a lot of weight in the last two years. When I think about the number on the scale I do feel like hiding - and escaping into food, as illogical as that seems to someone who doesn't battle food addiction. I guess maybe that shame is playing out into my real life... I want to escape what I don't like in favor of what I (think) I do: food and Facebook.

I know there have been times in my life when I have woven in and out of being more or less extroverted... long periods of really wanting to be out there, and others where I am more inwardly focused. But I want to acknowledge to myself that this one, this period of withdrawing and isolating, is not healthy and is not for the right reasons. Shame is weighing me down, and I need to let myself feel that, acknowledge that, and face it, so that I can let it go and reemerge into my own life.