Sunday, February 12, 2012

Awkward? No! This is Normal!

If you ever need a mini-escape from the daily grind, take a trip to Barnes and Noble and find the book called Awkward Family Photos and prepare to laugh til your sides split.  It's a compilation of extremely odd family pictures, and who doesn't love to look at pictures of families in homemade, matching plaid clothes, posed in gawky positions?  I guarantee it will be one of the best laughter breaks you'll ever take!

     I guess somewhere deep down inside, it feels good to look at other people  at their craziest because it somehow makes us feel "normal".  Everyone feels like their family is the norm.  But really...what is normal?  Patsy Clairmont has a book titled, Normal Is Just a Setting on Your Dryer.  I agree with her.  Maybe the better way to say it would be this: Each family has its own "familiar".   (Actually, I just noticed for the first time that FAMILy and FAMILiar look an awful lot alike!  Hmm...  there could be a connection here!)
     When Daryl and I got married, I had not given much thought to how many things about him would seem "abnormal".  For example, my family always ate Sunday dinner on t.v. trays during football season.  That's just what we did!  So when we were newly weds and I pulled the trays out, clicked the t.v. on and started putting food on our plates, Daryl looked and me and asked, "What are you doing?"  Was he kidding?  What did he mean?  This is what you do!  It's football.  How would he not know this?   Didn't everybody do this?  Guess not.
     Marrying Daryl has been one of God's greatest gifts in my life!  (And I'm not just saying this because he isn't addicted to football.)  Through his example, God began to break me free from the legalism that plagued my mind.  It's a bit like the t.v. trays and football... I didn't know there even was another way to do life.  Living by the list of invisible do's and don'ts was "normal" and these lists ruled my thinking and motivations.  It was Daryl who started to ask, "Where do you even come up with this stuff?"   I'd never asked myself that question.  When I needed to say 'no' to a commitment at church or work, I'd feel horribly guilty, because  I felt I needed to do more.  He'd very matter-of-factly ask, "Why do you feel guilty for saying no?  So what?  You can't be in everything."  I can't? Doesn't God expect me to say yes?  Daryl lived in such freedom from guilt. I had not seen life done this way before. Guilt was my middle name.  It was the most "familiar" emotion I packed with me everywhere!
     Recently, someone had on their Facebook page a saying that I've thought about a lot.  It said:
Everybody has baggage.  Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.
I just need to say here, I didn't know I came into our marriage with a suitcase full of guilt, shame, and duty.  I didn't see myself as someone weighed down, until Daryl came along and started to ask, "Why do you think that?  That's not true.  Throw that thought out!"   I've looked in his suitcase and it only held some dirty miss-matched socks.  Mine was full of bricks, rocks, laws, scales, trash and weights.   Maybe he knew what he was talking about.
     Daryl could have felt a bit like I did at Barnes and Noble that day, peeking through that silly book.  When he looked at me he could have laughed and teased, "You are really weird!  Glad I'm so normal compared to you."  He didn't.  He extended such kindness to me...quarks and all.  He even offered to help me "unpack".  This was in part, the beginning of the beautiful thing called grace.
     I'm hoping Daryl will never have reason to laugh uncontrollably at me, but unfortunately, somewhere there lies a picture of my family in bright-colored matching, homemade sweatshirts,  because someone thought we looked AWKWARD enough to ask if they could take our picture!

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