Monday, September 1, 2008

Beautiful Genuine Musician, listening to the Spirit within her

My youngest daughter-by-marriage is 18 today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEAUTIFUL GENUINE MUSICIAN!

When I first met David's children, Beautiful Genuine Musician (BGM) was 12. David and I had driven to City to the South to pick her up, and on the drive back I asked her about her life. I was STUNNED to hear how articulate she was! Such a young girl, but so mature in her thoughts and opinions and ability to speak. And so able to enjoy life--she was bubbly, but also had a real depth to her.

I'll not forget how she so quickly invited me to play a video game with her. We sat together on a small couch as we played, and when I utterly failed at this game she was quick to want to help me not feel badly about it. She is always eager to help others feel okay about themselves.

She turned 13 a month after I met her, and I was part of the birthday party at David's house. Cake and presents. Lots of laughter.

Soon after that she met a couple of my friends who were visiting for the afternoon. I couldn't believe how easily she spoke to them, telling us all about her life in junior high school and what she thought about this and that. She was "just one of the girls," and, believe me, my friends were impressed.

And so was I. Being so impressed, I made sure to tell her--we were sitting in my car, having driven into the driveway after running a short errand somewhere. I don't know whether she consciously remembers that conversation, but if not, I trust that somewhere within her it is doing the good work that such conversations do.

We all went to City to the South for her graduation from high school last May. She also had a "senior piano recital" that we all attended. Wow. I mean, WOW. We all sat there amazed at her musical gift. And she was so poised. I was so messed up at 17 (depressed, with little sense of self), so to see her so confident is a real joy for me.

She is an amazing person with a bright future ahead of her.

Every time I think about Beautiful Genuine Musician, and Lovely Passionate Feminist (LPF) as well, and how they are both moving into adulthood so well, I compare it to how difficult the process was for me.

Young women face so many pressures, and mine was complicated by a family of origin that included my father's alcoholism and all the enmeshment/denial/triangulation that entailed, plus a Depression-era mother who was frightened of the future (among many other things) and wanted to use me as insurance against the possibility of a bleak future. BGM and LPF are children of divorce, so they have their own issues, but they seem to have weathered that better than I handled an intact but highly dysfunctional family unit.

In the Fall of 2003 The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling published my paper about "Courage in the Development of Self in Women." That paper was one of my continuing attempts to understand what's really involved in becoming whole, how we heal and mature.

My article used Robert Kegan's The Evolving Self to look at the stages of development. His book starts with this quote from Hegel: "The spirit is never at rest but always engaged in progressive motion, in giving itself a new form.” Using my own sense of what the "spirit" is (Hegel had a much more involved definition, of course!), I see the truth of that statement as absolutely key. The spirit, i.e., the Holy Spirit, within us is always at work, churning and pushing us out of the status quo and toward becoming the person God is calling us to be.

All that churning and pushing is a painful process, and, as the title of my article says, one that requires a great deal of courage. It's easy to stay stuck in fear because fear of the unknown can be far greater than the fear with which we are already familiar.

Thinking back, among other things I was afraid of being seen. I remained unseen and unacknowledged as much as I could. Even in college and later during my initial years working for oil companies, I did well but always tried to manipulate things so that I didn't have to make speeches or get noticed. BGM and LPF are stage actresses, both having won awards for their acting ability. They are not afraid of being seen, and I think that is just SO extraordinary.

For myself, I could have remained inside that fear, increasingly acclimating myself to it and never really moving toward my potential, but the Spirit within me was horribly and fabulously restless--its job, after all, is to always push us toward realization of who we authentically are. As the restlessness grew it caused me such pain that eventually I simply had to start taking the risks that accompany growth toward authenticity.

I'm sure that the Spirit is restless within Beautiful Genuine Musician as well, but I don't know what form it is taking. I do have a real sense of confidence that she will listen to it and follow its calling toward authenticity and joy--and much more quickly than I did!!

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Genuine Musician. You are a blessing beyond measure.

5 comments:

mompriest said...

Lovely tribute to your step-daughter...I learned a lot from reading Carol Gilligan...

Gannet Girl said...

Havving been a step-daughter 3x over, I will admit to bring rather jealous of yours. Happy birthday to a wonderful mother as well!

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

The quote from Hegel...stunning.
Enjoy, celebrate, and many blessings for continued insight.

Jan said...

Your stepdaughter sounds like an amazing young woman. What a celebration for both of you!

I always resonate with your words, Katherine, as it also took me a long time to want to be seen. I'm grateful that the young women in our lives are more confident in their own worth than we were at their age.

C. said...

You and Beautiful Genuine Musician are blessed women to share the relationship you have. It must be such a joy for you to witness your two "daughters-by-marriage" moving into their own authenticity. And how fortunate they are to witness and receive your love, openness, and honesty about the struggles of your own journey. You are remarkable, Katherine, and I'm blessed by your honesty again and again! CCW