Monday, December 26, 2011

Refusing SHOULD

In 1989 I began composing dreaded-or-cherished annual recaps, filled with progeny-accomplishments and material-world-status-reports. As I thumb through file folders containing decades of letters, I am drawn to 1996, the year of SHOULD write, 366 days of middle-class angst painted with splotches of insanity.

1996 opened with Hubby's promotion to V.P. of Construction ... the goal of all the moves and changes over the past decade! Son and Hubby played basketball, and in February the four of us spent a weekend snowskiing. March took Mom away to Tourist Destination for a weekend with her sisters and mother, while Hubby hosted a brother for NCAA Basketball Playoffs.

In April, Son and Daughter participated in "Take A Child To Work Day" at Real Estate Office One and in May Mom moved to Real Estate Office Two. Daughter marched and played trombone in the Memorial Day Parade. July 4th all four of us marched to promote Nonprofit A [where Mom was on the Board], then raised $ at a brat stand and car wash. Multi-Generation Family Weekend at Lake Up North, found us relaxing with Mom's Family-of-Origin.

In July Son began trumpet lessons, and Hubby road 437 miles - bicycling his way across Midwestern State of Origin. In August Mom ran away from home ... returning to within 50 miles of where she grew up. Daughter, Son and Mom spent six weeks with Aunt-Uncle-Cousins Family, before renting a house in the country. Daughter and Son attend Local Middle School with Cousin. They are active in Band and Chorus ... giving a fall concert in November. Thanksgiving found us with four generations of family at Maternal-Aunt-Uncle's house; followed by two days of deer hunting for everyone (Daughter, Son, Cousin and Hubby) with a very patient Expert-Hunter-Uncle.

Hubby continues to work as V.P. Construction at Big-City-Company, residing in Mister Boss's GuestHouse at the LakeHouse since the sale of our House-In-Right-Suburban-Location in early October.

Mom works three days each week in the laundry department of an elderly-care center near the kids' school, Hubby makes the five-hour commute each weekend, and our decade of living in transition continues into a 12th year.

Despite the challenges ahead, life is peaceful here, and we look forward to a new and different life in 1997.

Merry Christmas!
Mom, Hubby, Daughter, Son, Girl Dog, Boy Dog and Hamster

I loath the task of writing this letter and whip myself into SHOULD shape, punishing the brag-write-share years by fulfilling the implied obligation to continue, even as our lives fall apart. Appearances signaling our arrival at American Dream Central are imploded by a manipulating-deserter-wife-person in the Family Life Portrait: Me.

"our decade of living in transition continues into a 12th year"

The words on the page whisper my realization: our arrival at the place we'd spent years striving toward is an uncharted emptiness of perfection promised, a hollow silence, dark hopelessness, echoed IF ONLYs.

True to non-transparent form, in the closing paragraph, Me ties 1996 in a bright Christmas bow of peace and hope.

Dan Allender now frays the ends of my ribbon, rips back the shiny wrappings of this illusion-al tendency within me.

  • simple past tense of shall.
  • (used to express condition): Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.
  • must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency): You should not do that.
  • would (used to make a statement less direct or blunt): I should think you would apologize.

In 2011 SHOULD falls away from my vocabulary, 
is replaced with "Yes, I feel the need to..." 
and "Yes, I will consider..." or "No, thank you..."

I am earnestly avoiding coercion, the
corrosively inhumane phrase,
"You should..."

... and Christ asks, "Do you want to get well?" John 5:6



Writing assignment given to participants in the May 2011 "To Be Told" workshop lead by Dan Allender: Before you arrive, please write a 600-900 word story that tells of a significant tragedy, harm or heartache that is related to your choice to work in the area of sexual brokenness. Please write nothing that feels vulnerable to read in your group. We want you to be honest and yet even more honoring to where you are in your journey. You simply may not wish to share stories of some of your greatest harm. We have only a short period of time to process these stories and so we honor what you choose to share and what you don't. The group time will involve reading, reflecting and considering the implications of your story in light of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

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