Cryptic Updates & Mercy

There are not two the same … you and I … we …. us …. others.
We are multi-layered
like a stunning, transparent geode …
being built by one experience at a time.

We are multi-faceted
like diamonds, quartz … amethyst … with light catching at multiple angles
to reveal intricate design … every prism different … every life original.

We come into the world with a pre-determined disposition
that is shaped day by day
moment by moment
by every experience thrust upon us.

I lay in bed last night thinking about an exchange on Facebook and how amazing and wonderful are my friends …
and about love, mercy and acceptance.

If you have a Facebook account AND you are female,
you may have been sent a message in the past asking that you put in your status something obscure like
the color of the bra you are wearing
your shoe size followed by an inch mark (“My best fit is 9”)
or where you like to keep your purse (“I like it on the kitchen table”).
The original intent was to create a buzz that would turn conversation towards breast cancer awareness.

But, the updates are written in such a way that they make me uncomfortable. I have enough friends that are young or men or both … that I don’t want to make them wonder, “What 9″ fits her?” or “She likes what on the kitchen table?”

So, yesterday, when I began to see my friends were “7 weeks” and “12 weeks” ….  I knew something was up.

I was so encouraged to see a young female friend post the following in her status update. This girl was maternally orphaned through cancer … her beautiful homeschool mom taken by cancer leaving a house full of sweet babes and a husband, strong and solid. I copied it and posted it into my own.

“‎”No ladies, let’s not do this again. Sorry, putting a status update about cravings and “weeks” does not do anything to help with a serious medical condition (cancer). Do something productive to help the cause – don’t just post a lame status. Thank you!”” – per Bethany per one of her friends.  I agree. Why would I want to post something that might lead you to believe that I’m sexually active when I’m not? Don’t post it girls.”

My friend Della … who is “18 weeks and craving Twizzlers”
… commented, “You made me sad ….” (because I unintentionally gave away the deciphering code for the cryptic message).
She and I conversed and then others chimed in.
Through a back and forth exchange, here is an excerpt from words that Della and Candy exchanged:Della: I’m all for anything that raises awareness. The more it’s talked about (even in a silly manner), the more it’s on people’s minds. That’s the first step in doing something productive to help the cause. Yes, cancer is a serious medical condition and very few people make it through to the ‘clean’ side, but damn it, if I’m ever diagnosed, I will laugh in its face. My mother had breast cancer, and my father died of cancer. I know it’s ugly. That’s why I’ll do anything to (even post a lame facebook status) to laugh AT it. Not about it.Candy: I agree with you, Karen. I think it would be better if we posted monthly reminders to do a self-exam. I do appreciate Della’s take on the whole thing though. I will NEVER let cancer conquer my ability to laugh, but I really don’t see how the ‘doing it on the kitchen table’/ ‘make everybody think I’m pregnant’ posts accomplish promoting awareness. Just my 2 cents…

Della: Candy, I had no fewer than 20 random people ask me about my status today. That was 20 random people I got to talk to about cancer screenings, monthly exams, and our local relay for life. THAT’S how silly posts helped me raise awareness in 20 people in less than 24 hours. How about you?

Candy: Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I haven’t spoken with 20 people today, but I have had hundreds of people read the blog that I kept while I was going through chemo, radiation & a bilateral mastectomy. I also speak to women at conferences on a regular basis about the importance of self-exams. And every chance I get I’ll talk to anyone who will listen. I am very aware of the importance of getting the message out (I’m reminded every night when I remove my synthetic breast forms and see the scars staring back at me). I just prefer the straight forward message over the joke that some folks may not think to ask about. But, once again, that’s just my 2 cents.

Della:  Candy: Kudos on your victory! That’s great! It appears that you and I are on the same side of this disease, just approaching it from different angles. I appreciate your willingness to speak out about your experience and the impact you’re having on lives through your methods. I’ve found that this (Facebook status) method is very effective for me. You see, the majority of my Facebook friends are young people who know me well enough to know that if I post something ‘cryptic’, then it’s worth asking me about. Therefore, I get to educate them about cancer and the fact that it’s no respecter of persons. And in the long run, isn’t it about awareness/education? Again, congratulations . . . and keep up the fight.

And then there are some … like Shelly, who don’t get the whole concept of the cryptic conversation starters.
Shelly said: whatever. i still dont get it. y’all have a good holiday weekend.
(This is why Shelly is a college level drama teacher … not an english professor.)

Here’s the thing that struck me with such impact: It takes all kinds.

We all have a platform.
We all have a position.
We all have an audience.
And the our personal combination of the three
… never looks like our neighbor’s combination.

We are each original, unique and beautiful.

Della’s life is immersed in public high school (through her active twin Seniors),  a “First” church in a small town and her non-stereotypical, bold attitude towards life. One of her passions is loving on youth.
Candy lives a more home-based life in a homeschool community, with more of a quiet spirit and from the perspective of personally having walked through breast cancer. One of her passions is personal health.
Shelly is a college instructor at an artsy town. She’s outspoken, athletic, single and settling into a new job. One of her passions is theater.
And me? I’ve lived the last three years at a technical college, walked through a divorce and am surrounded by creative/artistic people. One of my passions is photography.

With each passing day, I wonder more about how much we do or don’t understand about God, His immense Love and His Word. In our limited experiential view, we pass judgement and build walls. We view the world through the glasses of experience. We are human. Our minds are inadequate to understand. And it only makes sense, doesn’t it? Because ….

And so … we should love …  extend grace … to  ….

….  the one who hurts us … the one who dotes on us …
the one covered in tattoos  … the one whose body canvas is clean …
the one in the bankers suit … the one in the biker jacket  ….
the one who cuts us off in traffic … the one who stops traffic for us …..
the one who is rude to us in a grocery store line … the one returns our buggy …
the one who doesn’t speak english …. the one who uses proper grammar  …
the one who is black or brown or yellow or white when we are ______  ….
the one who is female and choses a female for a partner …. the one in a heterosexual marriage ….
the one who is pregnant out-of-wedlock AND the one who has eight children and homeschools ….
the one who follows us on Twitter and the one who unfriends us on Facebook …
the one who walks out on us …
the one who delivers the pizza ….
the one who backstabs us …
the one who blames us and takes no personal responsibility …
the one who sabotages our plans, our dreams our desires ….
the one ______________ ….

The more I live and learn and love,
the more I think that God’s grace and mercies
should be lived through us in a way that is accepting
more than condemning.

Because, isn’t our representation of Christ much more effective
if we can share our position from a Biblical standpoint
WHILE we love on the person
that is like us …
multi-layered, multi-faceted, stunning and intricate.

I’m thankful to be a part of a group of friends that are so diverse …
but that can still embrace and encourage
amidst their differences.
I love each of you, Della, Candy and Shelly.


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