Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where Do I Start?

I discover pieces of myself every so often. Kinda like finding the ring in the cracker jack box, a little gem in the middle of nuts and fluff.

Ever since I was young, my parents have said I was “anyone’s dog who would hunt with me.” Which is a fairly redneck way to say I change who I am for the people around me. It used to bug me that they said it…still does I suppose…but I’m finally beginning to realize it’s true. They were RIGHT! Aargh. Hate it when that happens. I’m pretty sure I do it because ever since I was a pre-teen, I’ve been starved for good friends. All along the way, I always had a “best friend”…but it was usually that they were my best friend and someone else was theirs. I realize that now, 17 years later.

It’s pretty discouraging to discover, after 25 years, I don’t fit in anywhere.

Yesterday I was making a long drive and had a lot of troubling thoughts running through my head. “I need to talk to someone,” I thought. But then I spent an hour trying to think of who knows me well enough to listen and offer pertinent advice. No one came to mind.

My dad thinks this is because I don’t know who I am.

Which is totally plausible. So how does one go about discovering who they are and what they like without appearing like a chameleon?! Do I simply use what I DO know is really me as a springboard and just exclude the rest of it if it doesn’t fit? That doesn’t give me much to work with. And what if I want to broaden my horizons?

Things I know are truly me…

I know that I love ministry where I can see a tangible result. Like CityGate, where I’m physically feeding and talking to people in need. Or like sponsoring individual children with Compassion, where I can be a part of their lives, even if it’s only through a written letter now and again.

I know that I love working with kids because kids accept you and adore you for the little things. I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and throw elaborate parties to get kids to love me. I just have to listen to them, encourage them, stretch them into becoming better people (and maybe throw in some dollar candy bribes for Bible memory) and they remember me for a lifetime.

I know that music was the one inspiration that got me through 10 years of friendlessness and teenage emotions. Why I don’t make this a priority is ridiculous (would help if I had a keyboard in my apartment I suppose). My heart is at peace when I accomplish a beautiful piano piece or sing a worship song.

I know that I love books. Reading them, writing them. Doesn’t matter. I used to get grounded as a kid for reading when I had other things to do. I have always wanted a collection so big, that it fills an entire room. My dream house will have a library.

I know that I love to cook. And even though I like to eat healthy, I don’t like to COOK healthy. LOL. I prefer to make things that are rich in real butter and cheese and calories, but that make people smile and satisfied when they eat it. I don’t like to cook for just me either…that’s boring.

I love to take pictures, edit them and build scrapbooks. Sometimes it’s fun to be in them too. I also love crafting ANYthing from hand. If only I actually finished my projects.

I love hats and scarves even if people make fun of me for wearing them. I love wearing heels. I always buy my jeans at Buckle not because anyone has told me to, but because I like them best.

Problem with all those things that I know I love is…I don’t know anyone else who particularly shares those passions. “You’re looking for friends in the wrong places,” dad says. Really? Where AM I supposed to look, if not in the church, the workplace and other places I frequent? Or maybe I’m not supposed to be looking?

Or maybe if I simply put my foot down on the things I know I DON’T like to do, maybe it would eventually give way to meeting new people or discovering old ones, who share my passions. Maybe if I quit making all my social events things like going to movies and parties, I’d find the people I can relate to better.

Lots of maybes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I’m feeling restless again.

This time of year always seems to have that effect on me…it’s so close to spring you can almost taste the warm, sunny days and the fresh scent of new growth all around. Except it’s not quite here yet, so instead I’m going crazy with anticipation. It gives me too much time to think.

For instance, I think sometimes that I’m missing out by not having kids right now. As I put together a list of goals for 2010 in the past few weeks, I keep coming back to this one thing…that I want to have a serious impact on the lives of a handful of children. And the easiest way to do that, would be to have them under my 24 hour care, right?

Even if I weren’t to HAVE a couple of my own, I would love to adopt. And not just adopt any kid from anywhere. I want a little boy or girl from India. I don’t know why. Can’t explain it. Except maybe that my heroine, since I was 8 years old and first read her biography, has been Amy Carmichael. She’s been on my mind so much lately, that I decided to re-read her biography…and I’m still just as inspired as I was 15 years ago.

And then I think, if I can’t have my own children (what can I say? It’s not easy to adopt as a single and it’s rather frowned upon to purposely get pregnant out of wedlock these days)…then I want to impact other people’s children.

Like Sunday school. But I don’t want to just be a helper in someone else’s Sunday school. I want to coordinate, design a curriculum and teach it myself. Create a love for Bible stories, memorization and God in young lives.

Or lead an AWANA club group.

Or have young girls over to my house to do merit-badge earning activities that develop life skills AND spiritual skills all at the same time.

Or lead a Bible study in my house.

Or tutor junior high and high school age students in a home school environment (I don’t wanna help them pass someone else’s idea of education…I want to give them my version of history, science, creative writing, art and music…trust me. It would be more effective than learning just enough to pass the tests in a classroom).

It’s just weird how phases of life go.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

If Someone Dared to Care

For a people watcher, Wal-Mart certainly provides an entertaining venue to participate in the sport. Last night, I ran into my friendly neighborhood supercenter to find my buddy his coveted propel water and in the less than 10 minutes, I was in the store, made an interesting observation.

I was in deep concentration, searching through the drink aisles when the last lines of a conversation caught my attention. Flirtatious laughter filtered through my subconscious and I turned to see two 20-something women jesting with a 30-something man, “Oh yeah, don’t worry about it. We get that all the time.”

Momentarily, I wondered what it was they get “all the time” as they parted ways with the dude. The dirty work jacket and beanie-clad man turned back to the beer cooler and the rather frumpily dressed, wild-haired women continued around the corner. Not finding what I was in pursuit of, I followed them and overheard one say rather loudly, “Oh. M’gosh. What an idiot. Can you beLIEVE him?! Like he even stands a chance.” Raucous laughter followed this exclamation and the two disappeared out of ear shot.

Horrified that the man could hear this pointed jab, I glanced back and caught his eye. Sure enough, there was a second of disappointment before he recovered into an image of macho “manliness.”

For a moment, I believe something profound struck me.

No doubt this guy spouted off some cheesy pick up line to those two gals. Maybe not. Maybe he just dished out some back handed compliment, only to be misunderstood.

What caught my attention was this fact: aren’t we all on a life-long search to find meaning, purpose and acceptance? I think deep down we all desire to be accepted and understood. Dare I sound sappy, we all search for love and connection with those we cross paths with in our daily walk through life. And whether we hide this need behind macho “I’m the man,” flirty empty-headedness, sullen depression or quiet shyness, it drives our every interaction with people we meet.

It made me stop and wonder if along the path I walk, how many people do I come into contact with that are just reaching out for some tiny hint of humanity to accept them? The text messages from someone I “don’t have time” to talk to that get ignored. The casual glance at the car next to me in traffic that could end in a smile. The phone call from a frustrated customer that would only take a couple minutes to resolve. Scheduling a coffee break with the friend who just needs to talk through some things. Taking an extra few minutes to pick up something for a friend who can’t leave the house. Baking cookies for my apartment neighbors just to say “hi and you are noticed.”

Granted, none of those people I saw in Wal-Mart are the kind of people I personally would be interested in associating with. They all three gave off a vibe of going nowhere with their lives and pure emptiness. But had that man talked to me, how would I have reacted? Would it have killed me to smile and laugh politely and wish him a great evening or would I have turned my nose up and sneered like those girls did? Maybe that’s all he needed. Some confirmation at the end of a rough work day that someone else in the world, for one second, shared a moment of happiness with him.

Isn’t that what life is all about anyway? Relationships? Even those 10 second meetings in a grocery store aisle at 10 o’clock at night mean something much more than the stress of my job or the importance of my reading list or website or hobbies.

At least I think so.

Life ought to be so much fuller of smiles and laughter. Even if it’s just the stranger in Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Split Personalities

Some days I feel like I have a split personality.

There’s the side of me that loves people. And I truly do. I love being around others, watching them interact with each other, listening to their problems or what makes them happy, doing things with them, being a good friend. I love being invited to do things with other people (though I have the awful habit of saying yes to everything and then having to cancel on some) and I love even more being able to host other people in my territory. It’s so exciting to have my own apartment, because I want my friends to get comfortable coming over any time they are in the area. Stopping in to say hello or staying for a bite to eat and a movie. I want my home to be others’ home away from home. A place they can feel relaxed.

It feeds on my childhood dream to be that friendly neighbor whose “open-door” policy becomes second nature to all my friends. They know they can stop in any day, any time perhaps even with complete strangers or little kids in tow…and find me ecstatic to cook a delicious meal, pull out the games or movies and truly care about who they are and what they need in a friend.
It makes my heart happy to connect.

Then there’s the side of me that loves solitude. Not all the time or every day. Just at set times of the week or month. Call me crazy, but I think it would be amazing to spend a whole week by the ocean or on the top of a mountain, soaking in the silence and reveling in the majesty of nature. I get a lovesick giddiness when I’m around that sort of beauty. Love it. I am revived and refreshed when I spend time alone and quiet. Just me, a journal, a couple books.

It makes my heart glad.

So here I am, split in personality, thinking how awesome it is to have constant companionship from people I care about (which is pretty much everyone…I rarely meet a person I don’t like!), but then excited at the prospect of pure silence.

What is a person to do when they are ruled by such opposite loves?!