Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ignorance is better than facebook

Sometimes I just need to vent... and this is one of those times. One of those mornings, really. In fact, I had to change my music selection just so I could focus... haha (from my typical holiday montage to soundscapes).

First, I'm really annoyed at Walgreens. I love their online service for photos. I get my Christmas cards printed there every year. They have never once messed up my order. I can't wait to look at my pictures when I pick them up - I just stand at the photo counter going through them. Well... apparently my Christmas card list is WAY bigger this year. I'm not sure how that happened (or why), but I ran out of Christmas cards even after I dropped at least 20 people from the list. So, I ordered 20 more. We went to pick them up on the way to G-ma's house last night, and since we were in a bit of a hurry (Eden was about to have a meltdown and Jeffrey is going through this whiny phase that sucks even more in a small enclosed space), I didn't check them out. Oh, I did when we got to the car - but only the massive order of about 175 prints we made for Scott's dad. (He lives in Illinois with the rest of the extended family, doesn't have a computer, nor does he know how to use one, so he never gets the frequent updates or pictures or videos or anything really. So I made an album for him for Christmas which includes all of 2009... Fun! We just want him to feel like he's a part of the family.)

This morning I got up nice and early after laying in bed for a while thinking about things I probably shouldn't because they just get me all stressed and sad and a little pissed when I do. So I decided that instead of dwelling on such things, I should address the rest of my Christmas cards and, I don't know, finally get those in the mail before Christmas. I got all set up and spread out on my dining table (which has both leaves in it, making it about 9 feet long) when I opened the box and discovered some really darling Christmas cards with a dog and a couple in a boat. Lovely cards. But they are not mine. I know this because I don't have a dog, among other things.

So, I grumbled... and decided to log into Facebook to say hi to some friends. And this is where the venting really starts.

I'm convinced that while Facebook is a great place to stay connected with friends and people you love, sharing photos and videos and status updates and notes, etc, it's also a constant reminder to me of the lack of community that I seem to always be struggling with here in Salem. I know... You're thinking, "Seriously? Are we going there again?" Yes. I kind of feel like an addict in that by "going there" I'm relapsing. I've done so well these last several months. I've been on the happy wagon. But if I'm being completely honest I've really just haven't said anything to anyone about how I really feel (other than my hubbs because he feels the same way).

I am so sick of people calling me a "friend" when, in fact, we are not friends. Let's be honest here, people. Seriously. Think about what a "friend" is. I, personally, think that friends are people you share your life with; the ups, the downs, the in-betweens, your successes, your failures... Friends are people you spend time with - either planned or completely spontaneous. They are people you don't have to schedule into your life. You make time for them. You can call them out of the blue and meet up for coffee or for a playdate with the kids and somehow squeeze in a little adult conversation in between poopy diapers.

Scott mentioned to someone (keeping the identity as general as possible) the other day that we really haven't felt connected in Salem (after 5 years of living here) and feel like, for the most part, it's just generally lacking in community. Part of the frustration is the Church. (I use "Church" in the broader sense, not just in reference to the church we attend.) We ("we" being the Church) do community really poorly. For some, they fit right in. I'm not sure what it takes to be that kind of person, but for the rest of us, I guess we're just misfits. Cuz, see, we don't "fit" in. We just don't. I've sort of come to the conclusion that for some reason here in Oregon we are just different.

Anyway, this person responded that community takes the effort of both parties.

Wow. Such insight. Really? Ya think? That is profound.

Duh. I mean, really. Duh. Of course it takes two. Obviously. That's exactly my point.

We have tried and tried and tried... We have invited countless people over for dinner. We ask people to coffee. We've sent invites to meet up for drinks after work. We've invited singles, couples, families, kids to our home, to the park or wherever. We've even managed to get a few scheduled... as in, on the calendar.

It's REALLY disappointing but in almost all cases they've bailed at the last minute if they even took us up on the offer to begin with. Usually no one responds (if it's an open invitation) or our offer is declined due to every reason (excuse) you can imagine.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for our Bible Study ("Meat & Potatoes", or The BSers). Actually, it's really the "core" that I'm grateful for. We've had people come and go, but it has always been the 8 of us that have really stuck. (Ok, 9, actually, but the 9th person has decided to move half way across the globe and go gallivanting all over the world. Giovanna, I LOVE YOU and MISS YOU!!!) And we're all so different. Scott and I are the youngest, and we range in age from early thirties to late fifties. No one would have EVER guessed that the 8 of us would become so close. If it weren't for our Friday night BS, I would be a pathetically lonely and depressed person. We have SO much fun together!

I sure do miss having friends on other days of the week. I can count on one hand the number of times we've been invited somewhere - to meet up for drinks, or to dinner out or in someone else's home, for playdates with the kids, a movie, or whatever - outside of our BS. I wish, I really wish, I knew why this is the case. I would like to think we're lovable people - our kids certainly are.

Ok... Here goes some vulnerability. I'm saddened by this. So sad that I've spent many nights crying alone. I'm used to being surrounded by friends. I'm used to feeling loved and accepted. I'm used to being invited to lots of things because people always found me to be warm and funny... When we left Montana, we heard (and still hear), "We miss you guys. Parties just aren't the same without you!"

I totally feel rejected here. Someone actually told me recently, "When things slow down in a few weeks, I'll have time to be your friend." It's funny that when I tell people that, they gasp and say, "Seriously? Someone said that?" Yes. Someone said that. And it pretty much confirmed to me that we must not be friends. It felt really, really crappy. I see this person a lot. They've always got stuff going on - dinners and movies with friends, family coming into town, visiting family out of town. They have people over... They are invited places... I know that all of these things weren't scheduled a year in advance. And I know that they can't possibly be THAT busy that we couldn't be friends if they wanted to be. You see my point? They just don't want to be. Oh, sure, they say they do. But let's be really honest here. If they wanted to be, that statement would have never been uttered.

And I think this is pretty much the case with most everyone we know. The irony is that we work at a church. HAHAHA Isn't that hilarious? We actually felt more connected before we started working there. (You would think that working at a church would actually bring us closer to community, not further from it.) We got involved 5 years ago when we first started attending that church, and made a few friends, etc. Then, we ended up getting involved in some other things, and through some life changes we had to pull out of a few things. The people we spent time with are no longer really a part of our lives. I don't understand this. Just because we're not serving together doesn't mean we can't be friends. I mean, we seemed to be pretty good friends beforehand. Again, it just feels like rejection. We've invited these same people over (game nights, Super Bowl, New Year's Eve, 4th of July, random BBQs, movies, dinners, drinks...) but they just don't come any more.

One thing I've observed a lot of over the course of the last year is that a lot of people just stay really busy with one another. But I rarely see any depth to those friendships. It's almost as if the busyness takes the place of having to share their lives. This is so not the way I do life. I want to share... deeply... I thought that's what community and friendships were all about. I thought that is how you feel accepted and loved and what not - that people want to be around you even when they really get to know you. Here, it's almost like people pull away if you know too much about them. What is that about? Don't people want others to know them? I mean, really know them?

Another thing I've observed is the amount of gossip that takes place. Good grief! Perhaps that's why no one wants to really share their lives. Maybe they've been conditioned to keep everyone at arm's distance because they've learned that by sharing, there's more to gossip about. I've been the butt of the gossip before. It sucks. Why is there a need to talk about people's private lives to others? Did you get permission to talk about that stuff? What purpose does this serve? If you've been trusted with information, count yourself blessed to be on the inside track. This is a special (and rare) place to be, and you should hold that information tightly and not share it with others, especially if you're using it to your own advantage. Is it really that big of a deal to "be in the know?"

I suppose that's why I feel so sad about this. I feel like I've put myself out there and the response is, "Nahh..." It isn't saying no to my invite to get together for coffee. It's saying no to me. It's saying no to my husband. It's saying no to my kids.

And if the lack of friendships isn't enough, this ridiculous Pac NW weather is the icing on the cake. I could do sad and lonely in the sunshine. But this rain and gloomy weather makes it ten times worse.

My phone is surprisingly silent all day, all evening and every weekend. The rare times it does ring, it's usually a friend from out of state checking in on us. Ahhh, warm fuzzies!

I think the big difference in talking about this today is that before I think I was just pissed about it. But now I'm not really pissed. I'm just really hurt. I realize that no matter how hard we try or how hard we don't try, it just is what it is. We can't change it. We can't change people. We can't make people want to be around us or invite us anywhere or say yes to the invitation to come into our lives. Neither of us have ever experienced anything like this before. So it leads us to believe that it really isn't "us". It's just that we don't fit into whatever Salem (Oregon, really) is. And frankly, if it requires us to just be busy and "be popular", I don't want it.

We have been praying fervently that God would lead us out of Oregon. With every passing lonely day, I just cling to the hope that God knows the desires of our hearts and will, in His timing, lead us back to where we belong. I committed to setting all of this aside several months ago and just praying about it. And it was kind of funny... I remember praying one day in sort of general terms I guess when God broke in and in a thunderous voice He told me, "It's ok to be specific." It really took me aback. I didn't realize that I wasn't being specific. But then I thought, "Ok. I'm going to be really specific." So, I was. And I have been. And God has met us in places and in ways I never would have thought to pray about. I won't go into specifics here because it's between me, my husband and our Heavenly Father... and the few others who know us well and have committed to pray with us on this journey. But what I will say is I'm excited. In the midst of a really gray time in our lives I'm excited for the future. I'm excited that Jesus is not just a savior, but, truly, a friend. He's shown me what it means to be a friend. And He's shown me hope.

It doesn't keep me from missing friends. I think it's ok to want friendships. I miss getting together with a girlfriend (or 5) for some morning shopping, or a cup of coffee, or a weekend away. I miss having double (or triple, or quadruple) dates with other couples. I miss having unannounced visitors at my door. (I miss having the kind of friends who are welcome to just walk in your home without waiting for you to answer the door.) I miss being able to just sit with someone in total silence, or being able to just cry when you need to, or laugh for no reason, or work through frustrations with and know that what you're sharing with them stays with them.

And that is the conclusion that I've come to. I've accepted that nothing will likely change for us here in Salem. But that's ok. I don't have any expectations of anyone. I will still invite people into my life. They can accept it or not. I will likely still feel rejected by my peers. But it's ok. It has brought me deeper into my prayer life, closer to Jesus than I ever have been, and open to the ways that God wants to mold me. (It's very humbling to see yourself in light of who He is.)

And this all comes back to Facebook. The fact that we have so much information about others at our fingertips is not all it's cracked up to be. Social networking. We Facebook because we all want a sense of belonging and community. I really enjoy reading everyone's updates and seeing pictures and videos of my "friends" and their families, I just realize all the more that in some ways, I liked my life better without Facebook - when I was much more ignorant of the fact that it isn't that my "friends" don't have time to be my friend. The truth is, they just want to be an acquaintance at best.

This probably isn't the last time I'll talk about this. It's a journey. It's real. It's what we're experiencing. It sucks.

But it is what it is.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The balloon pooped

I was just sitting in my kitchen, enjoying some downtime on the 'puter. Eden had been sleeping soundly until the last 5 minutes or so, when she started crying and fussing. Suddenly, she went silent... and I heard some odd squeaky noises coming from the living room.

This is how the conversation went:

Me: "Jeffrey, what are you doing?"

Jeffrey: "I change the diaper on there."

Me (as I'm getting up to go check on him, thinking he is trying to change Eden's diaper): "You're trying to change the diaper??"

I come around the corner to see him sitting behind Eden with a wet wipe laid flat on the floor and a little balloon on top of it.

Me: "You're changing the diaper on a balloon?"

Jeffrey: "Yes. The balloon pooped. I change the diaper on there."

I've never seen a balloon poop, but... ok.

I'm still not sure why Eden stopped crying for this, but my guess is she was as amused by it as I was.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where does Jesus shop?

Jeffrey woke up from his nap today and said to me, "I wanna go see Jesus. I like his shirts."

Where do you suppose Jesus gets his shirts that are so memorable they would make an impression on a two-year old. Jeffrey has never commented on someone's clothes before (other than the color).

Now I want to see Jesus' shirts. I feel left out.