Here’s to the Women Who Taught Me How to Live: Melissa

Roughly four years ago I was a college student working part-time at my university’s library. While I was interested in my library and liked the “adults” (aka, the full-time staff members) who worked there, changes in most of the staff positions didn’t really affect me all that much. When Melissa started working as the library’s business secretary, I didn’t think of it as an opportunity to be mentored by an amazing woman. I was just coming to work and going home. Over the years, however, I began to appreciate the incredible opportunity God had given me.

After I graduated I was hired into a part-time staff position. Among many other changes, this brought me a schedule change. Melissa always worked the opening shift, making sure everything got open with plenty of time for students to get their papers printed in the mornings before their 8 o’clock classes, and now I was working this shift with her.

I grew to love those moments in the morning before everyone else got there where Melissa and I would sip our coffee and share our hearts. She used words to remind me of concepts once learned and recently forgotten, but more importantly, she showed me how to live by how she lived. She seemingly eats and breathes compassion and hospitality, always trying to make sure the people around her are taken care of. She showed me that it’s just money, and people are more important than money every single time. She showed me the value of believing the best of people and giving them the benefit of a doubt. Maybe that person acted mean because he’s worried about his sick wife; maybe that person hurt you because she herself is hurting. She showed me that one can be strong and need a hug all at the same time, and one does not lessen the other.

She showed me how to love those around me.

So here’s to you, Melissa, for teaching me how to live with grace and compassion.

Here’s to the Women Who Taught Me How to Live: Brandy

After recently receiving this challenge, I have decided to write a series of blogs dedicated to the women who have greatly impacted my life. So here we go.

Here’s to the women who have taught me how to live.

There has not been a time in my memory when I did not know Brandy Wilson. She has been a fixture of my life for as long as I can remember. A vast majority the time I have known her, however, she has been out of the country. See, Brandy is a missionary. She has answered the call God has placed on her life and is pouring herself out for hurting girls around the globe. She gives everything she has to bring hope and compassion to girls who have none.

But before I understood any of that about Brandy, I knew her as a friend. I knew her as a woman with a kind heart, a big smile, a ready laugh, and a coffee cup seemingly super-glued to her hand. But most importantly, I knew her to be a woman who speaks with godly wisdom, wisdom birthed from spending countless hours in prayer and in Scripture. She always seems to know exactly what I need to hear, and she never held back from telling me things I didn’t want to hear. She pulled me from the brink of disaster, and she gave me a torch for the dark times she knew were coming.

I treasure time spent with her. Stolen moments at coffee shops and unexpected trips to women’s retreats and any other time I can manage to capture. I treasure it.

Brandy, I salute you. Thank you for seeing something of value in this confused, messed up girl and taking the time to invest in me.

 

If you would like to find out more about Brandy and her ministry Compassionate Justice, click here.

Introversion and Shakespeare

Today I read an article spouting 10 myths about introverts. Having always considered myself an introvert, I decided to see what other people thought of persons like myself. What I walked away from the article with, though, was not a better understanding of extroverts, but a better understanding of myself.

My definition of introvert has never expanded beyond, “I’d rather be by myself, thanks. No, I wouldn’t like to have a meaningless conversation.” The article explained parts of my personality that I didn’t know how to explain more than, “Eh, it’s just how I am.”

What’s interesting to me, though, is not that I now understand why I don’t like to talk in a large group (but will chatter all day with my close friends), was that the understanding of the differences between introverts and extroverts has been understood far longer than my country has been in existence.  Shakespeare is often credited with having amazing insight into human nature, and once again he has shown this to be true.  In Hamlet Shakespeare wrote the following:

“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice” (I.iii.68).

Shakespeare recognized that people are inherently different and that moderation is required in order for social peace. Polonius speaks these words to his son knowing that Laertes is an extrovert and that he must learn moderation from the wisdom of an introvert.

It’s not that extroverts or introverts are any better than the other one, because they’re not.  It takes both types of people to make society function as it should. It takes people who are willing to talk to everyone and bring people together and be completely comfortable with strangers, but it also takes people who can quietly observe and make sure the less exciting details are taken care of.

Extroverts, take note from your introvert friends: Try listening to groups of people talking without joining in, and see what you might learn from and about them.  Be amazed at how much you can help someone simply by listening to them without ever giving your advice or opinion.

“I Kept Biting Them”

In the first episode of the fifth series of the British TV show Doctor Who, the main character, the Doctor, reunites with one his friends, Amy Pond. This is the scolding she gives him for his too-long absence:

Amy Pond: Twelve years!
The Doctor: You hit me with a cricket bat!
Amy Pond: Ha! Twelve years!
The Doctor: A cricket bat!
Amy Pond: Twelve years, and four psychiatrists!
The Doctor: Four?
Amy Pond: I kept biting them!
The Doctor: Why?
Amy Pond: They said you weren’t real.

The Doctor’s twelve year absence left scars on Amy, scars that led her parents to believe she had serious issues. She bounced from psychiatrist to psychiatrist, but none of them were able to help her because she was irrevocably convinced of the Doctor’s existence. When anyone dared to question his existence, she did the only reasonable thing: She bit them.

Amy’s scars weren’t as bad as her parents and psychiatrists believed because the Doctor actually was real. She really had met him, and he really did come back for her. She wasn’t crazy. But she was scarred.

Amy was scarred because she put her hope in someone and that someone let her down. Broke a promise. Abandoned her.

Those are issues enough to cause a person to need counseling.

Life is scary and scaring. Sometimes life takes you through childhood and adolescence and leaves more scars than unblemished skin. And sometimes, when that happens, you don’t even realize it has happened. You spend years denying anything is wrong, you’re not scarred.

And then one day you wake up and realize, “Oh my word. I’m broken.”

I’ve been in one-on-one counseling for three years solid, with another year and a half of group therapy before that. I haven’t bitten any of my counselors (yet), but there have definitely been times when they have told me things I didn’t want to hear. I have been blessed beyond belief to have a counselor who is wise enough to recognize when I am and am not ready to deal with certain issues. She recognized anger issues in me the first time we met, but was willing to work with me for two years before I was ready to start dealing with the anger issues. I wasn’t ready. She recognized relationship dysfunction from the first time we met, but worked with me for two and a half years (past the end of the relationship, I might add) before I was ready to deal the dysfunction. I wasn’t ready.

I tried to start reading Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton yesterday. I thought I was ready to start intentionally dealing with my church issues. I was excited about it. 

I was wrong. I’m just not ready.

Maybe next year?