Monday, December 10, 2012


These past few months have been full of joy for me.  I met a man several months ago who I fell in love with.  But, deeper than that, I chose him. And he chose me.  We decided to marry.  And then we did. It didn't seem like a hard decision to make, but that isn't to say I took it lightly.  In fact, I take the decision very seriously.  I have no desire to live through the pain of a second divorce.  My husband is in all ways the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.  I often think about how strange life meet such an incredible man now.  In my late 30's. 

However amazing my marriage has been thus far, my life has been marked by sadness over other situations.  My law partner and friend's husband was diagnosed with two forms of cancer in August.  Her life has changed in ways she could have never imagined.  Her pain and sadness is palpable.  She is far braver and more loyal than I ever could have given her credit for.  My husband is searching for a job.  One that will make him feel good about working and a job that he can feel is contributing to our world to make it better.  My best friend and I are at odds.  Again.  This time I see that perhaps there is no way forward together.  And of course that brings with it a sense of sadness and regret.  My former husband is behaving in ways that cause my children pain and fill me with rage. 

I have had to consider, and draw conclusions about what I will seek as primary in my life.  There are few open spots in life.  From early on, we are forced to choose primary relationships.  And I have over the years had to choose these things.  My first husband never really occupied a primary place in my life.  I had friends, church, kids and other things that filled those spots.  The man I have chosen at 37 is occupying the central place that another human can occupy.  And I made that choice.  To let him in.  To love him and make him a priority every day.  That wasn't in the vows necessarily, but I have chosen it nonetheless.  What perhaps is even better is that he has also made that choice. 

What this choice means is that my ex-husband's antics no longer get a central spot in my life.  My best friend's decisions and choices take on a secondary role.  It doesn't mean that I don't care.  It simply means that I won't allow myself to invest in these situations as I would have in the past.  The losses aren't made easier necessarily.  But they are losses I am choosing.  My responses are less emotional and more matter of fact.  There have been moments when I have been angered or saddened by what has happened, but ultimately I can let go in a way I would have struggled with a year ago. 

What I have discovered in the past few months is that when we seek to be someone's primary relationship knowing that the other person isn't fully available to us...for whatever reason...we are not loving that person by seeking the relationship. My ex-husband was not capable of placing me in a primary role.  For many reasons and perhaps the reasons don't matter.  And when our relationship failed, it was at least partially because of the lack of primacy that either of us placed on it.  However this is not to say that primary relationships can be sought out.  In fact, I would say it's the opposite.  If we are fortunate enough to pass into someone's life at the right moment, it is an amazing thing.  But asking someone to choose us who is not free to make a good, sound choice is selfish.  And the relationship will never have the quality it needs to last the storms.  And trying to force ourselves into a primary place in someone else's life is manipulation in it's worst form.  It seems life a loving thing, but in fact it is only to meet our own need to belong to someone.

The moment I knew things had deteriorated in my marriage was when I began to lie to those closest to me about what was happening.  When I could no longer maintain friendships and familial relationships because I knew things were a mess and I feared everyone's judgment.  While I care less about others' judgments now than I used to, I still recognize the gauge as a valuable one. 

I believe in primary relationships and the importance of choosing with not just our desires but also with our minds and hearts.   And I'm finally in a place where I'm choosing healthy ones rather than ones that can only end badly.  Life is good.  Even when my days aren't always so wonderful.  And I'm excited that the man I have chosen to be primary in my life wants to hold that spot.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I'm a planner.  I like to plan things.  Whether it be a special dinner or a party or just when I'm going to read a new book, I enjoy thinking about how things are going to go.  I must admit that this sometimes lends itself to disappointment.  When I "plan" in my mind how things are going to go and then...something or someone interferes.  My plans are either thrown out the window or have to be revised.  This never makes me particularly happy.  I have a certain rigidity about my personality that makes me irritated by the sort of haphazard way life really is. 

This brings me to my latest revelation.  My life, thus far, really hasn't gone according to my plan.  That is...when I was a young girl, I was like many other young girls I think.  I thought I would grow up, "find myself", get a job, get married, have babies and live happily ever after.  What I didn't plan was that I would struggle with figuring out what to do with my life.  That I would fight to find a job that I could really love.  That I would get married, only to subsequently get divorced.  That my baby would have health issues.  None of that was part of the plan.  Still, I survived it.  And ultimately came out the other side of those times stronger and more whole than before.

Now I find myself in love.  It seems strange at 37 to be so enamored with another person, but I am.  And I'm enjoying getting to know him and his plans, hopes, failures and losses.  The more I know, the more I find myself drawn in.  Still, this is outside the plan.  My amended plan when I divorced at 34 was to remain single.  Raise my babies.  Enjoy their lives.  Live somewhat vicariously through them.  They have been the sun I have revolved around for the past three years.  There is a certain comfort to that.  Of course I know children grow up and life moves on, but still...I thought they were enough for me.  I didn't need another marriage.

Recently I have come to realize that I am now called into another adventure.  This one, I will travel with a partner.  A man who is my equal.  He doesn't want to be rescued from anything or saved from something.  He is smart, loyal, funny.  In the beginning, I wasn't sure.  I wondered if this made sense at this time, in this place.  But eventually I was able to let go and accept the gift standing before me.  It's been an awesome journey so far.  I can't wait for the next 6 months, 5 years, 50 years. 

I have to admit, life hasn't went according to plan. And yet I'm more optimistic than ever about what direction I'm heading in.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thomas (Still)

Every year it happens...I listen to the Gospel of just after the Resurrection. And I sit and think about Thomas. Usually the story makes me cry.

"But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and my hand in his side, I will not believe. A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you. Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe. Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." (The Gospel according to John)

Every year I feel some mixture of pain and shame when I step into Thomas' shoes in this Gospel. I feel as if I lived Thomas' life 2,000 years later. I want badly to believe, but I doubt. And I look for the signs around me. Some days I'm pretty good and accepting the unbelievable story of God's grace and love for humans. And other days, I must confess I think maybe we're all part of some strange cosmic joke. It's complicated. The past few years my life has become about embracing the doubts that once plagued me and accepting they are just as important to my faith as faith is. This year my view of Thomas has shifted a bit. This year his story made me cry. But not because I knew in that moment this man's shame. Instead it was I knew in that moment his disbelief and then his elation.

I cannot imagine being Thomas. Following the rabbi known as Jesus around. And then ultimately watching him die a horrible death. The feeling of abandonment and loss had to be excruciating. And the fear of what was next and how to go on had to be weighing the man down to the ground. So, when he hears the rumors - that Jesus is alive - well...what should we expect? There had to be a part of him that simply could not allow that possibility into his mind and heart. The news was simply too incredible and amazing.

The past few years of my life have been about trying to learn how to manage my expectations. I left a bad marriage only to find myself wandering around a bit lost. While I was hopeful I would find a partner, I really didn't allow myself the genuine hope that this was possible. And to find someone who was smart, loving, loyal...well that seemed like something that was just too wonderful to hope for. And then I woke up from the past few years and there was someone standing there, wanting to be those things for me. I have to admit, I reacted a bit like Thomas. Unsure, doubting. Part of me was frightened enough that I had to fight the urge to run away. Not to be misunderstood, I do think there are good things in life. And I think there is more love most days in my life than I can hold in my heart. But still, that hope. For someone to be my beloved is a really big hope for me. One I almost can't quite grasp. So I understand Thomas differently this year. Not as a doubter who just didn't have enough faith. But as a man who was afraid to hope for something as wonderful and life-changing as his teacher rising from the dead. And ultimately as a man who cries tears of relief and elation when he finally lays eyes on Jesus and is able to touch him.

And as for me, I feel like I finally have the thing I lost several years ago. I have a real sense of hope for my future. Not as mommy or lawyer or friend...but a hope that my future includes someone amazing who can be my partner, my lover and my friend.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Transfigured - There are no words

In the story of the Transfiguration in the Bible, Jesus instructs the few disciples he has with them "not to talk about it." I've always wondered why that was. At one point, I thought it might be because Jesus knew that if they told the truth of what they saw and heard on that mountain, people would think they were insane and they would be rejected and stigmatized even more than they already were. At another reading, I thought perhaps Jesus was tired of people chasing after him. After all, he is/was human, and I'm sure he was worn out and tired. At yet another time, I thought perhaps it was reverse psychology - "Don't tell." Wink, wink. Today as I listened to another discussion of this event, it occurred to me. Perhaps none of these explanations make sense to me in the here and now. (Warning: this latest thought is subject to, and most likely will, change without warning.)

There are certain experiences in life humans get to have that are simply inexplicable. The birth of a child, the tragedy of great loss (whether to death or other circumstances), falling in love. These experiences are the subject of poetry, bad country music songs and much discussion. But really, nothing does them justice. It's just not possible to put into words, song or painting what it feels like to hold your newborn child in your arms. Breathing in her scent, gazing at him, feeling a child's weight in your arms for the first time. It is an experience that surpasses expression. It is not possible to explain it adequately to another person. No matter how artfully one tries, the experience is too rich, too textured, too beautiful to put into words that make sense to anyone who has not experienced the same event. And even someone who has experienced the same event will have a different experience and the words that I think are helpful in describing the experience may mean nothing to someone else.

I was reminded of this reality recently when it became clear to me I was falling in love again. It has been a very, very long time since I felt this way about a man. At first I wasn't even certain what to think or how to feel about it. I had the long-forgotten butterflies in my belly and I wasn't able to hold an ordinary thought in my head. I wasn't able to eat much and all I could think about was this man's voice in my mind. The term "falling" seemed to fit perfectly for this out-of-control state of being more than alive. The more I tried to be logical and resist these feelings, the more profoundly they became made manifest. Despite just having spent the past 5 minutes trying to explain how I have felt this past month, my words do not serve any real purpose. If you've ever fell in love, you might be able to relate...but your experience is undoubtedly different from mine. That's just part of being all too human. And mostly I don't want to try and express how I feel to anyone but my beloved, because it almost seems to cheapen the experience. How can one explain the fire in the belly that is part of falling in love? What words are there to use? If I were a painter, I could paint you a picture...but still my hues and designs would not bring to life how I feel about this man clearly enough.

All of this to say, I can't help but think that Jesus got this. I wonder when he told the disciples to "not tell anyone" if implicit in his instruction was the idea that no one else would get it. After all seeing some one's clothes change colors and seeing dead people wasn't what most of us would think of as an ordinary day. I think Jesus understood that some experiences in life are so amazing and incredible and beautiful...that all the discussion in the world will never do them justice. We can try to find the words, we can create a painting and write incredible melodies...but still we cannot fully put the experience into anything that makes sense to anyone but us and the other in our experience. I think Jesus lived his life fully alive...and therefore he had these sorts of experiences regularly. And yet he spent little time trying to explain the events of his life to others. The Bible indicates he wept at the death of his friend. That he sweated blood on the final night before his execution. That he expressed anger. But you don't find him waxing on eloquently about his life experiences. He doesn't appear to try and convince anyone about the amazing nature of life.

I suppose my latest thoughts about the Transfiguration are colored by my latest thoughts about finding love and then perhaps losing love in short order. But I can't help but think Jesus got it. Most simply put...there are no words. And so then why force them? Of course I recognize my "Peterish" way of looking at the world - I need to say something. I must try and stammer my way through explanations and lovely turns of phrase simply to ultimately admit there are no words to describe the feelings and experiences of life. I think Jesus got this, and rather than try and explain what was happening to him, he avoided the cliches and catchy phrases to describe what was indescribable. And he gave us an incredible gift in doing this...we can have the experiences for ourselves. We can create music and art and prose to try and expound on how we feel (perhaps being a little like Peter). And then we can find the silence where our own thoughts and feelings about the experiences of life are quieted, perhaps even suspended somewhere between earth and heaven. And we can be grateful for the experience in that suspended space.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Lately it seems, it's everywhere I turn. Sex.

Recently some children were visiting in my home with my children. One of them asked me if "my man" had bought my house for me. To his surprise (and maybe my own), I blushed a little and then laughed. No, my man wasn't the owner of my house. And by the way I don't have "a man."

I read a blog about how women in many evangelical circles these days are viewed as the "weaker vessels" and therefore unable to resist men if said men want to have sex with them. Apparently our free will flies right out the window in the presence of a penis.

It reminded me of the gender issues of my childhood brand of Christianity...that is...if a man strayed in his marriage, it was because a temptress had taken over somehow. He couldn't help himself. Men could not be expected to control their carnal urges when women flaunt themselves in front of them.

This reminded me of the women I know who think a man is incapable of being faithful and monogamous, because they are, well, men. And that reminded me of men who think women are all secretly lusting after some other man, not their mate.

This reminded me of the demise of my own marriage and how I spent a long time thinking about what all I had done wrong, and how perhaps my yo-yo weight lead my husband to look elsewhere for sex.

This reminded me of recently watching my 8 year old daughter flirt with 14 year old boys, and how uneasy it made me. That she already felt the need to try and impress these boys with her charm and lip gloss.

This reminded me of all the conversations I've had with female friends that have included some sort of discussion of men and how they want sex too often and how
"we" don't need sex nearly as often as "they" do.

This reminded me of how, in the end, societally speaking, it comes back to a few assumptions. None of which are flattering to women. Or flattering to me.

First, women are really only here to meet men's desires for sex. Second, we are on one hand really powerless and yet we hold all the power when it comes to sex. Of course neither position is tenable. Third, the pressure to be "desirable" or "acceptable" to men is so pervasive and strong, I'm unsure if my daughter will learn any of things I want her to learn when it comes to relationships, sex, men.

When I was still a young girl, I remember having so many ideas about men and sex and marriage and babies. From my earliest memories, my father used to talk about women being whores. My brother was supposed to avoid pornography, because having that around the house would "turn your sister into a whore." I was to avoid boys because all they wanted was sex, and they didn't really like girls. "If you kiss on boys, you'll end up pregnant." I thought I was pregnant when I was 9 years old because I let Kenny, the kid down the street, kiss me. I spent months looking at my belly in the mirror, trying to think of what I would say when I had a baby at 10. While the kiss from Kenny wasn't much to write home about, it made me feel special. Loved. Worthy, somehow. A few years later, it became evident to me that men sometimes just took what they wanted from you. And as I had no say about that, neither would I have say about whether a man would "pick me." I remember in my female-dominated college feeling as if I needed to dumb it down so that men would desire me more.

Even now, all these years later, there is a certain discomfort I feel when someone says I'm single. While I am, and I chose to be, this feels a bit like when Kenny kissed Terri. Even though I had rebuffed his advances, I knew he had chosen her over me. And it hurt. I wanted to be desired. Deep down, I suppose I still do. But yet, that be desired...still feels a little like being a whore. Good girls don't want sex, do they?

While I would like to claim to be highly evolved. Afterall I'm a feminist. I'm a lawyer. I'm raising children on my own. And still, there is some sense of shame in being alone, not having "my man" to buy me a house. And perhaps even more shame in admitting wanting to be wanted.

I want more. More for my daughter. More than the tired old stereotypes and strange misconceptions I know about sex. I want more for me. I still want to believe that people, men and women, can be well-intentioned and good and decent and loving. And that sex has a place in there somewhere.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


As I've struggled to find words in the past few months...or at least words to write anyway...I've been largely unsettled. At first I didn't identify what it was I was feeling, but now I remember this. Unsettled.

Ordinarily unsettled would be a bad word for me, but not at this moment. At this moment, it actually seems highly appropriate and a welcome time in life.

The past few years have been out about settling in. Adjusting to being divorced. Adjusting to being mom and dad to my kids 95% of the time. Adjusting to a different church community. Adjusting to a new set of friends and peers in my career. Finally about a year ago, I began to realize, by and large I was settled again. And it was a nice change, turnabout. It made sense.

Now, in the normal course of life, change comes again. More and more I have felt a change coming. I'm not getting re-married, my kids are still the priority of my life. But, I have realized that the faith community I find myself involved in isn't really what I need. And in the same moment, I realize the community is also not what I want. The needs I had, the needs they had...they coalesced briefly. But, now, it seems more and more that leaving really is the next step. It's not a running away sort of thing. It's time to move on.

I find myself preparing for the journey I know is coming. I'm being lulled out of the comfortable, roomy place I have been hanging out in for the past few years. Instead of that making me uneasy, it actually makes a lot of sense at this moment, in this time.

The church I've lighted at the past few years is a nice place to visit. But ultimately I don't fit in a permanent way. I'm not a lifelong Episcopalian. While I still find myself drawn to the Episcopal Church, I don't find myself drawn to the small, often inwardly-focused sort of place I currently myself in. The debates over programs and liturgy are not meaningful for me. While I have found myself drawn into the discussions at times, I don't feel drawn in because this is my family. Rather, I feel drawn in because I think I can help. And of course that's not really relationship. Everyone needs a community. I have to believe that in fact I'm like most other folks, I'm made for community. The question is what community? When? How does it look?

The only community I really think is authentic is one formed out of relationship. While commonality is useful, it really has little to do with community. When I think of my circle of friends - the ones that are also friends with one another - while we share some commonality - our relationships are not built on the foundation of need. Instead we are a community because we want to be. There is a desire to be with one another. A want - to be involved in each other's lives. I want to know these people better. I want to share our journeys - because I have presence/presents to offer them and I am able to receive from them those things that make me a better person. This community is gift. While it has its share of difficulties, miscues and pain, it is by and large a great thing.

Each community in my life seems to be present for a reason, a season or some such thing. What I feel called to these days is a faith community that it outwardly focused. Where we meet, who's in charge or how it looks isn't really of much concern to me. What is of concern to me is what the point is. Is the point to build relationships with the least of these? Is the point social justice? Is the point to serve others first, and ourselves last? I sure hope there is such a thing. That's where I want to go. And if it doesn't exist, then God help me, I feel the need to create such a community.

So, for once in my life, change actually seems imminent, and it's not making me queasy. I know something that can exceed my expectations waits, just down the road. And rather than staying for the sake of proving I can stay, I look forward to leaving in search of a new sense of being settled.