So a friend of mine (Katie Jackson) got me thinking yesterday about how the internet is the sort of place where we can only present the positive side of ourselves and give people the wrong impression that we've got it all together, all the time. I figured I'd take this opportunity to be frank about the flipside... of me. Don't worry. I'll keep it funny and sarcastic. Otherwise, it'd be awkward for you and painful for me. And who wants to read a big pity party?
First, a little background. Throughout school, I was always a smart girl. I was a straight-A student, Honors, AP courses, Student Council, the whole bit. I assure you, my ego has quite the appetite. Constantly excelling in school, after-school activities, clubs, and service organizations fed the craving. So, great. You're thinking, "Oh gee Jennifer, poor you. You're so smart. What a horrible quality?." Here's the flipside. PRIDE. I have an enormous pride monster that regularly rears its head. I am always right, and I only receive instruction from a very, very small number of people (two come to mind), and even those two have a tough time with me, despite the fact that they've proven themselves extraordinarily wise again and again. I'm sure my husband will gladly attest to this.
I am stubborn and bullheaded. It takes me MUCH longer than necessary or appropriate to apologize even if I know darn well that I'm wrong about something. My pride monster does not appreciate humbling. (Incidentally, Beth Moore says this thing about a season of humbling preparing us for a season of blessing, and I kind of feel like my pride monster is part of the reason we are/have been in a season of financial humbling for awhile now. I hope I'm right!) Honestly, if I'm mad enough, I may not apologize at all (ask Quincy), or maybe I'll do the really mature thing and say something like, "I'm sorry you felt that way."
Let's see. Sometimes my kids really get on my nerves (like this morning). I love them so much and want to have fun with them, but when I want to craft, I want to craft in peace and quiet. That's been one of the hardest things for me to give up becoming a mom. I used to be able to work on a project all day long if I wanted. Now, there is no such thing as a day off, and I maybe squeeze in a couple of hours on something each day. That annoys me.
I will probably make myself have an ulcer because of all my self-imposed schedules and deadlines. It's insane, really. I make the schedule. It's up to me if I follow it or not. Nobody's going to come after me or fire me. Quincy doesn't care, but I get all anxious (upset stomach and all) when I feel like I'm behind or not accomplishing all that I need to accomplish. I'm guessing this is because most of my life I had teachers, parents, and other adults feeding my "perfectness," so I sometimes still feel the internal need to live up to it.
Tina Fey said this at an awards ceremony one time, and I will never forget it. "I want to thank my parents for for somehow giving me confidence that is disproportionate to my looks and abilities." hahah! Story of my life! The flipside of confidence (though all my worst traits really boil down to pride) is that I can be really pushy. I have strong opinions on all sorts of things, and you probably already know what they are. On the other hand, I am intimidated by approximately three people. Those three people are the only ones who can make me question my opinions or fear speaking up.
For most of my life, I've been really confident and outgoing. On the inside, though, I really cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I would do whatever it took to be the best, perfect, etc. I was a "Yes Man." I was constantly overextended. I promise you I've done more stress-induced vomiting than any person you've ever met. Thanks in no small part to a season of difficulty and the book, "The Emotionally Healthy Church," I swung pretty hard and fast to the opposite side of the pendulum. I did not give a rip what anybody thought about anything, and I officially became a "No Man." You don't even need to finish the sentence before I'll tell you no. The good thing about that, I guess, is that the things I'm doing, I actually want to be doing. Also, in terms of ministry activities, I think because I am a creative-minded person, it's allowed me to get out of the box of serving God in ways that everyone else does and do some crazy, unpredictable things. Oh wait, did I get off track and start talking about my awesomeness again?. ;)
I like to think I'm balancing out a bit now, but I'd say I'm still much more on the side of not caring about the opinion of others. This "can" be a good thing, when I am honestly living in such a way that I am only concerned about pleasing God; however, if I am honest, much of the time it is tinged with a bit of Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted Snake." In other words, a lot of the time, I don't care, I don't care, I don't care, I don't care.
Because I don't care, I get pretty easily annoyed with frivolous talk and chit chat. It's just not my M.O. I am a terrible "girlfriend" in that way. Don't call me to chat about fashion, celebrity gossip, "your day" (I'd be an awful husband.), or other unimportant things. Obviously "unimportant" is defined by me. I will talk to you about God, tragedy/death (apparently I'm drawn to it), poverty, politics (although you probably don't want to go there with me), culture, funny/sarcastic TV shows, crafts, and Gator football. That's about it.
I have weird and unique opinions about lots of things, but I have just enough insecurity to keep lots of those things to myself. These are things that neither fall into the realm of popular opinion or what I like to call the "popularly unpopular opinion." I sometimes wonder if I'm crazy for having some out-there idea that neither group would agree with or deem valid, so I constantly have to go back to God and scripture to make sure I'm not a crazy heretic. I frequently comfort myself with the reminder that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM."
I don't care if my house is perfectly clean. I basically feel compelled to keep up with laundry, dishes, and clutter. Other than that, all's fair till someone comes over. However, I do have these bursts of crazy where I want everything spotless. I expect my husband and children to see the bursts coming and behave accordingly. They never anticipate it though, and therefore face my wrath as I tornado through the place making it shine.
I have a pity party about my house/finances on an almost daily basis. This is not at all where I thought I'd be at this point in my life. I don't understand it. I find it extremely frustrating, and I often want to throw in the towel. Quincy is the rock about that sort of thing.
Speaking of Quincy, I never give him as much credit or attention as he deserves. He is a good, faithful, hardworking man. It's hard for me to even think of anything negative about him because he really is so perfect, which I obviously find incredibly annoying sometimes.
Let's see. I watch too much TV, spend too much time on Facebook, blogs, looking for craft inspiration, love Coke Zero and chocolate too much, am sarcastic to the point of meanness on a regular basis, and am content to be an island much of the time. I am a horrible group friend, but a great (as long as you consider in-your-face honesty great) one-on-one friend. I can sometimes stretch the one-on-one thing to a small group, under five or so, but that's about my limit.
Sometimes I am probably too laid back with my kids. Well, I was a lot more paranoid with Ephraim, but again, I have swung to the opposite end of the pendulum with Aspen. She's probably eaten more paper than the Times Union prints on a Sunday.
I am not fearful, except for those few people who intimidate me, and NIGHTMARES. I have the most awful nightmares, and now that I've had the whole dream prophecy situation, I get REALLY freaked out by nightmares. I had a terrible one last night. I haven't gotten it off my mind all day. I have to keep reminding myself that the Lord did not give me a spirit of fear.
I can be really judgmental. This is the gift and curse of sarcasm. I find myself to be hilarious, but it is often at the expense of someone else. If you know me and love me, you know this to be true. The most horrible things come out of my mouth sometimes. I could really use a retraction button!
So, there's the flipside, in all its glory. I'm sure there are lots of other things that just aren't coming to mind right now, but there are plenty of reasons not to think I'm perfect or have it all figured out. I DON'T. I don't tend to share the negative because I don't want to be Captain Bringdown to everyone else out there. Usually when I share, I have sufficiently worked through the situation with God that I feel like it can be uplifting or encouraging to others. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's just what I do. I do want you to know that I am very, very far from perfect. I do NOT have it figured out.
This one thing I DO know. (Here comes my compulsive need to leave this on a positive note.) In Christ, I am perfect, blameless, holy, forgiven, blessed with every spiritual blessing, and FREE. I truly live out my days in that freedom and understanding of my real identity. My character traits, whether good or bad, are just a shadow in light of my true identity. I am a new creation, one that has no flipside.