Who to Share Your Dreams With and When

Retro microphone on stage

I’m learning that I can’t tell everyone everything. My habit has been for a long time to gather opinions from everyone around me when I’m making a decision or going through a difficult time and need some guidance. I remember once when I was dating a guy, and he had told me he didn’t want to do anything with me on Valentine’s Day. We had only been seeing each other for a few weeks, so I sort of understood his reasoning and tried not to read too much into it. However, the next day at work I proceeded to poll half the women in my office to find out what he “meant” by that. And as a result, I received about 40 varying opinions that ran the gamut from “chill out, that doesn’t mean anything” to “RUN!” All the voices of these women in my head sent me home more anxious about my lack of Valentine’s date than I had been on my way to work that morning.

That was the day I began to wonder if I should be more choosy about who I share important information with and who I seek wisdom from. What to share, with whom, and when. This is what I try to ask myself now. And more recently I’ve been doing this in the area of my dreams and passions. Wondering who I should share them with so that I don’t cry all the way home with 40 different voices in my head that run the gamut of overly encouraging to “you’re an idiot.” It is such a delicate balance. It is taking seriously the pearls to swine metaphor. And it often takes the negative and hurtful responses to teach us this.

If you are really honest with yourself, you probably know who your safe people are. You know the friends and family who are wise and caring with the secrets and stories you tell them, and you know the friends and family who are not so wise and caring and who have wounded you. Those people are still an important part of our lives. You probably enjoy them and like them and don’t want to stop telling them things altogether, but is it worth it to give them the precious things? The secret fears and dreams, when you know they’re more likely to manhandle the information than they are to hold it lightly and talk it through with you? Probably not.

In my current life phase, I’m excited about pursuing new dreams but finding myself protecting what I say to whom and when. It’s not being guarded as much as it is being careful. It is hard for me to not blurt out every idea and struggle, poll my entire office building and send out mass texts to different friend groups. I want people to give me feedback and tell me what to do, but I also know that I can make decisions and progress without hearing from numerous people in my life first and that in the end, there are only a handful of voices I should be listening to anyways.

 

 

Going Home and the Hills that Greet Me

A weekend spent in the city I grew up in is always a string of hours spent remembering the things I had forgotten about home. This time it was the weather so characteristic of a south Texas summer. The dry heat and triple digit temperatures were something I took for granted until recently. I say took for granted because blistering hot and desert dry summers are truly a unique gift, only realized once you move somewhere like Tennessee that seems to have endless rainy summer days and a humidity that actually makes my body swell when I leave the house. Suddenly the jeans that fit perfectly four seconds ago, are snug and my skin is sticky in a way that makes me avoid brushing shoulders with others.

Texas heat and sun framed my whirlwind of a weekend trip this time. Despite the lack of human activity outdoors, I wanted to spend as much time as possible dripping in the air that’s mere feel transported me to summers of childhood and adolescence.

With loyal and understanding family, I trekked to a trail typically buzzing with runners and cyclists and walkers. We were the only car parked at the trailhead, of course.

Trailhead
Yes, that is an eliptigo, in case you were wondering.

It was noon and pushing 100 degrees. Any sane San Antonioan was inside protected by their air conditioning units. Not us, we were walking the dry trail, cut out by dry trees and dry grass every step of the dry way. And I did not feel tired, nor overheated, nor desperate to be back inside once I re-discovered the heat of that noon sun. No, the thing I felt most was comforted and comfortable. I began to remember things I had forgotten. Things that had happened in similar temperatures during Augusts from years ago:

-floating on tubes in the Guadalupe River, the water line so low in places we had to stand up and walk half the way, carrying our tubes over our heads and rocks cutting the bottoms of our feet

-self-inflicted sunburns, deep red due to my reluctance to get out of the water and reapply, and due to my Irish ancestry that blessed me with fair skin

-waking up early for the first day of volleyball two-a-days, preparing to be in pain for the next two weeks before school and season started

Visiting home in the summertime again after so many summers away, made my once normal, regular south Texas upbringing a well of memories in a place suddenly magical with its steam rising off the asphalt in the afternoon after a surprise rain attack that lasted approximately 14 minutes. Fourteen minutes of rain is a most welcome surprise for a city that sees it and feels its relief far too sporadically. My mom and a few others in the restaurant even applauded when it started.

Water and everything it is for us and does for us can only be truly appreciated in a city like San Antonio, in an area like south Texas. The hill country, we call it. Though the hills are low compared to many others and on them the grass is a light brown and the trees struggle, these hills are my favorite. That trail carved by the dryness might even be my favorite type of beauty, not for its aesthetic qualities but for the backdrop that it provided a childhood of more joy than is typical for many children, with its share of confusions and mess-ups and heartaches of course.

Growing up I would look at those hills from my rooftop on nights I was thrilled to be alone with time to think, on nights with friends when we “discovered” a new constellation and named our secret club after it, on another night when we spied on my sister and her boyfriend and I wandered for a long time what it be like to have one. And on a night when I finally did have one and we sat on the rooftop together and I somehow knew that would probably be the first and last time we did.

Those dry hills surviving the summer in such a triumphant way greeted me as I returned just a few days ago, as the old and mature adult that I am now. But those hills know, they know more than anyone or anything that I’m still Andrea, the 13-year-old spending too much time alone on the roof thinking about things she didn’t understand then and still, for the most part, doesn’t. And the real beauty in those hills is not a plethora cedars but their steadiness. That they don’t leave. And that they are always there when I come back.

To Love Someone You’ve Never Met

My mom sent me a letter last week. A real letter. Stamp and all. But it wasn’t a letter she had written; it was a photocopied, hand-written letter from a woman I’ve never met. The letter was written to my dad and may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. So why do I care so much about a letter not orginally addressed to me? Because it talks about my Papa Jack.

I never got to meet Papa Jack. My dad’s dad died a couple of years before I was born. He died of Lou Gehrig’s disease–an incurable and difficult illness. I’ve often hated that my grandfather had to suffer something like that. I hated that my dad had to see the suffering, as well as my grandmother and other relatives. It must have felt impossible at times, and I hate that I wasn’t there to help.

But I don’t hear much about those few years Papa Jack was sick. Instead, I hear lots and lots about the type of man he was. He was funny, they say. And a charmer and so, so kind. I know it’s true because my dad is like that, too. Papa Jack was an oil rig mechanic in West Texas and built the house my dad grew up in. He was handy, poked fun at my grandmother Thelma and encouraged my dad’s love for writing, though it was so opposite his own passions. I know I would have loved him very much. I do love him very much. Though I’m not sure how, having never met him. And the letter I received made me love him even more.

It was written by a woman named Ginger and tells my dad of how she knew my grandfather. Ginger was just a little girl when her Sunday school teacher assigned the class to write an encouraging letter to someone elderly at their church. She chose to write a letter to Jack Lucado, who was bed-ridden by then. Ginger and her mom delivered the letter and a pie to my grandparents’ house, where they found my grandfather lying in a bed in the living room. Somehow, Ginger got a moment alone with Papa Jack and asked a question a child would not be nervous to ask: “Are you going to die?” By then it was clear, it was inevitable, and my grandfather responded, “Yes, I am going to die. When? I don’t know. But I will eventually.” 

In her letter, Ginger explains that she remembers being afraid of dying at that point in her life. Her cat had just died and she was wrestling with the thought of death, so impossible to grasp for someone her age. But when she asked Papa Jack if he was afraid to die, he said, “I am joyful that I am going away, because away is to heaven. I will be with my father there, and I am ready to see him eye to eye.” Ginger continues her letter saying, “Then my mother and yours returned. My mother proceeded to console them with a fake smile on her face. But I smiled a big, real smile at Jack and he did the same and winked at me.”

Ginger and her family are moving to Kenya this year to bring the gospel to a tribe that lives on the coast. It’s a dangerous place to venture, but, she writes, “for me, I am not afraid. Because the worst that could happen is getting to see my father eye to eye.”

To know my Papa Jack instilled such courage into people, even from his death bed, makes me so proud to be his granddaughter. And makes me yearn to have known him in this lifetime.

To love someone you’ve never met–that someone would have to be really special.

What Is the Role of a Christian Woman?

A question I began asking myself long before I began this series in January. It’s loaded. That may be one answer to it agreed upon by all. That may be the one thing I know for sure about it. It’s one I wasn’t sure I would address this year. My thoughts are scattered. They change daily. Sometimes I have it all figured out and am at peace with my gender’s role in my faith and in my culture. Then I hear or read something that returns me to square one, wondering what my role is, how much of a role I have and if my opinions are even loosely based on biblical principles. Sometimes they are but I’m seeing more and more that they often aren’t.

I’m not going to answer this question in one post. That’s impossible. I have too many specific role questions: What is my role as a female in the church? What is my role as the female in a relationship? What is my role as a female in the family setting? In work? In writing? I won’t cover all of these, unless I feel extremely compelled, but I will address some.

It’s so important to understand someone’s lenses when understanding how she might address this type of question. For me, that’s a lens of a twenty-something, single, raised in the evangelical church and encouraged to pursue my wildest dreams by both my parents. My mom was a stay-at-home once she started having us. My dad has always worked. The women in my extended family are about split: some are stay-at-home moms, others work. I never felt pressured to be one thing or the other. There was always talk about “when I had a family” and there was always talk about “when I had a job in the real world.”

Basically, I was raised in a family that spans the spectrum of what the female role in society and church can look like. I’m grateful for that diverse environment. I realize that it created the freedom I have now to even explore this question. But no matter how free that environment may have been for some of us, it could never free us from cultural stigmas or expectations. The things that make us wonder about all of this. The things that make up definitions to words and phrases like “feminism,” “sex,” “separate but equal.”

I’m not sure if a more confusing message exists than that of what role women should play. What is right? What is wrong? What is sinful? What is honoring?

I’m afraid to say this, but I feel I have to: Let’s discuss.