Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a Snowflaky World

I've been turning over the premise of a study I've been doing in my mind for a couple of weeks. The premise is that we start out life as maverick-like Individuals...we have all these hopes and dreams and ideas in our youth. Children revel in themselves and love to feel special. Then we grow up and begin to make decisions. A funnel effect occurs as we make one decision and rule out 10 others, and so on down the line. One day we wake up in a life that looks eerily like the lives of every other person we have surrounded ourselves with. You look around and see very little variation in the landscape. Everyone is thinking, doing, feeling, talking and living...exactly the same way. And all of a sudden, you feel a little Trapped. That's when you know that the Individual part of you is feeling smothered, shoved into the back room closet.

It's so interesting how we are made. God made each one of us completely unique - no two exactly the same - just like the snowflakes. But he also made us so alike that we have many, many things in common with the other humans. We're all snow, after all, even if we're also all flakes. And isn't is such a delight to find common ground with a new friend or a writer's words or a piece of music ...it Resonates. And you say, YES! I have felt that. I have thought that. I believe that. And it's a great feeling. It's simpatico. Commonality allows us to feel connected. Individuality allows us to feel special. And God, brilliantly, made us with both halves of the same whole. Individual, but yearning for connection. Unique, but made for community.

I think one of our downfalls is when we cannot appreciate that dual nature in others, or in ourselves. We swing too far either way and forget that the most natural place is right in the middle. Some cling to their individuality at the expense of their connections with others. Then come the feelings of isolation and resentment that no one understands. Some become obsessed with conformity and begin to drown in self-imposed rules about how they "must" act or dress or think. Then come the feelings of entrapment. If only we could regard ourselves as God must. Completely unique and precious individuals, who are designed to love and be loved by their understanding journey-mates. This is why I love travel so much. It is a reminder that anywhere you go in the world, people are very different. And very alike. See? Snowflaky!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Finding Love at the Skating Rink

Remember when we were too young to drive and too old to hang out with our parents on Friday night? And we put on our cutest clothes and our pinkest lip gloss and our biggest hairdo and had our moms drop us off at the local skating rink? As we walked in the doors, we were mesmerized by the mysterious darkness, the pulsating music, the smell of overcooked pizza and the sight of the glittering disco ball. Ahhhh...pre-teen heaven. It was one of the first places we went to see and be seen. We could scan the room instantly, and with laser-like precision, pick out our friends, our frenemies and the objects of our romantic crushes. Let the drama begin!! A successful night might mean escaping the wrath of the ever-present skating rink bullies or being asked to couple-skate by the right boy. A really successful night might end with you and the-cutest-boy-ever "going together," whatever that meant. It was all about looking for love, wasn't it? Just like every other Friday night for the rest of our lives, until we hopefully found "true love" and made it our own. There is something magnetic about the skating rink. Even Big Stuff, who is a few years away from looking for love (Thank you, Jesus), could not get enough of the skating rink recently. Round and round she went. For almost three hours. She cried when we finally had to go home, and said we could live at the skating rink if only her parents weren't so mean and unreasonable, insisting on living in a house and sleeping in beds and all. Cutie Pie, who was apparently a preteen skating rink god (you learn something new every day!), picked up all his old moves right away. He tried to teach me to turn and backward skate, but apparently if you don't learn these skills by age 13, your chances of mastering them are close to nil. He did hold my hand for a few turns around the floor though. And he did try to show off a little (hey, don't we look better than that other dad and daughter?) It was cute. Toward the end, the DJ hooked us up with the Alan Jackson 9/11 song, which goes something like this: And some good things He gave us are Faith, Hope and Love....and at this moment I'm passing my sweet little girl holding hands with her Daddy and looking up into his encouraging eyes, big smiles on both of their faces....And the greatest is Love..... And the greatest is Love. My conclusion? It's still possible to find true love at the skating rink.