Monday, June 12, 2006

Nekkid in a Chicken Suit

This may be the title of my friend's book about living through an unwanted divorce, should she ever write it. I think she should.

I would pick up the book just for the title, I'm certain of it. We have joked that we need to take jobs as the people who wear chicken suits to advertise local restaurants and bbq wing shops along busy thoroughfares just to support ourselves until real estate pays off. As we were talking once again today about what our next step was, I told her I had signed us up. She said she was ready, but she might have to be naked inside the suit. "Naked in a Chicken Suit". The phrase just set all my neurons firing at the same time. Pictures, thoughts, phrases, humor, all rushed unbidden to my mind.

It's a great metaphor for winding up doing something you never thought you would ever do, and feeling exposed and unseen at the same time. No one aspires to being a fast food mascot, unless they are 8. But this is just what she has done. Oh, not the chicken suit--yet--but she was thrust into the role of divorcee and single mom. It is the suit that doesn't fit. It is the job she never aspired too, but found herself one day holding a piece of paper that declared that she was no longer a wife, and that her husband was hers no longer, that her dreams had been hijacked.

She finds herself, vulnerable and unprepared for a life that requires none of the skills that she acquired as a stay at home mom. She is required to make a living, and is expected to leave her precious children in the care of others, has been ejected from her large beautiful American dream home and the lifestyle they had provided for their children. That life is gone, but no one has explained what the new normal will be. So she has made the best decisions she could based on the knowledge she had and the court ordered support and division of marital assets only to find that a court order means nothing unless the man will abide by that order. And she has learned that an attorney can do a half-butt job and demand full payment for it, and can refuse to complete his duties to enforce the court ordered division of assets. I wish I knew his name as I would tell all of you to avoid him.

There is no justice for her or for her children. He is required to make no amends for ripping their family apart for the arms of another woman. His church makes no inquiry into his character and he winds up in a place of leadership, where his every word is listened to and believed, where he can hint at or make outright claims against HER character. It is foul.

In some ways I understand the chicken suit. I so often feel the weight of expectations for me to be a person I am not, and feel that I am chafing in a suit not of my own design. When I sing it fits. There are parts that are a struggle (I have a hard time constantly learning new lyrics and working without a cheat sheet), but overall, it fits. Wandering fits. Teaching fits. Routine doesn't fit.

I am finding that the older I get the MORE difficulty I am having with the ADD. Shouldn't it be less? Focus and concentration on routine tasks is difficult. I should be getting more comfortable in my own skin, rather than less so, as I've been in this skin for 42 (gulp) years. In some ways I am, but I am finding more and more that the expectations I have had for myself are utterly foreign to the way I am wired. The expectations my society has for me don't fit, the expectations of my family don't fit. Maybe it is me that doesn't fit.

But I believe that I am the handiwork of a divine Creator, who knew what I would be, and who gave me the skills and talents, personality and drive I would need to be exactly who he wanted me to be. This doesn't mean excusing myself for my sins, but it does mean that I should not expect myself to be a size 6, to run at 72 rpms, to be a 1 gb processor. Astronauts made it to the moon with less computer power than is available in my son's handheld calculator, so these design restraints or characteristics should not limit how high I can fly.

I have wondered if I was somehow meant for a small life. I've never really thought so, though that is what I have lived 'til now. Small is not bad. Lillies of the valley are small, but beautiful and fragrant. A mustard tree grows from the smallest of seeds. It is not that size matters as much as it is like my cherry tree. It has been living in my front yard for over 6 years now and has only grown an inch or two in height. It should be 4-5 foot by now, but something has stunted its growth. The locations seems sound, but perhaps it should be moved. Perhaps it needs fertilizer or more consistent water, particularly in the winter.

I feel like that cherry tree, as if I was meant for heights I have yet to reach. I feel as if the life I live is smaller than it was imprinted in me to be. But what am I to do about that? Perhaps, like my cherry tree, there is nothing I can do. Perhaps it is a matter of time and difficult circumstances that must be borne before the conditions are right to suddenly reach for the heights. I do believe though that God has his timing, and when he considers the time right, he will turn on the growth spurt, he will bring me to the heights he has predetermined for me, and he will see the fruit multiplied. It seems arrogant to say that, but please note that I do not say I will be the largest cherry tree and the most fruitful, but that I will reach the height HE has pre-determined for me. Perhaps that will be 5 ft. Perhaps 10 ft. Perhaps 15 or 20. That is up to him. Only God knows the height and the harvest he expects. And he will bring it to pass. I can rest in that. And I can reach for the water. The Water of the Word. The life-giving flood that flows from Emmanual's veins. The Word of Life.


Kristen said...

The other day Paul and I were having a conversation about destiny. I was going into detail about how I always felt my life had greater purpose than I will realize. I was pouring my heart out telling him how the routines of daily life hold me to a standard that is unrealistic. While I could pursue being a doctor or a lawyer, I've chosen to pursue...well...nothing. All I do is try to make the most money out of whatever job I find myself doing, and hope that my life outside of work satisfies my need for accomplishment. I went on to explain that I don't feel that I was made for this world, that it's unrealistic for someone like me, someone special and distinct, to find satisfaction and happiness in everyday life.

He said,"I remember what it was like to be your age."

It pissed me off. Not because of what he said but because he confirmed my suspicion that maybe I'm not so special.

After making it very clear that he must not understand quite yet just how amazing I am. I felt better, but it brought up some self-esteem issues I have dating back from right after high school not going to college.

I feel naked in a chicken suit too.

Beth said...

It's not arrogant at all. I'm happy to hear you say those things.

And Kristen, never let anyone tell you anything that even remotely suggest you might not be special, unique and distinct. Growing up means pursuing your dreams, not selling them at a garage sale.

Kim said...

I could write an entire blog, going on for days about how wonderful, talented, unique and special my daughter is. I could post photos of her amazing art work, tell you about her unique design skills, about her skills in painting, home repair and remodeling, her drive, her energy, her sense of humor, oh so many things. That anyone could think she is anything less than completely special, unique and amazing would not make me thrilled with them and might make me question their sanity, their veracity, or their IQ.

Kristen, you ARE as special and unique as you sometimes suspect you may be, and I KNOW it. I have been living in a state of utter amazement at having given birth to such a jewel for 23 years now.