“When I started going to church in college, there was a whole list of soul measurements I just couldn’t seem to live up to.”
By Anne-Marie Heckt
Let me introduce myself.
I’m the woman who always wants to be useful.
I’m the one buying bananas, planting a row of veg in the community garden, pushing my guys off the couch and out the door on a hike, vacuuming … You get the picture.
But please don’t go THERE in your mind–to the shiny house and perfect wardrobe. No, this is a scrambled sort of soul trying to get the clothes on straight and the shoes lined up by the door.
A lot of the time, I turn the self-improvement eye on myself. How did that get started? I remember the physical version of that, eons ago, in a girls’ magazine. I found that where my waist was supposed to be something like double my thigh measurement, mine were way too close to the same number: Sturdy.
Then, when I started going to church in college, there was a whole list of soul measurements I just couldn’t seem to live up to.
One thing I love–getting those big muscles moving somewhere outside, like by a river or lake, strapping on my roller blades and going for it. The movement and the beauty, and oh the delicious breath, can happen in me. I can take it in and let be.
So, being where I am right now is not a picnic. Splinted nose, post surgery, chest cold, sick child, stuck inside. Too weak to do anything but watch those dishes pile up in the sink. Grumpy, short tempered with that poor sick child. No chance of blowing it away with a brisk walk or a skate.
And then a friend shows up in an email. I’m too tired to even respond. She pokes herself into my texts. “Are you ok?”
Here’s a little dirt under the fingernails. I’m a fairly fab friend, if I do say so myself, but underneath, I can even turn that glaring magnifying glass of perfectionism on friendships. I put expectations on–not to those out in the world I have compassion on, but those who are the very closest. The bosom buds. (Of course that would be if I had a bosom, I kinda don’t–but that’s ok. I have managed to get past that measurement).
I poked around in my self-measurements while reading this morning.
“I’m useless!” I wailed.
“How about being Beloved?” God whispered back.
And the friends started showing up in the fragments, the lovely shards of color they are. Not one with everything needed, but one with a cookie, and one with a scrabble game, and one with a joke, and a sick boy trying to pat me on the head and making me nervous because he’s too close to my splinted nose.
Yet another friend giving me the opportunity to have a voice on SheLoves, even while splinted.
So, that’s me. I’m Anne-Marie, grateful for what can’t be measured.
How about you? Where are you using a measuring tape on yourself, or evaluating yourself by someone else’s measurements?
I think we should throw the tape away today and sit down somewhere for a moment, and try out just being Beloved.
About Anne- Marie:
When not scrambling eggs, I manage a community garden which grows veg for a food bank. I’m a full time mom of two almost-grown boys. Saturday mornings you’ll find me at the Farmer’s Market, religiously. Goals include extending my rollerblading distance to marathon length and getting the courage to quit picking at my novel and publish it. A scary re-emergence into paid work may need to happen soon. Eons ago I taught ESL at a community college. Farther back, I taught in China and worked at a church in Mexico City. Childhood included a confusing mix of Spain, military bases and a tiny town in Washington State. What I would really love to have is not a job, but a puppy. I live north of Seattle and somewhere east of organized with a husband, our younger son, and a turtle.
Image credit: Tina Francis