Losing control isn’t all its cracked up to be

For the past five years, we’ve lived in a house I’ve hated, in a town I love, or at least I did love until we lived here.

I never saw myself as a controlling person. I’m a youngest child. Control was rarely given to me. But over the years, that lack of control quietly created an environment of need for what I could not grasp. I’ve been grasping and grabbing at control now for some fifty plus years.

The husband and I are soon to to be moving from the unloved town. We’re leaving the coastal area of Texas and going north, deeper into the lakes area. Yet, despite all my desire to pack and move on, I’ve lacked the motivation. In fact, I’m fatigued by the very thought of moving.

As I’ve wrestled with the emotions tagged to uprooting our lives, I’ve had the out of body sensation of watching myself lose all sense of control. Then, in the middle of tonight’s anxiety-filled wakefulness, it hit me. I need to submit. All my wrestling is wearing me out.

Living in the hated house, I’ve gone through five years of a process of change. I’ve struggled with integrity. I’ve confronted loyalty head on. Faithfulness took some real time to grow into. And I thought surrender might be my undoing.

Out of context, those are just words. In a frame, over the last five years, it seems words have defined the lessons I’ve been learning. Like chapter titles, I’ve watched words become attitudes, and I’ve seen attitudes become part of my daily mantra.

Now here we are with more change, and apparently, less control. I think a new list of words is coming, and by my best guess, we’re starting with submit.

This has nothing to do with car crashes.

I think the thing that stills me, that slows my breathing, and catches me most off guard is when someone doesn’t absorb another’s emotional break.

How can we drive past a collision and feel nothing? Yet, at the same time, how do we stop, snap a Facebook moment, and drive away? Just drive away. A moment captured. We feel enough horror to document the moment, enough shock to confess we “had to share,” but not enough empathy to stay. Not enough compassion to help.

We do that. We document and drive away. We see the emotional break, gather the details, absorb information, and move on.

It’s easier. Life is too… Fill in the blank.

I’m broken. I’m full of my life and so full, I’m overweight. I no longer need.

When did this happen? Each day. One slowly on top of another. Shedding the excess life is just like shedding gluttonous pounds.

We’re broken as a society. We’ve lost our sense of compassion. We’ve lost our unity, our oneness, our sense of bring me your poor. Parties be damned. How do we find ourselves?

Maybe it starts with outrage. Maybe it starts with concern. Maybe with common sense. It’s time. It starts with each of one of us.

Ragamufffins?

The telephone’s ringing woke me from late evening tv sleep. The oldest son’s name glowed, backlit by the screen. His voice is deeper and softer than the other two.

“Momma, do you remember ever calling us ragamufffins?”

What? No. Sleep clogged my memory bank. Had I? I hoped not. Where’d I heard the word last?

A silly conversation between my son and daughter-in-law had led to the phone call.

After we’d sorted out the memory and searched for a definition of the word, I’d concluded, no, we’d never called our boys ragamufffins. No, we’d straight up used the word orphan, which the beloved son then remembered. Yes. That was it. Orphan.

A ragamuffin or an orphan is someone who doesn’t belong. That’s not always bad. Not the way we usually define those words. Sometimes, they’re just people who are not caught in this world. They belong to another, to a greater being, to a higher power.

I shook my head, sighing as we ended the call. Great, just great. Good job, mom. Of all the child rearing triumphs and failures, this is one of the memories that sort of stuck.

Thirty minutes after the phone call, I remembered my last run-in with the word ragamuffin. Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffin Band. I’d shown the movie to my boys a few years earlier and gotten mixed reviews.

Well, I’d liked it. Rich Mullins had been popular in my day. And the movie is good. So, I text my son. Maybe he’d remember the movie, too. Not that the movie really had anything to do with the earlier phone call, but I had a sudden need for him to remember.

This post from a few months back sat drafted and forgotten amid the rush of my work days and my menopausal sleepless nights. Then today, the blue-eyed boy and his bride sat with us for a stolen hour, the last of their Christmas week off before a few hours of driving home.

Have you ever tried to breathe in every moment, like a scent you want to remember? Grown kids move away. Their phone calls become the filler between gasping absences and their visits like our need to breathe.

Ragamufffins? Hardly.

Being the hands and feet when waters riseĀ 

Flood waters rose in Southeast Texas almost two weeks ago. If, like me, you’ve never stepped foot in a flooded home, then let me tell you what you don’t know. First, wear old, rubber shoes. You’re going to throw the disgusting things away when you leave. Second, I have one word for you–mask. As in, cover the nose and mouth. The smell combined with the dust will make you want to run away. Last, wear glasses,  even if, like me, all you have are sunglasses, or like my friend,Vanissa, reading glasses. Old, wet sheetrock dust burns your eyes. Wear some clothes you won’t mind depositing in the trash, and you’re all set.

I sound like I’m complaining, and I’ll be honest, my back is killing me. My feet hurt. My aches ache. But I’m smiling, and I can’t seem to quit. In the midst of a really tough couple of weeks, I got to see hope, faith, and love in action every single day.

There were disagreements, yes. There was out and out arguing, yes. There was worry-there still is. There was fear-there still is. You don’t lose everything you’ve ever worked for, get some help, and wake up the next day with all the world right again. We have close friends who need homes. We have family members who need cars. People in our towns are being fed and clothed through donations. Just because we spent a week, a day, or a few hours helping, doesn’t mean the work is done.

This storm, this time, many of us go back to work tomorrow. Our days return to a routine. And for so many more in our community, they also return to work or school tomorrow. But after, they go back to a temporary bed and a home in need of repair. 

We can’t stop. We’re tired, but they’re more tired. So, be ready. Do the hard thing.

Preaching to myself. 

Go. Just show up. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.