Y’all, it has been a day of discovery.
I learned today that I have not yet arrived to the point in my salvation where I can cover everyone with perfect grace/mercy.
Well, it was reiterated. It’s a journey, folks, and I know my truth.
I also learned today what it means when people say things like, “Mama Bear came out of hibernation,” or, “She went all Mama Bear on ’em,” or, “You better watch yourself or I will straight up go Mama Bear on you!”
People, when someone says that, what it apparently means is that the desire to do violence is so great that it can only be compared to a Grizzly bear on rampage. Fun fact: the bite of a Grizzly is thought to be able to crush a bowling ball, easily. Grizzlies will also approach other predators to steal their prey for dinner, and they do it in the open with no apologies.
And I hit that point today in less than 3 seconds flat, and I have no regrets. That’s probably a bad sign.
Another fun fact: you have never known true rage until you’ve held your grown child while they weep because someone else hurt them and they did it via phone/text because they were too cowardly to have an adult conversation. (Don’t ask me what happened – I won’t expatiate.)
I hate violence. I am so sensitive to it that I can’t watch it on television, I hate the noise of a violent show or video game, and because of that (much to my husband’s dismay) I will never be a fan of Game of Thrones. (I know, I know – just get over it. Never gonna happen for me.) I come from a long line of hunters who have passed down the Cherokee ways – hunting is for food, not for sport, and nothing gets wasted. In a zombie apocalypse, we’ve already decided which remote location we would move to and that I would be responsible for providing food for the family with the added bonus that I know how to tan leather the old fashioned way, make weapons, and knit (we can’t wear only leather – it would be a horrible fashion statement). I can do it if I have to, but my heart is tender, especially toward animals, and I would not love it. I cry when I hit butterflies with my car, for pity’s sake. I cried once after hitting a kamikaze squirrel on the way to take our youngest to elementary school, and it was so alarming to him that he patted my hand for the next 7 minutes and asked me if I was okay twice before he was willing to get out of the car and leave me alone. And he’s the one who doesn’t read or process emotions like other people do, so I must have been a train wreck for him to be that worried.
Food is food, though, so I could get past it. Or I would openly weep while providing dinner for the family and we would have a rule that no one talks to me for 24 hours after the hunt. Whatever.
I have been subjected to violence and never once has it inspired me to retaliate in kind. Don’t mistake what I’m saying; I will protect my family at all costs and I’m a crack shot, but the threat has to be real.
I am a delicate flower.
Today, my tenderhearted spirit temporarily and gladly vacated my body to be replaced with the rage of a thousand Grizzly bears, and I wanted blood. I wanted violence. I wanted to rip someone’s face off then rip out their entrails while they writhed with the pain of their demise, to hear the snap and crack of vertebrae separating from vertebrae, and I would have done it with a smile on my face.
Whoa. Yeah. It was real. It is not a Christian attitude. It is not something that would come up as an optional answer (for a child of the 90s) if asked, “What would Jesus do?”
Not that, okay?
Would I ever do that? Probably not. I say “probably” because I hope not. I’ve never been given the option and wasn’t close enough today to worry about it. The moment was fleeting, albeit intense. Also, I have the actual upper-body strength of an overcooked spaghetti noodle, so… yeah.
But oh, I wanted it with every neuron and muscle fiber in my body. I wanted to crush heads like a Grizzly biting a bowling ball, use my claws to shred skin like it was paper then throw it as confetti, bathing in blood all the while. (Okay, now I’m feeling a little ashamed, but I’m trying to be transparent, here.)
The worst part about it is that I don’t hate this person. I know that our kids will have to go through hurt, and disappointment, and that it is going to be awful and scary and sometimes humiliating and they will not know how to handle it and they will fall apart and there is nothing I can do about it. I know that. I hate it. But I know it. I even know it’s necessary for them to learn how to human correctly, with compassion and empathy.
The rage is not because one of my own is hurting – I mean, okay, fine, it is absolutely because one of my own is hurting and I want retribution. Happy?
It’s also because of two other reasons: the first is that the idiot didn’t even have the cojones to inflict the wound face-to-face, like a real adult should. He did it via text message, and there is no universe where a mature adult will ever do that. Let me be clear: a mature adult who actually has their $%*# together will give bad news face to face no matter how uncomfortable it is. So if said idiot gets ahold of this somehow – WRITE THAT DOWN. YOU HAVE FAILED AT ADULTING. BE BETTER. You can do it; I know enough about you to know that.
The second reason, though, is far deeper and speaks to wounds we have all felt and that I do not want to perpetuate in the next generation. It is a wound that creeps in during childhood when we fail at parenting (we all do it, sometimes – no one is perfect), gets reinforced when things at school aren’t exactly as expected, when friends suddenly become enemies and there’s no explanation, and when we’ve left childhood behind and face disappointments as adults (a job we wanted but didn’t get, a relationship that goes sour, a negative checking account when we forgot to subtract that $5 at the gas pump, the disappointment from our parents if we don’t have the same dreams and strengths they wanted us to have, the list is innumerable).
It’s a nonspecific viral illness, striking when least expected and without a clear, definitive diagnosis in most cases, a festering sore that gets more and more infected the older we get if left unchecked. It poisons our lives, and while the symptoms are sometimes there, we might never know the true source of the infection. It’s that little voice that whispers in the dark when we’re at our lowest, and you know what it says?
It says we’re not enough.
I cannot prevent the hurt I know my loved ones will feel. I cannot shield our children from pain, wouldn’t even know how to in most cases, and I will never have that kind of super-power (or, thank God, responsibility). I know that the hurt is necessary for learning and growth, and that it is uncomfortable. My hope is that I can help make it temporary and that what doesn’t kill them really does make them stronger – not in a false way, where they surround themselves with a shell of impenetrable ice, but in a way that they are still just as soft and vulnerable as ever, but proud and confident because they’ve survived the wound.
I want them to understand that it is 100,000% okay to fall apart, even if they need to fall apart multiple times. I want to be a safe place for them to do that. I want them to be so okay with who they are as a human and so secure in our love for them that they can ugly cry in public or sitting in our bathroom floor, and I want them to know that it is in that exact moment when their beauty and their strength shines through. I want them to know that when someone hurts them I want to tear that other person into a gazillion pieces and then tell God they died, but instead I’ll probably ask what kind of ice cream they want. I want them to know that if they truly need me to, I will step in and handle it, but that there are few instances in which they truly need me to step in to do that.
I hate the pain, but what I hate the most – what inspires the rage – is the thought that they might ever feel like they are not enough.
There is nothing on this earth that will make me go Old-Testament-reckoning on someone like anyone making someone I love feel that way.
I will end them.
(I will want to, even if I don’t do it. Jail is real, y’all. Jail is real. That’s why we have Jesus, friends, ice cream, chocolate, and sometimes even wine – in moderation.)
If you have ever felt that wound, if you feel it now, let me go ahead and tell you what someone should have said to you long ago.
You. Are. Enough.
You are not too much, you don’t fall short, you are plenty.
Sometimes, there are people who need to make an exit to make our lives better. Sometimes, we want things to work out that don’t, and it is devastating. Often, we have no idea what really happened or why, and usually, closure does not exist, but in Hemingway’s words, “isn’t it pretty to think” it does? (Go read The Sun Also Rises if you don’t know that reference. Educate yourself.) All of those things are hard lessons learned from hurt.
But you are enough.
I am still dealing with the rage. I cried while holding the crying child, and in the aftermath I’m still feeling a bit Red-Weddingish. (Just because I can’t watch it doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t keep me up to date.) This is what they mean when they say the struggle is real. I’m experiencing a raging moral dilemma, heavy on the rage.
I will get over it. Mercy is one of my gifts. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but we’ll get there in 12 steps or less.
Pray for me, y’all. I’ll be here eating chocolate while you do. Then go hug somebody and let them know they’re totally and completely enough.