Thursday, August 29, 2013
Thoughtful About . . . Being Who We Are
A while back on another blog, I read a post about how, if we're honest, we all have the reader-we-wish-we-were and the reader-we-really-are. Like, we might want to think we're going to read some scholarly, high-falutin' piece of literature for pure fun one summer...but when it comes down to it, we opt for the romance novel with the pretty gown on the front instead. I really appreciated the thoughts the blogger put forth, because I have totally done that.
It's a thought that stuck with me, and which translates to a lot more than my reading pile. Because it's tough sometimes. We should own who we are...yet be improving. We should be happy in our skin...but want to be healthier, in better shape. We should take pride in our work...but not be too proud to take advice.
The more I think on these things, the more I think that finding a balance for each of those circumstances is what helps me discover who I really am. Years ago, I posted about how, when I spend time with some of my best friends, I sometimes come away thinking, "Why am I not like them?" I don't make food from scratch much anymore. I don't sew my own clothes. I don't debate the morality of one brand over another. Should I? Well, hearing their philosophies, I often think I should. But if I give my attention to that...
And one of those friends replied to that blog saying how she leaves those same visits wishing she could develop stories that others want to read, wishing she could be confident in her clothing choices without getting hung up on the why of things, wishing she could be the kind of person to express those very doubts with eloquence.
We all have those I wish I were... moments. We all look at the way our friends parent, dress, exercise, cook, write, read, worship, or [fill in the blank] and think, "I need to be more like them." But how often are they looking right back at us and thinking the same?
Sometimes this makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me shake my head. And always it makes me pause and think. Because I can't be Kimberly or Karlene or Stephanie or Jennifer or Paige or Erin. I can't be Francine Rivers or Ted Dekker or Laurie Alice Eakes or MaryLu Tyndall or Julie Lessman. I can't be the college professors who sat around thinking about Aristotle for fun.
There are things I wish I could improve about myself, especially when I reflect on these people I so love. I wish I were more proactive about my homeschooling choices. I wish I were more educated on the medical choices available to us. I wish I knew (and cared) what was in my food. I wish I studied the changing tides of the industry to which I belong. I wish I kept my house clean. I wish I always answered my kids with patience. I wish I could organize my time.
And it's so incredibly weird to me to be talking to a friend and here her say, "I just keep telling myself, 'You need to be more like Roseanna. Keep your cool.' You're the most laid-back person I know, and I need that."
What I take from that is that we need to learn from each other, yes. We need to grow. We need to stretch ourselves out toward knowledge, as Aristotle would say, and come to a better understanding of our worlds.
But we also need to recognize that we can only do what we can do. We can only be who we can be. We only have so much attention, so many hours, so many days. How do we really want to spend them?
For me, it comes down to this. If I have to decide between working out and writing, I'm going to choose writing. But if I can combine working out with brainstorming...well, that's awesome! So rather than doing videos that demand my full attention, I've been walking. It gives me much-needed time to think in peace, and that makes my writing time for fruitful.
If I have to decide between keeping my house clean and spending extra time on fun lessons with my kids, I'm going to choose my kids. Because sometimes it seems like if I spend my whole day teaching the must-dos, then the following hours cleaning up, I never get to hug them. Never get to cuddle. Never get to put puzzles together and build Lego tractors. So I prioritize. The kitchen must be cleaned, the toys have to be put away. But I'm not going to fret over every stray piece of paper.
The list goes on. Will I ever reach a place where I'm not frustrated day-to-day with some little thing? Where I don't look at the awesome people God has put around me and aspire to be like them in some way? I seriously doubt it. Because I'm aware of my own faults, and it's good that I want to improve them.
But I'm also aware of who I am and what's important to me. And I have to be careful that I don't get so hung up in bettering one aspect of myself that I neglect another. I have to be, above all, who I am.