Living Quiet in a Loud World

I’ve just begun recovering from Extroversion Crash.  That’s what I’m calling the cycle I’ve fallen victim to in this chaotic, loud, interactive world.

I’ve identified a cycle, just recently, that explains this phenomenon.

You see, I am an introvert.  I’ll pause a moment while you collect yourself.  Yes.  I know.  If you  have known me for a few decades, you are not shocked.  If you know me primarily from church, etc you find yourself very surprised indeed.  (If you are reading this and don’t actually know me, welcome! I didn’t think you existed! Please comment so I know you are real!)

I found myself surprised by how many people were themselves surprised to hear that I am an introvert. “But you were so welcoming to my family at church!” This surprised me.  I presumed everyone saw the real me.  An introvert.  A shy one at that.  (Not all introverts are shy.) But realizing that I was seen as an extrovert by so many helped me identify a crucial key to this cycle of Extroversion Crash.

One of the best explanations of introversion/extroversion I’ve heard is simply this: Extroverts feed off people and the energy of other people.  They draw their energy from a crowd or group.  Introverts feed their energy to other people.  It takes, not creates, a great deal of energy for introverts to be a part of a crowd or group.  We draw energy from a small group of close friends or quiet alone time and feel exhausted by parties, not energized.

It started when I began teaching public school and leading a scout group of teenagers.  I was intimidated and overwhelmed by the thought of interacting with parents and other adults in groups. I, unwittingly, developed my “on” persona.  This persona allowed me to participate in certain areas in which I felt experienced or capable (teaching, scouting or Children’s Ministry) with a confidence and outgoingness not natural to me.

I thought this was a good thing.  Until I crashed.  Each time.  After this final crash, I began looking at the pattern.  Why? I’m capable.  I’m passionate.  I’m intelligent.  I was qualified in some ways for each of those “jobs”.  Yet each one sent me skittering across the ground as I crashed.  And each in much the same manner.

I won’t bore you with the details.  But I finally realized, I was trying so hard, using so much of my energy pretending to be what I’m not, that I consistently failed to be authentically me.  I think this lack of authentically me causes more problems than people realize.  I think I’m being “judged” on an extrovert scale and falling far short.  I’ve been seen as closed minded, snobby, clique-ish. None of which are actually the case.  I’ve realized that perhaps my efforts to fake extroversion failed in one large area.  People.

I lack the standard people skills that you expect to see in people who like to “people”. (“People” or “Peopling” is a verb I use to mean socializing and visiting and small talking and all things generally associated with being around people.)  Peopling in hard for introverts.  I suspect that all my efforts to do the job in a manner in which an extrovert would left me very out of place in a world of people who are good at “peopling”.

So I crashed.  Repeatedly.

I hope someday to learn to me more authentically me. I think I’m getting there. I have a great future post in store about all the things I’m learning to love. Maybe some day I will find the place God plans to use me next and I will, maybe, learn to serve him as the introvert me and not the “on” me. Maybe I’ll avoid the crash. Maybe. Until then, I will continue to practice living quiet in a Loud world.

Unwillingly Blessed

I didn’t want to go.  And when I don’t really want to do something I can always count on my partner in crime to back me up. As I expected, we were a unified front, if we can get out of it we will….

You see, the women of our church were planning a retreat. And knowing these women God would actually show up, because when they have a party He wants to be there. And I wanted to hang out with God. But I’ve been sort of pampering my bruised ego and trying to grow up and all that stuff. And I really didn’t want to do that with a bunch of amazing women who have all their crap together. Because, you know, I’m the only one who is a mess.

So we show up to church one Sunday. The announcement was made and my cohort leans over and says, “So, are we going?” Now her sister (who was leading it and is a huge mentor of mine) had asked, pathetically, if we would PLEASE come and I really have a hard time saying no to her, but I was resolute. I was only going if God made it really clear I had to go. Which is what I told my dear ally, who concurred that in fact that was her plan. We were both praying that God would tell us we had to go, or that (preferably) He’d stay silent and we’d skip.

But God…

So about 30 seconds after this conversation takes place, a dear friend of ours sits next to my cohort (she never sits by us at church, we are troublemakers – really, you should not sit by us…) and leans over and says “You two are supposed to go to the retreat.”

What do you do with that?! (We did verify that she had that on Higher Authority)

These prayer warriors, these women of God who you have to trust, praying you into things you don’t want to do…

I’m so stubborn. I knew I was supposed to go. For at least 6 years, maybe more, the signature line on my email has been “Psalms 46:10”

Be Still and Know that I AM God.

When the retreat was titled “Be Still”, I sort of knew… But I was grouchy. You ever get grouchy with God? No? Yeah… Me neither…

I had prayed that God would make it abundantly clear I had to go (I had 3 good excuses to skip). And when I saw two different friends on Facebook post two different memes with that verse, neither of whom were organizing the retreat nor knew each other, I knew that I was supposed to go.

I knew when my dear friend and mentor pleaded with us to go, that I was supposed to go.

I didn’t want to go.

I went. I went almost cheerfully. I went mostly expectantly. I took a step. A hard step. And God did his thing. As He always does.

I want to share with you what I really got from this weekend. It had nothing to do with the programming. The ladies did a remarkable job. Our worship team was astounding. The teaching was top notch.

But God is so personal. He’s so amazingly personal.

That Sunday when God told us to go, I had been praying some very personal, very specific prayers. You see, I feel lost. Hidden. Missing. Invisible. Forgotten. And that Sunday he used a few women to begin answering that prayer.

But God… He’s not content there. He then used some other women at the retreat to work on the same things. You can’t imagine. Random women, some I know well, some I barely know but all women who I admire and respect, began speaking life into me. Just little things. Comments. Words. Encouragement. In deeply needed areas of my life.

I can’t say I’ve settled all my anxiety. I can’t say I won’t struggle further. I already have. But how encouraging to know that God cares that much. I mean the retreat was great. I certainly got good stuff out of it. But our powerful, loving, amazing God dragged me out of my comfort zone, pouting and all, and brought me to a place where He could tell me what I needed to hear. And He used women I respect so deeply to do it. If I had stayed mired in my unwillingness to go, I would have missed the blessing of the women He used in my heart that weekend. He just wanted my step forward, and He pummeled me with His goodness.

Friends, when you feel the need to say a kind word, an encouraging word, even if you feel silly, even if you think they know, please, please do. So many times I’ve found my best comfort and solace, not to mention encouragement, in a few words spoken and likely long forgotten by the speaker, but deeply imprinted on my heart.

God loves you so desperately my friend. And when you know He loves you, but you aren’t sure about the world, when you know He has good plans but aren’t sure they are for you, when you never doubt Him but you doubt yourself:

Be Still – Stop Striving – Release and Let Go.

 

 

 

I Gave Up Cola for a Month and You Won’t Believe What Happened!

I couldn’t help myself. This post just screamed in my head that I need to use a cliche click bait post title.

Anyway, so I’ve been told all the horrors of soda.  And I was feeling pretty bad because I’ve kind of developed a pretty bad habit of having one a day (sometimes two…shh!!). So I decided to challenge myself to give it up for a month.

I drink coke, mostly. I didn’t really set myself any rules, just that I’d give up cokes. For the month of August. And I did. And you won’t believe what happened. Really.

NOTHING!!

  1. I didn’t lose a pound. Not one. I didn’t really expect a huge weightloss in a month. But I did gain 4 pounds about 2 weeks in… That was less than encouraging. (Don’t worry, I’m back to exactly where I started.)
  2. I didn’t have caffeine headaches. I still had my occasional morning coffee, but even on the days I skipped that, no headaches.  That was a tad surprising.
  3. I didn’t have cravings. The whole month I only had to actually make an effort (and only a small one at that) not to have a coke 4 times. And it was a very stressful month due to things going on in our lives. And I still didn’t have cravings.
  4. I had no more/less trouble staying awake. Caffeine doesn’t really do that to me.
  5. I didn’t suddenly feel better. That was disappointing.😉

So when I say nothing happened what I mean is none of the things I had been assured would happen if I could give up soda for 30 days happened.

But somethings did happen. I realized I’m actually not addicted to cola. Clearly. I don’t have a caffeine addiction. I realized I truly can enjoy some coke in moderation.

I realized that I often mindlessly drink cokes when I don’t truly want them.

I learned that I do have self control and should learn to exercise it more frequently.

I learned that I can guilt free enjoy myself with my cokes, and that I can make wiser choices and enjoy a lot fewer of them for my own good, without feeling the pressure of the world telling me how horrible it is for me.

Now here is where this post turns and goes off into rabbit hole.

We live in such an “all or nothing” society. We have come to believe that if something is good for you, you have to dive in 100% and if something isn’t good for you then it is 100% evil and to be avoided at all times.

But the truth is somewhere in the middle. The truth is we are much healthier, happier people if we can learn to live a life of moderation. Sure, sometimes we can’t. And of course some things are to be entirely avoided. But mostly life is about making wise choices, indulging in some frivolity and fun and living.

So I am choosing to live a much more intentional guilt free live of enjoyment and moderation. You will likely see me enjoying a coke now and then. And I am not planning to apologize any time soon!

Happy Thursday!

 

What Do You Do With Old Newspapers

Have you ever been looking through some stuff around your house and found an old newspaper? Not like “classic old” where it doesn’t matter what was in it, it is from 1923 so it is cool just because it is old.

Just like, a year old, maybe two. Old enough that you have no idea why you have it. Did you keep it for a reason? Does it have something important inside? Or did you forget to throw it away and it was simply forgotten?

You look it over quickly, but obviously you found it because you were looking for something, so you don’t have time to read it cover to cover to see what information of value it might have.

Now you are in a quandry. Do you keep it?

It might be important.

It might have been important.

You might miss it.

Nostalgia…

Is it worth the space it is taking up? But you don’t have time to decide, because life is busy busy. You re shelve the newspaper in case it is important, feeling inside like you ought to toss it out but sure you will regret it.

Now for the real question:

Have you ever felt like you WERE the old newspaper?

Just a Quick “Hello” and Maybe Some Encouragement for Your Friday

This is supposed to be a short blog post. We’ll see how that goes. I’m long winded (and my husband and children let out a resounding “AMEN!”) and tend to get rambling. Feel free to check out whenever your attention span lags. I think mine may already have gone elsewhere.

This is also intended to be an “ice breaker” of sorts. I haven’t blogged in a really long time. Insanely busy summer plus personal stuff clouding my mind has kept me away. But sometimes we need to just pick up where we left off and keep going.

I have been planning, for like the last month, a big, powerful, encouraging blogpost. Yeah, I’m daunted by the task and somewhat fearful of starting. But alas, God will keep at me until I do. This is not that post.

But this does bring me to why I’m here. It’s for you. You.

I’m here with a message for you.

Yes, you. You really aren’t listening, are you….

Here it is…

Are you listening…

Everyone has a mess. And everyone has a message.

You have a mess. You have a message.

I know. Yes, I really do. I hear you. Absolutely. I know. Yes, you can.

Because God didn’t walk you through your mess just for you. Yeah, He totally loves you enough to do that. Walk you through just for you. But He didn’t. He walked you through for Him. And His glory.

And her. Or him. Or them. Because someone else needs your message. Your hope to fuel their hope. Your testimony to help them endure their test.

Now, I am not saying God wants you to write a book, start a blog or video your troubles. Maybe. I’m not God, I don’t know. What I do know is He wants you to listen to Him tell you with whom, when and how to share your message. The time may not be now. It may be. But He wants an open willing heart to share your message when He prompts you to.

Maybe today he wants you to just tell Him that you are willing, when He leads, to share. Maybe you are just terrified to tell Him that, afraid that your mess will suddenly be front page news.

Maybe today He wants you to call the lady from church that you know shares your struggles and invite her to lunch and love on her.

Maybe he wants you to write a blog post that you are terrified will cause your entire church to hate you and instead brings tears of joy, relief and reconciliation.

I know. I do. If you think just because I’m hiding behind a keyboard I’m not a little (or a lot) terrified every time I post something heavy, you don’t know me all that well.

When I wrote this old post, I walked away from my computer after publishing and felt literal fear and anxiety with every comment that awaited me. And they poured in. It was shared and reshared. I couldn’t look. I couldn’t not look. But everyone was kind. And so many people needed it. And I was terrified.

So today, just know, you have a mess and you have a message. God wants us to be willing to share when it is the right time.

But the good news is, everyone else has a mess, too!

(It wasn’t really all that short, after all…)

 

Don’t Count Your Blessings

The last few years it feels like I’ve had an abundant share of crappiness. I tried to think of a nicer way to say it, but it is what it is. Crappiness.

Oh, I have a great life. Charmed I usually think. Married my highschool sweetheart. Seven amazing, healthy and relatively happy kids. Living the dream. Only, despite the outward appearance that my life is a roses and sunshine, it just isn’t. I’ve struggled. A lot. We’ve had a lot of hard times. I’ve blogged some. Some are too deep and too personal even for the internet.😉

I’ve been counseled, even chastised, to count my blessings. And I’ve tried. Once I get past my loving Savior who seriously died for me, my Knight who would die for me I’m certain, my darling children, and the most amazing friends ever, I still feel… sad. Not because that isn’t enough. Not because it isn’t spectacular.

Because it is still introspective.

I’ve learned that for me, the worst thing is introspection. In me that becomes selfishness, self-centeredness. Because as long as I’m looking at my hurts, my needs and my blessings, I’m still looking at me.

I’ve found the only real cure to my introspection, my self-centeredness is to look to others and look at how I can pour into them, bless them, sometimes just SEE them. Sometimes people just need seen.

It never fails. Every time I turn from my selfish, pity-party heart and look to others, how their days are going, how I can help them, how I can be a blessing in their lives, I feel better.

I am greatly blessed. I try to thank God frequently for my blessings.

But when I’m really hurting, what I need is to look outside myself and focus not on me, but rather on others.

Perhaps, next time you are struggling, think of someone else. Not even in the “Look, it could be worse,” way. Just think of someone who needs a smile. Needs a call. Needs seen. It just might help you, too.

 

 

 

Is Mother’s Day Enough

Mother’s Day is coming up.  And I’m thinking a bit about it. Not much, actually. I’m just in it, you know? In the trenches. I love this little life of mine, but it is pretty much all consuming.

But the media reminds us about Mother’s Day so I start thinking about it. Thinking about the best gift I’ve given myself. A few years ago I found myself emotionally bracing for another Mother’s Day. Oh what a fun day! My little preschoolers at church would get to make a craft. I’d teach of course, to give that momma a much needed break – a thank you for serving and an appreciation that this day is about them! Then after church we would dash up to my momma’s house, grabbing a quick fast food lunch on the way because by the time I can leave church at 1, drive through and get to my mom’s it is 2:30. We’d visit with my mom for a while. Then we’d head from there the 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic, to my husband’s mom’s for a short visit, then scamper the hour-ish drive back home to fall, exhausted, into bed, after sending all the various children of to bed of course.

I was in fact dreading Mother’s Day. Why? Because it really wasn’t about me. I’m a full time mom. I live this gig, of my own choosing, where my life is surrounded by that of these little, and not so little, people depending on me for their very existence. My husband is great. He appreciates all I do, frequently telling me so or stopping to pick me wild flowers that he thinks I’d like. He gladly buys me anything I want, happily gives me gifts, candy and flowers. But Mother’s Day has never been about me and has always been about visiting our moms. And that is very important.

But suddenly, as I faced great apprehension over the exhaustion that Mother’s Day would entail for me, I took a moment to be totally selfish. I decided, and my husband heartily approved, that I would visit our mothers on another day. Since then I have tried, some time the week before Mother’s Day to visit my mom, with just my kids. It is very hectic if my siblings and all the grandchildren try to get together. This way my mom and I can talk without the distraction of so many others. She can see my kids. They can chat with her. We then visit my husband’s mother on a different day. And Mother’s Day I can spend just enjoying the kids and husband that gave me the title I enjoy so heartily at this stage of my life: Mom.