(Not to be confused with Captivating softball chat, which is a common mistake). I seem to be in the mood for (asides) today, so I thought I'd start right off with one. On to the post...
In high school (oh so many years ago now), I was captain of the softball team. Before you start feeling impressed, I must point out that I went to a very small school and I literally forced the team into creation in the first place. I still think my greatest diplomatic achievement in life was getting my best friend Molly to join the team. Despite the fact that she "couldn't see the point in throwing oneself into the dirt" during sliding practice, in a desperate moment during a game she even slid into base. Once. She's a trooper. I digress.
My senior year, we ran into trouble with some cliques forming on the team. I struggled trying to break up the annoying little groups. We had never had issues like this in previous years, and no matter how much effort I put into "team building" exercises, we just couldn't gel as a group. Finally I realized that the best approach was to get the girls to refocus on God, and I instituted a team devotional before every practice. (Again, resist any lingering urges to be impressed...this was a private Christian school, so I wasn't exactly rocking the boat). I can't say that everything went smoothly after that, but it definitely helped. Getting my teammates to look "out" at God was the best way to help them get over their inner insecurities (the basis of most cliques, in my opinion). Or at least to forget about them long enough to pay attention to playing softball.
So what brings up my streak of nostalgia? There's been a lot of chatter lately on my favorite blogs (see my blogroll in the sidebar...I'm on dial-up at the moment and am consequently too lazy to link them up here) about unrealistic expectations in the blog world vs. the real world. It is terribly easy on a blog to 1) make it sound like you have everything figured out for everyone, and 2) come across as judgemental concerning anyone who makes different choices than you. Sadly, sometimes this is intentional. I've read blog posts that made it sound like you were going to the hot place if you used birth control. Or let your kids go to public school. Or died your hair red. You get the idea. But I don't think I'm being overly optimistic in believing that most of the time it's a side effect of the medium used to communicate. Regardless, we Christian women need to remember that we stand on the same ground in loving God and striving to do His will. Let's not beat each other up when that looks different in someone else's journey than it does in ours.
This recent set of discussions reminds me of why I can't stand most "How to be a good Christian woman"-type books. Like Stasi Eldredge, author of Captivating, one of the Three Books that Changed My Life (besides the Bible), I feel like throwing them out the window on about the second sentence. There is no one picture of what a good Christian woman looks like. And if we try to fit into a single mold, all we'll get is frustration and guilt and shame at having failed.
Well, that was my version of mental Stone Soup. Now I'm off to relax with my husband, ignore the pile of laundry, and remember that a year ago today I first held our daughter in my arms. Birthday pictures tomorrow!