Thursday, September 20, 2007

the veil of small talk

I had this friend once who thought it was an infliction, placed upon her by her childhood, to dive deep in a conversation without regards to small talk. She scared people away, she said. She was too deep too soon, she said. And I agreed, small talk is necessary to break the ice.

But I've been thinking of her a lot as of late. I have acquired an avoidance of small talk. There are so many important things in life to discuss, and if I can't get to the heart of the matter...why are we talking?

As I shared this with a true confidant, expressing my frustration with myself much like my friend of old used to do with me, I was surprised to find that I'm not alone in this. She, too, feels like small talk is an unnecessary facade when fellowshipping with other believers. MInTheGap eloquently identifies it as such:

We live in a culture that seldom wears external veils, but we also live in a culture where we each wear a veil every single day. I’m talking about the facade that we all want others to see. We all want others to see our positive traits and not our negatives...

This is especially true in the church today. The one place that we should be free to acknowledge that we are sinners and that we all have common struggles is also the one place that we have to be the most perfect. Our kids can’t be bad, our hair cannot be messed up, we must have on our best clothes and makeup...

My confidant, being the insightful gal that she is, put it into simple terms as well. When it is understood that both participants in a conversation follow Christ (otherwise known as believers) is it not much better to encourage one another and build each other up? (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

When I was in elementary school, I must have been ten-ish, my sister was out of town and her car stopped working. We were broke, and didn't have the $200 it would take to get her home to safety. Our time to pray with our mother was at night, before bed, and she encouraged us all to pray for the money we needed to rescue our sister. She would come to each of our rooms and pray with us, so night after night we added a prayer for our sister's situation at the end of our regular prayers (i.e. my brother always said at the end of his prayer, "I love you, Jesus.")

One day we were dropped off at home from school, and each of us had an identical envelope in the mailbox (four in all: for me, two of my sisters, and my little brother). Inside were letters, written on red lined paper, each with a short message, signed by Jesus, with a verse at the bottom. And fifty dollars. In each one. And my brother's has a P.S.- I love you, too, David.

An awesome story, yes, but why do I bring it up as I rant about the lack of depth in conversations with people that I consider friends? The verse on my letter was the very same verse I quoted above. I didn't recognize it until I saw the address and thought, "Oh yeah! This is *my* verse." Ever since that letter from Jesus arrived I've wondered how 1 Thessalonians 5:11 pertained to me. The second part of it always threw me off ("...just as you are doing").

So I have a new mission. Obviously the Lord thinks I could be good at "encouraging one another and building each other up," so I will. When I encounter small talk, I'll small talk my way right into your heart with an encouraging word. With the help of the Holy Spirit, that is. Because I *know* I can't do it myself.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm afraid of being: The Invisible Woman

This is powerful. Simple, amazingly sad, but true (for so many of us). I mentally fought against the idea the entire time I was reading until the (second to) last paragraph. Here's a snippet, but thanks to Barbara Curtis from, the source has been found. You can follow the link at the bottom to read it all.

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.
We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

By Nicole Johnson

It started to happen gradually …

One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?"

"Nobody," he shrugged.

Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like "Turn the TV down, please" - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking.

That's when I started to put all the pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me.

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Here's the rest...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dogs vs. Children: only in America

This is America decides that children are an unimportant part of marriage- dogs are just fine, thank you- a Russian governor urges couples to play hooky & hook up (I couldn't resist):

Skip work, make babies, says Russian governor

Wed Sep 12, 6:02 AM ET

The governor of a central Russian province urged couples to skip work on Wednesday and make love instead to help boost Russia's low birth-rate.

And if a woman gives birth in exactly nine months time -- on Russia's national day on June 12 -- she will qualify for a prize, perhaps even winning a new home.

WORLD magazine reported in their July 21st publication:

Pew found that only 41 percent of Americans now view having children as "very important" to a successful marriage, down from 65 percent in 1990.

Faithfulness, at 93 percent, topped the list of key marriage ingredients, followed by happy s*xual relationships at 70 percent. But even sharing household chores (at 62 percent) and earning an "adequate" income (at 53 percent) beat out having children. Out of nine options given, having children came in eighth. Only the importance of spouses agreeing on politics drew less support.

The talk of the town has been that Seattle has more dogs than children. From the Seattle Times:

There are about 125,000 dogs in Seattle, going by both the Seattle Animal Shelter's estimate and an independent analysis by The Seattle Times.

In the 2000 census, there were fewer than 90,000 children in Seattle.

But to be fair:

This says more about the number of children in Seattle, which has fewer households with children than any other large city besides San Francisco. There are a lot of students and other young people here, plus childless professionals putting in long hours, and a sizable gay and lesbian population. Houses are either too small or too expensive for most families with children. The dog numbers are actually pretty average. One in three households has a dog.

So overall, birthrates are down, but most Americans think nothing of it. In fact, most people I pass think I'm crazy for having more than 2.1 children (the newest statistical average). I mostly get wide-eyed looks and often get comments. One woman in particular stands out as saying, "Boy have you been busy procreating!" (I guess it was better than being called a breeder- see the Christianity Today article here). We get made fun of, we get the old line about over-population, we get dirty looks, but whose going to take care of all those people when they get older? It won't be there dogs, that's for sure.

In 20 years we'll be a free country with "labor shortages, fewer buyers in the future to prop up stock and real estate prices, [and] a dearth of customers for business." Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of National Marriage Project says, "The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X*rated fantasies and desires of adults. Childrearing values--sacrifices, stability, dependability, maturity--seem stale and musty by comparison."

And just for kicks, here's a line graph by Steve Sailer (I didn't want to read it all either):

Ht: mommylife