On a clear day you can see the end of winter

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The saga of my lying coworker continues, but compassion has calmed most of this storm. In borrowing from the losses and frustrations of those around her, she may be telling us, “I am no stranger to pain, but I cannot bring myself to tell anyone what wounded me.”

Half an eon ago in internet history, I read a superb parody tribute to Journey’s Steve Perry which listed bizarre fictional accomplishments. The feats included being locked in a sauna for seven years, which somehow destroyed his perceptions of the present tense. It’s like my coworker was locked in that sauna too and emerged with a faulty grasp of the past and the present.

I took the picture above the morning after last month’s storm. The beauty of that snow reminds me that I need to alter my attitude about winter. In the past ten years, I’ve felt like winter is at best a waiting room for spring. I’ve considered that this is a habit that could result in my wishing away 25% of the rest of my life.

Would I Lie to You?

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I resolved this year to dwell much less on the faults of others, but I continue to deal with a situation rich with temptation toward judgment. Last summer, I mentioned that I know someone who lies more often than she tells the truth.

What would you do if you worked with someone who told the truth about the work itself but lied about her personal life 80% of the time?

I’ve tried to approach this matter from many different angles. I’ve considered that her lies could be a firewall of sorts between home and work. If that is the case, I’d rather that she remain mum about her private life. For months, I’ve tried the strategy of I’ll-ask-you-no-questions-so-you’ll-tell-me-no-lies, to little avail. The tales continue, embroidered with ever-deeper fabrication.

That I even know she lies about her personal life is a problem in itself. I “smelled a fault” in her stories early in my acquaintance with her, which provoked my natural tendency toward playing Bluebeard’s wife. I admit that I’ve checked her stories versus information online about herself and some of the people she talks about. Yes, I’ve spent time enlightening myself about things that are not my business. I’m aware I should “get a life” and stop looking, but I think many people would be tempted to do the same in my shoes.

My husband warned me that I could discover something I wish I didn’t know (Bluebeard’s wife strikes again!), and he was not wrong in that warning. I know that my coworker is in the midst of a whopper of a lie, a lie of such epic proportions that I’m stunned she can craft such a tale and hold down a full-time job at the same time. In the past fortnight, she has fabricated the birth of a special-needs, born-at-25-weeks grandchild who was actually born full-term and healthy two months ago! She announced her daughter’s pregnancy to us the day after her grandchild was born!

Today she told me that her grandson weighs 2.2 lbs, is 9″ long and has an 80% chance of having Down’s Syndrome. And he was born this week, too. Apparently, he may be older than I am because today’s conversation makes me wonder if I was born yesterday.

I just let her talk, like I did a few months ago when I encountered a woman (outside work, btw) who told me the story of how she sustained a pregnancy at age seven complete with home birth and immediate, involuntary adoption of the baby. Sadly, the 7-year-old mother story is more plausible than the chances of a baby born healthy and yet reborn months later at 25 weeks with an 80% chance of a genetic trisomy (really?!? what hospital can handle an extreme preterm delivery that wouldn’t offer genotyping of a newborn at risk for genetic issues?).

What complicates matters at work is that her lies are circling the proverbial airport of actual struggles of some other coworkers, myself included. For instance, she told me a fictional name for her grandson today, and it was the same name that my late maternal grandmother gave a son that she lost late in her second trimester of that pregnancy. Worse, yet another of my coworkers, a person who is very, very dear to me, actually received a devastating, pregnancy-related diagnosis years ago at the same hospital the liar claims her daughter gave birth at this week. It’s like the liar is retelling the greatest loss my dear friend ever suffered and corrupting it with a false ending!

Has the liar become malicious or is she disintegrating into delusion? I wish I could tell my friend that I’ve discovered that life had broken the liar in our midst before we even met her, that her stories tell us no more of her heart than a trail of broken glass on the road speaks of a car accident. I do believe that the liar is broken, but the revelation of her fractures doesn’t do much to heal the hurt she is causing to my friend.

I’ve tried talking around the subject with the liar, trying to remind her through stories that it’s never too late to tell the truth. I retell the tale of how one of great-grandfathers lied about his identity and how blessed my family was to discover his real life story, even 80 years after his death. How much better things would have been had my grandma not lost 80 years of time with her father’s extended family!

It’s times like this that I must remind myself that Christ died for everyone’s sins. I try to see my dishonest coworker as Christ would see her, and I know that I am only beginning to understand the how vast the mercy and love of Christ is.

Weekend Snow, January 20

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This weekend offered the first snow storm of the season. The snow has drifted too much for accurate measurement. Some patches of our yard show blades of grass, but other parts are buried beneath drifts 12-18″ deep.

Here in Lima we don’t suffer from the sometimes massive lake effect snowstorms well known in northern Ohio, so any projected storm with rumors of snowfall in excess of 3″ tends to inspire milk-and-bread stockpiles. Actually, one of our local restaurants shared a meme online that showed a weather map in which the inches of snow in the forecast were replaced with how many loaves of bread should be purchased in advance to endure the storm. According to the map, this weekend’s storm was a three loafer.

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Happy New Year

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I hope that 2019 is full of happiness and good health for you.

This week I’ve seen some memes on social media suggesting that one should disregard the passing from one year to the next on the grounds that time is an artificial construct. I think that time matters no matter how arbitrarily it is divided, and I am hoping for a better year in 2019.

I continue to work on changing my outlook on life to one that is more positive. The best thing that happened this year was my realizing that I had become so negative about people, situations, and challenges that my very perspective poisoned many dimensions of my life. My mindset made almost everything harder to do, and my sharp tongue undoubtedly hurt those closest to me at times.

Every New Year is a reminder that old habits can be hard to change. I strive to be more optimistic and ruminate less on the perceived faults of myself and those around me, but this process is not an easy one. For instance, why waste time at all anatomizing the shortcomings of someone else? There is only one scenario where such an exercise would be beneficial, within the creation of a fictional person whose imperfections shed light on what it means to be human. Which brings me to something I think is one of the great yet frustrating mysteries of the human mind and heart: why does it seem so temptingly easy to see what someone else is doing wrong yet so hard to see what role we play in our own problems?

I am devoting more time to prayer and faith because I crashed upon a rocky shore of misery worrying about the present and the future. Praying has helped me a lot, but I have a long way to go in deepening my trust in God. I worry less but still too much. I worry most of all about my daughter. Any prayers for her peace of mind and courage to do what needs done to finish her last year and half of high school would be appreciated.

What are your hopes for this New Year?

Communion

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Like a growing number of Americans, I am a lapsed Catholic. It’s not that I ever lost my basic Christian faith. Rather, I hit an invisible wall of sorts around the time I turned 18. For whatever reason, I could no longer face the sacrament of reconciliation. It’s not that I had cataclysmic sins I needed to confess. I could no longer imagine that there was a priest who could truly listen to my sins. The more time that passed, the more it seemed impossible to do a true inventory of my conscience; the sacrament would not be valid on the grounds that I couldn’t possibly confess all the sins. And without reconciliation and penance, there could be no Communion.

Until today, I’d been stuck in place since the early 90’s. I’d attend Mass very occasionally and think of going to confession so I could take Communion the during the next Mass. From time to time, I’d consider joining a Protestant church to circumvent this issue entirely, but then I wouldn’t go to a different church for fear that I’d be betraying the Catholic church by doing so.

Today I finally attended services at our neighborhood Methodist church. My daughter bought a Bible with her birthday money last month, and she has been reading it almost daily. I decided it would be better for us to attend any Christian church at all rather than remain stuck over the sacraments in the Catholic church.

I had such a positive experience at the Methodist church. The communion service had a portion in which forgiveness of sins was offered to the repentant, and the sacrament itself was “open table” and offered to all baptized believers. This solved my decades-long problem, and it was a relief to feel the grace of that sacrament again.