Surrender Is Maybe Not So Futile

So recovery from major abdominal surgery is fun. I kid, of course. It’s a tortuous (not torturous, mind you. Tortuous.) process, full of cringey faces and tiny little baby steps toward back-on-your-feetness, but I can confidently say that at 11 days post-op I’m feeling pretty darn good.

I’m thinking I might even be able to tie my own shoes in a few weeks! I kid, of course. Tying shoes is for quitters, sandals all the way! Even when it’s raining!

From my recovery haze of nursing the baby, resting, and napping, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the events of the last few weeks. Everything, from the surprise discovery of Lily’s breech presentation at the 38 week ultrasound all the way up to the moment I walked into the operating room, has been rattling around inside my head.

I’m not gonna lie, the whole 180 degree change from an unmedicated birth center birth to a planned c-section was a head trip. I mean, you just can’t get more opposite than that. I definitely went through a period of mourning the birth I wouldn’t be able to give Lily, and then I stopped looking back and just relaxed into it.

I surrendered all control over the process, in so doing enabling me to see the beauty in Lily’s birth. Even though the majority of the work I did to bring her into the world was to lay there and breathe, it was a truly beautiful birth.

There was so much love in that operating room, and I’ll never, ever forget the feeling of holding her on my chest and feeling her sweet little breath on my cheek while she cried for the first time. It was a completely different birth experience than my son’s, but it was in some ways better.

There was no screaming or swearing, there were only smiles and tears and a full head of luscious baby hair. It wasn’t the birth we’d planned, but it was Lily’s story all along, we just didn’t know it at the time.

And now, 11 days later, I’m feeling upbeat and positive and I have two amazingly beautiful children and a husband who’s been through the wars with me and we’re this blissed-out family and I don’t really care that Lily’s birth happened in a hospital courtesy of a scalpel. Because she’s here and she’s exactly what was missing from our little family.

I’ll just take my battle wounds and move on, because in the immortal words of Tyler Durden, “I don’t want to die without any scars.”

See? Fight Club dialogue is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Fight Club Christianity

fight-club-soapIt’s no secret that I love the movie Fight Club.  In fact, if someone asked me to name the salient influences that have shaped the person I am today, Fight Club would be among the top three.

Why?  It’s not because of Brad Pitt’s abs, and it’s not because I like watching people pound one another into cookie dough or giggle at the phrase “all-singing all-dancing crap of the world.”

No, it’s because of the deep undercurrent running though the movie/book.  The message that our present society, with its obsessive drive to consume and beautify, is hollow and rotting from the inside out.

A McMansion in the suburbs with an SUV in the driveway and a vacation every year sure looks nice, but it’s really not if lurking underneath it all is crippling debt and an all-consuming dissatisfaction.  With everything.  Because the minute you buy something it’s out of date, and therefore you need to start obsessing about the newer version of it, until you can wrap your hands around it and start longing for something else.

I first saw Fight Club when I was in high school, at Wes’ recommendation.  The movie blew my mind.  The violence skittered away into the background for me, and the resounding idea I walked away with is summed up in this one quote: “The things you own end up owning you.”

It is that short phrase right there that helped shape the person I am today.  It’s the reason I wasn’t dissatisfied during the years when Wes and barely scraped by and I couldn’t afford to buy socks so I just wore the ones I had until they were literally dissolving beneath my feet.  It’s the reason I don’t care that my house doesn’t have marble countertops, or that my wardrobe only has four pairs of shoes, or that nearly everything we have for our baby is secondhand.

It’s because I know that what really counts can’t really be bought.  If my house burned to the ground, I’d be annoyed to have to replace birth certificates and clothes and stuff, but I probably wouldn’t be terribly bothered.  So long as the three of us made it out ok, I’d have everything that matters to me.

Wes and I do not live a fancy life.  Our couches are falling apart, our clothes are old and unfashionable, and we get our hair cuts at Great Clips.  But.  But!  We are so happy, you guys.  We’re content with nearly everything about our life.  Because what we value can’t be ordered from Amazon.

That quote from Fight Club, which I internalized in high school, helped me figure out that cultivating contentness or contentitude or whatever you want to call it separate of whatever stuff you happen to accrue is one of the most important things you can learn.

The reason Christianity is in the title is that Wes and I were discussing this topic on the way to church last Sunday, and then when we got to church Wes’ Dad was preaching about this very thing.  He didn’t bring Fight Club into it, but he did elaborate on the idea that, for believers in Christ, our treasure isn’t down here anyway.

He explained how God provides for His children what they need, and that to be anxious about finances or to be panicking at the recession is not really necessary.  Chasing money isn’t why we’re here, we’re here to serve God.  Wes’ Dad was much more eloquent and concise than I am, but that’s why he’s a pastor and I’m a blogger.

What about you?  What have been the salient influences in your life?  Do they have anything to do with Brad Pitt’s abs?