Friday, November 16, 2012

Why I Ran Out of Bible Study (part 2)

So I was finishing up telling you why I ran out of Bible Study. Basically, I panicked.

Remember, I was supposed to pick my own small group. Well, I didn’t want to pick my own small group. I know that sounds childish, but hear me out on this one. There were to be two groups of about 35 women each; yeah, really large small groups. Kind of seems like an oxymoron to me. But anyways, I didn’t want to pick. I just wanted to be told which group to be in. To me, it just makes everyone on equal playing grounds. It keeps the woman that doesn’t know anyone (that would be me) from feeling like she is crashing the party of a group of friends sitting around a table. It keeps the woman that feels like she just doesn’t quite belong, even though she may know some other women, from feeling like she has to try to fit in as she contemplates which group would be more welcoming. It keeps the women from automatically going with their group of friends, resulting in no one really meeting new people. It keeps the women from staying with their own age group to where you look up and you have a small group of one generation in one room and another generation in another room.

Now, I’m not talking about a woman that might come with a friend for the first time, thus knowing no one in the room. I’m talking about women that pretty much know each other, because they go to church together and interact with each other enough to at least know most of the women by name.
I’m sure it probably seems like I have thought about this way too much and way too hard. Maybe I have. I honestly don’t think this long thought process is from deep seeded insecurities, although we all know I have insecurities. Again, it is out of habit. These were questions that we constantly were asking as we decided certain things for our ministry. We were constantly trying to find things, walls or barriers I guess you could say that might make a woman feel uncomfortable and not come back. We saw deciding the small groups for the women as one way to take away any barrier that might come up for a woman, because we all know how intimidating it can be for the “new girl” to have to walk into a room of other women that appear to already know one another and hope that you are accepted.

As I am typing this, I realize it might seem like I think the way we ran our ministry back home was completely right and perfect. I’m not trying to convey that at all-there were always ways we could improve it. These thoughts are just born out of things that we did, because we saw benefits for our ladies. These are simply things that we did that worked for us as a group. Picking your own small group in this church I am going to might totally work for them, but it was a new experience for me which totally resulted in panic. Maybe all of those women come wearing their big girl panties. And just maybe one day when I’m all grown up, I can pick my own small group like nobody’s business and rock it.
But not right now.

When it came time to get up and go to your small group, my eyes started seeing groups of women getting up and walking together to whatever small group they picked. It was as if my mind was watching women holding hands and skipping together out the door-BFF’s forever all around me!
I was sitting at my table with mostly the same women from the first week, and I was hoping beyond all hope that one of them would say “hey, would you like to come with me? I know you don’t know any of these ladies so I can help you get settled.”

And one by one, they got up and walked out together, heading to a small group.

And there I sat, alone.

I don’t know; maybe it had something to do with my “I don’t really want to be here” answer. Or maybe it was just my blank stare that scared people off. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because a lot of women are a little shy and don’t feel comfortable themselves asking someone to come with them to a small group. I know it is hard to reach out to someone, new or old, because we can face rejection. Maybe someone did want to ask me, because she knew I was the “new girl” but that was way out of her comfort zone as well (which is another reason why I go back to whole "decide the small groups for them" model).
When I realized that I was the only one left, I moved at the speed of light. I shoved everything into my bag as fast as my little hands could move, stood up, and darted out of there so fast I probably almost knocked someone over. I, of course, didn’t notice because I was too focused on getting out of there. I actually ended up tripping right next to my van as I was digging for my keys.

And then I stopped to get a really big diet coke (thank you Sonic) and cried all the way home.
I cried, because of my frustrations over me not being big enough to pick my own stupid small group. I cried, because I missed so badly what I had lost back home. I cried, because my very core missed teaching the Bible so much, I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. And I cried, because I realized how unknown I was.
And as a woman, I long to be known. Not for awards or accolades; but, simply for the relationships that are born out of being known. There is power in feeling that you are known; for to be known says that you are important to someone.

When I got home, I put my pajamas on and cried quite a bit that day. (Hey, just being honest here.)
And as I put on my pajamas, I did, in fact, realize that I had forgotten to wear my big girl panties that day. But that’s okay. I’m learning to give myself the same type of grace I always wanted to extend to the women that I ministered too-we don’t always have to be in a place where we confidently put on our big girl panties.

Some moments in life all we can muster up is the courage to even put on panties, even if they are our little girl panties.

Hopefully, when we are in those moments, we realize that there is Someone right there, ready to take hold of our hand and say “come on, you can do this, because with Me, you are known. Now let's work together to put those big girl panties on!” 

p.s. Oh, and I never went back. I guess I'm still wearing my little girl panties.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Day I Ran Out of Bible Study (The Moving Series)

Yes, you read that right. I ran out of Bible Study. What's even worse is that I never went back. I can just see the headlines now:

Ex Women's Ministry Director/Bible Study Teacher Knocks Over Ladies as She Runs Out of Bible Study

You might be wondering how in the world can someone go from that to running out of a Bible Study. And you might even be wondering what sort of major insecurities does this woman have to force her to almost knock people over.

Well, I'll tell you the story so sit back, relax and get ready to feel better about yourself.

It all started when I decided to put on my big girl panties and sign up for Bible study at the new church we are going to. It's always good to get involved and meet people right? So I signed up even though, to be honest, I wasn't all that thrilled about the study being done. We were going to be doing a Beth Moore study on James.

Now, before you fall over, and I hear this collective gasp about not being thrilled about a Beth Moore study, let me explain. It isn't Beth Moore that I don't really like. It is more about the fact that it seems so many churches, especially Baptist, don't do anything but her studies. I find people that almost seem to worship her (which I'm sure she wouldn't want).

Also, I don't really like video series being done all of the time. I think it is just too easy to develop a ministry that allows women to not get that involved. I know there are women out in the audience that could teach the Bible, although it might be a little rough at first and hard to find them and train them. Yes, this is coming from a Bible teacher so maybe I'm a bit biased; but I have seen some awesome things happen in the lives of women at our old church, because we didn't do video series. I have seen women step out of their comfort zone to serve in various ways, because the ministry wasn't focused around video series (thank you Barbara for looking for teachers). There are women teaching now that use to think that they couldn't even get up and talk in front of people. It is a cool thing to see.

And when women see other women doing things, they begin to feel like they can do things too. They may not necessarily end up on the teaching route, but they end up doing something. I have had so many women say that seeing someone that they personally know and physically see every Sunday get up and teach the Bible inspires them. It inspires them, because they see the person doing life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It inspires them to wonder what their gift's are and to seek them out. And all of a sudden, you have someone that wasn't all that involved in women's ministry getting involved, using her gifts.

Now, I'm sure there are many arguments to support the positive usage of videos, and I might even read them in the comments section as I'm sure I just opened a can of worms :)

But I truly digress. I'm supposed to be telling you why I ran out of Bible Study-and it isn't because of Beth Moore and videos.

The first day was okay. The room was full of round tables, each fitting about 10 women. I found a table in the back of course and sat down. The room began to fill up, and I estimated about 75-80 women were in there. My table quickly filled up, mostly with women that appeared to be my age, give or take 5 years. I did notice that one woman had sat down early on who was quite a bit older than the rest of us at the table. People appeared to know her though.

But, then she got up and left for the table in front that was full of women her age. Now, because of what I did at my old church, I view everything through women's ministry co-leader/Bible Study teacher. It's just a habit, I guess. I did it for so long, and I was always needing to notice things; things that worked, things that didn't work, ways to make the ministry better, etc. Actually, "needing" isn't the best word to use. I wanted to, because I love ministering to women. Anyways, I noticed this, and it made me wonder if the group wasn't fully connected; you know, the women stay within their own age group. This was foreign to me, because we had worked so hard at my old church to not let this happen. We wanted all ages to connect, as each generation can help the other.

The women that were left behind were quite nice and friendly. They knew I was the "new girl", because we had to introduce ourselves. Everyone else knew each other, but I didn't get the sense that they weren't welcoming. They may have been a bit shocked at my reason for coming, but they were still welcoming. You see, we had to answer one of two questions; 1) What is your favorite Beth Moore Bible Study and why? (I'm sure you can guess that I just loved this question) or 2) Why did you choose to come to this study? (This question was for us crazy people that have never done one of her studies which I'm pretty sure I was the only one that answered this question.)

So my answer was "Well, I don't really want to be here. I really want to be home, back in Richmond, to be honest. I really just came, because I know this is good for me." I've never been one to lie very well. Plus, I don't believe in wearing masks, especially in church. I could never win at poker.

I don't know if this answer turned people off or what, but the truth is what they were getting from me. It's not like I said it mean. I just really wanted to be home. It felt so odd to be in that room, sitting at a table. Not being able to teach the Bible felt like someone had cut my right arm off, took away my oxygen and told me to go on living. Watching someone else do it was just plain hard. I'm sure the expression on my face showed the complete discomfort I felt, like somehow I was sitting in someone else's body. And I'm pretty sure that expression wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy; think deer in headlights, someone plucking out your eyelashes, fingernails scraping on a chalk board look.

(I know this post is getting way too long, but it's my blog anyways. Plus, this is therapy for me as I process this whole moving thing. I'm trying to let Jesus crack open this new nutcase I've acquired thanks to moving, and that requires thoughts, lots of thoughts. Not to mention, my counselor is 6 hours away. I know, I know-I can just find a new counselor, but I have attachment problems.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, day one. It was almost over, and I was so glad. There was a glimmer of hope though, because the women were, like I said, friendly.

But that hope was dashed the minute the leaders said that next week would be small group week, and we were to pick our own small group! I about fell out of my chair in pure panic. What was I going to do?

You'll find out tomorrow. Yeah, I know I always say "tomorrow" and then it is like 3 days later, but really, I do plan on it being tomorrow this time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cracking My Nutcase (The Moving Series)

So, I know I'm behind on the whole day-to-day thing, but we've been sharing a virus over here at the Nutcase house so I have an excuse. And I should totally be cleaning, but I'm rebelling and going to blog instead. Priorities, people. Priorities.

So, with my priorities in order, here we go:

On being the new girl.

I find it a strange thing, being the new girl. I realize that I have never really had to be the "new girl". Because my parents still live in the same house from when I was 2, I went to school with the same people from kindergarten up until I graduated from high school. I mean, I guess in some cases I have been the new girl, like when I went to college, but so was everyone else. Plus, my college experience was not one in which I lived on campus. I lived at home, worked full time, and went to school full time. Everyone was doing that where I went to school so we all kind of just came and went, trying to balance school and work. So being the new girl wasn't a real experience. We were all on equal playing ground-no one knew anyone.

In these situations, I find that I do quite well. Put me in a line that is long, where no one really knows each other, and I will eventually meet some people around me, talk to them, and somehow find common ground. The lady that voted in front of me has a 4 year old, a new 6 week old baby, moved here about 4 years ago from St. Louis where she had lived all of her life, and had bought her first house 2 streets over from her parents. My best friend always laughs at my ability to do this with complete strangers. It makes me look like a regular old social butterfly with very little insecurities wrapped tight around me. I just really like learning about people and their lives. I don't believe that I'm nosy-I just truly like learning about people. I love questions-I find they open up a whole world in front of you.

But don't let that fool you.

Put me in a room of people that know each other, even a little bit, as the new girl, and I clam up. I immediately want to become a wallflower. I'm sure my facial expression looks quite uninviting; however, I don't intend to be. I remember visiting a church here, and someone told me I looked terrified when I walked into the Sunday school room. "Well, thank you. I'll take that as a compliment."

But the truth is, I am terrified. I immediately feel completely out of place, as I watch friends talking and sharing life. I imagine that everyone knows each other so well and has no place for a new friend. I know, I know; my nutcase wraps tight around me when I walk into a room of people that know each other. It tells me that they don't really want to know me, and even if they did, they probably wouldn't like me. Besides, they already have their friends.

I'm sure this isn't the full truth, and I'm probably making being the "new girl" way more complicated than it has to be.

But our culture doesn't really help the "new girl". Everyone is so busy with life that it does seem like no one really has time for new people. I guess the lie in this is that the truth is no one really has that much time for anyone, new or old. People stay so busy for various reasons, especially when kids' activities are involved. It seems community is lost, replaced by dozens of activities that just seem to leave everyone involved tired, over worked, and ultimately empty.

Isn't it ironic that our lives can be so full and yet so empty?

But I digress.

The funny truth about me though, when put into a room full of people that are at least acquaintances, is that if just one person would come up and talk to me and help me feel included, I would be fine. I wouldn't have a problem carrying on a conversation, because remember, I love questions. That's not to say that I wouldn't leave worried that I said something dumb. I would, but I would have at least talked to someone.

Now, some would say that by the age of 37, I should be able to do this on my own; just walk right up to people and introduce myself, full of confidence and completely unaware that they all know each other and I don't know a soul. I'm sure Tim could find all kinds of problems reasons why I can't seem to do this. I guess I kind of feel like I'm intruding or something. Maybe when I was really young, I walked up to 2 little girls talking on the playground, and they told me to go away; they didn't want to be my friend anyways. It obviously scarred me for life, so much so that I blocked it out of my memory.

Whatever the reasons may be, I just can't do it. Not now anyways. Maybe one day when I'm all grown up and wearing my big girl panties, I'll be able to.

But not now. Nope, I'm no good at being the "new girl".

Which is precisely why I ran out of Bible study.

That story tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cracking Open the Nutcase (or trying anyways)

So, yesterday was okay. I started the day on the couch. The Walnut had a really low grade fever Saturday night so we felt it best to not take him to church. Since I was feeling a little under the weather in various ways, I gladly stayed home with him while everyone else went to church. Once the afternoon hit, I gradually got off the couch and actually did a few things. I’ve been painting a lot lately. There are things in our new house that don’t really reflect our personality as a family so I’m painting them. I do really love decorating although I wouldn’t say that I’m really great at it. And I’m quite slow at projects, but I eventually get them done. I told the Other Nut that if I can’t teach the Bible to women, I guess I’ll just paint. I even dug way back to my art painting days and painted a tree on the wall in my study. Of course, I’m not done with that project so I can’t show it yet, but I do have a purpose with the whole tree on the wall thing. I’m hoping for it to be a reminder to “grow where you’re planted”, something the whole Nutcase family needs to be reminded of lately. We’re all at different stages of this journey, some further than others. Some days, some of us want to grow and just blossom here; other days, we (and when I say “we”, I usually mean me) just want to shrivel up, wilt, and die a slow death. It is only by the grace of God that I usually find my way out of those days, finding a renewed sense of “I can do this” mentality. I must admit, though, those moments don’t last too long. I feel like a kid on one of those teeter totters going up and down, except there isn’t anyone on the other end. It’s just me, alone, going up and down, wanting so badly to get off of this sickening ride.

After some painting, I decided to go with the Other Nut to the grocery store to have a small date. Yes, he does all of the grocery shopping. If left up to me, we would all starve. I think I would rather pluck out my eyelashes that make a list, shop, put it all away, and then have to get it all back out to cook it. I just don’t understand why we can’t all just live on almonds, smoothies, and other things that don’t require cooking. Before we even got to the store, I was complaining about how boring shopping is. Needless to say, I have been fired from going to the grocery store with the Other Nut. Oh boy, I’m really sad about that! I teased him and told him he tortured me when in fact, I tortured him.
We made it home and because of daylight savings time, it felt and looked like 10 pm. It was only 6:45. Not my favorite feeling. We (read- the Other Nut) got everything put away, the kids got ready for bed, and then the Other Nut and I set about to piddle for a while on some projects.
And then my cell phone rang. I answered it and was so excited that it was someone from this city that I have met. She was calling to say hi and invite me to her Bible Study (good Bible Study story coming soon that will make you feel really good about yourself and make you wonder why my counselor ever thought I was healthy enough to be released.) Tim, just FYI-you could totally retire on my mental and emotional problems right now.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was on the phone making a complete fool of myself. Yep, I talked this poor lady’s ears off. I decided I needed to tell her all about my life over the last 4 months when I’m sure she had other things she needed to be doing. But it was so great to be called by someone here; that could possibly be a friend that I could have lunch or dinner with. Like I mentioned, I just want a friend that is here, present, in this city. And she called me! I didn’t have to try really hard to get over my insecurities and call someone. That just intimidates me for so many reasons. I’ll write on that soon-the whole concept of being the new girl.
So, I talked and talked and talked to this poor lady. To be known is a good feeling.

Until I hung up the phone.

I ended up feeling like such a fool, that I ended my night crying in my closet as I got ready for bed. The Other Nut held me until I fell asleep on the couch.
So that’s awesome. I started my day on the couch and ended my day on the couch. So much for cracking open my nutcase (yeah, I changed the whole saying to go with my blog theme. Hey, I’m just trying to be a good blogger lady). I think it just wrapped itself around even tighter as I cried in my closet about how stupid I probably sounded on the phone.

Not sure how successful yesterday was. I’m guessing probably not much.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

In Which I Claw My Way Back (Day 1)

Well, technically, it is day 2 so I guess I'm not off to a good start. But I do have a good reason; the Walnut came down with strep, and I woke with a head cold so blogging about feelings and life just didn't seem that fun.

In view of this already happening on day 1 (which is now day2), I think in the future I'll skip the whole day thing and just write. Plus, I'm not all that great with consistency in some things, blogging being one of them. Maybe by not thinking about the days, it will have some kind of reverse psychology effect (or is it affect? I never have gotten that one down) on me, and I'll actually write everyday.

So today? Well, considering the whole head cold thing, I slept quite a lot. My son on the other hand, being on antibiotics, was already bouncing off the walls. If you didn't know, you would have no idea the kid had strep which is a good thing.

I didn't really do any deep thinking or any great attempt at clawing my way back (or I guess to go along with my whole blog theme/name, I should be saying "cracking my nutcase open"-maybe I'll change it in the next post, as I'm sure any good blogger would tell me to do so), but I have done a lot of thinking since I've moved. We all know I have plenty of time.

What are some of these thoughts? Well, I'm so glad you asked, because now I can tell you.

One is quite simple-moving S.U.C.K.S. Yeah, that is kind of a bad word, and we don't let our kids use it, but I think moving deserves such a description. Now, some of you might not feel that way about moving; maybe you've moved more than you've stayed. Or you have at least moved enough to not have moving be that big of a deal, but I'm clearly not one of them.

In some ways, I get the sense that people around me think I should be over the whole moving thing by now. Some probably do, and some probably don't (although I don't think I've met too many of them). I mean it's not like I moved that far (I'm at least still in Texas), and it's not like I moved somewhere awful. Here, I have every single amenity you could want, and it is pretty; but, I don't have the amenities that make it feel like home and community. All of those are back in Houston.

Here's the deal. I've realized that not many people have moved under my circumstances, at least not recently. My parent's still live in the only house that I know-we moved in there when I was 2. I'm now 37. My sister still lives about 10 minutes from them. I lived at home until I got married. With the exception of the first semester of college, I didn't live outside of a 30 mile radius from my childhood home. A lot of people at least moved away for college.

Needless to say, moving for the first time at the age of 37 was a bit of a shock. Not to mention that we left some of the best friends you could have. I'm sure everyone feels that way about their friends, but we had some pretty deep roots; numerous families that were like 1 big family. The husbands got along; the wives got along; and the kids were all so close. With each family, age didn't matter between the kids (although there was generally always a kid close to the age of each other-our church had large families)-everyone got along. We even sat around the campfire and sang Kum Ba Ya. (kidding on the last one) But it was pretty close!

I guess that's all for tonight. Not anything about my day, but some beginning thoughts of what I have noticed about moving.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Spoke Too Fast

(Clarification of this post-I must clarify that the part about me missing my best friend's smell is a compliment; maybe weird on my part, but a compliment none the less. You see, smells are important to me. They invoke memories, good and bad, and so I love smells. I always have. Well, not necessarily bad smells which brings me to the reason for my clarification. My best friend doesn't smell in the bad sense smell. She has a good smell; from her laundry detergent to just to her regular smell. So what I'm saying is that, Beth, you don't stink :) Yeah, I know I'm weird, but that didn't need clarification. We are all fully aware of that.)

 Well, since my last post, all things were just peachy. Summer was in full swing, and all was good. And it really was, good I mean. I had a great revelation that I was missing so much joy and beauty around me. Our door was revolving as visitors from back home came and went.

But then summer ended, and with that, reality set back in. I took about 10 steps back and found myself depressed again. The weight of the loneliness and loss was suffocating. It still is. Commitments have been forgotten, and emails have gone unanswered. A lot of hard things are going on. Many of my dearest friends back home are going through some really tough things, and I'm stuck here. I can't be there for them, and they can't be here for me. I, of course, am speaking of physically being here or there. Sure, we can talk and write. And surely, we all know that prayers span the globe. But I am learning that there is something about the physical. I miss my friends' hugs, their tears they cried with me, and I miss just seeing them. (and yes, Beth, I still miss your smell-it was comforting) I realized that in great depth when I saw my sister, mom, and dad. As my sister crossed the ball field, I just started crying, because I was actually seeing her with my eyes, not just hearing her voice.

There is something about being present.

I remember the time, just recently, for the first time since moving that I asked somebody in person to pray for my sweet little Hazelnut. I had already emailed my family and friends back home to pray, knowing they would immediately start praying. But when I walked away from that person, it felt so good. I had to hold myself back, because I wanted to just ball my eyes out and hug her. I'm sure that wouldn't have gone over too well, as I already feel like I don't quite fit in here.

And that is a bit hard, because I want to be known, messiness and all.

Right now, I'm unknown. I don't know about you, but being unknown is lonely.

Oh, I know there is One that knows me fully. But to be honest, I'm a bit upset with Him. I'm pushing back a bit, even though I know He is who can fix my brokenness. But I am. It's just where I'm at.

So I figured I would try to claw my way back even though I don't really feel like it. Living in a hole right now feels much better. I have a lot of feelings and thoughts floating around in my head, many which aren't that great, that need to be written down. I figured I would start writing every evening about my day; my thoughts, my feelings, my attempts at clawing my way back, my failures. The writing at times might be raw, because, well, I feel raw. And I might not write every night since I'm trying (for migraine reasons and sleeping reasons) to not spend too much time on the computer-but I will try. We'll see how it goes.

Here's to clawing my way back.

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