taking the polish off.


it may have been a low point.

i was riding my bike to the mechanic, where i’d dropped off our van an hour before.  the van was acting up, but our other vehicle, a sweet old pick-up a friend gave us, was sitting in the drive-up with a broken heart & a dead battery.  andy wouldn’t be picking me up with her.  so, to get back from the mechanic after dropping off the van, i threw my bike with an old plastic baby seat strapped to it under the hatch & drove off.

why was i riding back to the mechanic, then?  well, what happened is when i got home the first time, andy walked into the kitchen, a pokemon cartoon still playing in the background, holding his eye.  he’d had a tension headache for the last many days, & it had started to affect the vision in his left eye.  so when i got home, he figured he should probably call nurse triage & see if the faceless voice on the other hand could help.

she could.  she said “come in right away.”

so, i was riding back to the mechanic on my old bike, which i may have forgotten to mention andy picked up at the dump & fixed.  except for the parts that had since stopped working, like most of the gears.  occasionally, even, just for fun, the chain launches up into the gears themselves & makes an atrocious grinding noise, threatening to seize the whole vehicle up & leave me pushing her home.  i said an honest-to-goodness prayer this wouldn’t happen before i got the mile & a half to pritchard’s.  also, i’m not good at bikes or hills, & my pant leg kept catching in the gears.  until i rolled them up, which was adorable.

as i was riding, wondering if this was a low point, i ticked off some of the other foibles as of late.  the thermostat had blown on our water heater months ago, which meant the water either scalded or ran cold, depending upon how recently it had been reset.  this adventure kicked off with draining one late night before a roadtrip.  this is fixable, sure.  we are diy-ers, we-meaning-andy.  but, really. who has time.

this water adventure goes nicely with the leaking drain under the kitchen sink.  for some mysterious reason, the sink basin won’t hold water & fills the bucket i use for catching puke.  this gets scummy, too, which is nice.

there are more, if you’ve got time:  the outdoor spigot the kids broke, the clothesline the kids broke hanging clothes “energetically.”  these happened on the same day.

then there are the less humorous discrepancies.  i have half a head of hair.  usually this is uncoincidental to me, but occasionly when i am walking out of a woman’s bathroom & meet another woman who backs up to make sure she’s going in the women’s & not the men’s, well, i guess that makes me a little wobbly.

i have a little one who has had teeth pulled because they were literally rotting out of his mouth.  i was supposed to be taking care of my kids, & i couldn’t get this one right.  two of my kids had dental surgery before the age of 4.  how much of a fail is that, when you do everything to be healthy & you still aren’t?  it isn’t my fault, but truth is pretty irrelevant sometimes.

we are on food stamps, a fact i am so remarkably ashamed of, i tear up writing this.  when i am in the checkout line at the grocery store, sometimes i have to force myself to not look around, wondering who is watching me swipe my green card.  truthfully, in the 3 years i’ve been writing here, i’ve always felt like a liar somehow by not telling you our fullest story.  we’ve always believed God would take care of us, & when andy lost his last church job, well, there wasn’t much money anymore.  i always swore i’d never lower myself to take a handout, but, well.  pride is an awful thing.  every year the amount the government gives us goes down, which means that andy’s income has gone up.  i am humbled, & i am different.

i think these shreds, these bits i’d rather shove under the couch cushions & forget about, are the threads that were meant to connect us.  i don’t think, anymore, that we’re only to show our polished selves.  it’s our brokenness, our vulnerability that connects us to each other.

when i was a little girl & my hair started falling out, i made my mom swear she wouldn’t tell anyone.  & i didn’t tell anyone, either.  not my teachers, my friends, no one.  not in elementary school or jr. high or high school.  i was so deeply terrified of someone discovering i had bald patches.  & because i wouldn’t let anyone in, i kept everyone out.  i knew my truest self was irreversibly flawed & i wouldn’t be accepted.  so i never gave anyone a chance.

i remember when andy first saw the bald spots i had in college.  i decided one night while we were hanging out in my apartment i wanted him to know.  there is something so sacred about being known.  i started to tell him, & he said he already knew.  he’d noticed once, when i was doing somersaults or something.  & he didn’t care.  he told me i was beautiful.  i cried.  of course.

so, anyway.  i’m listening to jars of clay tonight, & they always crack me open.  i just didn’t want you to feel you were alone, that in any way you were less than.  because that’s not possible.  you were created for beauty, & you are.  we are all in the same boat.

hopefully, though, we are not on the same bicycle.
because that would be ridiculous.

p.s. –after some steroids, andy is just fine.

6 thoughts on “taking the polish off.

  1. Thank you jill for being raw and i completly agree it is when we are open & honest then we grow in relationships and see the real person. Tears are brought to my face from your words and my struggles today. Please join our family in praying for my children and struggles with school. Leaning on the Lord for direction and this struggle with my children is honestly the scariest thing. Its hard to be responsible for these little ones and feel like my decisions will effect my childrens future. Ughhhhhhh But your words were encouraging & i appreciate you being exposed in this way.

    1. rachel, you are such a sweet mama. i will pray. be encouraged that you are not the only one responsible for you beautiful kiddos, & carry on, kind soul. you are on the right road!

  2. Wow, do I ever appreciate your transparency!! Pass the polish remover… I feel the Lord landed your blog in my lap one afternoon via the six degrees of separation that is Facebook. I’m sure if we lived near one another we’d be great friends 🙂 While I don’t suffer with alopecia I have significantly thinner hair due to hypothyroidism, sluggish metabolism paired with hair leaping off one’s head…too much fun, I’m telling you. And I might borrow your bike, we gave ours up when we moved back to the mainland to care for my inlaws who live with MS and dementia…so now, after selling everything that couldn’t fit in a few Rubbermaid tubs (shipping things over seas is really not in anyone’s budget trust me) I, my marketplace ministry loving husband and our miracle 3.5 year old son, live on a back porch while we figure out how to navigate our instant induction to the sandwich generation. We are older parents (hey we’re over the moon after 22+ years of infertility to even be able to say that) and always feel like the proverbial square peg in a round hole at church and in community. I guess I’m saying all this to say that every day, whether due to reading a great blog post like yours, or really seeing someone for the first time, or watching my toddler discover another new thing in this life I realize again, afresh just how normal abnormal really is, how precious every single life is, and how loved and covered by grace we all are. Thank you again for sharing; if I’m rocking a bandana any time soon I will consider myself in excellent company!!

    1. thank you for sharing this! i agree with you — we’ve all got our abnormal, our crazy. the older i get, the more i realize we’re all just kind of a mess. a loved, surrounded, beautiful mess. i love hearing your story. thanks for writing!!

  3. I love your writings, Jill. I haven’t seen them show up on FB lately as I used to and just yesterday I was thinking how I’d like to read your writings. How I’d missed seeing them. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly. I really love your writings!

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