To Each Her Own Story

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“Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

-from C.S. Lewis’ novel, The Horse and His Boy.

Women are particularly prone to comparing themselves to one another. We compare our talents, education, looks, relationships, birth stories, children, and parenting methods. I find myself falling into the trap of comparing my story with the story of another woman. Sometimes I feel that my story has been unfairly difficult.

To be specific, why did it take from start to finish, around 32 hours for my daughter to be born? Why, after all that, did I have a c-section? I compare myself to a blogger I follow. She had a wonderful homebirth, 7 hours from start to finish and birthed her firstborn, a beautiful baby girl. I’ve come up with this idea that it should be fair. But what I learn later, is that this same blogger’s little girl has been diagnosed with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She worries daily for her daughter’s very survival. How is that fair?

I use this specific example to illustrate that God has given us each our own story. Each has been given her own load to bear. On the surface, other women can often seem as if they have it all together. But who knows the struggles of the heart but God? Who knows what secret pain she carries, or the way the people in her life treat her? Who knows what addictions plague her or memories pain her? I don’t say this so that we can start suspecting every woman of having a problem, but I have found this statement to be generally true. Every person has a messy drawer. Meaning, if you know someone long enough, if you listen carefully enough, most of the time you will find that their life is really not as perfect as you imagined.

The verse I found that best applies to what I’m trying to say is from Romans 12:3.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

The phrase I keep landing on is “in accordance with the measure of faith.” God has given us each a measure of faith, and a life/story in keeping with that.

Gluten Free Food Trial

Today marks 3 weeks of being gluten free (gf) for me. I was prompted to try going off gluten to see if it was related to my migraines. I’ve suffered from migraines for a long time and tried just about every trick in the book (MRI, neurologist, narcotics, antidepressants, TMJ treatment)…except food eliminations. I was hoping that by this time I would be noticing a decrease in my almost daily migraines. Alas, gluten doesn’t seem to be the problem. A mixed blessing. On the one hand, I would do just about anything to get rid of these migraines. On the other hand, I’m pretty fond of pasta.

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In these three weeks, I’ve discovered just how much pasta I used to eat. I had to come up with a fairly altered dinner menu for these three weeks. Some things we would already eat, like taco salad and nachos. Lunch has been much more difficult, especially since there’s nothing easier for lunch than a PB&J sandwich.

I’m giving this experiment one more week. It’s certainly been an interesting three weeks, and I’ve really expanded my list of possible dinners. One thing I learned is that most nicer restaurants have a fairly extensive (and delicious) gf menu. My favorite was a gf wild pear and chicken pizza from the Wild Pear restaurant in downtown Salem.

As I’ve considered what it would be like to eliminate gluten from my life, it’s caused me to really consider the practical side of being gf. It is definitely more expensive. I had to buy special gf steel cut oats (a small package from Fred Meyer is over $5). Lunch is either soup (not expensive) or some type of protein (more expensive). Even cheap snacks like most crackers are off the list.

I never considered how many food products contain gluten. My favorite teriyaki sauce. My favorite Asian salad dressing. Cream of chicken soup. The upside to being gf is the plethora of options available. The bakery near my apartments has a list of special gf treats and pastries. Whole Foods has a gluten free section. Most foods are well marked to show if they have gluten. The biggest shocker to me was discovering that Werther’s Caramel Candies have gluten in them.

So here’s to one more week of being gluten free…and when this over I am going to make some cookies. White flour and all.

Pressing Forward—2013

Judy Garland – “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. At this point, it’s a cliché. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I frequently find myself overanalyzing every conversation I have, every interaction, to the point where I can’t even enjoy the moment. With how much I do or don’t say, I try to be someone I think the other person will like. To some degree, this is necessary in our relationships. We don’t respond to a “how are you?” the same if the post office guy is asking or our best friend is asking. This over analysis however, creates hesitation. And I think this hesitation causes me, and others, to miss out on a great deal.

For example…

I notice that the woman in front of me at the store has really great hair. It’s the kind of hair I’ve always desired. I want to pay her a compliment, but I start to think of all the reasons I shouldn’t. It might make her feel awkward. Maybe she’ll think I’m weird. Maybe she will blow off the compliment and make me feel dumb.

I decide not to pay her the compliment. I’ve risked nothing. And we’ve both missed out on a potentially pleasant interaction.

So this year, the year of 2013, I pledge to press forward with more courage, and less over analysis. To speak with more confidence and less trepidation. To know something that would be good to do…and do it!