Oct 232013
 

I have been bamboozled, hoodwinked, duped, swindled, and punked.

This morning we took Tish for blood tests. She was afraid and distraught. I told her many supportive parenty things like “honey, it’ll be over soon” and “sometimes we have to do things that hurt to keep us healthy,” and basically kept throwing around nurturing phrases like that as if I were some kind of heroic blood testy mother of the year. She was a warrior. We both shined, really.

tish blood

This is the last picture taken of me smiling and might forevermore be.

After our appointment, we took Tish to school. On our way back home, Craig mentioned that we needed to stop at the store. Okay, I said. Craig parked, came around to my side, opened my car door and held my hand to help me out. Odd, I thought.

Then he walked me toward a door that said – DENTIST. I stopped walking and stared up at him. He stopped too and looked at my confused face. He cleared his nervous throat and said, “Honey- we have to go.”

I stopped cold on the sidewalk and  tried to process what was happening. It took a second, but I figured it out.

“OH, NO. NO WAY. THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. NO, NO, NO, NO. YOU TRICKED ME???  WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? YOU CANNOT TRICK ME INTO GOING TO THE DENTIST!! I AM NOT FOUR YEARS OLD!”

Craig looked around at the folks now watching us and said, “I am not certain about that.”

And so I fumed and panicked and plotted an escape. I dropped to the concrete sidewalk and started rifling through my purse. I’d call Sister. Sister would help me. Yes, she lives in Virginia and I live in Florida but she would come. She would understand. She would save me. But- No PHONE.

I looked up and Craig said, “I took your phone, hon.  It’s at home. And it won’t help to call Sister anyway. Sister WANTS you to have teeth.  Everyone who loves you supports me in this. Think of all the things you said to Tish this morning. This is for your health. I have you here because I love you.”

And I thought – O to the M to the G. I AM HAVING A SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY MOMENT. AND CRAIG IS USING MY SUPER MOM SAYINGS AGAINST ME. BEING A GOOD MOM NEVER, EVER PAYS OFF – DAMMIT!! I KNOW THAT!! I KNOOOOOOW THAT ONE!!  AND HE PLANNED ALL OF THIS. THIS IS A FREAKING DENTAL INTERVENTION.  THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE. IT’S AN INTERVENTION.

And I looked from Craig to the DENTIST door and I thought- I know this drill. This is not my first intervention rodeo. This is dental rock bottom. I have hit dental rock bottom. And so now I must walk through that DENTIST door and subject myself to those health experts. I must ACCEPT HELP NOW or everyone who loves me will refuse to support me in my lifestyle of tooth neglect any longer. There is nowhere to run.  My people are in on this.

And so I considered starting over with new people. New family, new husband, new Sister.  I decided YES, that was the answer. But then I thought for a moment about SOBER DATING and I decided that SOBER DATING might be the only thing in the whole wide world worse than a dental ambush.

So I glowered at Craig and said, “I CANNOT BELIEVE you did not even give me time to put on my responsible green cardigan so I look like someone who definitely flosses but maybe just forgot last night.  I cannot believe any of this.”

And then I bravely walked through the DENTIST door. The lady behind the counter smiled her dentisty smile at me and handed me some paperwork. Because at the dentist you must SIGN UP to be tortured. You must expressly and officially beg for it.

I sat down and glared at Craig and tried to kill him with my eye balls.

dentist-glare

I filled out my paperwork and Craig kept taking pictures of me –likely to send to my family as they waited for Intervention news.

dentist-form

They called my name. I walked back slowly.

The hygienist looked over my desperate and unique questionnaire answers and said cheerily, “Well- why don’t you tell us how you REALLY feel about the dentist! Ha- Ha! And –  oh my goodness! It’s been over two years since your last appointment?! Why don’t you come more regularly? You know you’re supposed to come every six months, right?”

Now here’s the thing about the dentist. THEY ALWAYS DO THIS.  THEY INSIST UPON ADDING SHAME TO FEAR AND THEN PAIN ON TOP OF SHAME ON TOP OF FEAR ON TOP OF HELPLESSNESS.

BRENE BROWN- GO TO THE DENTIST’S OFFICES, PLEASE. DO A WORKSHOP. TEACH THEM- ONCE AND FOR ALL- THAT DENTAL SHAMING IS UNHELPFUL.

I had no Brene with me- so I said something like the following:

“Yes. I do know that. I do know all the things I’m supposed to do. But the story of my life, ma’am, is that I don’t always, or even usually, do the things I’m supposed to do. I think my aversion to taking care of my teeth is best explained scripturally.  Do you know this one?

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

It’s from Romans. Yes. My dental life is like that. All of my life is like that.

It’s not my problem, you see. It’s BIBLICAL. God said it, not me. I just can’t seem to DO the dental things I’m supposed to do- but tragically I CAN manage to do lots of dental things I’m not supposed to do- like eat Twizzlers for breakfast and drink coffee all day and open everything from locked doors to tin cans with my teeth. And as you can see from the aforementioned scripture – none of this is my fault. It’s because of JESUS. Something about JESUS.

And one more thing. In a few minutes you are going to look at my teeth and gasp and then ask me why I don’t floss and if possible, I’d just like you to replay all of the sentences I just said in your head. I HAVE THE DESIRE TO DO WHAT IS GOOD BUT I CANNOT CARRY IT OUT. So- it’s because of the Bible and Jesus. I don’t floss because I’m a good Christian. It’s a spiritual thing. And I think there is some kind of law that protects me from having to do things if they are against my religion. I can’t tell you the law because my Sister is the one who knows about laws and I can’t call her because she is in on this dental intervention and actually is a big, big jerk. But just know that I KNOW there’s a law and I’m not afraid to use it if and when I can locate it.”

Intervention? Did you say intervention? she asked.

“Yes. Intervention. It’s okay. You don’t have to act confused. I know what’s happening here.”

She stared at me with wide eyes and asked me to lie back in the chair of doom and I said: “WAIT! One more thing. I am a writer.”

And she said, “Okay. What do you write about?

“DENTISTS, I said. I write about DENTISTS.  I really do. All the time. And listen lady. THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE DRILL.”

I’m tired. I’ll tell you the rest of the story later. It got worse.

Love,
G



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


Oct 212013
 

My Women:

Why do we sweat and run and starve and hunch and bend over to take up less room –  while men sweat and lift and unfold and stand tall to take up more room?

Why do we need to be small? Why are we killing ourselves to be small? Why do we spend all of our money and time and energy to be skinny? To shrink and shrink until we are wisps that might float away? Why do we want to float away? Why do we want to disappear? Why don’t we believe that we are worthy of the space that we occupy? Why don’t we just assume, insist to ourselves and others, that we are worthy of the air we breathe and the food we eat and the wine we drink and the words we speak? Why do we constantly give away our power and our turn and our arm rests? Why do we refuse to give ourselves the right to have feelings and opinions and make mistakes and try again? Why do we care more about what we look LIKE than what we look AT? Why do we think it’s more important to make ourselves “beautiful” for others to look at it than it is to make the world more beautiful for us to look at? Why do we look down at the scale and ask it: HOW SHOULD I FEEL TODAY?

I’m emotional and a little angry this morning after watching this this brutal, beautiful work of genius.

I am so in love with this brave, brilliant poet. And I’m a little angry at myself and the world. I’m a little angry. And that’s okay. Sometimes angry is okay. Angry is okay when you’ve spent your entire damn life trying to become as small and insignificant as possible. Even though you KNOW that’s a lie. Even though you are HUGE, and you know it. But you are afraid to really be HEARD. Because since you are a woman – you have to choose between being HEARD and LOVED. And you choose loved. You have always chosen Loved. I just want to be loved. I’ll give the rest up. But you are starting to wonder if that’s the right choice at all. You are starting to wonder if it’s a waste to choose Loved since if you make yourself Heard, you’ll find the right people to love and be loved by anyway. And the thing is that you will never, ever, no matter how hard you work or how small you get- EVER make everyone love you. It’s a waste of a life- that effort to be Loved by all.

And you are angry because you know that when you talk like this the response from some is: Calm down, lady. Why are you so angry?? It’s said with disgust -  like angry is a dirty a word. I thought you said that LOVE WINS, lady??

And that will sting a little- it’ll make you want to shrink back. But then you will remember that there are others who are crying along with you right now because they know EXACTLY what you’re feeling because they are feeling it too. And those are your people. Those are your people – the one who know that the reason the saying LOVE WINS resonates is that it implies that there is a battle to be fought first.

And so you will say to the rest: REST: Angry is only a dirty word to folks who are very interested in maintaining status quo.  That is not my interest here.

My interest is this: I don’t want my daughters to think about pizza during sociology class. I want them to be full. I don’t want them to start their questions with: “sorry, but.” I don’t want them to be sorry for taking up anyone’s space or time or love or attention because I want them to know that any offering of themselves is a gift, not a burden.

This is my prayer today.

scale 1

scale 2

Amen.

 



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


Oct 172013
 

It’s been an interesting week for me.

Last Friday was National Coming Out Day, so I re-posted this essay. In it I said if Jesus were to show up on Earth for a visit anytime soon, my bet was that it would be in the form of a gay, black, teenage girl. Since then my inbox has been filled with rage-filled, pain- filled, and hope-filled emails. As always, I’m reading every single one. I’m staying open and soft and trying to learn.

G: Why do you write about gay people so often? Let it go. Move on.

At the first Christian church service I ever attended– the preacher told us that the job of the Christian is to  find the oppressed and stand with them. He insisted that we wouldn’t have to look far, since oppressed people are all around us. He said that the oppressed are any group of people who society considers less than children of God. He said that we were all equal in God’s sight. I loved this message so much that I went back to church the following week. At the second service, the preacher discussed the church’s stance on gay people. I heard him suggest that this group of people simply living and loving as God made them to live and love were well -  just wrong. And so we should try to help fix them.

And I thought, “Ah-hah. There’s some oppressed folks. The gays. Okay. I’m on it.”  I never expected that then the church would say, “Oh, wait. Don’t stand with those oppressed people. Those aren’t the ones we were talking about. How ‘bout these instead?”

Gay kids are still killing themselves at terrifying rates because society is telling them that they are damaged goods. And the church is STILL the one delivering that message to society. It is my belief that these deadly messages start in churches and then pass through parents and then down through those parents’ children and end up landing squarely on the shoulders of a lost teen who figures there are two ways to end her life- one : to pretend she’s someone she’s not down here – or two: to kill herself. Either way she can’t really live. These teens need another message to consider. They need to hear that YES, they are allowed to live and love how God made them to live and love just like the rest of us.  And they need this message to come from the church, too. Because the healing needs to come from the same place that the hurting came. Since I AM the church- as is everyone else who identifies herself with it- I’m doing my damn-dest in my little circle of influence to be that other message. To be the Good News to these beautiful teens. Because a teenager believing that she is loved just as God made her is a matter of life and death. I know this from experience. And because the church can’t tell me to Love Everybody and then add that Love doesn’t mean Love and Everybody doesn’t mean Everybody.

G: You claim to speak for God, but at best you are irreverent and at worst a heretic. BACK OFF.

First of all – there are two different, separate things. There is GOD, and then there is PEOPLE’S IDEAS ABOUT GOD.

I am fully reverent about the first thing and fully irreverent about the second thing. God, whomever God is, has my full reverence. But yes, I am irreverent to everyone’s ideas about God – especially mine. And I am most irreverent to religious certainty. Because certainty does not sound like faith. It sounds like fear. Fear cannot leave any room for mystery. Faith leaves room.

I insist that it is entirely possible (and preferable) to be both reverent and irreverent at the same time. For example  – you can be reverent of people but irreverent to their fears and prejudices. This combination is delicious. Reverence mixed with irreverence is the combination that makes for good comedy and good theology.

And about this BACK OFF message. It feels a little violent. But, yes. I hear your alarm and anger and have considered it. Out of respect for all involved, I have decided to do exactly what you requested- except the opposite.

G: Jesus as a black, teenage, gay girl??? How dare you suggest that our Lord would come back as anything less than He is?

Oh my goodness.

Why are we using the term “less than?”

Why is it okay for Christians to believe that God chose to appear on Earth as a brown, heterosexual (or asexual) baby boy -but not okay to believe God might also appear as a black, gay teenage girl?

Are we talking about the same God? The one who chose to enter the world in the form of a Middle Eastern, poor, helpless infant when the world was expecting a KING? The God who showed up in the form of a race so oppressed that no one believed he could possibly be the savior because, “nothing good comes out of Nazareth?” The God I’m talking about LIVES to shatter our ideas about Less Than. The God I’m talking about makes himself less than in order to prove that our ideas about what less than means are bunk. Because our less than is NOT God’s less than. The first are the last and the last are the first.

As I read the comments after that post I kept thinking – what if I was a gay, black, teenage Momastery reader? And what if I came here and read in the MOMASTERY comments that good people were SHOCKED at the suggestion that God might choose to live in ME? Because I am less than divine. Because I am less than. Unworthy. Not good enough. Not God enough.

Christianity asserts that GOD made himself HUMAN. Those are two different categories- two different levels of worthiness. God is one category and human is another. THAT’s a downgrade. After that jump – there are no more categories- no more downgrades. There are no human levels of worthiness. There is no hierarchy in God’s eyes. A black, teenage, gay girl is not “less than” a Middle Eastern poor, infant boy or a straight, white, rich male. And when we suggest that she is less than-  we are not talking about Jesus anymore. We are revealing how long and deep and hard our misogyny and racism and homophobia run – and how our fear clouds our view of the divine and of everyone around us. Because we have become unconsciously certain that God has all the same prejudices we have. And then we have certainly – certainly created God in our society’s own image of purity and perfection. Not God’s.

But I’ll give you this: maybe we should all stop guessing what form God will show up as in the future and start accepting that God ALREADY shows up every single day in the form of every single person we meet. God lives inside each and every one of us. And so, it doesn’t matter if God comes back as a black, gay, teen girl – because God Already Has.

And so the one that we need most desperately to find God in is the one in which we are certain God doesn’t live. If you hate conservatives, look for God there. If you’re afraid of minorities- search there. If you’re unsure how you feel about homosexuals –befriend one and look for God in her. And if you’re still certain that more God lives in a man than a woman –join the club. We are, each and every one of us, unlearning misogyny. It’s going to take some time. But be aware of and suspicious of your prejudices. Notice when they kick in and resist. Fight to stay soft and open. Step back and squint hard.  But please, please don’t preach that God has the same fears that we do. God doesn’t. God is Perfect Love and Perfect Love casts out fear.

And if, in the end- we disagree about everything else  – let us at least agree that often God shows up in a form that we are least expecting. In a form that our society despises. And so it’s probably best not to crucify anybody. Just in case.

To all my friends wearing purple to celebrate Glaad Spirit Day, you are not only GOOD ENOUGH, you are GOD ENOUGH. Forgive us for taking so long to unlearn what we’ve learned down here. Because we do NOT have to learn to love you –we were born knowing that- we just have to unlearn fearing you. Thank you for your continued patience with us.

You always have a place of honor at the Momastery table. Our table is totally purple.

Love, G 

 glaad

P.S. If grace isn’t shocking and counter cultural and scandalous and a little ridiculous then it’s not Grace.



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