Thursday, August 28, 2014

In the wake of writing...

I'm an introvert by nature.
I think I've said that in this space many times before.

As a matter of fact, that's why I started this blog.
One trait of introverts is that we shy away from public speaking but can actually be quite articulate.  We tend to feel our thoughts are best organized through writing, so when it comes to presentations, written is preferred to off-the-cuff speaking.

I often choose my written words as a way to stand up for what I believe in.  
Some people might call it justice.  
While I do sometimes consider myself fighting for justice I don't consider myself responsible for doling out justice.  
Maybe that doesn't make sense to you, but it totally does to me.  I think God calls us to stand up for morality, for His word, for those who can't stand up for themselves even.  Passing judgement or enacting our own justice, however, is not ok.

Just as I was trying to explain to one of my children yesterday, standing up for someone else, or even defending yourself, is not the same as retaliation.
Retaliation is a second wrong in response to a previous wrong.  Mama used to say, "two wrongs don't make a right." 

And, at 38 years old, there are still days I have to remind myself of this.

There is a fine line between standing up for what you believe in or standing up for yourself and crossing over into the "retaliation zone."  This is especially true in today's world of political correctness and not wanting to offend anyone.

Which is why I tend to freak out when I see one of these in my inbox:

The morning after posting my views on something controversial, this notification puts me on edge.  Sometimes views and "shares" are a good thing; sometimes they're not.

It doesn't mean I want to take back my words.
It does mean my introvert self hates conflict and wishes to avoid it.

Unfortunately, at this point in my life and in the world we live in, avoiding conflict is getting much more challenging.  

Thank God for grace! 

And to my introvert friends out there, practice being bold.  You can when you have to.
Trust me when I say it's not fun and very much out of your comfort zone, but sometimes those are the moments that stretch us and mold us into whom He fully intended us to be.  

And when it's over, we're still introverts, just a little sore from the emotional workout!

Grace over coffee?

Let's talk about Starbuck's, shall we?

In the last two days I've witnessed a local Food Blogger get slammed for her report on the toxic ingredients found in a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Now, let me say, I love ALL things pumpkin.
And I don't hate Starbucks, though I can't say I LOVE Starbucks either.
I don't go there daily, weekly, or sometimes even for months on end.

I have a favorite drink there and even when a lot of Christians were boycotting the company, I chose not to.  {if you're interested, here's why: this post perfectly explains how I feel about boycotts, even though I didn't write it.}

Apparently, people get really upset and defensive when you start picking on their Pumpkin Spice Latte or #psl as they've been calling it of late.

I tried a PSL once.  Remember when I said I loved ALL things pumpkin? 
Well, except a Starbucks PSL. 
Maybe the barista was having an off day or maybe I was, but at any rate, it was so bad {in my opinion}, that I chose to never try another one.

But that's not what this post is about.

In the last day or two, I have seen the following hashtags in response to Food Babe's blog/Twitter posts:
#foodhunksoldiers {parody of "food babe army", as she calls her fans}
and probably several others I forgot during the course of the day.

I also saw lots of name calling - fear-monger, "forcing your habits on everyone else," "the food babe just ruined fall," #youareajoke, #googleacademygraduate, and #yourresearchisbs just to name a few.

If you go to her Facebook page,you'll see there's even a Snopes article trying to disprove her research. {A Snopes article that conveniently leaves out points Food Babe already addressed in her original post.}

Do you feel for her right now?
I do!

This whole issue supports my ever-growing concern that as a society we are becoming more anti-social, less compassionate, and only tolerant of those who agree with us.

Ok, so you disagree with her research.
Anyone with minimal intelligence knows that High Fructose Corn Syrup isn't good for you! But because Food Babe associated it with your precious Starbucks PSL, that's grounds for bashing her?

By sharing this research, she wasn't bashing Starbucks.  She wasn't starting a boycott.
She was simply asking for transparency; full disclosure of the ingredients a customer is choosing to ingest when they order a #psl.

So because of this, she gets reamed online and through social media??
Tell me how this is ok?

And you might be thinking, "it's just coffee!"
It's so much more than coffee, because this is becoming a trend!

Disagreeing with someone is not grounds for a hashtag war.
It's not ok to bash another person and go out of your way to make them look bad and non-credible on social media.

Whatever happened to "to each his own?"

When someone shares a differing opinion than you, are they FORCING you to agree with them? No.  It's not even possible in most cases! 

Give some grace!

Would you want to be in her shoes over something you were passionate about sharing with others?
So why even comment? Ignore it.

Because, think about it:which do you think got Food Babe more attention - people who disagree, comment and freak out all over social media, or those who disagree but keep it to themselves and go on living?

Give grace. 
Give it with High Fructose Corn Syrup if you choose, but remember to give it.

Grace is "unmerited favor," meaning none of us deserve it.
He calls us to love others as He first loved us.

I believe that includes giving grace.

Titus 2:11-14 ESV 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Monday, August 18, 2014

On being social when you feel ANTIsocial...

Sometimes I absolutely hate that I was born an introvert.

But that fact is I was and now I have to live with it.

To some of you, it might not sound like a bad thing.  In fact, I'm pretty sure no one other than other extreme introverts will get this post at all.

This past weekend was on of those weekends where I just wanted to shrink into myself and disappear.
You know how when you're a kid and you close your eyes and think that since you can't see them, they can't see you? You're invisible?

Sometimes I really wish that worked.  
In fact, I tried it in Walmart on Saturday.  

It didn't work, by the way.

I had to go shopping for some things we were in dire need of, as well as the ingredients for a freezer meal workshop I have tonight.  I was literally praying the entire time I was out that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew.  There were so many people!

It sounds strange to some of you, right? 
I mean, I know it sounds strange as it comes out of my mouth.

I can't begin to explain it, honestly. I just know that sometimes being around more than one other person {and sometimes, even then} is literally excruciatingly painful. 

And then there's that pesky fear of not being accepted or needing to be someone I'm not. In my life, I have been misunderstood too many times to count.  I've been written off as a snob {or worse}, antisocial, rude, stuck up, unfriendly and so on.

This is absolutely, totally, 100% accurate for me!

We didn't go to church on Sunday and it was my fault.

I had trouble getting out of bed on Sunday morning and when I did, I felt physically ill.  My head hurt, my throat was a little scratchy, and I was absolutely CONVINCED that I could not go to church and/or be around people.

I really felt like I might collapse if I made myself do it.

So instead, I went back to bed, pulled the covers up and slept until almost noon.
I spent the entire day in my pajamas, never showered, and didn't even cook.

I did do some housework and made myself and my family meals but they were all pulled together from leftovers and items in the fridge. I convinced the hubby to go and pick up dinner from the mexican restaurant a few miles away.

The closest I got to leaving the house was watering plants on the front porch and stepping into the garage to talk to my husband.

And it didn't bother me at all.

By Sunday night, I felt recharged and less like hiding.  I felt rested.  I felt whole again.  I felt equipped - that's a funny word, but it's accurate - to DO life again.

Please don't worry about me.
I'm not depressed and I didn't post this to elicit sympathy or get people to check in on me.
I'm not going to be a crazy cat lady someday {I dislike cats; pretty strongly, in fact.  No offense to cat people}.

Honestly, I thought I was just a weirdo for so long and really didn't realize that other people like me existed. 

Recently, I've seen lots of stuff on Pinterest and Facebook about personalities.  Little blurbs like this one...

And it's funny I guess, but "social media" has actually made me feel better about my own social fears and inadequacies.  

And, yes, I've taken all those Facebook quizzes: "Are you really an introvert?" "What's your true personality type," and dozens of others.
I've read articles like "How to be friends with an introvert," "How to fit into a world of extroverts when you're not one {or something like that}."

And today, I found whole Pinterest boards devoted to Introverts.  Some of the pins made me laugh out loud while some evoked a "say what?"  But the truth is, there are lots of introverts in the world and we don't ALL have the same qualities  or phobias.

It makes me feel more "normal" to know there are others who have the same feelings and need for alone time.  

It also plays into my compassionate nature.  I think my "introvert" personality makes me more perceptive about other introverts and more sensitive to their feelings.

Maybe not.  

But I do believe God makes us all different for a reason.  He gives us all gifts and it's our job to discover them and use them for good.

So I suppose I don't always HATE being an introvert after all.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Compassion and grace...

It's been an emotional week.

In the BIG world there was Nascar tragedy and the death of Robin Williams; while here in my little world I've been living in the midst of kids and recovering from vacation and trying to parent with grace rather than out of fear or disappointment.

Just when I think I have a handle on this parenting thing, God shows me I'm wrong.  I wonder if I disappointed my parents as much as my kids have disappointed me lately? And worse, I wonder if I disappoint my Heavenly Father as much?

It's been a crazy week.  Last Sunday morning before church, we heard about the accident involving Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward.
I'm not a Nascar fan, but I just felt terrible.  I knew that regardless of the specifics, assigning blame or not, Tony Stewart would never be the same.

I can't say I've been in his shoes exactly, but I know someone who had a similar experience.  Probably more than one "someone," actually.
And if God gave me anything in the gift department, one of them was definitely compassion: the ability to put myself in someone else's situation and imagine how it would feel.

As a child, it was how I could make myself cry on demand.  I would just think of the last bad thing I had heard about, put myself in the shoes of the person it happened to and let the tears come on their own.  It's kind of funny, but isn't that what a lot of actors wish they could do? Cry on demand? I did actually want to be a stage actress at one point.  I'm straying...

By the time we left church last Sunday, the whole Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward debate was so out of control! I have my opinion, and I contemplated writing about it several times this past week, but I'm going to keep my opinion to myself.
What I can say is this, my compassionate nature makes me feel for both families affected by that accident and my prayers have included them many times in the last 6 days.

On Monday, when I saw the news on Facebook that Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide, I was immediately beside myself with grief and shock.

I didn't know him personally.  I never met him or shook his hand.  As far as I know, I was never within a thousand mile radius of Robin Williams.
Yet, Monday evening, the tremendous sadness I felt was akin to that of losing a close friend or family member.  I felt like I knew him.

But I didn't.  
Not only did I not know him, I had no idea that he'd been living with depression and bi-polar disorder.  I would never have guessed his clowning and comedy might have been a cover-up for his own intense sadness. It really made me wonder who of the people I DO know maybe aren't alright? Do I have friends or family members who cover their sadness or grief with joking and wise cracks? 

I've done it before. Sometimes reality just feels too painful.  Sometimes I just want to be someone else - anyone else - but myself.  I don't feel that way today and, thank God, I haven't felt that way in a long time, but I do know how it feels to feel that way.  
And in all my compassionate moments and empathetic instincts, I don't think I have ever confided those feelings to anyone or helped someone through similar feelings.

As I thought deeply about this during the week, I came to the conclusion that it's just another sad fact of our society: we are selfish.  I am selfish.

Even in my desire to help others and to be compassionate, merciful, and grace-giving to others, sometimes I can't see past myself and my own issues long enough to realize someone else is hurting.  And that stinks, because I don't want to be that way. I don't want to miss something important.

I watched a movie tonight.  It wasn't especially good, really, but the underlying message was.  We spend so much time trying to find the perfect spouse - relationship - child - school - job - life - version of ourselves, that we miss out on so much.  We miss out on the here and now.  We miss out on what we already have. The what's-going-on-around-us instead of the past we want to bury and the future that we so fear.

And I don't want to be like that! Do you? 
Do you want to look back, or worse yet, have your kids look back on your life, and remember that you were never present? Never here and able to enjoy just being and breathing and loving?

One of the examples of this that comes to mind for me is pictures.  I have kids {and some other relatives} that LOVE to take pictures.  I mean, really, it's unnatural how much they love to take pictures of people. 
Pictures of me.  
In my pjs.  
With no makeup on and messy hair.

And when it's happening it's easy to get upset and wonder what in the world are they thinking??!! 
But then I realize, do I want my kids to grow up and look at old pictures and see that Mom isn't in any of them? Because she deleted them all? Because she thought they were unflattering?

Of course not! My kids just see their Mom.  They don't differentiate between done-up Mom and just-woke-up Mom.  I'm just Mom.
And they want and need pictures of "just Mom."

This is all a bunch of emotional rambling, I know.  But if one good thing came out of the hardship of this week, it's that I want to focus more on the NOW and less on the THEN.  I don't want to miss out. I don't want to miss the signs if a friend or family member is hurting.  I don't want to miss time with my kids because I'm too stressed over the next "big" thing.
I want to live.  I want to love.  I want to laugh.  And I want to help others do the same. With compassion and grace.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Psalm 145:8