Embracing Another New Year

One minute it was 2016, then it was 2017 sometime in the middle of 10 Things I Hate About You, probably when Heath Ledger sings in the bleachers. Or maybe when Julia Stiles reads her poem to Heath in class. Great moments.

Anyway, 2016 passed to 2017 and I’m still surprised, trying to find my footing in a new year.

Last New Year’s surprised me too. It was the first of many markers that came and went without my dad. Christmas came and went rather uneventfully, but the new year brought more sadness than anticipated. Another year different from the one he died. Another year more of him not here with us. Something about that number change drove reality in deeper.

This year seems to be similar. Christmas came and went and I missed my dad in so many ways. But a new year put another year in between then and now and it just feels like a really, really long time. Too long without his presence in my life and the lives of all who loved him.

It’s a dissonant note in a season of  resolutions, moving on, organizing, cleaning, looking forward, gaining control. It’s weird to feel a stuck in the past. If I could just make a resolution, a plan, or buy a container for the mess, I’d be moving forward and that would feel good.

There are some things in our lives, though, that can’t be contained neatly. Like grief. And, there is so, so much I cannot control. Like my dad not being here with us. So much I must respond to when I wish I could just change it.

It reminds me of the woman in the wonderful book The Help who slip covered everything in her house in a desperate effort to be more than she was in reality, to cover the pain of what she felt was less than. Instead of face herself, she controlled everything and everyone around her to conform to her desired image. It cost her so much.

The dangers of slip-covering the reality of life are real. Even the sadness of something like losing a father.

So, today, with children back in school and the house quiet, I am endeavoring to respond to the life God has graciously given me before moving on. It means counting the joy and also counting the grief, resisting the urge to slipcover things that need stripping, and loving what needs to be embraced in its current state.

The really ugly chair that inspires parts of this post, a craigslist find that must be loved a while longer in its current state.

There are things I want from this year for sure, but to rush into those feels like building on sand. For today, I survey the terrain…and write because that’s how I do this reflection business.



Refraction, On Seeing AgainĀ 

So, you passed your driving license sight exam?” I knew I was going to be getting a prescription when she asked me that question. She assured me I’d notice a big difference when I got my glasses.

An assistant who seemed to have good style helped me pick out a pair of glasses I was sure I’d just need while driving at night. They came in a week later. I put them on.

My baseboards are nicked everywhere. I can see blades of grass in my backyard, read signs from a bizarre distance, distinguish shapes at night, and notice every dust bunny in my house with my bionic eyeglasses. Oh, and our TV is suddenly much better quality than I thought.

Its not like I haven’t worn glasses before. Anyone who grew up with me knows I was very nearsighted and wore glasses constantly. Then I had those gas permeable contacts which are really torture devices when combined with the smallest bit of dust. Then subjected myself to LASIK, wonder of wonders! I didn’t wear glasses for 16 years.

But, when you get older, eyes change. I knew this but slow change is like being cooked in a pot of water. I didn’t notice the gradual differences mounting up.

What took me in to the optometrist, besides not having my eyes checked for a ridiculously long time, was a growing fear of driving at night. I had a suspicion I wasn’t seeing as clearly as before. I also noticed I could see more dirt in my house when I got closer to the floor.

You’re noticing I’m not really bright. Takes me awhile to put two and two together…and get the right answer!

So, I knew I needed glasses but this radical transformation was a little more than I anticipated. Realizing how much my bad vision distorted my perception was a wake up call. I came to believe over time it was the TV’s fault or my night vision just wasn’t that good.

My problem, by default, was out there. This distortion led me to think I was keeping my house decently clean and the trim paint was ok. Oh, and that we should’ve spent more on a TV because ours wasn’t that sharp! Weren’t these new TV’s supposed to have higher resolution?

Add corrective lenses and I realize the problem was me–not the TV. Ironic that what corrects a problem with seeing out there, reveals how much I put store in my own faulty estimation of the world.

I believed what I saw until I was corrected. We all do. It’s our fatal flaw, this tendency to start from our selves instead of God to define truth. We forget we are imperfect. We grow comfortable believing our take on life until it just isn’t working like it used to, or did it ever? 

It’s tempting now to take off my glasses when I don’t want to see all the imperfections and chores I need to do. Strange how I know it doesn’t make the dust bunnies go away… but it makes the dust bunnies go away!

I don’t take them off to watch TV, in case you were wondering.