Sunday, May 23, 2010

Breach


The English language has many words that are swollen with meaning. And the word "breach" is one of them that strikes terror in my heart every time I hear it.

Picture this...you're sitting in a darkened theater. The music pounds ominously. The actors are just barely safe on the other side of the retaining wall. And then....all of a sudden...someone says the words that send shivers up your spine, letting you know that all may be lost:

"We have a breach!!"

A breach is never good. Usually cities are flooded. Aliens come pouring in, or worse, the Titanic sinks. Just take a look at the word's definition:

BREACH
–noun

1. the act or a result of breaking; break or rupture.
2. an infraction or violation, as of a law, trust, faith, or promise.
3. a gap made in a wall, fortification, line of soldiers, etc.; rift; fissure.
4. a severance of friendly relations.
5. Obsolete. wound.

Do you see what I'm saying?  Really...look at all these terribly descriptive words:

Break
Violation
Rift
Severence
Wound

Each of these conveys such utter destruction.

Sidenote:  in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that it can also mean, "the leap of a whale above the surface of the water," which is actually a really amazing and majestic site...I've seen it for myself in Hawaii.  However, it doesn't fit in with my blog topic, so you know...I'm not putting it in. Writer's perogative and all that...)

I suppose you're wondering where I'm going with this little walk through the dictionary? Well, I was doing some thinking...you know, when I have the spare mental brainpower...and I was doing it at my favorite thinking place: Target.

Say what you will, but Target is a sanctuary for me under the right circumstances. (It can also be a carnival of crazy...as it was on Friday...but that was with 1 return, 4 children, a cart full of groceries, and a sheaf of coupons.) The right circumstances are just me, myself and I with 1 shopping cart, a diet pepsi from the food court, and plenty of time. I can really have a great time crusing the aisles, checking prices, trying on a shirt or some shoes, planning strategies to get a cart full of groceries at the cheapest price. It's my bliss.

However , the other bonus is that I have plenty of time and space to just think...which if you are a parent, you know is in short supply. And the word, breach, is what I thought about. Okay, yes, I had just finished a novel of that title, but actually, I had forgotten that at the moment (although it was surely in my subconscious). I was thinking about the word in the context of definition #4: a severance of friendly relations.

And really, is there anything more terrible than severing (or being severed from) friendly relations?  Of course it's easier to cut off relationship with people who have gone over to the "dark side," or maybe are just big meanies. But, "friendly" relationships? Ouch. That hurts.

It might have been that friend in third grade who turned on you on the playground just so she could hang out with the popular kids.  It could have been your best high school friend who went after the guy she knew you liked. Or, it might have been something even more horrendous like a spouse who cheated on you and left you with a gaping hole in your soul.

I'm sure we all have a person that comes to mind even as you read these words. Because we've all been on the receiving end of a relational breach. And, I'm sure that most of us have even been on the giving end of creating a relational breach. We all have good reasons, I'm sure. "The relationship was just too draining." "My needs weren't being met in that friendship." "He/she is not good for my emotional health right now."  We've all heard it and most likely have been there.

Please hear me...I'm in no way saying that there aren't good reasons for making a break in certain relationship scenarios. Sometimes it's the only sane and healthy choice. But that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the type of relationship that is crusing along just fine. You laugh together; you eat together; you share your hearts and lives together. And, then...there is a little crack. You might slap some putty on that thing and paint over it and carry on. But, then another fissure occurs, and this one is bigger and harder to patch. Wounds are made by words that are said or unsaid, and actions done, or not done.

And then you have a full on rupture, that leaves you on one side, and your loved one on the other.

"Ladies and Gentlemen...we have a breach."

And, it's painful. So, so, painful. Why?  The tying of two hearts together in friendship, marriage, or family life happens as you share joy, tears and life together. There's a lot of time and effort that goes into binding yourself together with someone. When a breach happens, there is no polite and careful unraveling of the strings that have held you together. It's more like a sharp sword that comes slicing down through those cords, parting tissue and muscle in the process. And, it hurts.

Betrayal of trust, loss of a shared dream, division of property, realization that the vulnerability you've allowed has left you...vulnerable.  These are only a few of the byproducts of a breach.

But it goes deeper than even that. There is genuine loss. When you have truly loved someone....when you've walked through terrible times with someone...when you've cried because you've seen tears in their eyes and they have done the same for you...when you've laid open your soul and said, "this is who I am...c'mon inside"...when you've done all that and that person is separate from you, it's a loss that can defy description.

Because you just miss her. You just really long for his company. There's a void left by their departure that is not easily filled by someone or something else. There can and should be a legitimate period of mourning for what was and is no longer.

And sometimes the breach can be repaired (and thankfully I do know of some wonderful stories of marriages and friendships that have been restored), but sometimes they aren't, or rather they haven't been yet.

So, I'm back to the darkened theater with my heart-pounding in my throat as the characters on the screen try to hide from the effects of inevitable breach. Yes, the breach is bad. It's an ugly gaping hole that allows much pain and trouble in.

However, it can also let things out.

Do we really and truly know what is within us (or within another) until we're broken? There are really only two options of what can come out.

Bitterness or Betterness.

Yes, I am aware that I made up that last word (writer's perogative, remember?), but it just fits. Only when I'm cracked apart will I know whether what comes oozing out is self-pity and bitterness or acceptance and betterness. I'm not saying that it's easy and there isn't a grieving process. After all, when a part of your life and heart is cut out, it not only hurts -- it takes time to heal.  And, yes, there's literally a chunk missing for awhile....

But...

there is healing! When I was doing some lite research on the word breach, I stumbled upon "biblical references," and this one in particular:

Psalm 60:2

"You have made the earth tremble;
You have broken it;
Heal its breaches, for it is shaking."

There's no question that there is brokenness -- that there are and will be breaches.  But there is also the hope of healing -- for the cessation of the life shaking and breaking.

I'm not naive enough to believe that I've seen the last of painful breaches in my life. But I do have the comfort of knowing that it's not necessarily the breaking that is the most important thing. Instead -- it's the mending.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Fame



I have to admit something...I'm still struggling with this whole blogging thing.

I started Mosaic Momma because I was inspired to jump into blogging by a friend (Launa) who had started one. I had been looking for a creative outlet for myself, frustrated English major that I am, and thought perhaps that being able to have a space to write my thoughts might be intriguing. However, I must admit that I went back and forth a bit before signing up. Why? Well, as much as I wanted to put my creative thoughts "out there," there was also a part of me that was thinking, "am I sure this is a good idea?"

The struggle for me is hard to put into words, but I'm going to try. One of the reason that I have been hesitant about blogging is that I wonder if I won't find that I like or need the affirmation of others too much. There is something so vulnerable and yet slightly cheeky about writing something down and then "sharing" it with people who "follow you" or maybe are just lucky enough to be your family and friends -- and therefore, can feel like they have a familial obligation to read/follow/comment/like, etc.

I'm just going to be honest and admit that I have a site counter set up on my blog because....I'm actually curious if anyone is visiting and reading and finds anything of value in these posts and pages. And, that makes me a little sad....and I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel like it reveals a side of me that does want the approval and affirmation of others. And, maybe it's because I want to believe that I have something important to say.

Fame. I think people have always sought it. I think we've all seen people (and mostly celebrities or wanna-be celebrities) who desperately want to be recognized, admired, and notorious...and they are willing to do almost anything to make it happen. Lady Gaga is the epitome of that for me right now. I mean for one, her album is called...The Fame. And, she wears really crazy, over-the-top-enough-to-make-Cher-pause outfits, and done some pretty crazy things on stage. I've read articles where she has honestly and flat out admitted that all she wants is to be famous.

But how does that desire for fame and recognition play out in every day life -- the life we all live far-far away from the lights and glitz of Hollywood? I don't think that fame is necessarily what we average joes (and joelles) are seeking. But, I think it's similar.

And maybe I've finally circled the crux of what I've been pondering over the last few months. If Facebook, Twitter and blogs have shown us anything, it's that there is an overwhelming need in people to be recognized. We want to know that our thoughts matter -- that what we say is heard and acknowledged by people who love (or "like") us. There's nothing quite as sad as a Facebook status update that says something like, "Jane Smith is feeling really low right now," -- and then there is no follow-up post underneath by a concerned "friend" inquiring about what's going on.

Life flows all around us so rapidly. It's easy to get caught up in that non-stop torrent, and it's sometimes just as easy to get sidelined in an eddy and watch the world rush on by. And we wonder, does anyone truly see me?  Does anyone really care about what I think -- what I have to say about anything?


I've also been thinking about a story found in Genesis about a woman named Hagar. A lot of things happened to her that were not of her own choosing. Eventually she finds herself pregnant and alone in the desert. The angel of the Lord comes to her and tells her that God has heard about her misery. After he is finished, Hagar refers to God as "The One Who Sees Me."

I have always found that to be so simply profound. Did Hagar's circumstances change?  Nope. In fact, if you look at what is said about her son's future, it's not really that great of news. But it did change her perspective. Hagar was left feeling....seen. Someone realized how miserable she was...how tough things had been for her. Someone cared. And, that seemed to make all the difference.

So, this blogging/social networking thing...it's not a bad thing. But I'm thinking (at least for me) that it can be all-consuming if I let it. I can concentrate so much on myself that I become -- self-focused.

I'm not going to end this post with a pretty bow (although I really, really want to...the English major in me that wants to make everything into an essay of After School Special proportions is protesting loudly) because the discussion and thought process in my own mind is still ongoing.

So, I'm going to let it....f-l-o-w...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tenacious Faith


The concept of faith is a tricky one.

The idea of blindly putting my trust in someone or something, knowing I have zero control -- well, that can be difficult.

Maybe it's because it runs counter to the good ol' American philosophy of not being beholdin' to anyone. Or, it could be that making things happen by our own efforts and the sheer will of pulling up on those boot straps, is ingrained in us from a young age. Whatever the reason, surrendering control can be a painful pill to swallow.

I re-learned this lesson in a major way recently. (And I say re-learn because even though I believe that God will "work all things together for my good," the practical application often tests that belief.)

It all started with a tanzanite ring.

My husband of 11 years wisely heeded my hints (okay straight out blatant requests) to buy a particular tanzanite ring that I had my heart set upon at Zales. It was just what I had been looking for since returning from a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania. I had reasoned my way out of purchasing one of the gorgeous indigenous stones due to the cost. But after being back in the States, I regretted not making the purchase. Hence the ring at Zales. It was perfect. The right size. The right setting. And, most importantly, the right price -- on clearance with an additional markdown. It was irresistable.

Having just missed the super sale by one day, my darling spouse stalked the store and website until it came back on sale -- knowing that doing so would not only please my eye, but my frugal nature. He presented me with my ring of dreams for my birthday.

So, weeks later as I perused his annual birthday/Christmas list, my eyes caught on an item that had been there for three consecutive years: a wide-angle lens for his Canon Rebel. It had remained on the list solely because of its cost. Years before, I had done a quick search and found they were about $450. Which was a lot more than we could afford. The holidays are a rough time financially for us -- Christmas gifts for the kids and family, medical insurance deductibles, van registration, our anniversary...something always demanded an extra cash.

But this year, as I gazed at my cherished ring, I wanted to be extravagant. I wanted the "wow factor." So I went looking again and found that the lens was now discontinued -- and therefore harder to find and more expensive than before. However, in a stroke of genius, I decided to try EBay and found one for $200. I hesistated, but finally bid -- only to just lose the auction.

A few days later, I found another for the same price. It was in mint condition -- hardly used -- and came with the original box and packaging. I quickly put in my bid (and a back-up bid) and nervously watched the auction the next few days until....victory!! The lens was mine for $200!

When Christmas Day came, I was just as excited (if not more) when my husband opened up my gift. He was so shocked and ecstatic. I encouraged him to try it out and make sure it was working correctly so that we could return it within the return window if necessary.

Days went by and the lens worked great, and then it didn't. Then it worked great again, and then didn't. Once my husband realized that he couldn't make it work, he decided he needed to return it. Unfortunately he decided this after the return window was closed and attempts to contact and dialogue about the problem with the seller had gone from bad to worse to non-existent.

Even more unfortunate was the particularly heated "discussion" that broke out one night as we were putting away the dishes. I "discussed" his tendencies to disregard the informational gems I offer him, his urge to proscrastinate, as well as the terrible waste of a perfectly good $200. He "discussed" my propensity to buy from questionable vendors and convey avalanches of information -- making it hard to find those "gems." It quickly became nothing to do about the lens, but everything to do with our annoyance with each other's idiosyncracies. Tempers flared. Harsh words were spoken. Tears were shed.

And then a moment of clarity: $200 was not worth this terrible feeling of separation. After all, it was not him versus me. We're supposed to be on the same team. We were supposed to have each other's backs -- not be thrusting knives into them. We would gladly give up claim to that $200 over feeling this way towards each other.

And so, just like that, I let it go --which is no easy task for someone who struggles with wanting to be right and is a super frugal freak. But I just knew I couldn't hold onto it. And, as I loaded up the dishwasher, I felt an indescribable peace. I prayed for guidance and Divine wisdom, and I let God have control of the mess.

A few days later, I called our credit card company, and discovered that the lens purchase didn't qualify for buyer's protection. I just shrugged my shoulders. A few days after that, I opened up a dispute on PayPal. I really didn't expect anything.

A few days went by and then I received an email -- letting me know that PayPal had found in our favor and had fully refunded our money.

I was stunned. There it was. $200 back in our account. And, there was the broken lens sitting on our dining room table. After a few days more, we had an idea and contacted the lens company about the problem. We were told we could send it in for an evaluation for repair. Imagine our surprise when a week later, we were told it would take a $12 part from Japan to fix the lens, plus labor and shipping.

The total cost to fix it and clean it out good as new: $102.

Lesson learned about letting go of things that are uncontrollable: priceless.

It all came full circle a few hours ago. I had one of those surreal moments as I heard the joyous laughter of my kids at play, and saw my husband pull out his "new" $102 discontinued lens to capture it all.

And this moment that was so perfectly beautiful was made all the more so because it was viewed through my own inner lens -- thankfully cleaned of the grime of self and pride, and once again restored to clarity.