Thursday, May 17, 2018

Everybody Wants to Feel Special Sometimes

We moved a while back, which meant we left behind a number of people we had gotten to know and appreciate, and one of those was our pediatrician. Dr. Landon had seen us through a lot with both of our munchkins. He was very kind and very thorough, and he always acted happy to see us. He told jokes, which was not necessarily my favorite part of visits with him, but it was unique, at least. A visit with Dr. Landon left me feeling like he knew my kids and me and cared about us. Upon mentioning this to a friend who was also a doctor, she noted that he probably said these same things to all of his patients, that he likely treated everyone the same. This revelation left me in a quandary. It feels good to feel special. Thinking that Dr. Landon had a special interest in our family, or some kind of special connection with us, felt good.

I've been reflecting on that desire we have to feel special to people recently. I remember a long plane ride next to some guy from England, whom I thought might ignore me the whole time. When he finally did talk to me, we learned a little bit about each other. We exchanged email addresses. I wrote him a few times after that. For whatever reason, I couldn't abide the thought that he didn't have any interest in knowing who I was. Maybe it was my own issues that caused me to want that human connection, but I think there's a place in all of us that wants people to think we're unique, special, someone they need in their life--someone they should inherently be interested in.

I've thought also about a time when I did something hurtful to a friend of mine. Eventually, in remorse, I apologized. I confessed feeling like a terrible friend and not a very good person. His response was something along the lines of, "We're all terrible people. That's why we need God's grace." Those were not exactly the words I was expecting, though, considering that he was in seminary at the time and eventually became a Lutheran pastor, they seem pretty on point for him.

So many things we do make us feel not very special. It's a lot easier to feel like a real screw-up than to feel special. Maybe that's why we like it when we do feel special, and why, all to often, we make it to mean more than it does. After all, don't we practically pay people to make us feel special? Don't we like it when a server at a restaurant makes us feel like we're the best customer they've had all day? Don't we expect people in "helping" professions--doctors, teachers, pastors, social workers, etc.--to act kindly and make us feel good or better about ourselves, in some way? Yes, we have so many ways that we can feel unique, so many connections we make with others that feel special, whether they really are, or not.

What is it about us that makes us want to be told we are good people? We want to feel special...but the truth is, we're kind of a lot like everyone else. I think that's the conundrum of faith, in some ways. Knowing God has the effect of making us feel both special and minuscule at the same time. If God made all the things, then what would make me think I am a special thing among all of those? The universe sure is big. I sure am small, compared to it. But then, that's why scripture is more than just one story about God, more than the creation of all things. Scripture tells us that God is far away...but also near. We are each part of a creation whose breadth and depth we can't ever understand. AND we are beloved by the God who created all of that. We are each so special...just like everyone else.

Huh? Yeah, that's the thing about God, right? How can God love all the things so much? How can God make each and every one of us feel so special? Maybe that's one of those questions to save up for heaven. Until then, maybe it's better to think a lot about how much God loves us each, how special we all are to God, and then try really hard to remember that all of that applies to everyone else, too. That sounds like enough work to keep me busy for a while...

Saturday, May 5, 2018

What Does the Fox Say?

It's been a couple weeks since we've seen them. They were so cute and adorable, 5 little foxes running and playing in our backyard, with their beautiful mom keeping a watchful eye. It was inevitable that they would leave, of course. That's the way things go--they are wild animals, after all. Their presence in our backyard, taking up residence under our shed for two weeks, taught me a couple of lessons, though, so I share those with you now.

It was late on a Tuesday that we first heard the sound--I thought it was some dog gone hoarse, barking when we let our dog out at night. It was a very eerie sound. After we heard it for 3 or 4 nights, Brock finally saw the fox one morning as he was tracking down the dog on her trek through the backyard. Not long after that, cute little fox babies started showing up, popping out of the hole their mom had dug under our shed.

Two or three times a day they would come out and play, depending on what else was going on in the area of our backyard, their mother keeping a watchful eye, running off if any threat arrived, as the kits scampered back under the shed. She'd run far enough to be out of danger, but close enough to see when the coast was clear and then return.

I understood her concern. I wished there was a way to let her know that I wasn't really a threat to her, that I thought she was wonderful and beautiful, and that I would do anything I could to help her. I also wanted to let her know that I understood being concerned about the kids playing in that yard: I only have 2, and I get worried they're going to get hurt or fall down the hill and land in the creek/drainage ditch...stuff like that, you know. I can't imagine how it was to try to keep track of 5!

In my musings about the momma fox, it began to dawn on me that the fox was teaching me some things about God...or God was teaching me through the fox, is probably more like it. That fox was beautiful; I was thrilled just to see her roaming around the backyard, watching her kits, barking (or whatever it is) at my dog. She was this delightful, amazing gift. I felt silly about it, but I wished there was some way I could make her understand how wonderful I thought she was and how much I would love to make sure she was protected and provided for, if there were any way that I could. This all seemed slightly unreasonable, though--I mean, she was a wild fox, and she showed up in my yard, dug out a spot under our shed for her babies, and made our home her home, for a while.

I began to wonder, is this how God feels when looking at me? Does God find delight in seeing me be me, doing the things God made me to be able to do? Does God think I'm beautiful and lovely? Does God desire the best for me, long to see me safe and flourishing? Does God wish I would understand all of that? Maybe so. Maybe this is the beginning of understanding it better than I already thought I did.

As for the foxes, I'll be looking for a flash of orange in the woods all summer...maybe I'll catch of a glimpse of them in the wild, doing what God made them to do...

Oh, and if you're wondering what the fox says, watch a women's tennis match--that loud scream/grunt so many tennis players make these days is the closest we've come to finding a similar sound...