Tuesday was fraught with learning moments.
In pursuit of a little house to call my own, I looked at a place easily in my price range. My dream is to get an older place and love it into life. To do that, I need to get one in the lower range so that I will have some money left over to fix up its broken bits.
The more I look at houses, the more I realize how much the theme of redemption plays in my life. In Christian theology, redemption means to be saved from our wrong acts. We see an error in our behavior, a way we’re hurting ourselves or others, and make changes to become more loving, more accepting, more thoughtful, more honest.
We can redeem a coupon at the local store as partial payment for a box of Lucky Charms (they’re magically delicious) marshmallowy, sugary goodness instead of a piece of paper–win win. Redeeming by exchanging one thing for another we value more.
I feel like so much of my adulthood has been a picture of redemption–exchanging broken parts of me for mending ones. Learning, growing, the desire to become more aware and reflective, less rushy-rushy and oblivious through life. Learning to like myself, to accept that I’m lovable.
The process of bringing something previously unloved into a new version of itself brings me joy. Giving new life, new purpose to what was forgotten in a dusty attic brings me joy and satisfaction. Painting old furniture, making notebooks using old photos–these things soothe my body and soul.
But what were the learning moments Tuesday? The “fraught” part? The house we drove to see was in my price range, but it and its neighborhood were desperately unloved and run down. As we walked into the smelly house with the saggy ceiling the realtor said they had to drop me from the active list of their partnership with Redfin, that they could only have so many, and they’d been working with me for awhile. Immediately I saw myself as Too: too demanding. Too needy. Too indecisive. Add my guilt for being privileged enough to know I didn’t need to choose to live there, that I have more options than many…and the feelings stacked. I felt sad, angry, guilty, tearful, sensitive, frustrated….overload!
But my friend and partner--he saw my emotional pain. And he was kind. And tender. And validated how I felt. All the feelings in my Emotional Buffet didn’t need to make sense to him. He was like the kind part of my brain, the nurturing part of my own brain that I don’t usually remember to use for myself.
So, “Fraught: full of or accompanied by.” The day was fraught with some of the same old junk that happens when I’m triggered by my feelings of worthlessness, of not being worthy of respect, of being somehow simply Wrong as a human being. But then someone kindly and lovingly came alongside me. Fraught with healing. Who knew that kindness, an emergency lunch run to Chick-Fil-A and an episode of Hoarders, Season 11 could be so redemptive?
The day turned out to be fraught not only with lessons, but also fraught with the small kindnesses of someone who knows me well enough to simply be with me and my feelings, then offer healing.
I have a number of friends who have offered me this same kindness on a regular basis. Somehow in light of that I feel way more Fraught with the goodness of others than I do with the pain of the old.
That’s how I see God in my life too, as someone who wants the best for me, who knows that sometimes the head-riot of Old Words will come to visit. Someone who can help me learn to soothe myself in all those mixed emotions–something I didn’t learn as a child and so have struggled to learn as an adult.
The bring your own beverage conversation: Who does this for you? And who can you offer this same redemptive kindness to?