Monday, August 14, 2006

Excellent Feedback and Friends.

This comment is too good to languish in the comments section. This is in reaction to my less-then-mature-rant, Disability: "We Need Volunteers, But We Didn't Mean You"

Dear Cybergal,

I'm letting you know this is a really long reply that addresses several issues that you've mentioned. Sorry it's long, as soon as I can master using less words I'll make it shorter. :-P

So, what I'd like to address is this post here. I was going to try to cover two posts - but this is LONG. As I'm wont to do, I'm going to shoot straight with you and say something to you like I would to anyone else that is an adult. In order to do so properly I'm going to have to deconstruct a little of what you posted because you really were dealing with more than one issue at a time, and I believe that you're confusing the issues.

First issue: Disability. Not to be cold, heartless or to seem uncaring or concerned - but I think at this point (53 years young) you should have a firm grasp on the fact that you don't move as quickly or see as well as folks that are fully ambulatory and sighted do. This is a disability. This limits what you can and can't do, regardless of your great heart. Welcome to the rest of our worlds. I know that many of the rest of us are not physically disabled, but you know what - we ALL HAVE LIMITATIONS. That's why there are many parts of the body.
Dear friend - from your mouth to God's ear! What ever gave you the impression I have a "firm grasp" on my disabilities? Some like occasional dips into that river Denial. For myself, I bought a houseboat and occasionally, try to live there!

Let me share an example. I wonder if you know what it feels like - as a guy - to sit there and watch or hear guys talking about all kinds of plumbing or building stuff, talk about tools or even building stuff for the church - when the whole time you've got no clue! Surprise, I do! That's a limitation! Yes, part of it is that I've not had time or prioritized those skills - but it's STILL a limitation. So, you know what I do? I carry my PowerBook with me to church - just in case. Guess what I got to do? How about rescue a situation for a visiting minister who's PC wouldn't plug into our AV system, and whose file couldn't play with audio on our PC. I got to make a DVD! Viola! They get to play their video as part of what they're ministering. Let me see the plumber do that baby! HA. And that's the point.

I never considered "limitation" in this context before. For a man not to be familiar with all tools, all the time must have been painful, until God showed you a better way.

You see Cybergal, you may not be able to help around the church cleaning up, but you can contribute in a vital way to your church and to the body - just like you do with your computer. That's why the body is made up of many parts, because all of us have to contribute our own gifts and abilities. Just like you don't want a toe for an ear, you don't want a nose for a finger either. There are lots of people that can't carry a tune in a bucket that have the spirit of a worshiper - but they aren't going to be on the worship team anytime soon! They may have that as part of who they are, but God has given them other gifts to use for the edification of the body - not singing! So, if they're smart and mature Christians do you know what they do? They worship God in the song service, they sing in their shower and they use their - oh, how about TEACHING gift to minister to the body! Use the gifts that you have where you're supposed to and you won't have to worry about being disabled, OK?

This is a beautiful example of "telling the truth in love". Phip's goal is to bring me along to a more realistic outlook. He is gently alerting me to my very real "tunnel vision" and "wishing makes it so" mentality.

There is no put down, or shaming here. The difference between: (guilt) "I made a mistake" and (shame) "I AM a mistake" (From: Bradshaw on: The Family) Oh the joy of recognizing mental health, mine and others!

The SECOND issue that you really were talking about is SOCIALIZATION. You wanted to "serve" because that's when you perceive that people socialize. Well, I'd have to tell you that your perception is about 70-80% faulty! Most people that are staying to serve in that manner, to clean up, break down, set up - are not there to socialize. They are there to get what needs to be done, done. Period, paragraph. Oh sure, if some are single they may hang out a bit more, but if they're married or have children they're doing what God has called them to do and then they're going to fulfill other responsibilities of marriage and family - which I can tell you from experience are multitude! You know, there's a reason why they're moving that quickly and it's not just so they can sit down and shoot the breeze in the sanctuary afterwards. OK?

So, to socialization. We both know that I'm married, but I wasn't always. In fact, I was almost 32 when I got married. I dealt with being single and being a Christian. Let me share this with you in all honesty: the grass is still always greener on the other side of the fence! I'm not saying that marriage isn't great, it is. I am saying that it isn't REMOTELY what I was expecting. The biggest thing about being married and being a parent is that your time is no longer your own. Ever. Even being married it's a job to socialize. But, I can tell you the secret that I learned as a young single guy. Adopt a family :-). If you want to socialize with married people, then go where the married people go when they go. Do the same church social gatherings. Do prayer (like you do) and mid-week services (like you do). GO to the married people's homes (if you're not invited, ask if you can visit and volunteer to bring something - like BREAD or something! whatever!). Be prepared to do whatever the family is doing. That's how you socialize. If there are some older singles, then get together and do something that older singles might like to do - as opposed to what 20-something singles like to do (like play volleyball - and what is attractive about that anyway?)
When I'm not all tangled up in fear and "future tripping", I can hear what you are saying, and am open to learning something new. The relief of realizing that God will meet my needs takes all the pressure off of me to "force something to happen". For the first time I remember, it is getting easier to receive feedback. "God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind" I continue to see this verse work in and through my life.

To whit, I've got a friend that I really like. He's single and makes as much as I do when I'm working full time. Obviously, he's got loads of money to burn - while I'm paying a mortgage and clothing and feeding 4 kids. He'll IM me or give me a yell and ask if I want to catch a movie in the middle of a Saturday. SURE! I'll blow off the family on about the only free day I have and go to a movie while I leave my poor wife home alone again with the 4 kids. NOT!!!!! So, what do I do? I say, hey! Come on down! We'll make dinner for you, we'll send the kids downstairs to watch a video, we'll have coffee and chat. That's what most couples with kids do. That's why we always have friends that have kids - we've learned to throw them in a room with some food and a movie, lock the door and enjoy an hour or so of conversation :-) Anyway, you got the gist?
The kind of other-centered behavior you describe is the second reason I decided to never have children. When it comes to selflessness, baby, I gotta a ways to go! The first and most important reason, was the terrible childhood I experienced. I know my mother never intended to hurt me the way she did. I will not take the chance of injuring another child, as I was injured.

I have periods like an absent-minded professor. I'll work for eleven hours straight, only coming up for air when hunger, or exhaustion set it! Not a great personality for a marriage!

THIRD issue. Lastly. The real issue that you're dealing with here is not disability or socialization, it's self image. This is not the same as the need to be liked, wanted and needed. We all need that, some more than others. With your temperament (you Sanguine I you!), you have a tendency to need a bit more confirmation than other temperaments do - but that isn't the issue. Frankly, I can pretty much go without anyone telling me I did a good job or I'm a nice guy or whatever these days. (outside my wife that is - but that's part of the relationship). Why is that? Because I'm really comfortable with who I am in God, and with what he's telling me to do. (emphasis added) I don't need your affirmation, I don't need my pastor's. If I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, I don't really even care if you like me. I'm not going to be crushed.

Was I always like this? OH LORD NO! I used to be a complete basket case if someone else got invited over to a common acquaintances home or out to dinner and I didn't! I'd be despondent, I'd scream at God, I'd cry, I'd get angry, I'd wail pitifully, I'd pout. You name it. I'd be devastated. But why was that? It was because I had a self-image problem. I didn't really understand how much God loved me. I didn't grasp just how wonderfully I was made. I couldn't (and still really can't) comprehend his wonderful can caring attention to me, the marvelous way he constructed me or the incredible things he has planned for me. (emphasis added) Thankfully, after almost 24 years walking the walk - I'm now getting a clue. :-) And I know that you are too. If you weren't you wouldn't have even begun to post these posts. You see my friend, the best way to get a good self-image is to get the real GOD-image of us. Once we're comfortable with that, it gets much easier. Oh yes, and people like hanging around us more too.

So, there ya have it. My two cents worth, which, with inflation and all that isn't even a penny's worth anymore. Sigh. So, would you like me to share with you my thoughts on loneliness now? :-D

Shalom my friend!
As I mull all this over I am filled with an unspeakable joy. My abuse was all about NEVER having REAL needs consistently met. I'm not sure I totally relate to all you have shared about who I am in God, but this I know. GOD ALWAYS MEETS MY NEEDS. It is far more then "never seeing the righteous forsaken". You rightly perceive I have a really high need for approval and affirmation. God meets those needs! I don't have to do HIS job and mine too! There is a new found sense of security I'm discovering. I can live my life without the mind-numbing "what-if" fears which have ruled my entire life. I can listen, learn and make mistakes in SAFETY!

Having a gentle conversation about an error is a far cry from my old fear: "When you blow it, they'll ask you to leave". I have a wonderful sense of relaxation and peace.

This is recovery, this is what facing your monsters will enable you to have FOR REAL: peace and a sense of safety.


steven edward streight said...

I don't really like this guy's idiotic chastisement of you.

Comparing his voluntary lack of knowledge of plumbing and other macho interests to your involuntary disabilities is beyond callous and unkind.

His lack of knowledge about topics of macho male conversation and action, like plumbing, calling it a "limitation" is ridiculous.

Then for him to act like you are retarded for thinking that serving in church is a method of socializing, this is heinous and repulsive.

What a jerk. People DO socialize in the church clean up crew, and they even get territorial and hierarchical about it, unfortunately.

There is much chitchatting as the men paint the steps and the ladies prepare food.

This guy seems to be picking on you, to make himself look smarter.

I don't like it.

CyberGal said...

Wow! Steven, you see something totally different in my friend's comment then I do! This is fascinating to me. I have the joy of liking and enjoying both of you. Though you are worlds apart in many ways.

I thank you for a very different perspective. Like a lot your other fine work, it will take me days to actually figure out the depth and reasoning in your thinking.

Do know, in my opinion, you've read the motivation of this feedback incorrectly. I like having people in my life that can reduce the disability struggel as he has done. Chosen, or not, a limit is a limit. Depending on the context, both of you are right. I do not feel discounted, or 'put down' from the 'limit' example.

I do, however, understand your anger and strong reaction to these comments. I am more of an activist for mental health issues, then physical disability issues. There is a time when you have to fight to be seen in the context of a disability, I seem to be calmer about a lot of those issues, at this time in my recovery.

I am really thankful I have both of you in my world. It makes my world an amazingly diverse and interesting place.