The dictionary defines the word “undone” in many ways; the second as being thrown into disorganization or chaos. This is an old usage, harking back to more formal speech. Imagining being outmaneuvered in chess, and simply knocking over your king and admitting, “I am undone.” Or finding out that the third house has been sold out from under you – as I just did. Again: undone. Thoroughly undone.
Because I am a much, much bigger drama-diva than that, I would have to put more feeling into the thing:
Open mouth, gobsmacked.
Unmoored. Swamped, and lost at sea.
Flailing, wordless. Drowned.
That is indeed “undone.” It can have a positive spin, if thought of in terms of something being a nice devastation – for instance, I was utterly undone seeing fields and fields of yellow flax flowers in a field lined by daffodils the other day. Or, today my friend Van has four boys; just the other day, he had three. I’m sure he and his family are completely undone with love for their newest. (And, congratulations, Van & J!)
I was “undone” with gratitude when I saw what Ashley Hope Pérez planned to write in her review of HAPPY FAMILIES:
The short version of my post today is this: anyone who has been moved, intrigued, or otherwise affected by the “I’m Christian Unless You’re Gay” essay by Dan Pearce (aka Single Dad Laughing) NEEDS to read Tanita S. Davis’s newest book, HAPPY FAMILIES.
The reason the Single Dad Laughing piece is back on my mind is that Dan recently posted in “A Teen’s Brave Response” about how the essay led to one teenager coming out to his family and community–and calling them to live their faith differently.
For those who haven’t read the “I’m Christian Unless You’re Gay” essay, let me summarize: Dan writes gently, humbly, but also compellingly about the tendency in lots of faith communities to reserve “full” love for a select few. Here’s a bit that’s relevant to what I’m going to say about Tanita’s book:
“Oh, but you’re not gay? You’re clean, and well dressed, and you have a job? You look the way I think you should look? You act the way I think you should act? You believe the things I think you should believe? Then I’m definitely a Christian. To you, today, I’m a Christian. You’ve earned it.”
I bet you’ve heard that message coming from others. Maybe you’ve given that message to others. Either way, I hope we all can agree that we mustn’t live that message. We just shouldn’t.
Dan Pearce wrote this essay in response to persecution a friend of his is facing – persecution that the author can’t, as a father, a friend, a non-religious person and a regular guy, understand or countenance. His friend’s family is religious, and how they can hold onto their cruelty and their faith at the same time simply doesn’t make sense to Mr. Pearce. As a person of faith myself, stuff like this shames and humbles me. It happens, yeah. But, it certainly isn’t right.
When I wrote HAPPY FAMILIES, I kept a note from Tech Boy next to me as to why I was writing it – because I was very, very afraid to lose my way. I had no specific friend for whom I was writing, and it was really important to me to keep my focus and not let fear of What People Might Say derail me. I also had to be sure I wasn’t writing for spectacle. I had to be certain I wasn’t writing the book just to upset people (some people say that your writing isn’t worth much if it doesn’t upset someone – for myself, I disagree), or put myself in the light of controversy and drama. I wrote, because I wanted to express a radical idea which had come to me after an ugly incident: that love is more important than… well, any other concern.
I merely wanted
L♥VE to be my only eyes.
What mattered: seeing.
Nothing more than that. No drama, no agenda. Just… looking at what matters.
A Logophiles conversation this past weekend said it even better. Though talk in the Word Circle was of romantic love, Kel’s words still apply: “…it’s okay to give your wholehearted whole self to another person, especially when they are willing to give that same thing back to you. That it’s okay to be ass over teakettle in love with someone and not feel like it’s something to hide or cover over… every day is an opportunity to get things right, and…it’s okay to be optimistic on a regular basis.” It’s okay to give that, to our friends – to dive in, hold on, reveal ourselves, and be real.
It might be also scary. That’s the small print I need to highlight. Keeping your vulnerable areas hidden becomes second nature after junior high — we’ve all been pretty well skewered. Keeping things surface is often easier than sharing – and in these days of over-sharing, people are still afraid. It takes courage to go all Velveteen Rabbit and get real, down to the skin. But, everyone can get there if they’re willing to take the first step – of being a trustworthy person and trusting the people around them.
None of this is easy. But, it’s all worthwhile.
enough mushy stuff
Shorthand for feelings
Emoticons have used up
My emo muscles.
It’s been a rollercoaster of feelings… and that’s enough from me today. Stay tuned for more in your world to undo you; stay tuned for more expressions of awe and terror, joy and longing. Stay tuned for your real life.