Sunday, October 2, 2011

THE WHITNEY EXPERIMENT: 30 Days of Refinement

I woke up this morning and was not super stoked that it was Sunday. I usually look forward to going to church each week. That may sound strange to some people, but it’s true. I love listening to the band at my church, and I adore my pastors. I usually get a lot out of listening to the sermons, and strangely enough, some of it actually sticks with me and gets applied to my life from time to time. Impressive, I know. But back to this morning—I didn’t want to go to church. I almost talked myself out of it. I was in a crap mood from the time I opened my eyes—which is kind of pathetic actually, considering I still had an entire day ahead of me at that point.

From the time I got out of bed today it was like the universe was against me. One of my twins got dressed for church in an outfit that looked like it was put together by a preschooler, and she topped it off with a coat that had sleeves that were 5 inches too short for her. She had on her twin sister’s jacket. Why it didn’t hit her to look at whose coat was whose I have no idea—or just noticing the fact that her sleeves were way too short. Then I went to grab something out of the freezer and Emma had put the ice cube trays in there all cocky wampus because she’s too short to put them back properly and the whole tray fell out of the freezer, onto my bare foot, and then ice cubes exploded all over my kitchen floor. AND I didn’t want to go to church today anyway—but I’m glad that I did.

I was pretty humbled today once I actually made it into church. I stood there during the music at the beginning, thinking about all the other things I would rather be doing other than standing in church at that moment. I read the words on the big screen as they were being sung. A couple of times they brought tears to my eyes (no, I didn’t break down into a full-on blubbering idiot, in case you were wondering. Sorry to disappoint). I wanted the music to be over with so that we could move onto the sermon and so I could move on to going home. Great attitude to go to church with, eh? I’m sure God was super thrilled at my “going the extra mile” for Him today.

“So why were you humbled today, Whitney? And BTW…do you even know what that word means?” Why yes, I do, Nonexistent Heckler Person. I was humbled because we’ve been going through a new series at church called, “Live Like You Were Dying”. The premise is to look at your life as if you knew you only had 30 days left to live. What would you do? Where would you go? Most of you know that I would high-tail it to Kauai or Maui (probably both since I had 30 days to live—that has to allow for some island hopping). However, the topic today was called, “Speak Sweeter”. Oh crud. You might as well have smacked me upside the head after the week that I’ve had. There has been nothing sweet flowing from my mouth this week. As a matter of fact, I got told at one point by a used-to-be friend that I spew venom. Sweet. Apparently I’ve graduated into full-on snakedom.

Basically, the sermon emphasized that you can’t sit there and spew out God’s love with the same mouth that you sit there and beat the holy living crap out of people with. Hmmm. I hadn’t really thought about that. Oh, and this is the part where you all should be really thankful I never attended seminary school because my sermons would be chocked full of colorful language and visuals. So, no…hadn’t really thought too much about A.) how much words hurt, B.) that often times my words are contradictory to the intentions of my heart, and C.) how anger, manifested inappropriately, is absolutely lethal to relationships, and D.) that words can actually scar people for life.

It was kind of funny, I was looking up at the screen as they put the scriptures up there and I was thinking, “Hmmm…who knew all this stuff was in the bible?” What’s even more ironic is that there is a bible on my nightstand—and believe it or not it gets thumbed through pretty regularly. I hadn’t “tripped” over those particular scriptures before. This is where going to church helps. It’s nice when the pastor does your homework for you.

The funny thing is I should really know all of this. I’ve been on my own since I was basically 17. My family wasn’t super hip on the fact that I had kids so young, and it caused the slow, painful, angry degradation of my family. We haven’t spoken in years. One thing we were super good at as a family was bashing the hell out of each other verbally. As a matter of fact, I went pro for a while. I’m still pretty good at it, actually. Not as good as I used to be, but on a bad day most people wouldn’t want to mess with me. Not my best quality by any means. As a matter of fact, from the sermon today, it sounds like it’s my worst attribute. Awesome. I’ll take that slice of humble pie ala mode, please.

So LIVE LIKE YOU WERE DYING: We were told to think about how we would talk to people if we only had 30 days left to live. Would we want people to remember us by words that we’ve used to build people up and encourage?...or by harsh, crazy crap that gets spewed out in the heat of anger or at the peak of emotional meltdowns. It really made me think.

I’m a nurse. I have the opportunity to touch people’s lives every time I work. In the past 6 months I have gotten more compliments from my care delivery than I have ever heard in my life. I was recognized by my hospital for excellence in patient care and advocacy, and I’ve received letters from my patients telling me how I made their hospital experience amazing. That’s all great, fine, and dandy, but I feel like two different people on any given day. I pour my heart and soul into my job. However, I feel like I kind of half-heartedly do things at times in my regular life. We were asked during the sermon to think of someone who has loved and molded us into what we are today, and I honestly couldn’t think of anyone who had done this in my life. Since I’ve had no family from a fairly young age, I’ve kind of tripped and trudged my way through things and attended the school of hard knocks with a lot of things. Then I thought about my kids, and I thought, “If I died in 30 days, would they be able to say that I was a good example to them, or that I molded them into the fine people who they are today?” A harsh question with an even harsher answer—I don’t know.

 “So where is all of this going, Whitney?” Well, I’ll tell you. I’m launching “The Whitney Experiment”. For 30 days I’m going to make it illegal in the Land of Whitney to be negative, mean, and grouchy. I don’t know that I picked the right month to attempt such a thing, or if I’m setting myself up for failure seeing as though I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend and had a few choice words with some of his pals this week. However, I am committed to taking 30 days to work on building people up and being more loving instead of tearing them down—starting with my family. Hopefully by the end of this 30 days my children will feel as cared for as my patients at work. Maybe they’ll be able to say, without a doubt, that the person who invested in them and who loved them most in life was me. And maybe, just maybe at the end of this 30 days it will feel so good to build people up that I continue to do it for the rest of my life. I could be jumping the gun on this one, but here’s to hoping.

So yes, it’s open season on me. You can poke the bear with a stick this month and I won’t even tear you to pieces. Just be careful, cuz after 30 days all bets are off—and I’m really good at taking notes.

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