Monday, September 03, 2007

Questions on my Mind

Scene 1:
Yesterday we went down to Winston, an hour and a half south when Paul is driving, to see the Schnupp family. Back when we first went to Canada, Clair was the mission director and the five daughters were still single. Now they are all married with families, and they gathered at Duane and Judy’s house and had something of an open house on Sunday so people like us could spend time with them again.

I very much enjoyed seeing them again but I realized something I had kind of forgotten and that is that when I am around people like Clair and Clara I go all navel-gazing.

They gave this wonderful talk about how sin came into the world and forever destroyed our selves and relationships in a way that can only be restored through Jesus.

All of which is fine, but they also talked about the fact that we tend to be icebergs, with 7/8 of us down below, and the eighth that people see often isn’t the "real" us. And we have all these strange ways of coping with pain that we have never dealt with. And we play roles that we aren't even aware of. And so on.

All of which is fine, but that sort of talk always makes me go all analytical, digging for rotten turnips in the root cellars of my soul. And in Paul’s. (Maybe he actually has feelings and just doesn't know how to show them! And it's all my fault!) And in our marriage’s.

So. Does someone like me actually need a talk like that or is it directed toward the Oblivious People out there who probably won’t 'get it' anyway? And when is enough enough? When do you leave well enough alone and go on with life and hang the jeans on the line and make that dentist appointment?

Scene 2:
I have two medium-sized boys that I love dearly who are 14 and 12, big and loud and rough, with huge feet and dirty shirts. I have one little girl, 8, with long red hair and sparkly eyes and Princess flip-flops and a few freckles across her dainty nose. She likes to spend time with her brothers, although I’m not sure why. They are generally not unkind, but they just treat her like a boy. Like today they were cleaning out the van and she wanted to be there with them. "Beat it, Puff!" said one. "Get out of here, Powderpuff!" said the other. Henk henk henk.

I told her that boys that age are kind of uncivilized creatures who like to punch each other, physically and verbally. One brother telling another, "Cut it out, Fatso!" is not like me saying the same thing to my friend Rita. I suggested she find ways to punch back, verbally, since that’s the language they speak.* And I told them that telling her to "beat it" is not acceptable. But to be honest I'm not sure where to go:
--teach her to play their game, as mentioned?
--tell her to stay out of their way?
--tell them they have to have her around?
--let them fight it out?
--find some sort of compromise about time together?
--harangue them about being nice?
--go all agonized about the sin and depravity of their souls and try to get them to see their selfishness?
--teach them to be civilized gentlemen who say, "Come, Little Sister, and join us in a game of Uno at the kitchen table."? ( Henk henk henk.)

*edited to add: I don't mean she should be nasty, but if she could have some snappy, confident, humorous comeback I think they'd more easily accept her presence.

Quote of the Day:
Emily: Why are you meddling with things that aren't yours to meddle with?
Steven: Part of it was plastic.
--an all-too-typical conversation at our house


  1. Scene # 2: When you get it figured out, let me know! Thanks! Pauline

  2. Just the fact that they call her "Puff" and "Powderpuff" makes me think they really do love her.

  3. Not to beat you up, (you asked an honest question). But really, how does our biblical stance on nonresistance come into play here? Should Jenny not rather be encouraged to find creative ways to "return good for evil"? How do we "provoke our chilren to love and good works"? Dear knows our family has had to struggle with the same thing, but I am now older, and, hopefully, wiser. Pease take it from one who's been there. Turning the other cheek is a better, more obedient-to-Jesus option. Please tell me you're not mad at me for saying this! (I truly don't feel self-righteous.) -PC in VA

  4. Just a quick thought on Scene I--Don't bury the garbage in your soul that exists--it will come back to haunt you. But don't try to manufacture or dig for garbage that isn't there. The world has enough real pain to go around without trying to drum up problems that don't exist. God will show us where we are falling short if we are open to being taught by His Spirit.

  5. PC--No, I'm not mad at you and the point is well taken. I added an edit to my post to clarify things a bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. hmm. question on my mind... "navel-gazing"???


  7. Qwertle: from Wikipedia: "Omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation. It is well known in the usually jocular phrase directed towards self-absorbed pursuits: "contemplating one's navel" or "navel-gazers".. . .The word has several other forms, such as omphaloskeptic, for someone that engages in navel-gazing, and omphaloskeptical, meaning to be in a self-absorbed state."

  8. And here I thought navel-gazing had something to do with a short person, trying to have a conversation with a tall person!

  9. If Jenny could say, somewhat straight but with a tiny bit of challenge, "Well, I'm sorry you will miss out on my sunny personality!", maybe they will hear the challenge and feel the teeniest bit guilty (I wouldn't expect a turnaround from the guys)?

    Or is that beyond corny or too subtle for anyone?

  10. My (unbiblical) answers to the questions are proverbs from my mother:
    Scene 1 on navel-gazing--"If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it."
    Scene 2--"What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

  11. Scene 1 - Ask God if there is something He wants you to see here and be open if He shows you something. But don't go rooting around so much that you actually create new wounds.

    Scene 2 - I'd say some sort of combination of

    --teach her to play their game,

    Snappy, confident, humorous comebacks are almost always helpful, especially in dealing with older brothers.

    --tell her to stay out of their way?

    Boys do need "boy time" They shouldn't be required to have her around all the time.

    --tell them they have to have her around?

    On the other hand, she IS their sister who looks up to them and they need to learn to include her on occassion.

    --let them fight it out?

    Not fight, but work it out.

    It's important for kids to learn to solve their own difficulties. They need the practice.

    They need you to allow them to work out their difficulties on their own so that they know that you have confidence in them that they can come to a workable solution. (ok so sometimes you have to streach yorself to get them to learn what they need to learn!)

    Not only does allowing them to come to their own solution (with-in your boundaries)teach them valuable life skills. it's way easier than playing referee.

    --find some sort of compromise about time together?

    Set the boundary that they will have SOME, not all time together and allow the three of them to negotiate a solution. You have amazingly creative children who I expect are more than capable of solving this on their own.