Friday, April 03, 2009

Embracing Me

Inviting someone into your home for the first time is stressful. Right or wrong, our little nest tells others about us whether in its decor, upkeep, or income level. You open your home to someone who previously only knew the "prepared for the world" you, but there is not much you can hide from someone when they are in your home. You open the front door wide open for some one to know the real you and all that goes with it - anxiety, judgments, and internal criticism.

A friend came over to my house yesterday. It was her first visit at my home. As we walked through it, I found myself doing my usual "tour guide script." The same type of chatting I have done whenever anyone comes to my house. In fact, I could tape myself and play it whenever fresh faces enter my domicile because I have repeated it over and over since we moved into it nearly 5 years ago. It is a script riddled with justifications for its contents, as in, "Oh, that mirror, I got that at Costco." My own self-defined shortcomings, as in, "Oh, this room, it is the one that I just can't make work." My own plans for improvements as in, "We have long-range plans to rework the entire laundry room area as it is like a closet where you are beaten by coats and backpacks just to get out the door." And, I usually throw into the mix these carefully selected phrases, "Well, you know it is always a work in progress," or, "You can't take it with you when you die, " or, "We have been blessed. I certainly don't feel deserving of it." Lest anyone think that I spent any money in building or furnishing my house, take any pride in the home I have created, or believe that I actually enjoy my house. Deep down, it would destroy me if I discovered anyone left my house feeling as if my life were defined by material things. Or, if I ever came across with an air of snobbery, unaware of how blessed and appreciative I truly am.

So, after we completed the obligatory tour, my friend and I sat down to talk about my writing project. Interestingly, I could not receive any compliments about my writing. Even in talking about this book project, I was nearly apologetic.

I am not a writer. I mean, history does not support this notion of being defined as a writer. I was not a keeper of volumes of journals throughout my life. A few scattered here and there, but they are mostly filled with teenage angst and my first experiences with puppy love. I have only taken one journalism course and changed majors because I didn't find any pleasure in it. I also did not enjoy the class on journalistic ethics, either, as everything is grey to me - not black and white. I had two papers in college on which were written, "You might want to get some tutoring at the Writing Center." I have never had a job where writing was the main objective. Up until now, I haven't had the time to read a pamphlet, let alone write anything. This whole writing thing is a bit of a shock to me. And yet, it is the most pleasurable outlet I have at the moment.

To admit I am even a writer means that I have to admit that I am good at writing. Admitting that I am "good" or "excel" at anything is admitting that there is something good or excellent within me. And, this is something that I have believed, falsely I might add, is not true. I have believed that I have no part, no role in anything good in my life. Quite similar to what I wrote about my house, I don't want anyone to think that I believe that I am a great writer, blessed with a eloquent vocabulary with professional editing or grammar skills (clearly the latter is NOT the case). Additionally, I am wary of judgments regarding the time spent and effort put forth in my writing. And, I don't want you to think that I might take any pride in the posts I have crafted, or believe that I actually enjoy my writing and its resulting reactions.

On the flip side, denying or dismissing this means that I am saying no to the gifts that God has given me. I am beginning to understand that humility does not mean complete dismissal of self. It means recognizing that God has given me this talent or gift and I have chosen to act upon it. Therefore, I can give God the full credit for the awakening inside of me. Yet, I can have confidence and satisfaction, and gosh do I even say this word - pride - in my choice, knowing that I am walking down the path chosen for me. At least I think I am. (Doubt, always doubt)

A quote was passed to me and I feel very compelled to share it:

“It is in the quiet crucible of our personal private sufferings
that our noblest dreams are born and Gods greatest gifts are given,
and often given in compensation for what we’ve been through.”

- Wintley Phipps

I think there will be further explanation of how timely, relevant and accurate this quote is in the book. But for now, I will leave you to ponder on it, your gifts and your noblest dreams. Oh, and while you are at it, click here to complete my questionnaire. I need you!


Jewels said...

you always did do that...justify your beautiful home. What would it be like for you to fling open the doors (kicking the backpacks aside) open wide your arms, and say, "Look, come see my house!"

And let us all scamper in and oooo and ahhh to our hearts content. Those who love you, rejoice in your blessings.

Still, I do the same thing here. I'm defined by WHERE I live. First, amusement that someone actually lives in Arkansas which was previously a state used in 3rd grade to trip you up in geography. Then, when actually HERE, I get, "Oh, you live in THAT neighborhood." It's called Fianna Hills.

I actually had someone try to peg me as to WHERE on the hill did I live. Was I at the bottom? (Fianna Flat?), or in the middle (very nice homes)? When I mumbled my answer, she prompted me, "What, what did you say?"

"Top", I sighed. "I live at the top of Fianna Hills"

Why do I feel judged? If a tornado comes through, I'll be the first to know.

I'll save y'all a seat at the Big House in Heaven. Where, by the way, I hear the real estate is FABULOUS.

Anonymous said...

Jewels - I don't know how it would feel, but isn't that an interesting thought! This was an extremely difficult post for me. I would love correction on this, but I think most women won't admit what they are good at doing. To stand up and say I am good at _____ can be viewed as prideful, conceited, self-serving. Hmmm - topic for tomorrow, maybe. Thanks for commenting - miss you tons!