Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Personality By Any Other Name Wouldn’t Be As Sweet

Rose Far And Wide by Ave Lainesaar

I’ve been AWOL for a while now, dipping deep into the well of family life, getting caught up in life’s happenings, that I haven’t checked in on the blog for a loooong time. But it’s okay. I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re all gonna be OK.

It’s been an incredible summer and I’m all too sorry to see it go. There seems to be so much more I wanted to do: experiences I wanted to share, memories I wanted to make. Yes, we started school on Monday. Strangely, I’m kind of all set on the planning side of things, but I’m just not mentally ready to transition back to “school mode.” So in one last ditch effort to postpone the inevitable, I want to share a bit about my summer. Perhaps if I keep talking about summer, it will stick around longer? (See how many times you can spot the word “summer” in this post!)

I started this summer well organized and ready. I prepped a summer binder stocked with monthly calendars clearly labeled with all our family’s pre-scheduled activities, daily schedule, cleaning schedule, chore assignments and rotations, summer rules and discipline strategies, personal goals, summer reading program papers including book lists and reading logs, a simple sort of “bucket list” of fun places to visit in our fine state, fitness forms and menu plans for myself. This baby was well oiled and rip-roaring to go! And I used it… for about two weeks. Maybe two and a half. It was a beautiful creation and wonderfully handy, but I just didn’t use it! Why?!

Well, one of my personal goals this summer was to implement some time for Mother Culture. If you’re not familiar with this Charlotte Mason concept, basically it’s about making time for Mom to personally engage in learning through literature — for me, this equated to just about 30 minutes to quietly read to myself during my kids’ afternoon quiet time. Miss Mason encouraged moms to always have three books going at a time: an easy read (novel), moderately easy read, and a difficult (stiff) read. As I have not been able to complete a book on my own in under 12 months for the last 7 years, I jumped on this idea! It wasn’t difficult to find material. I have a plethora of written treasures patiently waiting on my bookshelves. So I made my book list, downloaded audiobooks, and plotted my priorities.

One of the books I chose, a "moderate read” on my list (though it really was rather easy), is If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby? by Carol Barnier. It is hilarious and I felt like she was writing directly to ME… How’d she get inside my head anyway? I mean, she described me to a T! Remember my post on Driven Distraction? Yeah. Totally me. Basically, this book was written for the highly distracted mom — a “how-to” of sorts, you could say. She very empathetically describes the personality and sort of inner-workings of said woman, and she gives many tips and tricks on how to make it work FOR you & not against you (which is tricky business, I tell you!) I saturated myself in her wisdom, gleaned all I could of her practical advice, and contemplated her rich (and hysterical) thoughts on just what it’s like to live life as a distracted mom. I took so many great things away from this book! But perhaps the greatest is a deeper understanding of who I am & who God created me to be. How incredibly freeing it is when you can finally understand that you are who you are and it’s okay to be that way... Not that we should stay that way, because we should always be growing in our walks and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of God (Romans 12:1-2). But this little bit of acceptance -- I cannot even begin to express the joy it brings!

Not only did I receive a beautiful gift of personal freedom, but I was also deeply challenged. So many times I (and I’m sure many of you) have looked at and studied the examples of Mary and Martha in Scripture (Luke 10:38-42, specifically), and I’ve always viewed myself as a Martha. I’m a mom of four young ones. There’s simply too much to do to be still and sit there! I’m constantly working, working, working, setting things in order, taking care of messy kids, cleaning a messy house, too busy to just sit and be at the feet of Jesus. I have to at least fold laundry or sort mail or organize my contacts on my phone while I sit. It’s all about the multi-tasking, baby! Carol brings the Biblical sisters out again for examination in the last chapter of her book, and for the first time I was able to see a bit of Mary in myself. Now, I’m not all there. (Ha! in more ways than one, to be sure.) But it’s like I’m seeing myself through different glasses now. 

"We need to be reminded that every gift comes with responsibilities and that every responsibility comes with a gift. If we only see the work, we’ve missed the best part.
If you find yourself truly at odds with something in your life, step back for a moment and see if you can’t find a new lens, one that finds the gifts in your circumstances instead of all the challenges. Aren’t you glad that this is exactly how God see us?” (p. 83, If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?)

And it clicked. As a highly distracted, unregimented person, I have resorted to controlling my environment (physical things, i.e. organization) to compensate for my lack of mental  organization. This can give the appearance of “having it all together” (*cough* Martha *cough* summer binder) and is, apparently, often perceived by others as such, but it is merely a facade — a white wash over the jumbled, tumble-down "mess" that is my interior. I have embraced, or rather clung to, this exterior structure and regiment as a sort of means to atone for my true personal “deficit." But there is still a part of me that longs to be able to be fulfilled in my natural, albeit sometime chaotic, tendencies (hello, Mary). I am still trying to figure this out. It is an ever back-and-forth song and dance between the two, and I struggle to find the balance.

I’ve been tapping into the different personality assessments out there lately — I can’t remember all the varieties out there right now as there are far too many! — but I think I’m gaining a little insight as I read & listen. I VERY much identify with this particular book on an almost cellular level. I mean, she nailed it! So I think that this highly distractible character is truly me. However, it is when I am under STRESS that I resort to the polar opposite: structure, regiment, orientation toward tasks, etc. This can be external stress (usually) or even internal stress, because somehow my natural tendencies can even overwhelm me sometimes causing me to retreat into the stronghold of order.

It’s all so confusing to unfold… My personality is so stinking complex! A virtual origami of personalities. Shoot. But I am vastly grateful for the assistance in learning more about myself thus far. (Thank you, Carol Barnier!) And I’m even more thankful for the peace and joy that my own acceptance of God’s acceptance brings! It’s been a long time coming. Thank you, Jesus!