Definition: The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
In other words, learning lessons from the world around us.
Definitions are always descript. By formal statement, they set boundaries between elements of vocabulary. They try to make things clear.
But sometimes definitions can be too wordy and convoluted. They can send you on a trip through the dictionary, looking up word after word to make sense of one definition.
Kind of like being the daughter-in-law of a farmer.
Over the years, I?ve started to remember the names of specific fields?Franz Bottom, Aulne Field, The South 80?with a vague sense of how to get there. But pile on a detour to an obscure field location to avoid a mud pit? Well, that?s where it gets convoluted.
I had my kids and supper for my husband loaded in our mini van. I had directions by landmark for the new roads from my mother-in-law. I had the sense of adventure only uncertainty can bring. And in my effort not to mess up and get lost, I overshot the field and got stuck.
My Sienna (that deep-down wishes it was a farm truck) got stuck in the muck and mire of a low-lying road?the exact portion of the road I was supposed to avoid by taking the detour.
Semiotic analysis No. 1: Always make sure you have clear directions, otherwise you just might end up in a mess.
My effort to put pedal to the metal in a forward motion didn?t work. I tried to reverse it, but to no avail. We were stuck.
Out came my trusty cell phone with minimal reception (low-lying bog, remember?) and I placed a call to my husband. He eventually answered his phone and he and his dad came to our rescue.
After a little more experimentation and a high-centered van, the duo drove back to the farm for the tractor and some chain.
Semiotic analysis No. 2: As I watched my husband and my father-in-law work to get us out of that muddy, stinky mess, I was reminded how important it is to have help during tough circumstances.
Last month I shared a very personal struggle in a public way. Even though I knew it was time to share, it was still hard to submit my thoughts without having any idea of how the public would respond.
In the initial days after publication, I had several people reach out and share their own struggles with depression. But after those first moments, the affirmation waned.
I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to engage others with my story. But instead I found myself feeling isolated in my vulnerability.
I didn?t feel right in seeking out those conversations because it felt like I was trying to promote myself and my column. And I lived in that isolation for a couple weeks…and guess where that decision sent me. Right into low-lying muck.
It took getting the van stuck, coupled with a recent sermon I heard, to recognize that asking for help in the middle of a trial is an important component of healing.
There?s no way I could have gotten the van out without help. My husband took over, sacrificing clean skin (seriously, it was so very muddy) to connect the van with the tractor. And that?s what happens when we decide to walk other people through trial.
Sometimes calls for help are ignored. Sometimes the reception isn?t great. But sometimes, you find people willing to walk through a muddy mess to help you through.
Let?s be those people. Let?s be honest, humble and vulnerable. Let?s be willing.
And let?s get dirty.