Pre-School Out-of-Control

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Pre-School Out-of-Control

The last ten months, while writing and editing my book, Uncensored Prayer, God and I have taken some Life Graduate School classes together.  The fall semester began two weeks ago for local kids, and my compassionate, mothering God informed me I am enrolled in Pre-School Out-of-Control.  Frustration is starting to take over my life, and yesterday I realized I’m in deep doo-doo.

The last few weeks, someone dear to me has called several times at wit’s end, his life in a seemingly unfixable mess.  He asked me for advice, yet everything I suggested was countered with an excuse why that wouldn’t work.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that he wasn’t seeking a solution, but wanted me to agree with his hopeless viewpoint.

The last time we spoke I said, “I would encourage you to seek professional, non-biased counsel.  Whenever we feel we’re out of options, there are viable options we just don’t know about.”  He hadn’t listened to the possibilities I suggested. Maybe he would listen to someone else.  I don’t know the verdict, because he won’t return my calls.

Over the same period of time, I’ve become more and more frustrated about things I can’t control:  increasing physical limitations, major crises in my children’s lives, a check we need from my mother-in-law’s estate that should have been here last month but isn’t.  Now I’ve caught myself going overboard about minor things.

Yesterday I was driving Bud’s truck and stopped to get gas.  I followed the simple instructions on the gas cap and could not get it to open after repeated attempts.  Then I lost it – blew up in public, because I couldn’t do this simple little thing.  Too many instances of my best efforts being inadequate.  My frustration was out-of-control.  Almost immediately, I thought, “Joy, what is your problem?  It’s a gas cap, for heaven’s sake.”  Bud came out of the store, turned it just like I had done, and of course, it worked like a charm.

I HATE having limitations – not being able to accomplish simple tasks that are easy for most people.  Pride plays a big role here, but the primary issue is accepting life as it is, trusting God with what I can’t handle, and perhaps the hardest one of all for me – loving and accepting myself as I am.

Teri is a good friend of mine, and the woman I admire the most, though she would find that hilarious if she knew.  She is a plump middle-aged woman, yet takes belly-dancing classes.  Once or twice a year, she and her family dress up like pirates, act silly and sing “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum” for a charity fundraiser.  Teri is a member of a Baptist church that doesn’t realize it is one, reaching out in unpopular ministries and embracing people often marginalized by many traditional denominations.  As a mother who home schools her young teenage daughter, she has sometimes been the target of criticism from conservative members of that community, some of whom wouldn’t even let Teri’s daughter play with their kids when they were young (a bad influence, you know).

So how did I meet this radical person disguised as a non-controversial middle-class homemaker?  We’re both part of a community of faith called Outlaw Preachers, a slightly organized tribe of Jesus-followers who partially or totally don’t fit in traditional Christian circles.  Last December at the annual OP conference, I was asked to read some of my poetry, which my pastor calls “sublime and profane”.  I met a beaming, affirming Teri and her daughter, and our friendship grew from there.

So why do I consider Teri my mentor even though she doesn’t mentor me?  She’s comfortable just as she is, fearless in living according to her convictions, and a genuinely delightful person.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in shorts publically because of unsightly veins in my legs.  That thought never occurs to Teri.  When it’s hot, she wears shorts and a halter top, glowing with happiness, not embarrassment like I would.  When Teri meets a gas cap she can’t conquer, she asks someone else for help, but doesn’t feel stupid.

I’m a life-long hippie, controversial to the bone, yet held captive by my own set of restrictive rules and regs for myself.  I’m the one keeping me upset over things I can’t control.  No one is belittling me because I still can’t negotiate Twitter or figure out 20% of the bill so I know how much to tip the server.  I’m the only one with the power to focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses, and learn not to compare myself to other people.

But I’m keeping a close eye on this woman who excels at what I want for me.  Maybe God will let Teri team-teach this semester.


About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. I am a voracious reader and am passionate about prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression.

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