Monday, November 10, 2014

Loved Vs. Impressive

All of us want to be loved unconditionally. We settle for being impressive. Shauna Niequist, Allume

So, that moment at the chiropractor....everything is going well. The chiropractor is massaging away, and the patient is feeling very vegged-out, maybe even so relaxed that they've almost fallen asleep. And then the chiropractor puts their thumbs on a certain spot. And the patient howls.

(Well, at least I howl. But, then again, I am a chiropractic whimp.)

That spot that you didn't even know was a problem. It is the epicenter of all the issues. It's the place where it really hurts.

Shauna Niequist, with that above statement, put her thumb into my problem. Only a baker's dozen words. It got at my core and it made me weep.

All my life I have struggled with this concept, but I never heard it put so succinctly.

My parents were always proud of my older brother (whom I now love very much). They would praise his accomplishments up the wazzoo. I'd do the same things, but I'd never get the accolades. Nothing. I figured if I did more, then they'd notice. Then they'd be proud of me.

But, it seemed like no matter how much I did, it never was enough. My tons never got the attention that my brother's much less received.

Or so it seemed to a 5th grader, middle-schooler, high-schooler.

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I am a very efficient person. I think I inherited it from my dad, who inherited it from his mom. We are all eerily similar.

I am a very goal oriented person. Long term goals. Short term goals. To-do lists.

I am a raise the bar kind of girl. Push harder, go faster. Challenge, not settle.

I am very disciplined. I think up a plan and then I implement it.

I waste time, just like the next person, but I get a lot accomplished in my days and weeks. A lot. I have a hard time letting things go. I'm more of a make it work kind of girl.

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People are impressed by me. They mention it to me in conversations on a regular basis. Which I do find rather surprising.  So what that I clean my house and make bread? It doesn't take that much time. That's really what I think-it doesn't take much time.

I don't have a college education or even a high school diploma. I've never held a traditional job.

I see all the things that I am not, and that I haven't done, and I wonder why people are impressed?

What I find even more troubling is when some one mentions that someone else is intimidated by me. And I think, for crying out loud-why?

From my viewpoint, I'm just a person who does what has to be done.

I don't have it all together. I sure could use help occasionally. My house isn't perfectly clean, and Meres' hair hasn't been brushed in two days. I'm not the fastest or the prettiest. I'm not the strongest or the most educated.

I'm really just the girl who wants friends, not admirers.

But I've settled for being impressive, instead digging in on relationships.

Social media has supported this compulsion very nicely. It's all likes and followers mostly in leu of genuine friendships and interaction. I've settled for sharing my completed to-do's on FB. I've shared my good run times. I've shared the good, but not so much the bad and the ugly. I've equated my accomplishments with my person. Or my non-accomplishments with my person.

But, I'm not the sum total of my successes or my failures. That is not where my worth lies. God planned me, knew me, loved me and sent Jesus Christ to die for me, before I ever did or didn't do anything.

That's the truth.

I think we all do want our accomplishments to be recognized. Accomplishments aren't the sum total of who we are, but they are an integral part of our being and our journey.

And, obviously, I wanted my parents to notice my accomplishments.

So, why would this impressive thing strike a chord? Because so often when people mention our accomplishments and being impressed, the compliment is tinged. It is tinged by a bit of envy or accusation or justification. It doesn't exactly ring hollow, but it doesn't ring fully true either. There is a little bite hidden in the sugar.

That is why we all want to be unconditionally loved, and why it is settling to be impressive. We figure if someone doesn't love us just because, well, at least they will love us because of....

Even though Shauna's words struck a chord in me, they also made me realize that I am not without friends. I have friends who see me. They know my heart. They understand what makes me tick. And what ticks me off. And they still love me.

I have been thanking God for my true friends, the ones who are not impressed by me. The ones who love me because they just do. (which, incidentally does include my parents, and my older brother-in case you were wondering=)).

Those friendships are such a gift.

I think that we need to embrace, admire, encourage and be inspired by others and their different and diverse gifts. But, we need to love people despite their gifts, not because of them.

For God demonstrated His love towards us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)