10 Things I Used to Think… What About You?

1. I used to think brindle colored dogs were ugly, and tortoise shell cats, too, like a coven of hyenas held a secret midnight seance and magicked bits of their coats onto domesticated animals to make them mottled and homely and less likely to be adored than other, more beguiling creatures, but then I realized I was the one busy assigning worth based on appearance which seems to me now to be both silly and reprehensible, and I wonder what else I’ve gotten wrong.

2. I used to think broccoli and Brussels sprouts and lima beans and beets were horrible and should be abandoned as foods altogether, and now I think they’re the most misunderstood of all the vegetables and if folks just knew how to treat them we could all get along.

3. I used to think 1960s and 70s architecture and interior design were travesties and irredeemable, aesthetically speaking, but I found myself admiring a retro lamp in the store the other day and reminiscing fondly about the enormous, cascading capiz shell chandelier that commandeered the corner of my parents’ bedroom in my childhood home and wishing it was still around so I could hang it in mine. 

4. I used to think I had to fold laundry and iron it and put it away in drawers. And now, well, I don’t.

5. I used to think men were the heads of households by virtue of their genitalia and a poor interpretation of the Bible, and I used to think a woman’s place was in the home due to same. Now I think adults are leaders together, are in charge of and responsible for themselves, ought to use their power over children wisely — by which I mean collaboratively and kindly and relinquishing as much control as possible — and that humans of every stripe belong everywhere, including the workplace and the home, because the more types of people we have in All the Places the more likely we are to learn to SEE each other and SEE the beautiful pieces we each bring to this Kaleidoscope World.

6. I used to believe people when they told me to be quieter and smaller and more “polite” and less crass and more civil and just sssshhhhhhh, Beth; SHUT UP already. Until I figured out their concern wasn’t for me or for the vulnerable and marginalized — and their concern wasn’t about ensuring equality and the right of everyone to pursue life, liberty, and happiness — but was instead always for the comfort of those in power and aimed at upholding the traditional power paradigms and not rocking the cozy boat for those of us who live with an outsized amount of privilege. 

7. I used to think a liar and philanderer and vow-breaker and megalomaniac and money squanderer and, you know, white nationalist/racist like Donald Trump could not possibly be elected president in the United States of America because our people are better than that. But what’s the opposite of Nailed It? Because that’s me with that whole sitch. I did not nail it. I UNnailed it. DEnailed. DISnailed it. And I’ve spent the last three years coming to terms with how wrong I was and how much more I need to listen to the folks who’ve tried to tell us, for decades, for centuries, how deeply our nefarious system harms those who are already hurting.

8. I used to think the Church Universal was the defender of the broken-hearted and comforter of the grieving and protector of the children and the widows and the place to turn for strength in times of weakness and despair, and now I realize I confused “the Church” for Jesus Christ / aka God / aka Love Incarnate and that I idolized and worshiped the wrong one. Oops.

9. I used to think I had to comply and conform to be accepted in my community and in society at large, and I was right, but only in certain circles. I’ve learned, instead, I can Be Myself and not just survive but thrive outside those ancient tribes I once called home — those locked villages I once thought were “safe” — and I’ve found unsurpassable beauty out here in the wilderness meeting other wonderful, weird wanderers who are forging paths of kindness together, our own wonky tribe on the fly. 

10. I suppose, in conclusion, I used to think what I used to think would remain what I thought. Steady. Reliable. Unshakeable. I thought I had my foundations figured out. The Evangelical Church a la Jerry Falwell circa 1980. ‘Murica post Civil Rights battles because We Already Figured Everything Out, right? And total and utter rejection of avocado appliances. Instead, I’ve found foundations must be rethought. Especially when they’re cracked and crumbling. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Who knew?

So I’m curious, friends… what did you used to think?

With love, and waving in the dark,

 

 

 

P.S. I need you to know I’m absolutely, 100% committed to Betty the Stove and Genevieve the Fridge, but I also need you to know I believe it’s time as a society we broach rethinking avocado appliances.

Just saying.

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
27 comments
  1. I’m a lesbian, married to my wife for close to 20 years, three kids, etc. I have never known how to feel about folks who are anti-gay until their child is gay, then they are (sometimes, eventually) okay with the gays. I’m not sure where to stow that. If we judge something to be wrong until someone we love is just that kinda wrong, then what hope is there for empathy for those we may never encounter or experience in person, who need our judgement-free empathy and acceptance (especially on voting day)? Your child is not going to come out as a Syrian or South American refugee, or a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, or a young Black man…how do we get people to bridge that gap if they can only accept the “other” if the other turns out to be their own child. I struggle with this. Not trying to insult or stir the pot, but I just don’t know what to do with this.

  2. I used to believe tolerance was where I should stand, that hating the sin/loving the sinner was possible, that if you just raised your kids right everything would turn out okay. I thought that if I just prayed more and trusted God more, I wouldn’t be so easily angered and I wouldn’t yell at my kids. And I used to think, when I first had a family, that I would be the koolaid mom, where the neighborhood kids would hang out…
    But then I had quiet, introverted kids who preferred each other over other kids because other kids were loud. (I’ve saved a lot of money not buying koolaid and popsicles.) And I had the privilege of actually becoming friends with people who were gay, and a few years later I read “Torn” by Justin Lee and “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. When my friend’s son married his husband, I went to the wedding to celebrate God’s provision of love and marriage. It wasn’t “gay marriage” — it’s MARRIAGE. And I realized my anger wasn’t sin, it was a mental health issue and I was missing some important chemistry in my brain. There’s a pill for that, and it has helped me become someone I like being around. And those kids of my own that I used to yell at? Well, two of them have failed to launch “properly” — one because of chronic headache that would bring me to my knees, another because of where he is on the autism spectrum.
    But where I’m struggling right now is the institution of church vs. being a disciple of Jesus. It’s such a mixed blessing at church on Sunday mornings, knowing some of the people in the room with me think so very differently about what is right and wrong. How can this be? In some ways it was easier back when everyone I hung out with was a conservative evangelical… but only because it was a group that shut everyone else out as being “other”.

  3. I used to think immigrants should “get in line” and “do it the right way.” But then I found out there is no line for many people who just want to make a better life for themselves and their families. And then we started making a mockery of the lines that did exist.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I used to think that because I was raised right by my family, that surely we would all have the same mindset. But no. I cringe at the thought of having to be around cousins, aunts, in-laws and even my sibling that all throw around racial slurs, non-empathetic comments, gun fanatical and anti-immigration verbiage like “hello and goodbye.” We went to church together. Prayed together. Helped others and were thoughtful. But when it comes to those they do not know – there is -0- caring and a “better than them” attitude that it destroying my connection with family. How did it come to this? What happened? I am heart broken. But I have you to commiserate with.

  5. I’m so thankful we have people like you in this world. You give me hope. I haven’t felt that much lately.

  6. I used to believe that avoiding conflict at all costs was the way to be happy. Until it hurt me so much that I had to let go of a toxic, abusive relationship and started figuring out how to set healthy boundaries and stand in my own power.

    Power to each of us, and thank you, Beth, for sharing your journey with us.

  7. I used to believe that if I ever became president my first action would be to ban mangoes and papayas. Because children who were being forced to eat these these gosh-awful fruits would grow up to become violent criminals. Now I love mangoes, but papayas still not so much.

  8. I use to think I could be an advocate for my child, then I found myself feeling helpless after being beaten down by, ” the system.”

    1. I used to think that too.

    2. I used to think that too. Now, I find myself afraid to fight anymore, tears leaking from my eyes at inopportune moments, because I’m not just required to advocate against the system, but against their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, my and their friends, and their doctors, and everywhere. And while I’m trying to do all this and failing, I’m teaching these children at home because I can’t even conceive of having to fight the schools too. I’m so tired. I used to think people helped those people who were struggling. Now I’m not so sure.

      1. Sending big hugs, and praying for peace and strength for you. I hear you’re tired. So, so tired. Hang in there.

  9. I used to think that I was mature in my 20’s – I didn’t do those stupid things any more. I looked back in my 30’s and was embarrassed at my false thought. Now I look back in my 40’s and laugh.
    Sub in many things for “mature” and it also is true. As I age I get embarrassed by what I used to think but eventually I laugh. It’s part of gaining wisdom I guess, and realizing it’s ok to change thoughts, it doesn’t make you two-faced, it makes you real and giving grace to yourself as you do others.
    You’re the best Beth, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You’re a giver. ♥

  10. I used to think all you need is Love, and adoption is forever. Now I still think Love is all you need, but one of ours needs the kind that isn’t ours. The child who is so stuck in her past and her trauma, and her opposition to and hatred of all things Me (because I’m just another orphanage worker right? but also it is MY FAULT for stealing her from all she ever knew), despite everything I’ve tried for her over the years, that she’d rather be surgically force-fed and miss out on her whole life than eat or do anything I offer. Who snuggles and bats her eyes like no one’s business with therapists, but sometimes has to be physically carried to the car to come home to us (where she harms herself and coolly explains how she’ll murder her baby sister).

    We meet her new family tonight. They are amazing people and we pray that THIS adoption is forever. But no matter what, God Who is Love has promised to give her hope and a future. HIS love is all she needs…and us, too.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope you know it’s her RAD, and not you. It’s NOT your fault. If you don’t already know, there are a handful of RAD support groups on Facebook. You’ll find love, support, and UNDERSTANDING there. I know how hard it is to find that when you’re dealing with a RAD kid. Good bless, and good luck. ❤️

      1. Thank you so much Amber. Yes, RAD is a b****. We set out to adopt special needs, and I often thought previously that medical would be doable (and it has been) but RAD was scary. What do you do when your love doesn’t mend all wounds, but instead seems to pour acid on them? :'( My husband belongs to one of those FB support groups. I can’t; it’s overwhelming right now to hear others’ horror stories. But I do belong to a group of parents who have had to relinquish, and they’re amazing–no judgment, just support. <3

        1. I don’t need to share the details of my experience to say that there are overlaps in our story. I’m SO glad you’re getting support and care from a community that understands. May you all have overwhelming peace and healing in this transition season.

          1. Thank you Bethany. So far so good…really good. We feel surrounded by His peace and grace.

    2. Battle-Scarred Mama – I’m pretty sure I read a comment from you on another blog earlier today. I just wanted to tell you about something to look into that you may or may not be already aware of (I wish all adoptive families were) – it’s called emotion code. It’s a way to help the body release past traumas. If you end up having more time with her, you could look into a practitioner in your area, or you could let her new family know it’s something they may like to explore.

      Wishing peace and healing to all your family.

  11. Thank you for all that you share. You are brave, amazing, and wise. I have one biological child, and four adopted children. At least one of my children identifies as gay. Most are on the autism spectrum. Every day is challenging, but worth it. My family definitely stands out in a crowd, in a State that doesn’t appreciate that very much. It’s easy to feel lonely and isolated in that position. Your words have resonated with my spirit many times, over the years. Thank you for shining your light into the darker corners of motherhood with humor and a willingness to share it all. You are very appreciated.

  12. I used to think “tolerance” was enough.

    Then my daughter got herself a (lovely) girlfriend. And BLOSSOMED. For the first time in her life, she’s completely confident in herself, comfortable, and *happy*.

    And though her girlfriend’s extended family is “tolerant” and welcomed her kindly enough, she and her girlfriend were disinvited from a family gathering on the very first Christmas she spent living in her girlfriend’s parents’ home. Because there would be “impressionable children present.”

    And my rage rose up and burned away any “tolerance” I may have had for bigotry.

    I am a proud Mama Bear. I thought I would never wear a rainbow pin in support of rights- until it was the rights of a piece of my own heart who walks out into this broken world on her own. I thank God every day that my love for my daughter overcame my stupidity… and repent that it took her coming out and seeing her *healthy* completeness with her partner to convince me that being gay is not being “broken.” It is being the full measure of who God has formed her.

    I think a lot of things… but I think more and more often that humility in all things is paramount, and that we must constantly question and explore and journey.

    I’m glad you’re part of my tribe, Beth. Even if we are just a ragged band of travelers, making music and laughing as we go. Onward and Upward… to Aslan’s country. Happy journeys.

  13. Thanks, Beth. You know…for being you. And, for letting us read what you write. 🙂

  14. I love an avocado appliance and these words.

  15. Look, people give you crap for “leading us astray” re:LGBT inclusion, but your real sin is trying to make me like those avocado appliances. HEATHEN!

    1. Even us heathens avoid avacado stoves!

  16. I used to think homosexuality was a terrible but thing, but I loved sinner hated the sin so that was fine. But 2 years ago my daughter, who loves Jesus very much, told us she was a lesbian. It took me about six months of going, “I will always love you, but what do I do with this?!” to I love you and when’s the pride parade?

    1. Right there with you Sister! Much love in the journey.

  17. What just happened here?

    I suddenly find myself LIKING the avocado appliance.

    What sorcery is this?

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