Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Well I got nailed on that one!

I probably shouldn't have published it, as it was still in a stream of consciousness phase and I see now that I hadn't built to the point I actually wanted to make.

My point came to the surface though -  in one comment I left on my last post.

So I'm getting flamed by those who think I keep some list of grievances - of every slight from someone who never paid me back, or never ever reciprocated a kindness.  That's not so.

But here is what is real. We are put on this earth to serve one another. If we're all doing that, then by the law of averages, each of us should have at least one act of kindness done to us for every 20 - 100 acts of kindness we put out into the world. Clearly everyone's not doing that. And sometimes it's noticeable.

The fact is, couples and parents don't put as much out into the world, because they are focused on their families, and rightly so. They don't spend their energy trying to love strangers, or trying to hold onto friends.  Sure, to some degree but not as much as one who is solo in the world. It's their job to grow the love in their own homes. I don't have that luxury. That would be vain.

Consider the single person. No one in the world is tied to them in ways that spouses and children are tied by sharing a home, sharing the chores, exchanging hugs and kisses.
When we singles show love - by a kind deed, by just getting to know someone new, by going above and beyond...  or putting our hearts on the line... yet again, seeking love... more often than not it falls into an abyss.
You just did something kind. No one saw it. The one person who felt is going to walk away with it. sure, they may pay forward, but the odds are you'll never see it. You'll never know how you touched someone's life or what it meant.  And that's fine. We're not always meant to. Not every kind action is returned. Not every act of love is reciprocated.

Think about that. A world in which every action you ever make has no response. Heck, that even defies the laws of physics! 

Of course we all have friends who stay connected, and occasionally you learn how much you mean to someone. The effort we put into relationships as single people is risky. That relationship may not even be there next week.

By contrast, when someone who is part of a family, like a father, a mother, a child -  demonstrates a loving act... it is felt throughout the family. Even if it's not acknowledged. When a mommy changes diapers, soothes a colicky child, cooks dinner, does the laundry - there's a rather immediate return on that investment, even if it's just seeing your children in clean clothes. If no one ever says thank you - you know you're feeding your child, supporting your spouse, building a better life.

For the perpetually single, there is no one to appreciate that we made dinner. No matter how delicious it was. Laundry? The satisfaction there is just seeing that nothing got destroyed in the process!

All the efforts humans make - just to sustain themselves... married people get some satisfaction. Seeing your spouse at the end of the day, knowing all the work you did that day, improved your lives together bit by bit. Watching your children grow, seeing them learn, hearing "I love you mommy." that's a reward. Simply brushing your teeth might result in an appreciative kiss!
So don't try to convince me that you love more unconditionally than I do. You're getting something back. Yes, it's intangible. But it's something. It may not be every day - sometimes not even every week. We all go through dark periods, but even in the worst times you're reasonably confident the love is there.

Single people get none.  So yes...  when it becomes obvious that you've showered love and affection and favors and effort - time after time with no reward or reaction - there's nothing wrong with feeling a little spent and a little disappointed. 

Bringing it back to the parenting analogy - I think the only family-types who could understand are those with autistic children. Those parents love and they serve and they hug (and give up hugging) and sometimes wait a lifetime to hear, "I love you." back.  They wait years for a breakthrough smile.

That's what I think the single life is like. It's like raising a dozen autistic children. (imagine the frustration and agony!)  Everything you do to show love, to make a connection, to see a spark back from the love you're putting out there...  just sort of splats off of a flat surface. It's frustrating and hard to bear. Even those mothers mutter wishes about being loved back.

That's what my blog has always been about. It's meant to be a window into a different way of life - so that we all might understand one another better and have compassion.

So much of the world sees singles as selfish, or non-commital, or as wild partiers with no responsibilities.  I write so that sisters, aunts, friends and cousins can recognize some of the pain of the single life. So that the heartbreak can be shared, and hopefully divided. But mostly understood.

My previous post wasn't about any one person. It's a bit silly that troops were rallied for a comment that could have just as easily been about anyone. No one in particular.
Which ultimately proves my point.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Being Used

"Those who take care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most."
That's probably truer than I'd like to admit. 
I'm happy to be the friend everyone knows they can count on. If you need a hand, or a shoulder to cry on... I'm there. 

In those first years out on my own -- just after college, when most of us were still looking for jobs - I told friends they could call me at two in the morning if they were stranded with a flat tire. I'd be there. I think they knew it too. No one ever took me up on it... not back then anyway.

But I remember one night back then when I needed a friend, and had no one to call. I suffered from insomnia back then and in the wee hours one morning, I allowed the worst thoughts and ugliest images to enter my mind. I couldn't shake it. I couldn't pray it away. I longed for someone to talk to, but no one had ever offered me the unconditional assistance such I had offered them.  That was when I realized, that is usually the case. Those of us who would help anyone, would never feel right asking for help ourselves.

I will say, it changes when you get older.
When we were young, most of my friends still lived near their parents so that's who they would turn to first. Soon, many others married, so they had husbands to rely upon.
Now, we're quite alone in the world and relying on one another so we'll make the desperate phone call now and then.

One friend called me crying. Her car had been towed. Worse yet, she was unemployed and didn't have the funds to retrieve her car. I told her I'd be right there. I found her on a stoop in a strange neighborhood. She had called the impound lot, and learned she needed $260 to retrieve her car. (outrageous!) As we walked back to my car, with plans to swing by an ATM, I considered her situation.
I asked, "Can you take that out of your account right now without bouncing checks?"
"No, not really."
"Okay then," I spoke before I thought it through, "We'll swing by my ATM, and you'll pay me back when you can."
She stopped in the middle of the street, looked at me, unbelieving, tears brimming. "You would do that for me?"
"Well sure. You can't afford to bounce checks right now, and I can handle a $260 cushion at the moment. It makes sense."

Then, once the deed was done, I remembered that I hadn't known her long, and it was possible I would never see her again! But what actually happened... she payed me back within three months.

That's a friend who understood benevolence. And who had enough pride not to remain in debt.


I have a different friend, who calls me at the drop of a hat to babysit her kids. She once called me at midnight to stay with her kids while she dealt with a minor emergency.  I'm happy to help. It may be a little inconvenient for me, but nothing I can't handle.

Recently, though, I was struck when I had a quick phone conversation with her - and she didn't ask me for a favor. I suddenly realized she only calls me when she wants something. In fact, after our phone call ended abruptly, she texted me her request, as if it had just occurred to her. It was a request I couldn't accommodate, I told her so and didn't think much more of it. But the next time she called, I waited for the request, and she did not disappoint. I'm starting to recognize a sense of entitlement.

Well, this week was the doozy. She needed another favor. Once again for a situation she could have planned for, but once again didn't. A situation in which she really does need help. It's a shame she's worn out the goodwill from many of her friends.
This time... she didn't even ask. She just told me what she needed me to do, for several days in a row next week.
I had to tell her that I was going home (a state away) to care for a family member, and wouldn't be available to help her. (the truth) 
Then I heard her voice crack, as she realized how alone she was. That she was truly in need, but had perhaps used one person too many.

There have been many others who have worn through my good nature.
I'm happy to be helpful. Maybe too much so.
Maybe I feel that's part of my ministry, since I'm available, I'll help.
In most cases it's not an inconvenience. I mean, it IS an inconvenience, but nothing that's not worth doing. I consider it an act of mercy.

I do wonder occasionally, if anyone would ever return the favor for me.

Yes, I like being helpful. Maybe it's my thing. Maybe I get more out helping than anyone gets from being helped.
I learned it from my dad. The countless wee hours that some neighbor needed to be pulled out of the ditch. Opening a rental property to a family whose house burned down. He truly loved his neighbor, even when he couldn't stand them!

But there comes a time when limits are reached. And this friend is not the first to wear out her welcome.

It's a mystery to me, how some people feel entitled to all the good someone else is willing to put out. I can rarely even ask for the help I need, yet I see others just grabbing.

A woman I was once friends with (not anymore) seems to just get showered with goodies. When she wanted to run a half marathon in a major city, someone offered her their condo so she wouldn't have to stay in a hotel. When she saw some sweet baby gifts I was sewing for friends - rather than wait to see if  she would get one - she asked me to make one for her. (didn't even really ask - it was a demand disguised as a charming compliment)  (Kind of killed the joy of the surprise I was planning.) Somehow, people rally around this woman and give and do for her. And honestly, I've never seen her go above and beyond for anyone. I know she's never done anything special for me.   Makes me wonder what her special sauce is.
Is it just because she asks?
It's uncanny. She's not especially kind. She is outgoing. She has a lovely smile.

What makes some people givers and some people takers?

Most of my friends have a balance. I'm grateful for that.

Note: Someone's feelers were hurt by this post. They really had to go looking for it. For someone who doesn't like what I have to say, they feel a need to check in. 
What stands out though, if someone finds my observation so shocking - it seems the appropriate response would be, "Oh. I can't believe my actions made you feel that way. Abandoned and used? I'm so sorry." But instead, well, you can see for yourself

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Proposal

I want to share the funniest thing that has happened to me in years.

It happened at church this morning. Our priest has been out sick and we have been graced with some wonderful, visiting priests.
Since I am active in ministry as a Eucharistic Minister, and as a Lector, (to name two) I may stand out a bit to the visiting priests. Friday was a holy day, All Saints Day, and I went to evening Mass and helped with the Eucharist. The same priest was celebrating Sunday Mass today, and I was on the schedule as Lector. We also had a seminarian student visiting us, who is from one of the towns near where I grew up, so I looked forward to meeting him after Mass.

But before that, I had to prepare for visiting the nursing home to bring Communion, by retrieving consecrated hosts from the tabernacle.

When I finally headed out of church, most everyone had left. Only the old priest, two ladies who were passing out bulletins and the seminarian student were left in the vestibule.

As I approached Father, he extended his arms to embrace me. I figured he was going to thank me for, or tease me about being so visible at church. Instead he exclaimed, "You are blessed! You are so blessed!"
"Oh, how nice!" I thought. Hoping he was about to bestow a blessing upon me. Perhaps even reveal a spiritual gift he sees in me.
Still hugging me, he said, "Beautiful looks, a wonderful speaking voice.... you are very blessed!"

How sweet! I thanked him as we let go of the hug.
Then, still hoping for some revelation, I asked, "How about a husband?"
"Pardon me?"
"I've been waiting a long time. Could I be blessed with a husband?", I smiled.
He smiled and said, "How about me?" he joked, winked, then quickly turned to leave, leaving me standing, astounded!
I called after him, "How is it, only the consecrated men ever propose to me?"

He stopped in his tracks and laughed, along with the two older ladies and the seminarian who were nearly doubled over!
I continued, addressing the ladies, "That's my only problem. All the men who are interested in me are unavailable!"

I'm not even kidding.
There's an older deacon, recently widowed, who flirts at me every Sunday. Sure, he's available but I'm having trouble being attracted to men 20 - 30 years my senior!

I've always attracted older men. When I was younger, they were married men. Now they're ordained! Sheesh!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

A Servant's Heart

There are not many songs I can sing in church any more without my voice breaking from emotion.
That's one reason I don't join the choir! Who needs my wavering voice in front of a microphone?!

After of month of a pesky sore throat and cough, I was so pleased during the All Saints Day Mass to realize I could sing again. I love praising God in song. I have hated being silent.

Of course, that was until the choir started the chords of The Summons.
I recognize songs I love from the first chords, and I'm sure the people sitting near me can tell when I'm excited.... but this one, I can barely sing. The words hit me so deeply.
The Summons 
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
They hit me because they are truly a test of what I believe and how I behave. 
Do I really allow the Lord to guide my actions? Sometimes, yes.  To this degree? Uh, no.
Do I really offer my heart unselfishly? Sometimes, yes. Can I do so without being upset that my feelings and efforts aren't reciprocated? I really can't.
Do I offer to help others, even when it's ugly or hurtful? Sometimes, yes. Do I do so with no expectation of being recognized for it? Uh, no.
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me? Yes, as long as the answer is what I wanted myself in the first place. Ugh.

So, I guess I have a lot of work to do. 

I feel so many hymns so intensely, that I often think how appropriate they would be for my funeral... or my wedding. 

This song and many others, The Servant Song Lead Me Lord, Here I am Lord, (all of them) I strangely think they would be so good for a wedding. But never sure where in the ceremony it would be appropriate. 

I particularly love the one (can't find it anywhere right now)  that goes; 

Won't you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to youPray that I may have the strength to, let you be my servant too. 

Hmmm.  You can't tell me that my desire for marriage is misplaced. Any woman this devoted to a servant's heart would make an ideal wife and mother. Pity most men can't see that. 

I'm reminded that my cousin used this song at her wedding (second marriage for both of them ) in the songs leading up to the ceremony.  It was perfect. Set the tone without being heavy.  Maybe when I'm 50 I'll finally have the chance to use it too! 

--Okay, I have no idea where that highlight came from or how to get rid of it. Sorry --