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.