Reject the notion that you are not enough. Or that you are too much. Or that you don’t have what it takes.
Reject all the lies that you are tempted to believe, and begin the adventure of knowing that it’s okay to be you, exactly as you are now, in your shoes, in your skin, with your heart in this great big world.
My friend calls this ‘doing good work,’ and he rewards himself with a treat from the store when he’s spent time doing good work wrestling the demons of discouragement that creep and claw at the deep marrow close to your soul.
Some things seem small and insignificant in the process of gleaning, but later you realize that it’s all part of making life the beautiful mess it’s supposed to be. We grow and glean, learn and dream, and if we succeed we teach others to make life what it can be.
It’s like when my grandmother would show me how to pick peas from the garden when they were just right. In the Minnesota summer sun, swatting mosquitoes, she in her big sun hat would lovingly run her hands across the long strings of hanging snap peas like harp strings. The perfect pop of green, and she so patiently picked and opened each pod running her thumb down the shell releasing those peas. Then she’d teach me to take the strings off the edges before taking a bite of the crisp shell.
My Grandma Sota was a proper woman, exacting and careful. A perfectionist, she loved having things just right. She had so many breakable things on display in her double-wide trailer. Her life was ironic like that. She was given grunt tasks that she performed with grace and accuracy. She was smart and kind, always serving. But I think that a piece of her felt a disconnect with her circumstances. So often I see her in my mind, all dressed up with fancy big necklaces and perfectly matching suits, nylons and her hair done just right leaning over the kitchen sink.
I would burst through the door after our 22-hour road trip to see her and beg to rearrange the furniture. I don’t know what it was. I felt safe to ask there. I treated her space like a giant playhouse. We couldn’t touch anything inside the house, but after a bit and a few ‘Oh I s’pose it’s what you need to do’s, she’d give me free reign over the attached screened-in porch. I was in heaven. I worked for days to make it just right and new each time I came in. It was my apartment, a general store, a Barbie palace, a college dorm. The cousins and I moved in on the green AstroTurf meant to look like grass indoors and would move the white wooden outdoor folding furniture into spaces that worked for us. We knew not to touch anything else in Grandma’s meticulous world. We didn’t want to make her sad.
She was so much like her spaces, clean and lovely. Fragile but flexible enough to let people move her. She loved to visit us too, and I would watch her move her fingers over my shelves of toys and collectibles. She’d peruse and say, ‘Oh, you have such nice things.’
I want to be like this woman that I loved. She taught me with such patience, let me create in her spaces, delighted in my details. She took time to get to know us, and she prayed that we would become people who loved God. I wonder, did she have to do good work to reject those pinions of imperfection, those lies of discontent and loneliness? I’m sure she did. I’m sure. But she saw beauty in the mundane and made the inside pristine. She understood that life, though not always what we hope or imagine, is what you make it, and she did good work to make it beautiful.
STEPHANIE PLATTER is a teacher, writer, and film critic, who is learning to do the good work it takes to live life fully. That, plus prayer and coffee.
Gorgeous featured photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
I love reading you perspective on Grandma and your trips to MN. I love how you see our rural life in the idealic way we see your busy city life. I hadn’t thought of Grandma in this way, as so proper and perfectionist and yet as I read it I see the truth in it. When you ask if she had her struggles, I know she did, that is the side I often saw. For some reason even though I was only 12 at the time she shared them with me and leaned on me. Being a widow was hard for her, she hated going places on her own and she often felt like a burden to her children. But as you said through all of that she loved beauty and strived for it. I love your memories, thanks for sharing them.