Saw an article a few weeks back about things that tend to trap women. I’m gathering that, by ‘trap’, the author meant ‘things that draw one away from God’. Every one of the culprits mentioned: control, food, and beauty, has influenced me at some point.
In college, when my life was crumbling beneath my feet, the psychological theories of achieving control over situations intrigued me greatly. I needed something to grasp, and my bedroom furnishings became a study in control. Because it was the most inviting, most people were drawn to the overstuffed Danish chair by the window. I would then sit on the bed across from them for conversation and about 3 inches higher. If they sat on the bed, or even leaned against the dresser, I would lounge comfortably on my barstool between the two, putting me always just a bit above. Since my desk was a freestanding bar, it was a very natural, but quite imposing, place to sit. It was only later in life that I learned the art of control the way powerful people do it. Bring in lovely dining chairs that are very proper, but inappropriate to the room. I loved watching George and Barbara Bush, reclining on the comfortable couch across from some reporter who hoped to guide the conversation from his perch on a chair where the coffee table obviously normally stood. The Bushes maintained complete control of the situation, an interesting study in the aspect of ‘at home’ being a control position. I never got much chance to play with people’s reactions to that. As soon as my life gained some footing, I lost my need for the power point – but not the fascination.
As kids took over my days, food took over me. I love to cook, and baking is a form of relaxation for me. The children have been very willing guinea pigs for my trials. Most memorable were the banana pancakes flambé for breakfast (almost burned down the kitchen with that one, but it sure tasted good. They still remember it – even a couple who weren’t born yet.) I pour myself into every meal, and I could not let a toddler’s pushed-around pieces of chocolate chip waffles with strawberry jam go to waste. I might as well have just glued them to my hips. But too much is too much, and I learned to let the dog carry the extra weight of love instead.
Now beauty is an interesting question that I’ve never really paid much attention to until recently. Quite addictive. It’s defeating, in school, when everybody’s more popular and nobody pays attention even when you do speak. Once you’re a mother, it’s just a given that you’re not attractive. The waistline is gone, the quick ponytail shows lack of care and, as all focus goes to the wee ones, the wardrobe and carriage quickly head south as well. I could see it so easily in my peers, but it never occurred to me that we mirrored each other. One day I realized I didn’t want to wait another month to pick up the armchair with my hips when I stood up. No. No more. Within a year of deciding to dress for success every day, I began experiencing something completely new to me. People noticed me. Strangers smiled and said, “Hello!” in the grocery store. Men in traffic pulled their shades down, Foster Grant style, to give me another look. As I laughed to myself, the smile gathered even more. Oh, this could definitely be intoxicating!
But I had to stop and look at what it was I truly sought. Love? Respect? Honor? Commanding attention from those I desired it from was shallow. Feeding the hole in my heart with food for my stomach was deadening to every nerve in my soul, and yet still didn’t fill the craving. Flaunting for looks came close, but still didn’t cut it. It was just a look, never really interest in who I am inside.
And then the article asked another piercing question. In determining what traps me, what loss would cause me to lose the will to live?
I think the best answer to that question would be Love. Anything I love, but also being loved. The true, abiding, regardless-of-my-stupid-stunts kind of acceptance. Despite what Hollywood has fed me, people are human, and there isn’t a single one out there that won’t let me down at some point. Even my dad, saint that he was to me, never took me to the races at Santa Anita like he promised.
There is only one that can truly love me, because he knows me better than I know myself. He fits that hole in my heart as though it were made for him, because I inadvertently yanked him out of it when I chose to follow my own wisdom. When I turn back to him, I find he’s been waiting for me the whole time. Mercifully, He fills me with His Spirit, which then allows the very character of Love itself to run through me. Not only am I full, but my cup runneth over. All I had to do was let go of the “my way or the highway” mindset and He led me right through the traps.