Confessions: Mismatching Socks and My Deepest Longing

She doesn’t look for her keys before leaving the house. When you meet her as planned, she’s on time. Out of the car bounds an active kid, shirt ironed, as his mother materializes with a rock of a baby in an easy arm. Of course Mom’s groomed. When did she have time to paint those nails? She greets you with eyes and a smile that say she pulled off a restful night and she’s good to go.

And then there’s me.

Last month on the way out to the park, I realized my socks didn’t match. I had grabbed the white one and the checkered brown from separate piles off the tired path out of bed. I didn’t want to go back upstairs so I shrugged and drove off. The disinterest in the impression I make in public is an offshoot of my young, willful self. I was known for the different-colored socks in junior high – usually one red, the other purple. didn’t see why they had to match. So the asymmetry this time wasn’t so crazy of me, only I am thirty years older. I plainly looked more off than like a trendsetter. The women I know match – even purse to outfit.

And here I am, one of those days. My plans, my body, my emotions don’t seem to…work. I’m a Hyundai from the 70s. Dang ignition’s sluggish and the car gets temperamental when she’s finally on the road. Why the overcast view of the week ahead, the brooding storm clouds in my spirit? My son’s laughter makes its way to me through a thick wall of emotional static. I want to really see him but need to clear my circuits. I pry loose the helpless confession. Discontent and fear. Not sure which wins out but there they are, wreaking havoc. I wish this were different, wish that came easier – and I fear they won’t. I redesign my life in my head.

The nerve. How many people wouldn’t jump for this life? But hold on. Can we say this? Can we compare lives like we do houses? We don’t know all the stuff that goes on in a home, in human hearts. We all have closets we keep shut, some locked. Apparently Superman wasn’t so special – some of us have x-ray vision too. Last week someone who had been very kind and friendly to my family decided I was too imperfect for her and her circle. The ax fell from nowhere. I’d had no inkling I had been under scrutiny, especially because I had not seen her at all this year until a week before she wielded her hatchet. I had never uttered a bad word about her or anyone we knew. In any case, I somehow wasn’t good enough for her. Well Super Woman, here’s some more ammunition for you. Days like this, I in fact do remember my textbook Christian answers. I’ve taught the Bible. I know who I am and Whose I am. And I still feel like a failure, precisely because I know better. It’s not low self-esteem. I believe we are all full of ego. Why is compassion something we have to work on? “Love your neighbor as yourself” is one commandment, not two. We are told to love others as seriously as we take our own needs. If only I were more grateful, really grateful for all I have and for those who love and need me. I could disable the discontent. I am responsible for the perspective I take and how I respond when life seems to move against the grain of my hopes. I ache in my fallenness.

I’ve thought hard, blogging the past year, about what keeps us shuffling forward on the journey. Hope. Without it, tomorrow is nothing and closes in on today. I disagree that love is man’s greatest longing. Unless you’re Daddy Warbucks, all your love for me won’t keep food on my table and put my son through college. Hope is the picture you paint in your head of yourself and those you cherish in a better place. Ironically, hope is what drives you in your plans to kill yourself. Yes, I dare say because I was there as a teen. Bottomed out, you are so miserable you trust that anything will be better than where you are. What gets us through our daily fears is the hope of a good living, a happy family, improved health. You keep on through another round of chemo, holding on to the brighter picture ahead. But it’s a deeper kind of hope we nurse. Assurance of redemption, that our sighs and disappointments will not merely lead out to fresh air that makes the vault of our past feel like a bad dream. But that we will one day see – whether in this life or the next – the storyline to our suffering. We want to see the writing on the walls of our despair, know that we haven’t lived senseless years. We pray God or whatever we trust in will make right the wrongs, show mercy for our transgressions and vindicate us where we suffer. I hate waste, of time especially, and remind myself of the truth that’s found its way as a popular aphorism. I don’t want to waste my sufferings. I listen for the lessons they have for me. Onward and upward? My God makes this possible because He wastes nothing.

135 thoughts on “Confessions: Mismatching Socks and My Deepest Longing

  1. Thank you for an eloquent and thought provoking post. What would we be without hope? My mother lived through a series of tragedies with only hope to keep her smiling. And her faith. Her life did improve, but too briefly before she was diagnosed with cancer. The point is we, her children, bottom out at far less. And are consumed with guilt when we think of what she endured without complaint. Despair is relative. The guilt makes it worse. The outwardly perfect are possibly under greater pressure. To me, mismatched socks indicate a kind of liberation 🙂

    • *side grin on the socks* I really appreciate the feedback, M, and the precious glimpse into your history and your mother’s story. I seriously don’t know how our moms and grandmothers did it. The air is just different now; we are so comfortable in many ways. Faith, despair, endurance, guilt. Yep, these are the things I write about. And it is special connecting with thoughtful bloggers like you in the process.

      Love and respect,

  2. I am so impressed with the poetry of your words. And I’m equally impressed with how you look at the world – and at yourself. I think we’ve all felt, at times, that we;re without hope, and that’s such a terrible, frightening feeling. To touch upon something else you wrote about, I, too, have always felt like I ‘march to a different drummer’ – but that doesn’t mean that MY drummer isn’t the right one. At least for me !! About that overly-fussy woman…. if we realize analyze it, ‘crap’ is just a word society has decided isn’t ‘ladylike’. Here’s what I think – WHO GIVES A CRAP – it’s just a word !! Saying the word ‘crap’ has nothing at all to do with God – or how we feel about God. Again – it’s just a word. And God doesn’t care about anything so trivial. God sees into our hearts and minds and is pleased when He sees the love there !!

    • Thank you for the sweet, hearty feedback, dear Cecile. I’m so glad this spoke to you. I appreciate the follow. Welcome to this rich community of thinkers. I do hope you get through the recent hurtful events.

      *Hand squeeze* =)

  3. First about the socks issues :), I solved that problem when I decided to move in countries where you don t need socks anymore…..
    It is almost sad reading your comparison with this groomed, polished woman with you… Look at you…read you…you certainly don t need red polish on your nails very often to shine…to be noticed…for who you are….look at your words…the deepness of your words…how you care for important matters…being a mom….a real one….
    My life journey is a little further than yours…and my experience is telling me one thing…the women I was admiring because they were sooooo…..everything….groomed, entertaining, smiling…polished….their kids now…as adults….have barely contact with them now…as teenagers…they were doing all the stupid things on planet….they were never talking to each other but rather yelling to each other….it turns out, me…. The organic, holistic, concerned….not always hair combed ( ok I admit…almost never…:)) mom….I have a wonderful relationship with my daughters….they can be on the other side of the planet….they will always find time for calls (daily) come to me so we can spend long moment together…they share a lot with me…and are now young women full of empathy, responsability…and happiness…
    It is a matter of priorities….you have yours…enjoy it!

  4. As always inspiring and made me think about how so much time is spent wasted on trivial matters, and what people think and expect. I have always wanted to go my own, way and I pretty much have.
    The story about socks made me think of what I did just a few weeks ago. I had on two different shoes. Didn’t even notice until I came home. I think everyone has done the sock thing. I have also wore my clothes inside out, or backward, that’s what happens when you are in a hurry. At least that is why it happens to me.

    • Those people from the park don’t remember me from that day. Even anyone who might have a vague memory of a mother with uneven socks won’t place my face. Yes, we do get hung up on the small things.

      • I was so self conscious of doing that, that when I meet the group again, I had to mention it. I was worried about them having noticed it, so I brought it up. Everyone said they didn’t notice, but in my mind, I felt like everyone in the place had seen that.
        When I brought it to their attention, it actually made me feel better, because I was so obsessed by it.

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