Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life in the Land of the Giants

This blog has become a place where I voice many of my opinions and empty my brain of the burdens that lie therein. I don't mean to use "burden" in a negative sense, more in the "heavy" sense. I have frequently been criticized as someone who "thinks too much." This, I'm afraid, has not been a positive thing because I get so many things swirling around.

This post is just something that's been forming over the last few weeks.

It was somewhat ironic, as she just passed away last week, that about two weeks ago, our family was discussing the tallest people in the world. We looked it up online and ran across Sandy Allen. I became familiar with her years and years ago while listening to the Split Enz (a rather unknown band from the '80s). I have posted a youtube video that pays tribute to Sandy Allen and has this Split Enz song as accompaniment. Enjoy!

Okay, so now for the purpose of this post. As you know, I am married to a giant of a man. When I first started dating him, I honestly didn't notice his height. We had been going out for about a week, and he asked, "Does my height bother you?" To be completely truthful, I was so dazed by the humor and personality of this man, and his, in my eyes, greatness, that I didn't even notice the greatness of his physical stature.

At the time when he asked me that question, we were walking on a sidewalk on Burnside downtown. The sidewalk was slanted. He had crossed over behind me to walk on the side closer to the street. I thought of this as a gentlemanly gesture--he was walking between me and the traffic. In reality, he had taken that side as it was the lower part of the slope.

I'm sure many people have wondered, as there are 14 inches between our heights, what brought Zan and me together. At times, I have wondered too. I had never met anyone who was more perfect for me. On our first date together, just the two of us, I knew I was going to marry him. Such a strange and scary feeling. I had dated many men, but never had anyone "fit" me like Zan. I didn't have to pretend to be something I wasn't. I could joke and laugh, and he'd be right there with me joking and laughing.

One thing I have come to appreciate during our marriage is differences. Zan has to duck to get into certain doorways. He just does it without even thinking. It's just part of being a tall person. It's here that I want to revisit Sandy Allen.

To me, Sandy is the perfect example of a person who made lemonade out of lemons. She had a very obvious shortcoming (pun intended). It was unhideable and it made her more loveable. It was the "out in the open" that so many of us hide. She makes me question, what is my weakness that makes me different and maybe even a "freak" to others. Do I hide that? Do I let the world see it? Do I let people love me because of or even in spite of it? Do I laugh at myself, or do I, out of pride, try to hide it and take myself way to seriously?

This all draws my mind to how many times we read about the importanace of weaknesses in the scriptures. The word "weakness" is mentioned in the scriptures 68 times. Most of these reveal the fact that when we embrace our weaknesses, they become our strengths.

I am not a person that openly strives for perfection on my own (of course, I know that our strength and perfection come only through our Savior, but it's not something I "put on" and pretend to be). To me, it is way too far off. I also feel that it repels people. Who wants to be part of a church in which everyone is "perfect?" I don't. I can't relate to that. I honestly believe that our weaknesses are given to us to make us closer to each other. Some of us have more blantant ones than others, but the truth of the matter is we all have them whether we want to admit it or not.

We used to drive a woman to church each Sunday who had a prosthesis. My children, each Sunday, used to wait for her to get in the car and would greet her. Some days she'd recognize their existence; most days she didn't. After a number of weeks of this, finally the day I'd been waiting for arrived. One of the kids could hide the curiosity no longer. Out blurted the question, "What happened to your leg?"

This woman was quite offended. She never answered the question but shot a dirty look at the child that asked.

Zan has an uncle that passed away a year ago. I met him and loved him instantly. As a young man, he had been injured in an accident as he worked for the electric company in Idaho. He lost an arm and both legs from the knee down. He, I believe, may have been one of the greatest men I've ever met. Yes, his physical weakness was out there for all to see, but it made him inwardly so loveable.

According to Zan, his Uncle Laverl used to get the kids gathered around, those who didn't know him, and he'd freak them out by pounding a nail into his artificial leg. It became a means of making others comfortable with him. There was nothing to hide.

It always seemed funny to me that my children never even asked about Uncle Laverl's arm or legs. They'd just go up and become recipients of one his wonderful bear hugs.

Covering or exposing our weaknesses...Which is stronger?

"To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22)

Hello Sandy Allen
The world's tallest woman

We made friends in New York

Don't know if you'll remember

I'm bound to say I felt uneasy

when I first laid eyes on you

But I liked the way you talked

Like a living hoper

Towering over our heads in more ways than one

The hand that shook my hand was awesome

It still amazes me

Hope you're happy - Sandy Allen

Hope your garden is blooming

We're all staring at the mirror

tryin' to put our faces on

Appearance never held you back

Must be when you're number one

you don't have to try so hard.


Tonya said...

I am by no means perfect and so it gives me great comfort to hear others open up about their hard day, or their feelings of inadequacy, or other weaknesses. It helps me to realize that I am not alone and that I can be a lovable, happy person despite my countless flaws. I always have a deep respect for those who are aware of their weaknesses and are not afraid to share or laugh about them. It seems to put me at ease. My grandfather has had 9 fingers due to an accident for years. When I was litle he would tell me to count his fingers. I would always get stuck at 9. "Nope, count your fingers, then count mine again. We all have 10 fingers". It confused me until I got old enough to realize his trick:0) The point is, he didn't give a rip that he was missing a finger. He made it a game. I love you to death Julie. You make me smile and I love your honesty. You are one of those people that put me at ease. I can always be myself around you.

Anonymous said...

My thought to your question...

Covering or exposing our weaknesses...Which is stronger?
"To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22)

I think that we have to constantly find that balance, it ebbs and flows constantly. There are times we must be vulnerable, and yet, there are times we must bear up. In both instances we can strengthen others, depending on what is needed at the moment.

We each are blessed with spiritual gifts. Some of us in this life are blessed to see the good out of everything! Some keep it real. And yet there are some who cannot see anything in this life as good. I think the world needs all of us for our experience.

Personally, I only see the glass half empty on days that it was entirely full and I guzzled some...why do I do!

I loved this entry! Maybe because I'm taller than average too. I love the greatest compliment you paid to your spouse within it. I think the world of Zan and you, together...complete.

You are indeed a giant, if not in stature as Sandy, my friend, you are in so many ways..

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