When Superman takes off his cape

There’s something about spending time in a hospital. Maybe it’s the way we lock eyes with strangers in the waiting room, or in the hallway, our mutual presence a silent, white flag salute.

We share the ragged moment, because together we, or the ones we love, have learned a terrifying thing.

Image courtesy of thepaperwall.com

We are no longer invincible. Something has stripped the Superman cape from our shoulders, the one that blinds us to the danger of driving a little too fast, climbing too high, reaching for something too far. Failure creeps onto the scene, and suddenly we are shivering like Adam and Eve in the garden, aware of our naked vulnerability for the first time.

No one owes us our lives. Health is not a given. It is a gift.

***

At the beginning of this week, my husband had a tonsillectomy. As he drove us into the Minneapolis cityscape Monday morning, all I could think of was this: if he really wanted to turn the car around and forget this whole thing, he could.

Let’s be real. A tonsillectomy is one of the most painful surgeries an adult can face. But like so many things in life, sometimes we have to remove X to solve for Y. We have to put ourselves in what seems like the way of harm, so that in the aftermath, we find a better way to be strong.

Even if that means choosing to untie our invincibility cape, and agreeing to become weak.

Monday afternoon, as I was about to enter the hospital wing my husband was on, a set of double doors scissored opened and a bed came wheeling through. It took me a second to understand what was happening. There was a doctor in scrubs sitting next to a little boy with wide, dark eyes. The doctor was leaning back on the pillow, arms crossed behind his head, the little boy snuggled into his side. They were riding together on the rolling bed, both dressed in gauzy, puffy blue caps. I can only assume they were on their way to surgery.

The scene caught my breath. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it must have meant to that little boy to have his doctor climb up into his hospital bed and sit next to him.

Or what it would mean if all of us learned how to sit in solidarity with one another’s weakness.

Not try to fix it, right it, vindicate or validate it.

Just sit together.

Feel what one another is feeling.

Encourage one another, and listen without interrupting and interjecting.

To Be together. To sit at the kitchen table, the hospital room, the patch of grass at the park and really, truly hear one another with our hearts. To know that healing craves security, safety, and rest in the face of uncertainty.

To trust that we can supply a measure of that to one another just by being present.

Confession: I don’t get “mommy wars”

I read a lot of blog posts and articles about “mommy wars.” To be honest, I never really understand. Maybe it’s because I have two feet firmly planted in the passive aggressive soil of the Midwest, where most mothers would rather get the chicken pox again than have a confrontation involving breasts.

Or maybe it’s because the mommy war I’m most familiar with is an inside job. Top secret. One I don’t like to talk about much because it’s a little too personal.

It’s the war of feeling lesser than.

Lesser than strangers. Than friends. Than parents. Siblings. Even a former self.

Last week I wrote about the beauty of social media and its ability to connect us. What I didn’t write about were the times I put down my phone feeling tired, unequal, upset that my situation was a whole lot messier than the coordinated scene that just lit up my screen. Why?

Because lesser than jumps over our mama war arguments of bottles and organic cotton. It sprints past our comparisons on hair bows and sporty yoga threads and designer toddler mocs.

Lesser than settles in our spirits.

Lesser than deceives us into being a half-a$% person because we can’t do it better than X, prettier than Y, tastier than Z.

Lesser than is the great incapacitator. And when we allow that mindset into our day, we stop trying. Stop being our unique and beautiful selves. Stop becoming anything. Harboring these feelings of inequality does more damage than any mommy war over organic snacks ever could.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think anyone has time to deal with it. The business of living out our vocations to the best of our abilities has nothing to do with how someone else could do it differently. For better or for worse, our lives (and the people in them) are entrusted to us.

Thankfully, that doesn’t mean we’re going at it alone.

The New Testament book of Ephesians says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

057There’s a whole element of the supernatural going on here. I’m honestly reeling as I type. Does this mean God has already prepared the people, the work, the elements of my life for me before I even go into my day?

If so, shouldn’t I feel that much more empowered to approach them with grace and peace, knowing that my life, specifically, has been handmade for me – tailored for my abilities?

There is no room for lesser than here. There’s only the confidence to live my daily life above the arguments. The comparisons. The spirit crushers.

Today, I’m going into my morning knowing that the work that’s before me, from tea parties to flashcards with my girls, has already been planned. And friend, whether you’re holding a tired baby, kissing a sick spouse, plunking away at a work project, or making mac and cheese for the hundredth time this month, I hope you do the same.