Wednesday, January 16, 2013
when you think you're trading up
Seventh and eighth grade were not kind to me. Or rather, many of the people in my school were not kind to me.
Reliving some of those painful moments of my middle school days often causes me to cringe. I think of the labels I wore on top of my Coca-Cola rugby shirt, which of course, was paired with my waist-high, ankle-rolled jeans. (Come on, some of you know what I'm talking about. How many of you wore Swatch watches??)
My labels read:
Right before my ninth grade year began, I went on a mission trip with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) to Boulder, Colorado. Sometime during that trip was the first time I heard God speak to me and I had other people around me that confirmed that it was indeed God that was talking. I started to realize that perhaps I was not destined to end up unlikeable and boring, that maybe it was possible to have more than one or two friends, and if God wasn't ignoring me, perhaps other people might start paying attention, too.
When I started high school, I started fresh. There were new people to meet, new boys to impress, and old ways to leave behind. I ripped off my old labels and plastered one some new ones. Surely if I behaved like I owned them, I would actually be them. So on the flannel shirts and overalls went words like:
And these were great labels that seemed to serve me well up until, oh...motherhood? Certainly, I never was all of those things all the time through high school and college and the beginning of my professional career as a teacher. But most of the time, I strove to make everyone around me happy. Who doesn't love a giving, compassionate, always-smiling friend?
When my children arrived on this earth, the labels started losing their stickiness and I realized that it was incredibly hard to keep up appearances.
Children + people-pleasing = exhausting, actually.
How could I wear the label "Achiever" after my child is labeled "aggressive" in the church nursery?
How could I be "Admirable" when my husband chose to look at porn instead of me?
How could I be "Giving", "Friendly", and much less "Compassionate" when I'd gotten less than four hours of sleep for who knows how many months?
Anyone who has even babysat for two children under the age of two probably understands how quickly "Always Happy" fled the scene.
I found myself desperate for my labels, for applause, for recognition. I kept begging God for someone to tell me I was doing a good job when all along He just wanted to tell me who I actually was. In a world that loves labels, it was too scary to appear naked before anyone, much less God. So I ditched some of the labels that I realized I could no longer handle in my life (um, extrovert) and set out to find some new ones -- labels that would be useful in defining myself in this new stage of life...
Will you come back next week for the rest of the story? Meanwhile, can we have a conversation?
What is the most prominent label that you feature across your shirt? Is it useful? Is it not? Is it losing its stickiness? If so, why do you think that is?
Linking with Tracy and Emily.