Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Keepin' It Real

When I was a tot (around a year old), my parents divorced. The marriage was a doomed one from the beginning. They dated for several months during their senior year in high school and married the December following graduation. 13 months later, along came me. Here they were, parents at the ripe old age of 19. So it's not so shocking that the whole thing didn't work out.

When I was around 3 or 4, my dad moved away to Texas and met his second wife, my step-mom. From the time I met her, I never felt included or welcomed by her. I guess the pressures of not wanting to take the place of my mom or the building resentment towards my mom and me got in the way of reaching out to me and getting to know me. My entire childhood is full of bad memories of annual visits to my dad's house in the summer time. Visits filled with the overwhelming feelings of not belonging. Feelings of awkwardness when I was alone with her.

They had three other kids. With the birth of each child came a larger wedge between me and my dad. I guess he felt that I was a lost cause and he was determined to make up for not being there for me to his new family. A second chance, if you will. Of coarse, as I grew, so did my anger toward this whole situation. And, being a young, extremely witty, pre-adolescent (the anger started brewing at around age 8), my mouthiness became an art form. My sole mission each trip was to lash out at my dad and step-mom and make them as miserable as I was. Of coarse, this tactic never worked to gain the favor of either of them. Instead, each outburst would later be used against me as an adult.

I tell you all this to draw sort of a picture (more like a vague sketch) of what life was like for me growing up between me and my step-mom. With all of the nasty behavior and dirty looks I received from her, she managed to do it when no one was looking. When people were around, she maintained this sweet, wholesome, mousy, shy image. When doors were closed, out came Mommy Dearest.

I knew she didn't like me, and she knew I knew, so we have always had a rocky relationship.

Fast forward many years and many blow-ups to my sweet Mammaw's funeral this past month. My step-mom and I had made amends months ago (so I thought) and we have been getting along really well. So the following story was quite shocking, and (I'll say it), hurtful to me.

For those of you who don't know me, I have funky hair, funky clothes, and a nose ring. I am not a drug addict, or an angst-ridden, Anarchy-flashing punk, but I used to be and I guess I still hold on a little to some of my roots.

Picture me standing a mere 10 feet from my step-mom and her parents (who have ALWAYS looked down their noses at me - for whatever reason. I guess because I'm a dirty little reminder that my dad was married before). I look over and notice they are whispering about me. You know, they all look over at me, then look at each other, whisper some more, trying to make it discrete even though it's obvious.

So I just stared at them wondering when they would stop.

My step-mom sees me and realizes I'm onto them. She tries to cover her tracks by saying, "Oh, Minnie, we were just discussing your hair. Did you get it frosted?" (I love it when people still refer to highlights as "frosted") My hair has been colored for years. It is not something new. Of coarse I point this out and continue the stare-down. They all get uncomfortable and walk away.

Later, she walks up to me and says, "We weren't talking about you earlier. My mom was just wondering if you had done something different to your hair." I was stunned that she thought I was that stupid to fall for her claim (since I could hear everything they were saying and it had nothing to do with my hair), so I just looked at her and kind of laughed. What I really wanted to do was scream "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!" right in the middle of people walking past my sweet Mammaw's casket to say their final good-byes.

But I didn't.

Sometimes I just want to run up to her and say, "So you don't like my nose ring? Well guess what? Your daughter has a tattoo the size of Fiji on her back!! So there!" (She thinks people who have tattoos are trashy and ungodly, thus making it impossible for my sister to confide to her mother about anything without fear of being dis-owned or causing the blow-up of all blow-ups.)

"What is the point of this rant?" you say.

It is this:

When is everyone going to put down the 'perfect' persona and just be real!? When will we all realize that having a perfect life is so unattainable? When are we all going to stop being so judgemental toward people we know nothing about just because they are different from us? When will it occur to us that perhaps God has placed them in our path for a reason? When will we all just accept one another for who we are?

So what if someone has tattoos or piercings or crazy hair? Does that make them less of a Christian? Apparently, in too many Christian brother's and sister's eyes, it does. Even worse, if they don't know Christ, does that make them ineligible to be accepted into the Kingdom?

For those people I have this to say: None of us will ever, in our entire lifetimes, lay eyes on one person that doesn't matter to God, that God didn't create with a purpose, and that God does not love unconditionally and want to spend eternity with.

So instead of looking upon them with judgmental eyes, look upon them with the loving eyes of Christ. You might see something you never expected and they might change your perspective on life forever.

I have a very good friend that confided to me after we had known each other for quite some time. She said that I was her first "skinny, pretty friend". She always had a perception that those kind of people were superficial and had perfect lives. That they had never been through any kind of adversity or hardship. Boy was she ever surprised when God threw me into her life. I broke every preconceived notion she ever had. She came to find we had more in common that she could ever have imagined.

That made me stop and think of how many women I have looked upon with judgemental eyes and made unfair assumptions about them. So many times I'm ashamed to admit it.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing us what it is to love unconditionally. Thank you for taking us as we are, right now, junk and all. Thank you for showing me that above all I am a child of God and if no one else loves me or accepts me, You do it with open arms.


At 1/03/2006 2:21 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

Minnie, I have told you this before and you know it's true. WOMEN ARE JEALOUS of other women.

They can't wear their hair like you, the clothes like you, the nose ring like you. It takes guts they don't have. Also, the fact that you are cool, trendy and love Jesus so dang much makes it even worse for insecure women. You are a insecure woman's nightmare!

I know you didn't post this blog with the intention of people like me reading it and telling you how great you are but you are great.

I know how you feel sister and it's no nice when you have REAL friends.


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