No Apology

January 11, 2012

Every once in awhile I have a few moments of clarity.  Those blips on the radar that help me re-focus the life I intend to lead not the one I find myself indulging.

One of those moments was at a women’s retreat almost 8 years ago.  It was the one where the phrase “No Apology” resonated and resounded until it became the words on the screen of my cell phone.  A bright pink Razor.  I was very cool.

Why “No Apology”?  Because I am who I am.  I was tired of apologizing for using big words, liking intellectual discussion more than knitting circles and for hating girls nights out and shopping.

I was tired of apologizing for not being more like Them.  So, I quit apologizing and never looked back.

I’ve been having another one of those days.

Here are a few personal realizations…

  • I am sincere.  I am not gentle.  I’m ok with it
  • I’m honest. If you don’t want to know? Don’t ask.
  • I believe in justice more than mercy.  I’m ok with it if you don’t.
  • I will never enjoy a lengthy conversation about accessories, clothing or hair care products.  I’m ok with that.
  • I like to read the news.  I care about prophecy.  I like to learn.
  • I will work hard to achieve anything I believe is important to the end goals I have established for myself and my family.  I don’t care if you come along side me. I probably won’t notice if you don’t.
  • If I determine to learn something new I will not cease my study of it until I have achieved a satisfactory level of proficiency.  If this makes you feel insecure?  I won’t notice. I don’t do it to impress you.

As a result of many of these personal traits I have found it difficult to find friends. I am often accused of being a “know it all” and a “show off”. I am rarely invited to anyone’s home for dinner and even more rarely am I invited for that chatt-y afternoon coffee thing.

Sometimes it stings a bit. Sometimes it stings a lot.  I see others around me who interact seamlessly with those around them as they weave their lives together.  I sit on the sidelines.  Or serve the cake. Clean up afterwards.

A girl I know just opened up the world to her blog.  And it is filled with all manner of deep, introspective, thoughtful insights into parenting, depression, personal travails and tribulations… It is written in that decidedly feminine manner which utilizes random bolding of letters and numbers to achieve the maximum effect.  She writes in a manner that resonates with women and tugs at the heartstrings of even the most hardened hearts.

She will be successful in her realm of influence. Her readership grows by the day and the accolades come pouring in one after the other.

I can’t even attempt that tone. It’s not who I am.  I am not soft.  I am sharp edges and definitive conclusions.  I write in stark absolutes.  Life is pain, princess.  Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

Sure, I could pull out the vocab and share my own stories of brutality and anguish.  I could manipulate you into some profession of concern in order to make my own existence more palatable.  And it would be as false as the compassion you had to drum up to assuage a sense of guilty voyeurism for reading through to the end.

There many ways I invest myself in those I care about. They just aren’t the usual suspects.

I show I care when I come early to set up and stay late to clean.  When I buy the coffee and reimburse the supplies cost out of my own pocket. It’s when I make you meals and deliver them.  Or teach two classes.  It’s the late nights spent making sure the order of the meeting is set and the presentation is as excellent as possible.  It’s the effort I put into educating myself so I can share information with you and assist you in the education of your child.  The time I take to pour myself into studying the text for our bible study, creating a lesson plan and facilitating a discussion when you’d rather just pretend life is pretty while your house falls apart around you.

I show I care by being present when I’d rather be alone.

And for that?  I am labeled an “eager beaver-over achiever” with a penchant for obsessive behavior.  I am called a perfectionist and aggressive.  I am accused of being driven to succeed and lacking the ability to care.

So I find myself, yet again, at that crossroads.

Do I temper who I am, the passion and zeal I have, in order to make myself more palatable?   Do I parent less intentionally, love less intensely, serve less determinedly in order to fit in?

All for what? So when my children are less well-trained than I believe God has required of me we can commiserate? When my marriage is less solid than I know it can be you can comfort me?  When my responsibilities are managed with less excellence than I know I am capable of producing you can feel better about your failures?

If I were to do all that?

I wouldn’t be a person worth knowing.  And anyone who would require that of another?  Isn’t worth keeping.

  • Arielle

    “And it would be as false as the compassion you had to drum up to assuage a sense of guilty voyeurism for reading through to the end.”

    Hmm. Never felt that. People that write on a blog, facebook, or what-have-you know people can read their words. (Then again, I’m also not the sort of person that tends to stick around if someone seems to be sharing too much.)

    Heidi, as long as you’re operating within the confines of love as God has taught it to you, I see no reason why you should try to temper who you are or try to make your personality easier to get along with. You know that whole thing about the parts of the body… and how they’re all needed and all serve a function, but not the same function, and not all functions are as pretty as others. (I re-read that passage periodically because it’s very comforting.) God is the one that crafted you, He’s the one that you answer to. What’s the point in changing yourself to suit others if He has not convicted you that any such change is necessary?

  • I have two confessions to make – without apology. It took me a full 6 and a half minutes to stop thinking of fluffy perfect pancakes and a cutie in an adorable hat, and wonder why – doubt myself as a cook and a mother, as to why mine do not taste as wonderful. And to marvel at a woman who brings designer soaps camping, or a hubby that would drive for an hour in the middle of the night to get the heat turned on. Ok. Maybe I was lost in wonder for more than 6 and a half minutes. Focus. Right.

    You being who you are – allows me to be who I am. Meeting once a week with friends for a while, today, I make the bold step to ask bout a topic on my mind, to see what people think. Rolls Eyes. Un educated passionate responses. How can girls feel so passionate about something they’ve never read into before? I did sit, in awe, listening to babble, and at the end sited two sources that sadly contradicted the conversation a bit . . maybe I’ll be lucky and won’t be invited back. And for those coffee dates with the girls, it’s miserable to talk about nothing. When I talk about what’s in my head – the conversations stops and people actually leave. Sigh. Wish you could have been at coffee today.

    So my two confessions are that I still can not make pancakes that make anyone make noises when they chew, at least not good noises, and I really really don’t like coffee with the girls.

  • But I love coffee with you! 🙂 I said it was difficult to make friends, not impossible. Btw, I’d be happy to share a pancake recipe with you.

  • I almost don’t believe you. From my point of view, you have no difficulty making or keeping friends. You’re a pretty amazing individual. I think you are highly introspective and the situation is not always as you think, and I believe this to be so because I am so much like this myself and I recognize it in others. Arielle and Angie both make good points, too. You fulfill an absolutely necessary role in the body and you cook like no one else. 😉

  • @ Jennifer, maybe it’s all in my head… It wouldn’t be the first time. I think part of my problem is not being “needy” or present. I won’t think to call because I don’t really like to just “chat”. I’m very conscientious about wasting another person’s time.

    One of my closest friends informs me that, at first meeting, I tend to be overwhelming for the people we know. I come across as pretty intense, focused, like someone who has it all together, etc. I don’t and now that we’ve been friends as long as we have, she is able to see me more clearly and we laugh about how ridiculous first impressions can be.

    @ Arielle, I wonder how effective I am for God’s kingdom if I am not functioning in relationship in ways I see others doing. And then I compare and find myself lacking. Which frustrates me for I will NOT be found incompetent. 🙂