her vs me

Why do I do this to myself? This is one of the more prickly things I do to myself.

I am pitting her against me (in my head of course) and telling myself all the reasons why I am the loser. Why she is better, prettier, more together, more successful…..you get the idea.

Then there is the subsequent battle about why she is really terrible after all. Because I might just feel a tinge better about the fact that I am losing this battle in my brain if the truth turns out to be that she is terrible.

Then I tell myself all the reasons why her happiness and success in life came so easily. Anyone could do what she has done if they had as much money as her. If they had as much beauty as she does. If they had as much influence as she has been given.

And it all swirls together up there and becomes a disgusting mess. And I kind of want to throw up all over myself.

At about that moment, a light dawns in. I don’t know where it came from. I’m just thankful.

Wait. Stop. Think.

Do you really want her life so badly? So what if she has 20 million gazillion readers who email and facebook and tweet all of her great writing to all of their 100 million gazillion friends.

If you had her life, you wouldn’t have yours.

So instead of thinking about how valuable her life is, I start to think about the value in mine. My kids. My husband. My friends. My writing. My journey.

And I realize I really like my life. Comparing myself to someone else is maybe not the best thing for me. Because I have not been given her life. I have been given mine.

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flesh and stone

I hate days like this. Days when I wake up with a lump in my throat feeling as though at any given moment I could sink down into a mound on the floor and shed a thousand tears.

Most days are not like this. Most days I am pretty up, pretty positive, pretty peppy. But every once in a while, I have a day when life seems to catch up with me and take its toll.

I have come to realize that this is part of having an open heart. Just yesterday I heard someone talking about a heart of stone being replaced with a heart of flesh.

I love the way that sounds. So beautiful. So alive. I want a heart of flesh. I want to love deeply and fully and freely and generously. I want an open heart.

But there is a cost.

A heart of stone is very difficult to hurt. Stone is heavy and hard and fairly indestructible. And impermeable. Nothing goes in, nothing goes out.

But flesh is another matter entirely.

Flesh is soft and warm and malleable. Flesh is organic and living. It breathes. Flesh takes in and gives out. And flesh is vulnerable.

We have all heard the phrase “love hurts”. I disagree. Giving and receiving love does not hurt. But having a soft and tender heart that loves people and life also must grieve from time to time.

Because this world is not a perfect place. People hurt one another and themselves. And sometimes the awareness of that truth attacks my heart of flesh. And it hurts.

But as I am having one of those days when it all catches up to me, I realize this is the cost of an open heart. It hurts from time to time. And I am tempted to close this heart of flesh and trade it in for a heart of stone.

But no. I won’t. I will keep my open heart, my heart of flesh. Even if it costs me some pain now and then on days like today. Because I would rather be open and give and receive and breathe than be hard and heavy and impermeable.

The cost is entirely worth it to me.

mr. black

He gives a gift to everyone who walks in the door. I am always a little groggy when I walk in. I have just dropped my oldest off to his early morning Saturday karate class. I walk down to Starbucks, and the moment alone combines with the fresh air and breathes life into me.

His shaggy hair matches his scruffy looking beard with their curls and hues of strawberry blonde. Everyone gets a smile and a cheerful voice, but nothing over-zealous. It is early on Saturday, after all and this is a gentle man. Intentional eye contact is made with each and every person. I watch as something invisible inside his soul seems to whisper to each of us, “You matter.”

I get the feeling he is doing more than just his job as he takes our orders and debit cards and gives us food and drink in return. He is caring for humanity. He sees the inherent value of people and shows it to us in the fifty-eight seconds we are in front of him. This is the gift he gives.

And it is one that we all are in desperate need of. Because it is so incredibly easy to forget that we matter. That although we are imperfect, we are also invaluable. Of course, not everyone receives this gift. Some are so busy with their lives and their selves and their keeping up that their spirits have grown numb to such offerings.

But he gives it anyway.

Today he was just taking his break when I found my place in line. We exchanged hellos and somehow some coffee spilled from the mug he was holding while we were chatting. I walked over to the condiment section, pulled out some napkins, knelt down and wiped up the liquid.

I should be doing that for you,” he said.

“You are on your break. I am happy to do something for you this time,” I reply.

He goes to the back for something and then disappears outside for his ten minutes to himself. As I order and get out my card to pay, the other barista tells me Mr. Black has already taken care of it.

I couldn’t find him outside to say thank you and he didn’t have to do that. Watching him do what he does touches my heart every Saturday. I see the gift he offers and gladly receive it each time. Maybe buying me coffee was his way of saying that today I got to be his Mr. Black.