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saying the things

I have a sermon that's live on our church website today. It's about the futility of all effortful endeavor. It also contains some things that one should probably not share in church, like references to birth and giving birth and not always relishing the sacred task of motherhood.

On the bright side, I didn't say "crap," "sucks," or "frickin." Not to mention the REAL things I say to my children between 3 and 5pm. So no matter how bad you think this talk is, I assure you it could have been worse.

I have often said that I have a mission in life, if one can be said to have such a thing — if our behavior is more than a sum total of our genetic proclivities and our learned habits. And I have said that my personal mission is to Say the Things. Say the secret things. The dirty truths about what things are really like in this senseless life that we all have to survive. And this is a mission, I say, because things are important, and hidden things can be torturous to those who hide them.

So I share and I overshare and some people see me as laughably inappropriate. And some people think I'm just crazy or gross. Or a bad mother. They can think all those things — they are fair assessments seeing as I've put all the evidence out there for analysis.

But I have a trump card. There is always The Mission. If I am making my faults public for the greater good, to empower honesty or grace or whatever in others, then I win if you like me and I win if you don't like me. And maybe if I take a truthful look at my own behaviors, I am not in fact so motivate by Mission as I am by a desire to control the mechanisms of my own acceptance or rejection.

I realized this today, when I was wondering what compelled me to drink almond butter straight from the jar like it was a mug of coffee (I mean, what compelled me EMOTIONALLY to do so. In practical terms, I was drinking the almond butter from the jar because I didn't have a spoon available in the car ride home from the store.)

If there wasn't something there emotionally, I told myself, something that I was covering up with the belief that nut fat could be either the solution to or the cause of all my problems, if there wasn't some truth I was trying to hide from myself then it is likely I'd eat almond butter in normal quantities.
Or at least in a normal manner. Not in a way such that I imagined the cop I passed, if he looked up at all, would think that I was holding a Dunkins.

And as I asked myself this question, I saw the sentence instantly, the great secret I am trying to hide from. "I can't make people like me."

They will like me or they will not like me and the circumstances will often be beyond my control.

I might like to believe I can make my body so impressive, either through my looks (yes I know my magical thinking is magical) or through feats of amazing endurance, then everyone will have to be awed into liking me. Or, I think in my darker more realistic moments, that because people will never accept who I am in all my frailty, that I will beat them to the punch with self rejection. I will make myself disgusting even to myself. I will buy something like almond butter with the liquid fat right at the top, testing whether a woman who hasn't worked out in a week because she doesn't have any stretch pants that haven't been vomited on by a child will not use the three minute drive from Whole Foods to home as an exercise in proving she is not really human but some kind of wild animal who drinks pure fat like a dog sips dirty water from a puddle. And this will mean that it's okay if everybody hates me, or thinks of me as a disgusting cur who can't keep her mouth shut, because, even though they may not be aware of the specifics, I am completely deserving of this judgement.

And maybe, just maybe, the fear of "I can't make people like me" is the emotional mission behind The Mission. And if I could just accept the world that may or may not include acceptance of me, I'd maybe be a lot less mouthy and maybe we'd all get a little more peace and quiet.

No, I still think it's important to say the things. One of them may one day rob the California almond of its power. In the mean time, please enjoy the jokes at my expense. And please do comment positive things about the sermon. I am, after all, so desperate to be listened to.

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