Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything kind of goes wrong?
A “someone took the last Little Debbie from the vending machine” kind of week?
Well, I have. And this was one of them.
I’d love to say that despite this week’s setbacks I behaved calmly, appropriately and with wisdom.
But that’d be a lie.
In fact, in the middle of the week, I was so upset that I turned to my sister and said, “Can I say something I don’t mean?”
“…sure,” she responded, hesitantly.
“I hate you,” I said.
This sent us both into a ridiculous fit of laughter because she knew I didn’t mean it and that for one moment I just really wanted someone to blame for the way life was going. (Yes, I realize I am the portrait of maturity.)
But two days ago, I decided that instead of looking for someone to blame, or marinating on the crappy hand that life sometimes deals me, I wanted to find and focus on ways I have been blessed this week.
This was much easier said than done.
Admittedly, in the midst of a time in your life when things are just not going the way you planned, it’s difficult if not impossible to have the eyes to see ways in which you have been blessed.
At first, when I panned back over the last few days looking for blessings, all I saw a were a lot of big, ugly setbacks. But slowly, and surely, I saw sprinklings of care, concern and support. I realized that throughout all of my struggles, I am surrounded by many, many people who love me.
Once I realized that love was the biggest blessing of my week, I took the famous passage that describes what love is and, point by point, recalled how various people in my life have shown me love this week.
This is what I uncovered:
Love is patient with me. Even when I knock the bed off of one of its risers and you spend 30 minutes with me disassembling it in order to fix the problem without ever rolling your eyes or losing your temper.
Love is kind and buys me lunch when I’m having a really awful day and then feeds me homemade cookie dough while listening to my problems.
Love does not envy me when I find a really great fall coat on sale when you were looking for one.
Love does not brag and is not arrogant even though you’re in a stable career and make way way (seriously WAY) more money than I ever will.
Love is not rude even when I have to ask for the zillionth time where you’re traveling this week because I wasn’t being a good listener.
Love does not insist on its own way even when you know for a fact that your way is better/faster/smarter.
Love keeps no record of wrongs, despite the fact that I said I’d call and I didn’t.
Love rejoices with the truth and consistently encourages me to be honest with myself and others.
Love bears all things (even when I forgot to do the dishes).
Love believes all things (and dreams my dreams when I haven’t the energy to do so myself).
Love hopes all things (reminding me that tomorrow is another day).
Love endures all things (even when I text message while you’re telling me a story).
Love never fails (thank you dear, dear friends and family).
When I got through the list, I was overwhelmed by all of the love that I overlook every day and how powerful it is when someone is simply there for you. It is through these subtle, unseen and undeserved moments that we realize how lifesaving it truly is to be loved.
I got an email from my friend Katie last week with the subject line: “Speed Dating!!!”
And yes, there were three exclamation points.
My immediate reaction was to snarl my lip and loudly grunt “Ugh” (I’m such a lady, huh?). As I scrolled through the email and read the details, I tried to envision myself “dressed in business casual attire” going on “20-30, 3-minute dates.”
Now, you might not know this about me, but I may be one of the worst ‘small talkers’ I know. And I’m not exaggerating. Once I find common ground with someone, or if I’m with more than one other person, I’m fine. But one-on-one, I sound something like this: “So….where are you from? Ohio? That’s cool…um, my Dad went to OSU…hehe, Gooooo Buckeyes. Me? Well I went to school in Kansas, but I’m from Minnesota. I know, pretty crazy, huh? What do I do for a living? Funny you ask…”
See? No one wants three minutes of that. Furthermore, first impressions are brutal. We all paint a glossy sheen over our flaws and come up with ways to attractively showcase our impressive attributes. And that’s okay, if as you go forward in getting to know someone, you drop the façade and show more and more of the real you; ugliness included.
But that’s never been easy for me. I have a habit of putting on a happy face to hide my hurting heart, making light of dark things in my past and keeping the unpleasant details of my life away from the light. The problem with this is it’s not only exhausting, unauthentic and dishonest, but it also keeps me from allowing myself to be truly known and loved by others.
I decided to draft a mockup of a three minute speed dating conversation where I reveal things about myself that normally take me months to disclose. This is what it would look like if I took the risk of revealing aspects of my personality that aren’t perfect and areas of my life that need work so that maybe, just maybe, I could take a stab at being myself.
“Hi. I’m Lyndsay. So here’s the thing. These snacks are really good so I’m going to eat them while we talk and not be afraid that you think I’m a chubster. What else? Okay, I didn’t wash my hair today. Let’s just start with that. Also, last night I fell asleep watching Law and Order. Other than 7-layer Mexican dip, I can’t really cook. Ooh, and I will probably never run a full marathon. I just think a half was enough for me. Sometimes I purposefully miss the El so that I don’t have to ride it with an old acquaintance that I see on the platform. I am just now being responsible with my money. I have three overdue library books. I drink entirely too much diet soda and not nearly enough water. Here’s a good one…I often put the treadmill TV on CNN so I look smarter to the cute guys at Xsport. My parents are divorced and that has completely shattered the lens with which I view marriage and relationships. I have great taste in music, but there are moments where I just crave top 40 radio hits. I really, really need you to laugh at my jokes. A lot of times I’m about seven minutes late. Thanks for listening, nice to meet you, and oh, you have something in your teeth.”
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