4.02.2014

You are allowed your process.


We are in the middle of a complete backyard renovation. So that's fun. :|

It sounds like a big deal when you say it like that, “back yard renovation”, but we've hardly got any yard to renovate so it's actually not a big deal at all, except for it being super expensive and incredibly time consuming and really frustrating. But when you have a very small house and very large kids, you have to find creative ways to get away from them. You need a space to retreat. Hiding in a closet full of dirty clothes while you pray to Almighty God for the strength to not murder your offspring doesn't always sooth the nerves the way you'd hope. So, as soon as we moved back to the US, we decided to turn our tiny, boring, suburban patch of dirt into a sexy, utilitarian, sub-urban, chill out lounge... with a bit of rustic charm. And a beer garden.

It's gonna be awesome.

El Chupacabra is busting ass to get it done. He spends his day off with his hands in the ground, reshaping our little landing strip into a courtyard oasis for our family and friends (who also need to escape their children). Evenings find him googling irrigation systems or sketching plans for paths, making informed decisions about Scotch Moss or Walkable Thyme. The guy is a machine. Relentlessly hard working.

But, here's the thing: He doesn't work the same way I work, and that drives me to the brink of madness.

I mean, he's a waaaay harder worker than me, but he doesn't do things the way I would do them.

Goes out to pour cement. Builds a chair.
He'll work on, like, 25 projects at once. He'll pour some cement, then he'll go plant a fern, then he'll trim a tree and frame some more cement, then he'll change the oil in the car, and pick up some fertilizer. He'll reach up to install a new light, and four minutes later he's on the ground plumbing some little sprinkler thingies. Then, because there's obviously not enough going on, he builds a chair.

And the whole time I am standing there with my mouth hanging open, dazed and confused, because that is not at all how I would do it. NOT. AT. ALL.

His process is all wrong.

If I was going to redo the backyard, first, I would clean the kitchen. Because duh. Then I would go outside and look around and make plans. A lot of plans. I would make plans for approximately 6 years. When the plans were made, I'd create a to-do list in order, and The Order would be of the utmost importance! If you plant a fern before all the cement is done, you have broken all the laws of sanity and reason. The cement goes first. Then the dirt. Then plants. Then lights. Then furniture. Then, and only then, do you invite your friends over to pass the peace pipe around the fire pit. That is The Order. That's my process. That's how I would do it.

My process looks nothing like his.

Same patch of dirt. Same purpose. Completely different process.

And that is allowed.

In the end, the purpose will be accomplished and the yard will be transformed. Admittedly, his way is far faster than my way, probably decades faster, and my way is more organized than his – but the process is a means to an end, not the end in itself. No amount of eye rolling will make what order the yard is done matter as much as I want it to matter.

….

I don't know if you've noticed this, but living around other people is, like, really hard.

El Chupacabra and I have been living together for 20 years and we're still learning how to love and respect each other. We're still figuring out how to support one another through our very different processes.

What we've found is that, even 20 years in, our individual history and personal perspectives lead us in different directions quite often. We have differences of opinion (sometimes mistaken as indisputable facts) on just about everything. We have disagreements about parenting style, money management, furniture arrangement, laundry folding, how to drive a car, how to fill a dishwasher, how to make guacamole... even our theology diverges in certain place.

And that is allowed.

We have grown beside each other for decades, into and out of each other, like two tangled trees, both separate and together. It has taken all these years living side by side for us to realize that we can embrace and support each other through our very different processes. Though, sometimes we're still not very good at it.

See. I want him to meet me where I'm at. He wants me to be on the same page. When we don't end up in the same place at the same time, there is tension. When we see things through vastly different lenses, it can be confusing. When the place my process brings me to is in stark contrast to the place his had lead him, it can be unsettling.

All in all, respecting his process can be uncomfortable.

What it cannot be is unloving. What it cannot be is ungracious. What it cannot be is angry and condemning. Those things don't propel, they paralyze -- and one person should not be allowed to stunt another person's growth. Our job is not to drag and pull others into our space, but to love and nurture them exactly where they're at – no matter where they're at - and to accept that God may have them on a different path on a different plane on what seems like a different planet.

And that is allowed. God gets to do His thing.

I get this wrong all the time. Learning to have Grace (and even, like, basic kindness) toward people who don't think or act like I do has been a relentless part of the process for me. Very much a 2 steps forward, 1.9999 steps back kind of thing. But I'm trudging along, gratefully surrounded by people who love me and challenge me, but who also understand that God is at work here. They trust that, trust Him, enough to know when to step back and let the process of my spiritual growth just happen.

Refining faith around a fire with friends is my favorite.
I'm learning to stand in silence at the kitchen sink and just watch while my husband buzzes around our backyard project like Bob the Builder on crack cocaine, doing everything out of order. I'm learning to appreciate the creation in his chaos without wanting to hijack it to suit my program. I'm learning to save my input for when it actually matters, or when he actually wants it. This is very, very, very, very, super, exceptionally hard for me. Almost impossible.

But I'm getting there. I'm learning to trust that, just as God is walking with me through this life, He is walking with the people around me... and that their path is different than mine.

I'm learning that that is allowed. You are allowed your process.

God will see us both along the way, and, somehow, with Love and Grace (and, y'know, basic kindness) we will continue to be this tangled, inseparable mess we call the Church.

Same patch of dirt. Same purpose. Different process.

And that is allowed

Now pass the peace pipe.

.....        .....       .....


Are we free to question, challenge, change and grow? Can we let others do the same?