I leaned over to peek out the curtains and sure enough, our first real winter snow covered all the cars in the complex parking lot and glazed the landscape with the breathtaking whiteness that makes one blink and draw back at first. The small particles were still blowing northeastward in the gentle breeze.
Billy and Philip would be surprised that I didn’t know this winter storm was approaching. They know I keep tuned to the weather forecast almost as fanatically as NASA. My boys have been known to call me from several states away to ask if it would be weather-safe to make a trip.
So, I missed this “front” coming into the Ohio Valley.
But, that’s not the kind of “front” I’m thinking about as I write in the stillness of early morning.
How often do we, “put up a good front’?
Is it so much that sometimes we don’t even know what is real within our own self?
When I first married Jim, I was surprised how often when someone would greet him and ask, “How are you today?”, Jim would answer, “I’m tired”.
“People don’t want to hear that,” I’d fuss at Jim. “They don’t really mean ‘how are you’ when they say that. You’re suppose to answer, “Fine thank-you.” (Please don’t try and edit this paragraph.)
Jim often fights a great fatigue that comes from chronic insomnia. Doctors have not been able to find anything wrong with his bloodwork and other tests that I’ve dragged him to. But, I don’t believe there’s been one night in the last 10 years that Jim has had more than an hour or two of sleep at night. When he works a regular 8-hour job and goes to bed unbelievably tired, his mind still stays on alert and awake!
So, “I’m tired” is a very accurate and truthful response but not the “front’ that everyday people expect. (Or so I think.)
At my work, there’s a nurses aide who is much too bossy and lazy - by my standards. She has learned how to convince people she’s working when she’s not. She’s gotten the ear of the administrators believing she is the best worker in the place. I get so tired of having to pick up after her and listening to her blow about how hard she works, that I’m could scream!
But, in order to keep my job, I have to put up a “front’ and work with this person. We both know we’re playing a game. It’s cat and mouse all day. I’m sure everybody is watching to see who will play it best. Others have agreed with me that it’s not fair, but nobody is going to change this picture and the expectations are that we “work together nicely”. This compares to a major winter storm! Everyone knows there’s an ill-wind blowing! But, tomorrow I go at it again for another very long 12 hours. I'm so tired of this "front" that I'm almost paranoid about it now.
In my book, “Dusty Angels and Old Diaries”, I’ve written about a lifetime greatest act performances. Chapter 49 ends with the words, “I played the greatest act on earth – and few noticed how perfectly it was performed.”
So, who do you confide in when you need to vent about the real you? Many would say it is only to God who will take all your “fronts” and bury them into the deepest sea. But what if you aren’t sure who God is? What if you don’t believe there is a God like that? What if you don’t have an earthly partner who will share your grief? How do you get the strength to keep on being what everybody expects you to be? I've heard so many of your "fronts" in comments, personal emails and letters. My heart aches with the burden - mine and yours!
Perhaps that is why we have so many angry, vengeful, rude, judgmental and callous people all around us. They are angry too? For the role they have to play?
One more example: Remember the white-haired lovely-looking lady I met at the Worthington SDA Church? I went to her and asked the questions. How have you handled witnessing all the change? Have you changed with it? Why doesn’t it make you angry? How can this be right? She looked at me calmly and with a slow beautiful smile.
“It’s because I’m sure about what I believe. Nothing can shake me.”
I’m not there yet. I’m not sure what I believe, but I’m still seeking truth and purpose.
I wasn’t prepared for the winter storm – even though I profess to constantly seek information and plan for the weather. This does not mean I’m a bad person. People would laugh at me for degrading myself for that reason. But in some small way, I actually did feel a bit of disappointment for not knowing this was coming.
Our life is full of “fronts”. Cold fronts. Stormy fronts. Warm-weather fronts. Abuse. Divorce. Separation. Loneliness. Anger. Grief. Happiness. Love and Peace. These are also fronts. Technology has helped us come a long way in communicating and predicting these fronts and what our reactions should be. Many have the solution. Most have advice. A few confidently predict. But behold, there is always a Katrina.
"I’m sure about what I believe. Nothing can shake me," says one.
"The faith of a mustard seed," says another.
My faith? The faith that even if winter storms come along to surprise me, I will run out into the winter wonderland with my dog. While she rolls around making those happy grunting sounds only a happy dog can make, I will lie down beside her and make my own snow angel. So what if I don’t have all the answers.
I’m sure that I am doing the best I can with what I have. Let my faith believe in that!
Take Care on the Journey - I am with you!