She's my Friend.

We led worship at our church this past Sunday. Afterwords, a girl came up excited that "we were the band that plays Hope Now." She couldn't believe we went to the same church. She told me that this had become her personal song as she has gone through a terrible divorce this year and now works full time to take care of her two, beautiful little girls. She said life was hard. She was new to the city and felt so alone... I guess when you are playing single mom, breadwinner, and you move to a new city with no family, lonely becomes your normal.

As she finished talking, I just started smiling. I am sure I seemed neurotic, but I was so excited, I knew I wanted to be her first friend here. Before I even told her how sorry I was, or how glad I was that our music had inspired her, I just straight up invited her to my birthday party.
Yes... I am throwing myself a birthday party. A, last-year-to-turn-twenty-something, pink, all girl, all chocolate and cupcake-happy birthday party. I have a friend coming to do free makeovers and I have bought all the guests presents and everyone gets to wear plastic rings and boas and if I could afford it, I would have new pajamas for everyone so we could really get comfortable and feel cute. This is the first time I have been home on my actual birthday in years... so I'm doing it right.
The girl looked at me, "Your birthday party? Are you serious?"
"Well yeah, I mean I know that's a weird thing to ask and all since we just met two seconds ago, but I'd love to hang out and then you can meet more girls and moms and my other quirky friends... I mean you don't have to at all. Sorry. That was probably weird to ask."
"Oh my gosh, yes, I would love to."
The next day I got an email from her that simply said, "I cannot believe your kindness towards me. You don't even know me. Thank you."
The Other Me
I met a another new girl this week. I instantly loved her. Let's call her Mary. Mary and I are working together on some mutual business stuff, well, fun business stuff. I've just been around her a few times but I started thinking how fun it would be to have her out on the road. How good she would be with Annie. How much fun it would be to have her help me with my make-up, talk about the books we're reading, go to coffee shops in new cities. I loved her excitement and passion. Her humor and charm. I mainly love that she has a desire to help each person she comes in contact with to see something beautiful in themselves.
She is happy, but not annoying. She is wise, but not pushy or overbearing. She is Godly, but not spiritually pretentious. She is so much fun, but she has other sides to her as well. She is a girl who is not looking to validate herself by measuring up against any other person, so this truly frees her to be, well... nice. She's the kind of girl that the rest of us girls want as a friend. Real. Genuine. And not competitive. Ah, it feels good to say that last line. Not competitive.
I was so excited about the idea of her coming out with us in the spring to help with Annie. I was so excited about the idea of becoming her friend. I had our entire friend future planned out. And of course, I instantly invited her to my birthday party.
But then, as we worked together for a photo shoot a few nights ago, Mary told me she was going through a bad divorce. Mary told me that for eight years her husband, a guy she met at church, beat her. Choked her. Put her head through walls. Told her that she was disgusting. That no one would have sex with her. He hit her. And then, he went to church on Sundays.
I don't understand how abuse works, but I know that the victim usually feels trapped and unable to get out. I know Mary felt trapped and she didn't know how to get out. It didn't help that she had Christians telling her to stay in the marriage either. But now, here she is, emerging from 8 years of hell, and I have invited her to care for my child. I have invited her to my birthday party. I have planned out our entire friend future.
My stomach dropped. Can you un-invite someone to your birthday party?
(This birthday bit is starting to make me sound like I am five years old).
All of a sudden, this girl who I instantly loved for all the right reasons, felt like a burden. I was afraid of her. I was afraid of her past. I was afraid of her baggage. I was mad at myself for being so befriending. I felt guilty for feeling all of these things about her, but still, I felt them. I wanted out.
It's like this.
Annie was constipated last week. I'm not sure if you've ever been around a constipated baby, but screams come out of these little baby bodies that put horror movie sountracks to shame. It's like a worm trying to squeeze out of an elephant. An ant trying to give birth to a gopher. A cricket trying to pass a gall stone. It's awful.
They scream and cry. You scream and cry. I'm holding her just saying, "push baby, push." Ryan is on his phone looking at to try and figure out what to do when your baby is constipated. Annie is screaming. Ryan says to stick my finger in. But there is something poking out. I am not sticking my finger in. Ryan says to rub it. I try rubbing it. Ryan says to do my fingers up and down her spine. I run my fingers up and down her spine. Annie screams and now she is sweating. And that green thing is stuck there staring at me; half way in this world, half way in that one.
I call my mother-n-law. It's 7:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and she thinks all hell has broken loose. There is a frenzied baby and a freaked out mom and a husband saying, "get off the phone and do something."
Do what? What do you want me to do? What do you do to a piece of poo...
Stick her in the tub my mother-n-law says. We turn on the warm water, put a towel down for her head, and rush her in like we are rushing into emergency heart surgery. I remember to lose my pajama pants but forget to take off my sweatshirt as I jump into the tub with her. I will not let her do this alone. I have a big soggy sweatshirt on now and a hysterical baby and I am rubbing her little booty in the water and telling her to breathe and push and making all kinds of promises to the Lord about what a patient and kind mother I will be if he will please, please just make this green blob sticking half way out of my hysterical daughters booty come out.
Ten minutes later it appeared to me as a piece of heavenly gold, shot out of her buttocks, across the bathtub, and into my hand. A little green log.
It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
You know, you never think when you are 16 or 21 or in some other younger, naive prime of your life that you will one day be siting in a bathtub, in a soggy sweatshirt, massaging some little person's booty, crying with them, catching their poop in your hand and swearing it is the best thing that has ever happened to you. But for those of you who are still there, in your prime... brace yourselves.

The moment will come and you will wonder, what has become of me?

For the Love
You stay in the tub with your hysterical baby because of love.
It's not what you want to do at 7:30 a.m. on Friday morning, but you do it, because hey... once the poop is half way out, it's half-way out. There's no turning back.
And that's how it is with people. Not the poop, but the no turning back part.
As a believer in a God who tells me to love, there is no turning back on people.
There is no addendum or clause that says, "Love, except when you are afraid. Except if you are scared. Except when it is inconvenient. Except the homeless, the beggars, the wild neighborhood children, the alcoholic mom, the emotionally needy friend, the overbearing parent, the dysfunctional sibling, the absent father, the really amazing girl who was beat for 8 years and is just beginning the recovery process... Love, until these people come along. Then you are excused from loving, because they are hard.

Love is hard.
As I drove home with the fears swirling in my head about this new girl that I befriended and then became afraid of, God spoke:
It is for the broken that I came.
And Jenny, you my dear are broken.
So congratulations, you and Mary are perfect for each other. Both a part of this broken world. Both in need of grace. Both in need of a savior. Both in the process of being made new. You are in her shoes simply because you are human. You are the same. You both have baggage. Do not be afraid of her past; I am writing her future.
And Jenny, don't cut her off, you don't get to pick and choose between my children. Love or don't love. But when you choose to love like I do, you choose to go all the way with people, all people. No turning back.
So get in the bath tub, jump in with your sweatshirt on, and prepare yourself for the work of love. It's the most painfully beautiful hard work in the world.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I will be 29 years old tomorrow. Mary is coming to my birthday party. Mary is my friend.