Saturday, February 26, 2011

Words escape me

    God blesses some people with the gift of being able to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere.  He bestows upon some the talent of making others feel at ease, comfortable, valued even from the 1st conversations they share.   God has created people in this world with amazing social graces…. but not me.  No, for me God decided on shyness, awkwardness, and a total ineptitude for small talk.  Words, which I so much adore in their written form, have a habit of escaping me totally when I attempt to actually use them in a conversation, especially with someone I barely know.  I get embarrassed when I try to search for something intelligent to say while chatting with casual acquaintances, or complete strangers, or even, at times, family members (especially in-laws).  I feel stupid.  I sound stupid.  I probably look stupid.  Social gatherings often leave me feeling insecure and when I leave, I immediately start analyzing all the stupid things I did say, or thinking of witty things I should have said.  Many times, I would rather just stay in my nice, safe, isolated comfort zone at home, surrounded by my children who, for better or for worse, rarely seem to listen to me close enough to tell if I say anything stupid to them.   
    As home schooling mother, I really cannot get away with that very often.  Or maybe because I home school, I could get away with it but because I home school, and am therefore responsible for making sure my children are “properly socialized”,  it is important that I fight my anti-social tendencies as much as I can.  And so, I do.  It seems we are always running off to some co-op class, or field trip, or park day, or birthday party.  As much as I would like to, I don’t really get to stay home and hide from my social inadequacies very often.  One might think all the opportunities to socialize would help me to hone my skills, such as they are.  It seems I have the chance to practice often enough I should really be getting better at the whole small talk thing.  In truth, I probably am a little better than  I used to be at small talk and idle chit chat, but still, I am not altogether comfortable around new people.  And there are days- days when I am especially insecure, or especially introverted, or just especially stressed out- when I am not altogether comfortable around those people I do know well.
    Ever since childhood I have hated being shy.  I have always wanted to be one of those people who others are just naturally drawn to- the life of the party, a social butterfly.  I always felt like I was the only one in my family who was shy at all.  I always felt like I was the only one at school who struggled with the “normal, public school socialization” of being herded in our peer groups from one class to another and I spent most of my education with my nose in a book to shut out the peers who so mercilessly teased me about my social inadequacies. 
    Like I said, God blesses some people with flawless social skills and wittiness but, obviously not everyone.  And, yet with all my introversion and unease, God has blessed me…abundantly.  I have a handful of wonderful, devoted friends.  I have a husband I can talk to about anything and everything.  I have five children, who though they do not always listen like they should, have shared with me remarkable conversations about everything under the sun.  I may feel anti-social and inadequate but God has always put people into my life who are able to look past my occasional (or not so occasional) stupid comments and love me for who I am.  I am never going to be the life of the party or a social butterfly.  For whatever reason, God did not create me that way.  But He does give me so very much… so, I guess I am finally ready to accept my shyness as just a part of who I am- imperfect and awkward but loved, always loved.   

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mental Health Day

    The weather in Florida in winter is usually perfect.   It is usually warm and sunny and beautiful but this year it has been rainy and gray and dismal.  My moods have been similar.  I am frustrated and uninspired and dismal myself these days.  I keep trying to motivate myself to greatness, but then, I inevitably settle for mediocrity.  I start projects to improve my life, my house, my organization but I quit halfway through giving up on improvement and wallowing instead.  I find myself easily annoyed by the noise and the demands the kids make.  I am irritated by the house being in disrepair.  I promised myself my next blog post would be cheerful and uplifting after my last three that were, let’s admit it, a little depressing but I think it is this time of year.  Life is just not very cheerful and uplifting.  The “seasonal affective disorder” I’ve heard of always seemed a little contrived to me- depression brought on by bad weather?  A label for grumpiness?  It seems silly and unnecessary but maybe there is a little something to it all.  It is harder to feel hopeful under gray cloudy skies.  It is harder to feel motivated after days and days of misty drizzle and cool winds.  Our yucky weather has certainly affected me the last week or so.  In fact, these days the only thing that really sounds appealing to me is popping a movie in the DVD player, curling up on the couch under warm, snuggly blankets and eating mountains of unhealthy snacks.  Maybe not the best way to improve life but a fabulous escape from it all- at least for a while. 
    So, today after really trying to get through our schoolwork without much success, I declared a day off.  It was just one of those days when everyone was dragging and our efforts were not getting us anywhere.  It seemed like we’d all be better off taking a day to wallow in our laziness and then start back fresh tomorrow.  When I was a teenager my mom started allowing us something she called “mental health days”.  We were allowed, once per semester, a day off of school even when we were physically healthy because she recognized that sometimes you just need a day to recover from mental despair and exhaustion.  A day for mental health was just what we needed today.  The girls are using the time for crafts.  The boys are wrestling on the floor and I am free to play on the computer free from guilt.  Tomorrow, all our schoolwork will still be there, all our responsibilities will be waiting but… we’ll worry about that tomorrow.  For now, the couch is looking really inviting and there is a bag of cheese balls calling my name…

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beginnings and endings....

    When I was expecting my third child my oldest was in pre-school.  There were, amongst the parents of her classmates, two other women expecting their third children also.  Their babies were due within days of my own and as it turned out we all had beautiful, healthy baby girls.  Then, two years later, when I was expecting my fourth child, I wondered if there was something in the water because 7 of my friends were all expecting at the same time.   In that whole group, only one baby was a girl.  And now, 6 years later, my son is still friends with most of the little boys whose births came within weeks and months of his own.  When the joyous occasions of these little “baby booms” occurred I do not remember being overly contemplative about it.  My thoughts really were more along the lines of, “What is in the water around here?” 
    The last few weeks I have experienced something sort of akin to the baby booms of my past but much less joyful.  In the time since my grandfather’s passing away, just a few weeks ago, I have heard of so many other deaths.  The week that I was attending my grandpa’s funeral I saw an e-mail about a woman in our home school support group who had lost her father.  My mother heard about the death of one of her cousins.  And, my brother-in-law shared with us that one of his uncles had passed away also.  Then, just this week, two of my friends have suffered the loss of close loved ones.  One on Monday evening and one on Friday morning.  And, at my son’s soccer game this morning, I overheard one of the other families talking about the funeral they were heading to following the game.  I have to admit I much prefer the news of new lives beginning rather than all this news of lives coming to an end.  And though the multiple births that occurred in a short amount of time in my community did not make me wonder, “What is God doing and what does he have planned next?”, the losses I have heard about and experienced myself in recent days, have certainly triggered such thoughts. 
    I have prayed more for comfort and peace in the last few weeks than maybe ever before in my life.  I have had to lean on my faith in God’s goodness and trust in His plans more lately than ever before.  I don’t know why so many good lives have recently ended.  I can’t make sense of the sadness my family and friends have been feeling.  But, I remind myself that I must trust that God is in control and will bring good out of all this somehow. 
    I remember talking to a friend right after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  She told me about how upset she was and about her middle school aged son asking why she was crying.   She answered him that so many mother’s arms were empty after the loss of so many lives.  She could feel their pain so empathetically it drove her to tears.  Her son, in his youthful innocence and wisdom, said, “but, Mom, Jesus’ arms are so full right now.”  Though the circumstances are much, much different, that young man’s words of comfort from so many years ago in the face of unimaginable sorrow following 9/11, seem to ring just as true today as they did then…. And so, we must move forward and trust knowing that we are not alone and the world is still a place full of hope and blessings, for God‘s arms are full and His heart is pouring forth comfort and peace.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where my fears meet my God....

    Do you ever wake up in the dark quiet of the night and find your mind racing without warning?  Do you ever watch the clock while you imagine all the bad things that could happen and think about all the bad things that have happened and realize, before you know it, that hours have passed and your mind is not slowing down and you aren’t about to get to sleep anytime soon?  Do you ever get up and walk down the hall to check on your sleeping children to make sure they are okay and to pray over them and beg God to keep them safe in this world that holds so many dangers?  Do you ever worry unnecessarily about all the things you can't control and feel all your fears bubbling up and your mind going to places you wish with all your might it just wouldn’t go?  Do you ever wonder what God is up to in the world and what He might be trying to teach you through it all?  In the middle of the night, when all is peaceful and quiet and serene except my mind, I find myself turning to God and asking Him so many questions.   I fear and I worry and I fret but I also always seem to pray on those long sleepless nights, that thankfully don’t trouble me very often, but seem to drag on forever when they do.  I have spent a lot of time in quiet prayer and reflection the last few hours and though I have not come to any conclusions about the many things in life that upset me and scare me and just seem so unfair, somehow I do feel closer to God.  I cannot imagine facing life, with all its trials and challenges, without my faith to guide me.  I hate to feel alone in my thoughts and my fears and I hate to lay awake staring out into the night of my room seeing nothing but shadows and darkness.  But, though I fear the thoughts that seem to creep into my head in those moments of sudden and unexplained insomnia, I am, at the same time, grateful for my faith.  Because for some reason, I always feel like God hears me better in those silent moments of nighttime prayer.  And maybe because my prayers are more spontaneous, less distracted, and so much more desperate in the deepest moments of the night, I always feel closer to God at those times.  So, as the morning sun finally rises to meet me in the day I have been awaiting with rapt attention for hours now, I thank God for the light and for His presence always and for the quiet time I got to spend with Him when my mind decided to jump into overdrive.  Maybe the Holy Spirit was just whispering in my ear that it was a perfect time to get up and pray even though the clock clearly said otherwise....


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...