A Life in My Shoes

Thursday, April 05, 2007


In attempts to create a stronger sense of community within the members of my small group, we are all going to share our "story, " and I had my turn last night. All of my closest friends could tell you, I don't open up very easily, so this was definitely a different experience for me.

Here's my story...

I spent my entire childhood in the same home in rural Southern Illinois. I was the only child. My dad was the music teacher in my school district; therefore, a day did not go by from kindergarten to senior year in high school when he was not in my school building at some point in the day. I became the model student, though I'm pretty sure this wouldn't have changed even if he hadn't been a teacher at my school.

I say that I'm a "hickabilly," which is a crossbreed of a hick and a hillbilly. Pretty much my entire mom's side of the family farms for a living. Some of my fondest memories as a child were spent on my grandparents farm. Then there's my dad's side of the family. I always pictured them being involved in those family feuds that were always quite popular on the Flintstones. I could easily picture my family being somewhat similar to the Beverly Hillbillies just in Southern Indiana instead of Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, the majority of my family on this side passed away before I was born, so I didn't have the pleasure of meeting them, but I've heard some pretty good stories. I see the good in both sides in me. I've got the good naturedness of a hick and the sly ingenuity of a hillbilly.

The events that have most shaped me have also been some of the most painful. These events have caused me to formulate three rather rediculous issues. 1) People don't like me. 2) I'm not smart. 3) I'm not Christian enough. I'll admit they are all irrational beliefs. In fact, if I were to leave it there, most would conclude that I don't like myself or that I have no self-confidence. That's not true at all. In fact, I really like who I am, but I do have a warped since of self. Unfortunately, these issues often cause me to clam up in group settings and build up these walls until even I can't recognize myself. Only when someone has taken the time to get to know me, do they really see the true me. These people become some of my closests friends because for one they did take the time and for another I have the most fun when I'm around these people because I can truly be myself.

I mainly don't like to talk about these issues because I'm certain that everyone has similar experiences. Therefore, I don't want to be the baby or wuss of the group. I hate that I've let a few instances in my life gravely impact the rest of my life. I fear that people will judge instead of try and understand. So here we go with the reasons behind my issues. In grade school, I had 2 really close friends. During middle school, these friendships (for some reason I don't know) essentially dissolved; therefore, I spent 2 to 3 years of my life with essentially no friends. For these years, I was misserably lonely. This is the point in my life I blame for my fear that people don't like me. I know that I have friends, but I tend to always question whether they really want me around or if I'm in the way. I know that this is illogical, but when you spend a couple years of your life with "friends" who could care less if you were there and think you are more in the way than not, you tend to value your presence in a social setting less. I've had a few teachers and professors who underestimated me intellectually, which in turn has caused me to question my own mental capacity. I had a professor tell me that the competition for the job that I actually got was too tough for me. Needless to say, it was a great day when I got to tell him that I got the job he said I probably wouldn't get. Additionally, I've always had really intellegent friends. Though we never competed, it's hard not to compare your strengths and weaknesses, and in my opinion, I always came up short. I shared the valedictorian title with my 5 best friends in high school, graduated magna cum laude in college, and got a pretty good job out of college. Clearly, I'm no dummy, and I don't question that, but I automatically find myself mentally inferior to my peers whether it be in class or in work. Some of my redeeming traits are ambition and determination. When people tell me I can't do something, I go above and beyond to prove them wrong. So far, I've always been able to accomplish this. I just hope that I can continue with this trend. Lastly, my issue of being an inferior Christian--similar to my intellegence issue, all of my closest friends have been great Christians. When I'd size myself up to them, I didn't think I could even compare. Thankfully, slowly but surely I'm learning that God wires all of us differently. We all have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our faith. I'm just now starting to realize that what I have always viewed as deficiencys are probably strengths in God's eyes.

I've been a Christian for as long as I can remember. As a child, I rarely missed church. I grew up in a small Presbyterian church with a mean age of 70. Though I didn't get a lot of opportunities to experience spiritual growth with my peers, I did get a lot of great role models who to this day love me and are proud of me. Though they have a tendency to over-exagerate my accomplishments, it's nice to have people who take notice of your achievements and continue to encourage you.

In high school, I went to a bible camp, which was quite the experience. Eveyrone kept asking when did you become a Christian, assuming that there was this time in your life that you had a radical change, you saw the light, you believed! I never had this experience, and I blame this thought of having a radical life change when becoming a Christian to my inferiority complex concerning my faith. I can think of a few turning points in my life that could be defined as my "second birthday." When I was in second grade (probably 7 or 8), one of my best friends asked me if I was saved. I had no idea what this meant. She informed me that I could become saved right there on the playground. I preferred to make this step in a slightly more private setting, so when I got home, I went to my room, closed the door, and prayed the prayer. In eighth grade, I was officially confirmed into the church and baptized. I think my senior year in high school, my new minister decided to have a rebaptizm ceremony. I decided to partake in this opportunity. To this day, I think that's probably the most voluntary public affirmation of faith I've made. In my opinion, I've always had blind faith. Now, I'm starting to actually pursue that relationship with God, and I look forward to seeing what that brings in my life.

In the future, I hope to be able to hear God more clearly. I can't remember a time when I truly heard God (another reason I feel slightly inferior to my tongue speaking Christian peers). I honestly pray, and I pray for what I think are relevant non-greedy things. Unfortunately, some of the prayers that I've seen answered in my life have been my more greedy prayers. Specifically, God has delivered me from all of the instances I just cited as drastically impacting my life. God has taken me out of those situations and put me in better places where I've been able to grow and prosper, perhaps with a little bit of baggage. Nonetheless, I know that God has challenged me in these areas of my life for a reason. For this reason, I want to open myself up to whatever God has instore for me. I hope that I fulfill my purpose in a manner pleasing to God.

This morning I contemplated the whole experience of openly sharing some of my life experiences, and for me, I felt emotionally naked. I'm still not certain that sharing was all that good of an idea for me. I'm really good at putting on this face that everything is grand, which usually is the case. I'm a very positive person, but I have this annoying voice in my head that makes me honestly hate myself at times. Imagine having your worst enemy taunting you on a daily basis...that's what I do to myself pretty much. Most people don't know about this daily personal inner-mind battle that I fight everyday. When I actually open up and tell people about this struggle, then the battle becomes public. I'm terrified of how people are going to react to my confession. I fear that people aren't going to take my struggle seriously, judge me for it, and make me feel stupid because I have this problem. I actually prefer those people who just make fun of me because of my struggle because I am the first one to admit that all of my issues are completely irrational. I know that I've found a true friend when they don't try to change me, but just listen, understand that I can't help it, and love me anyway. It's not that I really like this trait of mine. I know that God had me open up for a reason. I fear that now people will think wow she's an irrational lunatic, but I pray that the experince be more liberating and even help me loose a couple of my demons. I'm not asking for help or a pitty party because I've led a very blessed life, one for which I have no complaints. I do ask that people merely try to understand, not judge, and not alter the way they interact with me because they wrongly concluded that I'm emotionally unstable.