Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Humility of Being New

Last week, I had a sadness problem.  It began when I went to visit a good friend from childhood/high school, who lives what I thought was a reasonable distance away in another city in Illinois.  That is a good thing, yes, but after wrong turns on roads that have both numbers and names that are used interchangeably, paying far too many tolls, road construction, lost cell phone signal and ensuing lostness, I felt that she lived too far away to see regularly (which isn't true, it's just how I felt).  It was like I got a taste of intimacy and familiarity but then I had to rush back to pick up my kids and find out that one of my kids had broken his finger while goofing off in class and they hadn't been able to get ahold of me (due to lack of cell phone coverage) and I felt embarrassed and alone and insecure.  Then I had an awkward experience with some parents that left me crying in the car... and to top it off, my buddy Jeremy was too busy to even say "hi" (which again isn't true but just was how I felt).  At the height of my low-ness--wait, and the lowest of my low-ness and loneliness (sorry, now I am just having fun with alliteration), I got an email from a new friend asking if I needed any help and offering to meet and get to know each other better.  Because I tend to be self-centered, I began thinking about how she was just reaching out to me because I was new, and how I couldn't trust anyone because any nice-ness was probably just pity and altruism, not real friendship or connection. I was feeling really Eeyore-ish.

Thankfully, it didn't take too long to realize my pride and double standard in the way I was thinking.  I have reached out to others in the past--let's face it--because they were new.  Some of those intentional first-connections lead to real relationships, and even if they didn't, I found joy in welcoming a new person and helping them to feel comfortable, even if they found closer friends in other settings.  I suddenly felt thankful that others had allowed me to serve them in that truly brings me joy to reach out to new people.  I realized that there is a humility to being new...I am at the mercy of others and their kindness.  I am not so special and amazing and sparkly that people would flock to me asking to be my BFF...I have to start slow like everyone else and accept the kindness of others.  And I have to trust that real friendships will come in time.  God always provides, friendships included, and I can't fast-forward through the slow starts and insecure first impressions--which are always how even the greatest friendships begin.   (a few hours later, Jeremy invited me to lunch and let me dump all my junk on him for 2 hours and boy, did that do wonders to my soul :))

Here is evidence that the kids are making friends, which makes my heart happy.

The past month or so has been a time of ups and downs as we move on through life in our new home and get used to our new routines.  The house hasn't fallen apart and rodents haven't chewed through the walls, so I finally have accepted it as home (though I still groan when I look at the kitchen floor and I just can't even clean the pink bathroom with much more than a half-hearted's just so ew and tacky).  The musty smell coming from the moldy downstairs bathroom has subsided a bit and we are not all dying from respiratory infections.  I have even had a few guests over which has also done wonders for my soul!  (Jeremy said for me to leave a hammer and tape measure sitting out conspicuously so that no one would think we actually "like" the awkward parts of our know, send the message that it's a work in progress...good idea, surprised I didn't think of it!).  My mom came to visit and it was nice to have her say that our home was home-y and cute, even though it has its problems.

We welcomed her with deep-dish Chicago pizza, of course.  One of my favorite things in our new house is not the chandelier in the dining room.  But on the wall in the dining room, I put a bunch of random travel pictures in random frames I had and I love it.  It makes me feel like all the upheaval is worth it when I see a visual representation of the rich life I've lived so far.
My mom and I did some touristy stuff, like exploring downtown Chicago, eating popcorn, and going on an architectural boat tour on the river.  It was so interesting!  Chicago is a fascinating city...I won't tell you any of the stories because you need to just come visit us and see for yourself!

My mom was here for Grandparents Day, which is a thing here.  It is a very smart thing because they have a book fair on the same day and let me just say, those grandparents were great customers!  Evan is on student council, so he was a host/tour guide and wore his little suit.  I didn't get a picture because I didn't want to interrupt him from the cute and serious job he was doing.  

My mom got to be the Mystery Reader in Annie's class, also.  Mystery Reader is also a thing here. On Fridays, a special guest shows up to read a book to the class.  My mom read one of my favorite books, "A Special Trade" to the class and didn't even cry!  I did.

We had some nippy weather while my mom was here, which was a little unusual because the rest of the fall has been gor-ge-ous!  My mom said she was glad it was cold because it was a nice break from So Cal heat.

Chicago Dogs was on my list of things I wanted to share with my mom (I hadn't had one yet, either) and so I elbowed my way to the Free Hot Dog table at a local fall festival and stuffed some in my purse.  They weren't very good.  I later found out they were left over from the snack bar at the city pool which closed a couple months ago.  No wonder.  So Chicago Dog is still on my list.

These two.
 Oh, but before the "up" of having my mom visit, we had the "down" of Sam having his appendix out.

 It always feels strange to walk out of a hospital after you have been inside for a day or two--strange to see the sun out and birds chirping and people carrying on with their daily activities and totally unaware that you have just had a sort of life-changing experience.  It felt especially strange to come out of the hospital and to be in a new city that I was still getting to know and that definitely didn't feel like home.  Big sigh on that one.

We have found a lot of fun places to explore, which is an up for sure!  The kids are at a fun age for exploring...I am thankful for that.
Here we are at a cool military museum in a beautiful park near Wheaton College.  There are so many tanks to climb on!

 And an arboretum which was fun and beautiful even though most of the leaves had fallen already.

 And of course, the park by our house which is always where the kids want to go, no matter what other adventures await.

 So...the house is still painted the most boring color you could think of and the laundry room is still the scary dungeon that I can't bring myself to look into the corners of for fear of what I might find there, but it has been easy to be thankful, even on days when I feel a little glum.  There is a resolve in what we came here to do, and 15 years of marriage has made us strong.  And we still have a Good Shepherd who leads us beside still waters and finds green pastures for us in the midst of the valleys and all the evil in the world.  I am thankful that he restores my soul, even when I am far from "home"...wherever that is.