Jul 132014
 

beating-caged-heart

For Ro

I know that it feels like the world has made a silent request that you remain silent.

I sense it, too. It’s a chilly breeze through my mind that carries the message: shhhhhh.

Since we were little girls the world’s been whispering: shhhhh. Don’t disturb the universe. You cannot speak of it because if you did everyone might notice that you are a little angry and then they will be angry because the underneath rule is:  you are not allowed to be angry.  So there is no point in noticing much, really. Don’t look at that, little one- look over here at Barbie. Don’t think, don’t speak, don’t raise that eyebrow – just go brush your hair. There you go. That’s what you do with that pretty little head.

Your brother might be a strong leader, but you are bossy. Your brother might have the heart of a poet,  but you are moody, brooding. Your brother might be a critical thinker –  but you are just negative, honey, and a little ungrateful. Still Waters Run Deep if you’re a boy, but if you’re a girl Only Bubbly Water is Loved. So smile. The world loves a happy girl.

It’s enough to make a girl wonder if Smile Quietly was in the contract she signed when she agreed to be human. And that question will lead her to remember that she never signed any such contract. That she never made any promises at all. To anyone. Certainly not to the whispering, hushing world.

Every girl must decide whether to obey the shhhhh of the whispering world or the SPEAK of her own beating, caged heart.

One day, she will decide to speak. And then she will speak and speak just to hear the stunning  sound of herself SPEAKING. Like skipping a stone, she will speak just to hear herself interrupt her own silence. Just to break the smooth surface of the water. Just to watch the ripples. And soon the sound of her own beautiful, strong, shaking voice will drown out the shhhhh of the whispering world completely.
Almost completely.

Still. Do it. Disturb the Universe. It’s what you’re here for, Little Girl.

G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jul 102014
 

Pour

Excerpt from the New York Times Bestseller and Books for a Better Life’s Best Relationship Book of 2013- CARRY ON, WARRIOR

There was a couple who’d been married for twelve years. The first two years were good, happy even . . . but then the kids came and work got hard and money got tight and the shine wore off of each of them. She used to see strong and silent but now she saw cold and distant. He used to see passionate and loving, but now he saw dramatic and meddling. They allowed themselves to become annoyed with each other. And so they stopped being careful. They stopped taking care of each other because they each decided they needed to look out for themselves.

And the distances between them grew longer and deeper until it felt impossible to touch even when they were in the same room. And one day she said to her girlfriend. . . I just don’t love him anymore. And it felt terrifying and exciting to say. And he said to his buddy . . . I don’t know if I ever loved her. And their friends said what about counseling but it all seemed tangled up too tight to try to unwind.

She got home from work one evening and fed the kids and put them to bed and she was tired to the bone. And he was late again. Late again. And even though he was late and the house was a mess, she knew that he would walk in the door, pour his glass of wine, and sit down at the kitchen table and relax. He’d sit and relax. She couldn’t even remember what relaxing felt like. She was always either going like hell or sleeping. Somebody had to keep the family running.

She stared at his bottle of wine on the counter. Then her eyes wandered over to their wedding photo on the wall. Clueless, she thought. We were cluelessBut happy. Look at us. We were happy. We were hopeful.

God, please help us, she said silently.

Then she walked over to the counter and poured a glass of wine for him. She put it next to his book on the kitchen table, the place he loved to sit and relax, and she went upstairs to sleep.

He tiptoed into the house fifteen minutes later. He knew he’d missed the kids’ bedtime again, he knew his wife would be angry againand he prepared himself for her steely silence. He hung up his coat and walked into the kitchen. He saw his glass of wine, and his book, and his chair pulled out for him. He stood and stared for a moment, trying to understand.

It felt like she was speaking directly to him for the first time in a long, long while.

He sat down and drank his wine. But instead of reading, he thought about her. He thought about how hard she worked, how early she woke to get the kids to school and herself to the office. He felt grateful. He finished his wine and then walked over to the coffee maker. He filled it up and set the automatic timer. 5:30 am. It would be ready when she came downstairs. He placed her favorite mug on the counter. And then he walked upstairs and quietly slipped into bed next to her.

The next morning she woke up and stumbled downstairs, exhausted, to the kitchen. She stopped when she heard the coffee maker brewing and stared at it for a few moments, trying to understand.

It felt like he was speaking directly to her for the first time in a very, very long while.

She felt grateful.

That evening, she stayed up until he got home. And she allowed her arm to brush his as they prepared dinner together. And after the kids went to bed and they assumed their TV viewing positions on the couch . . . he reached out for her hand. It was hard, but he did it.

And things started to unwind. A little teeny bit.

Look. I know it’s hard. It’s all so damn hard and confusing and complicated and things get wound up so tight you can’t even find the ends sometimes.

All I’m saying is that somebody’s got to pour that first glass of wine.

Because love is not something for which to search or wait or hope or dream. It’s simply something to do.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest


Jul 092014
 
Our Messy, Beautiful Summer Week 3: Marriage

A guest post by Bronwyn Lea

Angry SocksI carried a pair of mismatched, dirty Angry Birds socks in my pocket all day. At breakfast, my toddler was wearing them as mittens on his hands and was frustrated that his attempts to eat a banana with them were not going as well as he had hoped. I gave the boy a hand (his hands, actually) and stuffed the banana-icky socks in my pocket. Where they stayed: All. Day.

I thought about taking them out once or twice, but chose not to. The socks felt symbolic: representative of how I have messy, mismatched, sticky things going on in my head and my home right now. I took the socks to the store, to the park, to the school fundraiser concert. They were lumpy and hidden in my pocket, just like the other life-mess I carried with me. Sticky, but out of sight.

In truth, I kept holding on to the socks because I needed them there. I felt my pocket and my fingers could discern the shape of my sadness all balled up.

This week someone told me about their hard marriage on the phone: hard because there has been shouting and blaming and ugly-things-said. I listened and thought, “my marriage is nothing like that.”  Her marriage gets hard when the shouting is deafening. Mine gets hard when the silence is deafening. Rather than flare up, we freeze. Rather than shove, we shrivel. But our struggle is also hard in its own, private kind of way. The damage done is not as noticeable, and  perhaps such silence might even be considered by others to be signs of self-control or loving restraint. But when an iceberg sails into your living room, you would do well to remember the Titanic. Icy silence can do great damage.

I felt the socks in my pocket and I thought about our latest bout of silence. I thought about how fake I feel: a lay-leader in my church and a regular contributor to a website for engaged and newly married couples. Month after month, I write columns about healthy marriage, and I have hinted in my words that maybe “communication isn’t all there is to it.” But if people knew – if they really knew – how, even though we love each other fiercely and even though we are happy most of the time and laugh much of the time and even though he is mine and I am is – even with all that, we still get stuck. We hit a wall. We have a small handful of unsolvable problems. I hurt. I cry. I get lonely. And sometimes, there are ice-bergs in my living room.

And who can I tell, without it seeming that I am dishonoring or blaming my loved one? How can I ask for help, if the solution has to come without the requirement of us talking about it? And would saying these things out loud cause others, who see us as stable – no, need us to be stable – would it cause them worry? Would talking make it better? Or would it make it worse? It can be a lonely thing to struggle in silence in a Christian community.

Maybe I should quit writing about marriage, I thought. If the best I have to offer is a marriage with periodic Scenes of the Titanic, who needs that?

All day long, I thought about the socks. I thought about my husband and I: two angry birds ourselves, balled up together in a sticky mess. A mismatched pair, but a pair nonetheless. In it, together, even when things are hidden and icky. I felt the socks in my pocket and fingered them like prayer beads: asking God to help us fix our nest.

At the end of the day, I took the socks out my pocket and threw them in the laundry. We put the children to bed. We talked about our day. We watched an episode of Friday Night Lights. And drip by conversational drip, drop by habits-of-love drop, we started the days-long process of defrosting the iceberg.

I think maybe I won’t quit writing about marriage, after all, because we’re not quitting marriage. We may not know how to do the healthy-disagreement thing, and we have some issues, yessiree. But he’s the red sock to my yellow sock: we’re a pair of love birds, you know, even when we’re angry.

Tomorrow, those socks get a new start. Freshly laundered. Walking together.

*********************************************************

Bronwyn Lea is a South African-born immigrant to California, where she and her lovebird husband are teaching the three little ones in their nest to fly. Fueled by grace, caffeine and laughter, she writes at bronlea.com and a few other wonderful places. You can find her online at her blog, Facebook and on Twitter

This post is part of Momastery’s Our Messy, Beautiful Summer series.

Our Messy, Beautiful Summer

 



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest


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