panties.

So there are probably a ton of images that come to mind when you see or hear the word, “panties.” Let’s face it, most women (I would argue all women) have different kinds of undergarments. We have the ones we wear when we’re feeling sexy and beautiful and special. Let’s call those panties. And then, there are the other ones – the ones we call our “underwear.” These are what we tend to wear when we just want to feel comfortable and cozy and practical, and perhaps maybe when we’re feeling a bit bloated.  Yup, there are big decisions to make when considering what kind of undergarment to wear.

Well, this is about my panties…

I love that my daughter wants to be like her Mama. Everyday I catch her doing something that I know she caught from me. Sometimes those things are cute and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes it’s a bit scary to see how much I influence her little eyes and ears. I shall keep some of the scary, non-mentionables for later. Come on over and sit on my deck and I’ll tell you the best stories!

The morning was normal. She was two. I was getting dressed for the day in our bedroom. I walked into my closet for a quick, “What shall I wear today?” moment. It was like five seconds later and I turned around and there she was…my little girl frolicking around in my panty drawer. And on her “boom-boom” (feminine/cute word for “derrière”) were about ten pairs of my panties, each one hiked up to her waist, one over the other. It was like she thought she was on “A Minute to Win It” and the game was to see how many panties she could put on. Oh, my lands! How in the world did she get that many panties around her waist in that amount of time? (Secretly I loved that she raided the panty drawer and not the underwear drawer because that would have been way too boring.)

I laughed out loud. I smiled and then just stood there watching her go about her business.

I wanted to redirect.
I wanted to correct.
I wanted to teach.

Everything inside of me wanted to say something like, “Oh, Sweetie! We don’t get into mommy’s panty drawer. That’s for mommy. Let’s find something else to play with.” You know, kind of in that, “We really shouldn’t do that”/distracting kind of tone. But, for some reason, that’s not what came out (Praise Jesus!). After watching the entertainment for a bit, I miraculously and surprisingly responded with, “Oh, honey! You look way too cute! You like mommy’s pretties?” She looked at me, gave me the biggest smile, and then walked over to the full length mirror to look at herself – to check out her beauty, just like her Mama.

The power of influence. It’s amazing. It can be invigorating and scary, intimidating and heavy. When we’re in a position of power, we must remember the powerless. We can mis-use our power. We can mis-use our influence. Or, we can use our power and influence to bring life, awareness, change, advocacy, voice…to those without.

We can choose to step into it and hold it and share it.

She’s watching me. She’s always watching me. Sometimes I want to tell her to turn away or to cover her ears. I don’t want her to pick up the bad habits and tones and words and behaviors. I want to keep her pure and innocent and even a bit naive. Because I know what happens when the world shows up in ways that are hurtful and scary and unjust and hateful. There are moments during the day that I don’t want an audience. I just want to be human. There’s that secret part of me that doesn’t always feel like being responsible for my actions. I just want to be lazy.

Feels pretty human to say that.

But maybe, that’s the best kind of mommy I can be…human. Wonderfully and uniquely and undeniably human. Because for me, that’s what I want my little girl to know – that it’s OK to be human. It’s OK to make mistakes and mess up and throw tantrums (sometimes) and get mad. I want to give her permission to do that. And then, somehow with the divine help from above, teach her and show her what to do with her humanness. And then, consistently and graciously and lovingly remind her that there’s nothing she could do or say to make me love her less. Nothing.

So, as I teach my little girl about femininity and beauty and how to know if and when to wear panties versus underwear, I hope she grows up believing that no matter what she’s wearing or doing, or where she’s hiding or exploring, or how hard she’s kicking and screaming, that she’s loveable…inside and out.

Because I’m convinced that that’s what my God believes about me.

 

on being a friend…

I remember that day when my phone rang. I was in the midst of cooking and entertaining and busy with children. The voice on the other side…it was sad. My friend’s mom had just been diagnosed with cancer. In that moment, I knew I needed to pause the life that I was standing in and join hers. I listened. She cried. I asked questions. She explained. My heart sunk with hers as the prognosis was undetermined and the treatment seemed so long and hard and painful. It was one of those moments when you just knew there were no perfect words to utter. You just had to be…fully present.

I remember that day when my phone rang. My friend had called to tell me that she was expecting her first baby. She was soaring! Her dreaming and anticipation of how her world would change began. She was on top of the world and wanted to shout from the mountaintops, “I’m going to be a mommy!” I shouted with her and told her how elated I was for her. Her joy was overflowing and I wanted to be a part of her excitement. She needed me to celebrate with her…this baby’s life, her journey, her heart.

Being in a relationship means there are moments when you are able to step into someone else’s experience and moments when you long for someone else to step into yours. We give. We take. We offer. We receive. It’s what comes with being friends.

So, what makes friendships so challenging? Why do they hurt? Why do they end? Why do we find ourselves thinking about our relationships so much?

As I thought about writing this post, I wanted to write from the perspective as if I would be writing to my little girl…about the experiences of both joy and heartache that I’ve learned from my own friendships. I know I can’t rescue her from what is hard and hurtful, but I can model what I’ve learned. I so wish I could protect her from relational pain..but, I can’t. It’s not my job. But I can offer a word of encouragement and truth and hope. So, here are a few things I’ve come to believe about relationships…

Friendships have seasons. Just like the temperature outside changes throughout the year, our friendships evolve and transform. As experiences come and go, the way they change us and the way we respond to them impacts our relationships. Life can be both energizing and draining – on us and on our relationships. Sometimes, the expected events change our relationships (marriage, school, geography, career,  babies, etc.). Sometimes, the unexpected events change our relationships (loss, crisis, illness, etc.). Both change how we interact with people…especially those who are close to us. Change will happen indeed. It’s in those seasons of change that we have the choice to “step towards” or “step away from” the people in our life. The relationship with a particular friend may deepen or diminish or even come to a close, and that’s OK. I hope we can learn what it means to “release” that person or “embrace” that person in new ways, depending on how life reveals itself. And then…have the grace to accept how that friendship changes.

“When people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn’t mean they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.”

Fight for what is good. I love the people in my life who understand and believe in fighting for what’s good and true in a relationship. Yet, the motivation to pursue can wane, especially when disappointment surfaces. I hate to say it, but disappointment will happen when two humans are in relationship. There will be moments when one of us feels hurt or offended or upset or “missed.” This is life. It’s in these times of tension that can make us bitter or better. I choose to believe that stepping into the tension and the unknown and the awkwardness can change us…for the better. But, we have to be willing to face our fear and insecurity and trust that who we are is someone that offers strength and empathy and acceptance, and that how the other person responds doesn’t define us. We have to be willing to keep believing in the other person’s goodness…even when we get hurt. We honor ourselves and our friend by being honest about what is hard. It’s then that we have the opportunity to offer are true selves…our BEST selves. Believing that good can come from working through disappointment will allow our relationships to deepen and grow. And the kind of friendships that emerge out of working through conflict will be a gift…to both people.

“Peace…it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

We all long to be needed. I know from experience that it feels good to be needed. Whatever it is that we are good at is what we hope the other person appreciates. This looks different for everyone. Maybe it’s being a mom or a caretaker or your wisdom or your stability or your compassion or your creativity or your fun or your availability or your insight or your ideas or your hope. Whatever it may be, it feels so good to know that the other person needs what you’re good at. But, what happens when that person no longer needs what you have been giving? That doesn’t feel good. All of a sudden you don’t feel wanted. It changes your relationship. Maybe that person found someone else to fill her needs. Maybe that person’s life circumstances changed what they needed. We may try to fix the circumstances or try changing who we are or begin analyzing why or become aggressive or fall passive. None of these responses are helpful and actually become really tiring. We can choose to take it personally and make it about us, or we can be confident of what we have to offer and believe that God will use our gifting in another way. So, as much as it satisfies us to feel needed, what if we focused more on what we gave…expecting nothing in return. We give because the reward is in how the giving changes us.

“First we were loved. Now we love.” (1 John 4:19b)

So, whether you find yourself stepping into someone else’s life or someone else stepping yours, may you know that you have access to the Creator of the universe, equipping and empowering you to know how to respond in your relationships. My hope is that we can allow our hearts to be joined with the people who fill our lives, whether that is a moment of celebration or heartache.

The people around you are a gift. May you receive and celebrate and affirm what they have to offer.

You are a gift to the people around you. May you offer yourself in honest and beautiful ways…expecting nothing in return.