So, my husband, yesterday, gave me instructions on how to wash my hands. Or, rather, a household handwashing policy he was now implementing.
(Admittedly, this is the same man who has given instructions on how to brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and defecate. H has taught me to look past the words to the heart, and I can recognize, "All right, he's not saying this to be bossy, he's saying this because he genuinely cares and wants me to be healthy/unhurt. I can appreciate that motivation." I am not yet to the point where my heart perceives these instructions as loving, but at least my head can.)
This came up because there is a particular handwashing procedure at one of the medical facilities he frequents. I was a bit grumpy about it because it is identical to the food-safety handwashing procedure at nearly any restaurant.
Everybody at some point works a minimum-wage food service job. Nobody's proud of it, but it's how we all started. This is how I thought of the world. It's silly to be telling me how to do something that was the first priority to teach everyone at the first job they ever had. But wait - one of the hoops Rick is jumping through right now is partly because that WASN'T part of his experience. He didn't work fast food, because there were other considerations at that time. Maybe my experience is not everyone's.
So, what's the baseline I'm thinking of here? When I started pursuing a nursing major, I had a very keen interest in being a Pediatrics nurse someday. I love kids. Later, I learned from other young nurses that, "everyone wants peds," so only the very best get it.
I don't really think I can be the very best. And I also have a keen interest in NICU, which is a little unique. (Peds, you get to wear fun cartoon-character scrubs and play with your patients. NICU, your patients are very tiny, incredibly vulnerable, and you ache seeing them in whatever condition got them there.) So, I had my sights set on working as a nurse in Mayo Clinic's NICU.
Two years later, I'm living in the Bighorns, going to school, working at a daycare. Loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. I distinctly remember one October afternoon running around with about twenty four-year-olds on a big grassy lawn, thinking, "Could Heaven BE any better than this??"
(Yes, of course it can. I've come to understand a bit more about God since that year.)
Still had this idea, though, that everyone wants to work with the little ones. Yes, we would all like to do that, but we can't all do that, now can we, so why don't you pick something a little less competitive? Same thing with doing music as a career. You can't do what you love if everyone wants to do it and you're not the very best. No one will want you. I believed it.
Today, I help with about a dozen two-year-olds one morning each week. Their moms get a chance to gather, meet with other adults, one of the grandmothers teaches from the Bible. We who love toddlers get toddler-time, moms get time with each other, toddlers get to see other kids and play with other toys, moms know their kids are right there in the same building so they can relax, it's great.
Toddlers are a hoot, I tell you. The things they say. The things they do. Their tiny-but-furious dramas. (I have one pair of sympathetic twins. Bold-twin will be totally nonchalant, even playful, about having her diaper changed, while Sensitive-twin is five feet away having a meltdown because somebody is doing something to Sister.) I just figured that, this is a middle-of-the-week thing. EVERYBODY would be doing this, except that they all have jobs and aren't available.
I usually share at least one entertaining moment from this with my sister. (Last time's was, when we are two, and our dear friend is one, we do not pick our dear friend up by the neck. Rules to live by.) My sister is a teacher of middle-schoolers, and after over a year of these, she asked me if I had any interest in ECE, because schools really needed ECE teachers.
What? This had not occurred to me. Here, I'd been thinking preschool teaching was what a lot of young women did when they wanted to work with kids until they could get married and have their own. I'm married, whoever heard of a married preschool teacher?
Later, same week, I was hanging out with my neighbor S. (I'd had a really bad night, and Rick had to work, so he arranged with S that we'd hang out and watch a movie, rather than letting me wallow in my hate-misery.) S is also a teacher of middle-schoolers, and I mentioned what Butterfly had said. And this woman that I usually kind of envy, because she is slim and blonde and gainfully employed and keeps to a regular workout schedule and has a big family in the area that she can connect with who will take care of her when she's sick and spend holidays together...clearly expressed that she had no interest whatsoever in little ones.
No, seriously. She likes working with kids where you can have a rational conversation about their actions.
I can see the sense of this. It's pretty tough to get the message across to one of the little runabouts, "No, he had the toy first. We don't take a toy someone else is playing with. Let's go find another toy." Five minutes later, same conversation.
But Rick's encouragement, and Butterfly's encouragement, and S's encouragement all came together, and something clicked, "Wait, this is something I know I can do...that NOT everyone can do! There IS, actually, a need for this!"
Look, it's not that I think the things I can do are without value, anymore. It's just that the things I can do, and like to do, it seems like everyone would want to do them, so why would anyone hire ME to do them?
This is kind of eye-opening for me. I'm hopeful, and excited, and going to be chewing on this idea for a little while.
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret;but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. -1 Corinthians 14:26-28
That's a somewhat humorous, but also sobering, reference, given the situation.
(I'm not claiming to have the gift of speaking in tongues. Just that I know this passage, and it sheds light on another issue.)
We had a new guy at study last night. Knowledgeable person, experienced with the community we're part of, about ten years older than me - I was on one of my EXCITED! nights, and spoke fluent...me.
I hadn't really thought about it, until the second time he said, "Okay, I heard what you said but I didn't understand it," and realized later the number of times I've heard, "I know that was English, but I have no idea what you just said." At the time, I'd offered an off-the-cuff remark about Jewel being able to translate.
But I hadn't thought about how, I speak quickly (years of Gilmore Girls at an early age) With a mixed accent (born in NY, grew up in Midwest, lot of British tv, year in WY, couple of good friends are Texan - my sisters and I have a peculiar accent that we're unaware of but people recognize between us and nowhere else) An unnecessarily-extensive vocabulary (I'm largely unaware of this, until someone points it out. Combination of my mother's verbosity and my bibliophilic lifestyle) An intimate knowledge of grammatical rules, paired with a callous disregard for rules in general A dry, whimsical sense of humor (I will often bury the point I'm making in the middle of two other things, just because it amuses me to do so) ...the list goes on. I don't really think of any of these, they're just all part of how I speak...but last night brought home to me that my pattern of communicating actually impedes communication.
I've been reading through the tail-end of Exodus this week. Good night, is there a lot of detail about the making of the tabernacle (the sacred tent this nomadic people had in place of a temple, to worship). This time around, though, something hit me; there are all these precious items being used in the making of the tabernacle, things beautiful, carefully wrought, and very valuable. (Rightly so, if you view your god as being beautiful and valuable, or if you want to make it clear that you value your god and want to give the best you have.) But I started thinking, somehow, about the ARRANGEMENT of all these things.
See, this is a very bloody religion - there's a LOT of animal sacrifices going on, and there's very clear detail about what sacrifice is appropriate for which situation, and there's also clear instruction about how to PREPARE the sacrifice - how it's killed, which parts are burned, which parts are thrown away, whether something gets incense sprinkled on it, which parts are offered as sacrifices and given to the priests to eat...lot of detail. By investing effort into getting all the details right, you showed that this matter was important to you. (I've long held a theory that that was Cain's issue - both Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, but I kind of have the impression that Cain wanted to offer a sacrifice according to the way HE wanted to present it, and Abel thought it was very important to know how GOD wanted it presented).
I started thinking about how all these precious items to make the tabernacle were given by the people - so much was given, in fact, that Moses had to tell them, "Okay, we have more than enough to do this, it's time to stop giving." But just the giving of precious things wouldn't honor God. You could just pile the beautiful fabric, the dyed rams' skins, the silver and bronze and oil, and it would be a mess. Yeah, you gave up something precious, but for what purpose? How is that mess honoring God?
And that's running very close to how I give to God. I'm not a very intentional person, and previously I held that as sort of a merit: "I'm a free spirit!" That celebrates me, maybe - but looking at the way I give to God, in that light...I have NOT been intentional. Opposite, really - it took a long time before I realized that I had anything God would value, but once I understood His giving nature, His love and that He delighted to give things to His children, I started to see what He had given me that I might be able to give back to Him. But it's been fairly haphazard. "Oh! I have THIS. THIS is a good thing!" And then in my eagerness, I hurl it in God's general direction, or in the general direction of His people.
One of the other oddball skills all three of us have is a sort of chameleon-talent. I use it in a choir setting - listening, I can listen to the people on either side of me, and sort of average out their tone/pitch/vowels into a third supporting voice - that doesn't sound like a third. It sounds like those two just got stronger and blended. I love doing that, and no one noticing that's what I'm doing. (There are a LOT of things I like doing because they're a good thing to do, and I get a sort of thrill when I can pull it off without anyone realizing I'm the one who did it.) Butterfly uses this socially - she'll listen and figure out what people value, and craft a conversation that brings people closer without clashing (she's probably the most elite of the three of us with this). Starfish uses it to hide - she'll adapt her personality to whatever the general personality of the group is, so she doesn't stand out or attract attention (good luck with that - she has the most striking looks of the three of us).
Now I'm looking at each of these talents, thinking, "Huh. Can this be better used, somehow?" I've basically been using language to impede communication - that wasn't my intention, but that was the result. In a group, I would probably do very well to sit and listen a great deal, and follow the speech patterns to figure out what THIS group thinks is English, and then match that.
Because, without Jewel or Nike around, no one's going to be able to interpret.
Last night I went out and bought a bottle of wine to gift my mentor today. I walked out of the store excited that I hadn't been carded (this entry is being written by a girl who this past summer, at age 26, I was carded at two movies and asked by the person cutting my hair what grade I was in at the local high school IDONOTLOOK16BTW), glad I had finally gotten something for Linda, and ready to go home and enjoy dinner.
It was not until I got home and getting ready to toss the receipt that I realized the kid ringing me up had charged me for the bottle of wine, but not the gift bag it was resting in.
Well, as fate would have it, I needed to go back to the grocery store tonight after the gym. I felt kind of guilty, however, so I went over to the rack and grabbed another bag before I went to get on line. As luck would have it, the line I picked to stand in was being manned by a semi-friend of mine, Matt. I always enjoy seeing Matt when I'm there, and since I had this weird request, I was glad it was someone who already knew I was on the weird side.
Emily: When I came last night, I wasn't charged for my bag like this. Matt: Oh. Then that makes it free Emily: No it doesn't. Can you please ring this one up with my order and the hold onto it and put it back on the shelf? Matt: It really doesn't matter. But I guess the company I work for would appreciate that.
Now...I know. It's a giant corporation. This one-dollar bag isn't going to register anywhere for them. But the second I realized I'd been given it without paying for it, I felt really guilty, even if not at fault, and wanted to rectify it. But the way Matt (and 'Dylan', the kid they had bagging) were acting, you'd think I was alone in not feeling like it was okay. AM I alone? I don't think the price of the item is the issue even if it is small; the fact is, I saw it on a shelf for a nominal amount, and the expectation was that I would pay that amount to make the item my property. Would you have gone back to give them what was due?
Dream tools for the husband are expensive, but I hope to be able to get him something like what the Ingersoll Rand air tools has to offer... at least one thing from them. I find it odd that he has not one air tool in his repertoire. You should just SEE the plethora of tools that ornament various parts of our apartment and car trunks! It's like he is a traveling garage ;) That's why he is my Mr. Fix It.