Friday, February 26, 2010

What are we?

What are human beings made of, made of?
What are human beings made of?
Not sugar and spice and everything nice, that's not what human beings are made of.
Not snips and snails and puppy-dog tails, either.
(Did I butcher that old children's rhyme?)

I am fascinated by the paradox of human nature. Philosophers and deep religious thinkers can't even decide if we are, at our core, good or evil! That seems pretty basic. So what the heck are we? Are we fashioned of spirit, or clay? Are we more built of innocence, like children, or do we harbor hatred, and fight and kill one another physically or with words?

How can any beautiful baby grow up to hate and murder? (Even if it was an ugly baby!)

My husband and I were present for a council meeting at our church this week. Now, let me say, I am not a person who thrives by serving on committees. When I finally understood that, I quickly shed one of my two committee positions at church. (The other I'll remain on till I am no longer a children's Sunday school teacher.) I feel much more comfortable in a room full of children, where the conflicts are smaller, and resolution is always close at hand. Everything is possible, dealing with children. They are so open to all ideas, and changing rapidly.

Anyhow, Dwaine and I were not on the committee, but Dwaine was there to report on his role as a liaison between the church and a group that has been using its facilities. This has been a flashpoint for a growing amount of conflict recently.

It was interesting to see different facets of people's personalities. The word "facets" reminds me of the lovely dimensions of diamonds, and people all have a lovely side of them -- or at least potential for that great beauty of soul. But everyone also has a side that is so ugly and violent. It's a shock to discover how close it is to the surface, in most. It's our light side and our shadow side. No matter how enlightened we may become, if we are still human, we still have a shadow side to contend with. It is possible to comprehend that darkness better, and draw it into the light more, but it never totally disappears.

So, even the people I most admire have a dark side, and my husband was describing that quality to me in someone who I think of as being such a loving, caring person. What! That person, too, a human being? Warts and all?

Meantime, my husband took on a truly thankless job in a way that was sacrificial in its giving. I am so proud of him. Plus, I was going to cook a meal for someone at work who needed it, and he did it for me! He really had a gold-star week.

The criticism our female pastor has attracted makes me wonder. There are highly idealistic standards in place for any religious leader. Are the expectations even more unrealistic if that person is a woman, and stereotyped as nurturing and "mothering" already? This is something that all women in positions of authority have to contend with. There are certain styles of male leadership that are so advantageous, such as making decisions without being too swayed by feelings and emotion, in yourself or other people.

Once this outside group leaves, the conflict swirling around at church will be directed inward, once again. That will be interesting. I think most all churches operate with some amount of drama, always. Just like all groups involving people!

This is a hard, important lesson: Feelings can be felt without being acted upon. It's good to place them on a shelf and back away, decide what this feeling is and why it's there, before acting on it. To say, this feeling -- and me -- are two separate entities. Feelings may not reflect reality. Often, feelings come straight from the ego. Wounded, worrying, fearful. Not noble qualities.

So, my son Austin says I'm a "pessimist." Hmmm. Is there a FB poll? Determine your personality type -- or better yet, ask your friends to decide. Ouch!

Last evening, Andrew and I shared a fit of riotous, uncontrolled laughter -- in the middle school library. (The best place for such an outburst!) Afterwards, he said, "Mom, I think you really needed that laugh." I have such smart kids!

Yes, I'm intense. (Perhaps you've noticed? Naah.) But a pessimist? I think I've come a long way in seeing beauty all over the place. I have the word "Hope" hanging up on my office wall to remind me never to lose it. And, I have a great sense of humor! (I think so, anyway.) I think my sons get their sense of humor from me. Well, maybe Dwaine played a small part. Maybe.

2 comments:

  1. Julie - I have been meaning to tell you something for quite some time and I forgot to bring it up when we had lunch. Anyway - when I first met you I thought you were older than you were. But recently, well - a few months ago - I was driving my car through town and there was a girl walking down the sidewalk. She was swinging her purse and her arms and had was walking as if she had music in her head...probably did thru an Ipod. Her hair was blowing in the breeze and I thought to myself, "That looks like such a happy girl!" And then just as I passed her, I realized it was you! So I wanted you to know that - you seem like a girl now - years and years younger than the woman I met. From the outside at least, you are a younger and happier person. I think that must be true of the inside, too!

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  2. Wow, Carol, thank you! (Just another reason to keep on colorin' my hair) Your comment reminds me of Randy Pausch, the guy who died of pancreatic cancer. He was already terminally ill and a co-worker saw him driving his car, top-down, just jamming out and smiling -- because that was just the kind of guy he was. He died prematurely, so he gave his "last lecture" and then a series of them for a short book to spread his optimism wide and far. So how kind of you to say I am like someone I think was a fabulous person!

    How's your dad? Sigh.

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