DNA – Discovering inNate Attributes

My mother is a dear, sweet, sensitive soul.  She is always looking out for others sensitivity – partly from her own experience, and partly because she sincerely does not want to offend or hurt anyone.  When I was younger, I often felt like she was over-sensitive, stifling potential fun we could have had in an effort to be painfully considerate of those around us.

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I, her daughter, am not a sensitive soul.  Growing up, I did things the way I wanted to do them because I thought that was right.  I was not sensitive, and I had very little patience for others’ sensitivities.  I viewed the virtue of sensitivity as a weakness that hindered moving forward in life.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when a few years ago I started saying things like, “Wait – shouldn’t we consider how this might affect so-and-so?” and “Hold on – how do you think [insert name here] will respond to this decision?”  In response, sometimes people would actually stop and think about their plans and how they might affect others.  Sometimes, my friends would look at me quizzically and quickly move on.  The worst is when people would say, “Don’t you think you’re being a little too sensitive?”  I started to realize, much to my chagrin, that I was, in this particular way, becoming my mother.  And (even worse) that my friends were treating me the same way I was treating my mother.

What I didn’t realize back then was that my mother was cultivating in me a sensitivity to others’ sensitivities.  She was teaching me to be considerate of others and thoughtful towards their needs.  In the timeless words of Atticus Finch, she was teaching me that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee).  She challenged my inconsiderate and selfish views time and again.

As I have reflected on this over the past year, I have become increasingly thankful for my mother’s influence.  I am thankful that she both put up with my insensitivity and taught me something that was so foreign to my nature.  Without her, I would not have the same kind of appreciation for other people’s feelings.  My world has grown from my one small perspective to include perspectives of all the people around me.  I’m learning life in the real world.

I still do not consider myself a sensitive person, but I am slowly moving towards becoming a sensitivity-conscious individual.  I feel blessed by my mother and her training – I am thankful she is a part of my life.

I wrote this post in response to this week’s Daily Press writing challenge.  Although I usually don’t prefer a jump-start to my “creative process,” this prompt hit me like a ton of bricks and I couldn’t let it go.

Sisters Tribute

WARNING: Unless you’re related to me, this might be kind of boring.  And even then, this might be a stretch.  If you want to know the gist without further reading, it’s this: My sisters (and brother) are awesome, and I love them a ton.  The end.

If you’re brave, here is the long version:

My sisters are awesome.  It’s almost not fair how awesome they are.  I mean, don’t be jealous or anything, just know that I’m glad they’re my sisters.

Let me explain.  We haven’t always been friends, and we haven’t always liked each other.  We don’t always understand each other, and we certainly don’t always get along.  But we’re friends.  We love each other, we pray for each other, we get each other, and we enjoy each other.  Our relationship goes above and beyond the pre-programmed family plan…you know, the one that says you have to care for and tolerate those who are related to you.

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“But we’re friends.  We love each other.”

Like I said, it wasn’t always like this.  I was the evil tyrant who made sure her way was followed under pain of death.  There was the manipulative tattle-tale, the defiant sulker, and the sly princess.  We all did a lot of damage when we were younger.  God has been ridiculously gracious and has redeemed us out of our fallen ways, but it’s taken a long time to “grow up” – a.k.a. become more and more sanctified through Jesus Christ.  People in my family are still scared of angering me because they are unsure of how I will react – and to be honest, sometimes even that attitude towards me makes me mad.  So we’re all works-in-progress, but we’re all working together.

It’s fascinating to me that the four of us are related and yet have vastly different personalities.  I have one polar opposite, one mini-me (times ten, as I affectionately describe her), and one sort-of-similar-sort-of-opposite (SSSO) sister.

Polar-opposite and I have a sweet relationship now, but it is born out of much frustration and misunderstanding.  I still think that we wouldn’t really be friends if we weren’t related – a fact that bothers her but makes total sense to me.  (Of course.)  All I mean by that is that we wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards each other.  The fact is, she has taught me a lot about life that I never would have learned if it weren’t for her.  I’m so glad we’re related and get to be friends!  Her ability to sympathize and interact with others blows my mind.  She genuinely cares for people and people genuinely care for her in return.  She is the funniest one of us and can pretty much always make me laugh.

Mini-me and I have always butted heads.  That’s what happens when two very similar people live in close proximity.  We excel at the same things, we like many similar things, we have similar sin patterns, and we know exactly which buttons to press when.  We’re also incredibly stubborn.  As you can imagine, this led to many unhappy battles and some fierce competition.  Don’t worry, we have a sweet relationship now, too.  We are both learning to extend grace and to really appreciate our similarities.  Because we understand each other, we can help each other process and grow in ways that Polar-opposite and I can’t.  She does seem to be me times ten, which means that she is also much quicker to forgive and to admit when she’s wrong.  Her humility puts me to shame.  I’m definitely learning from her.

SSSO and I have been super close from the moment she was born.  I think we must have gone through some sort of bonding back then.  I can just look at her and know that she loves and accepts me with no hesitation.  Even though we are far apart in age, we are close in spirit.  I feel very protective of her.  In the years to come, I am sure she will be teaching me things about loyalty, beauty, and peace.  Her once-hard heart has been recently softened, and there is already an abundance of joy flowing forth.

Although this post is mostly about my sisters, I would be remiss to not mention my brother.  He is a funny kid – all heart, lots of swagger, and growing strong.  Our relationship with him is vastly different than our relationship with each other, but it’s a fun friendship nonetheless. : )

I have grown increasingly thankful for my sisters, so this my small tribute to them.  I love them so much – and that love has increased a hundredfold now that we are also all sisters in Christ.  I’m thankful for a lovely family and I’m thankful for the ways God has blessed me through them.

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I’m thankful for the ways God has blessed me through them.

IMG_1437The traditional sneer face.

 

Monday Musings – The Voices in My Head

I always have random catchphrases floating around my head.  Sometimes they are just whispers, but other times it seems like someone is yelling inside my head.  Sometimes, the “voices” have a mocking, impish tone.  Other times they are earnestly pleading with me to do the wise thing.  (I’m just going to go ahead and call these collective voices my conscience…I’m sincerely hoping that’s all they are…)

The most common phrases are: “redeem your time,” “gold is refined/purified through fire,” “don’t waste your life,” “don’t let go and let God, trust God and get going,” “forgive much, as you have been forgiven much,” “won’t let go until You bless me,” “you only live once” (and yes, occasionally that’s abbreviated to YOLO, but I try to discourage that), “do the right thing,” “do the wise thing,” “think of others as better than yourself,” “I’m singing in the rain,” “you are the chief of sinners,” “there are no strings attached to grace,” “you’re craving coffee,” “live life in a manner worthy of your calling,” “but for the grace of God, there go I,” etc., etc.  As you can see, sometimes it’s in a first person narrative, and other times it’s in third person.  You can imagine that when my conscience is telling me multiple things at a time, it becomes quite a cacophony of noise.

Obviously certain phrases are weightier than others, and are highlighted at different times.  The one that’s been weighing on me lately is “forgive much, as you have been forgiven.”

I have a little bit of a temper that tends to demand instant justification, both against my brothers and sisters in Christ and against non-Christians.  In light of this, I am constantly reminded that justice is not mine to give.  It is the Lord’s.  He is perfectly just and perfectly merciful.  Part of me is happy about that, because eventually everyone will be held accountable for what they do.  The part that awes me, though, is that because of Christ’s work on the cross, He has already born the punishment for the sins of all Christians.  They, in the end, will not be held accountable for their sin (either real or perceived by me); Christ will be.

This should provide a whole new outlook on life.  Who am I to demand justice of my brothers and sisters when justice has already been served?  Who am I to play god in my heart and pass judgement on people who have been redeemed and forgiven through the blood of Christ?  Who am I to think that I am above it all, and that my standard is the right standard?  I should instead be forgiving 70 times 7, meting out grace—not justice—to all those around me.  I should be looking forward to spending eternity with some of the coolest, kindest people I know.  And of course the only way this is possible is because I also have been forgiven—an infinite amount more than 70 times 7.

“Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”

I want to always bask in these truths so that when I feel that temper wash over me in a hurry, I can crush it with a single phrase.  My prayer is that my love for my brothers and sisters in Christ will grow every day.

I am thankful that God uses our consciences to speak truths to us.

Monday Musings

So, work today was a beast.  Or a nightmare.  Or the beast in my worst nightmare.  Whatever.  But in spite of that, I’ve still managed to be blessed.  Rather, I was incredibly blessed in spite of myself.

I got to work early this morning to help jump-start a new process that went live.  The only issue was…well, who am I kidding.  Everything was an issue.  Which I was prepared for, but optimistically hoping that wasn’t going to be the case.

The reason I say I was blessed in spite of myself is because sometimes it seems like I do everything possible to be undeserving of blessings.  I have a bad attitude, I get angry, or I have a conniption.  Or all of the above.  Today was just one of those days – I was just not a nice person.  It’s days like today when I manage to perfect the eye roll and sigh/grunt combo.

But God was gracious, and here’s what happened:

  • I ordered a latte…the guy said, “Do you want a grande or a tall?” I said grande.  He said, “Ok!  I’ll charge you for a tall!”  What?  That’s awesome!! (And yes I did get a grande for a tall.)
  • I got not one but two emails from my super sweet little 8 year old friend…she brightened my day up twice!
  • I ended up not having to pay for parking…there was a sign on the booth that said “You’re free to go!”
  • I accidentally left my fork ring in the kitchen at work – when I called one of my coworkers, she happened to still be there and found it for me!
  • My sister graciously filled in for me when I was supposed to bring snacks to an event tonight.  I ended up not going.
  • etc. etc. etc.

All throughout the day, the phrase that kept coming to mind was “Won’t let you go unless you bless me.”  I didn’t know where that was in the Bible, but recalled a book with that title.  Thumbing through the book, I found that this phrase is from a passage in Genesis, when Jacob wrestled with the Lord.  “When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.'”  Genesis 32:25-26

This is a striking picture of persistence.  I kind of feel the opposite most of the time…like I said, I was blessed in spite of myself.  Either way, we serve a gracious and kind God, who gives blessings to his chosen people.  And bottom line is, we’re not deserving.  It doesn’t really matter if we’re begging for blessing or trying to thwart it.  God blesses in spite of ourselves.  And everyday I’m thankful for that.

*note: it might matter if we’re begging or thwarting, or maybe the premise of the beg or thwart matters…i don’t really know.  if anyone has any thoughts, let me know : )