Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So I guess my Mother was right...

My Mom has told me for years that I am a snob. Of course, my response is, "How can I be a snob? I don't have a lot of money. I can't afford expensive things. I can't send my daughter to expensive schools and look down on those who don't."

Well, it appears that, after years of fighting it, I am, indeed, a snob. But it's not because I think I'm better than anyone...well, usually I don't think I'm better than anyone. It's because I'm insecure in who I am and what I do (or don't) have, and I'm afraid other people will judge me because of it.

A few years back, I spent a week with a counselor on Coronado Island. A couple of days ago, after attending a birthday party at one of Bella's classmates' houses, part of a conversation came back to me. The counselor asked me if I was a discerning person. After I answered that I was, and we talked a little bit about my type of "discernment", she challenged me. She said that my type of discernment wasn't something that simply saw people for who they were and accepted them anyway. It was a discernment bred out of self-protection. I'm afraid of getting hurt, so I size them up as either "safe" or "unsafe", and then I quickly either let them in or build a wall up between myself and that person so they can't hurt me first.

I'm guessing this is something I learned at a pretty young age because I had to determine who to be friends with based on whether or not they would accept me as the "fat girl". I had to make quick decisions and hope I was right so that they wouldn't turn their backs on me or end up saying hurtful things after I'd let them into my life. That happened a couple of times...and it hurt a lot.

As I think about it now, it's exactly what I'm doing as a Mom. Ever since Bella started school, and I have been faced with handling relationships with other Moms, I have put up wall after wall because I'm afraid that those Moms are like the girls who hurt me when I was a kid. If you've ever talked to me about the other families we're around at Bella's school, I'm sure you've noticed my snobbery. I judge them before they judge me...or I judge them FOR judging me.

...And it's not my place to judge anyone. In the grand scheme of things, it makes no difference where our children go to school...or what anyone thinks of me because of it. It doesn't matter if they live in a big house and I don't, or if they judge me because of it. What matters is that I stop acting like it matters.

I love my home...that is small and that I rent. I love the trees outside of our windows, and I love the people on the block I live on.

I love my husband and my daughter and they love me.

I like my dog most of the time.

And I know and love a God who is graceful and teaches me these things about myself so that I can continue to change and be more of who He created me to be.

My Bible is open to this verse right now--"We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."

I don't consider myself to be powerful. Let me make that very clear. I very much feel like a "fragile clay jar" as I write this. I am breakable, and I need a lot of care and protection to keep me intact. But I do believe I have a remarkable gift inside of me that people (and I) periodically get a glimpse of. My hope is that as I continue walking through life and seeing myself for who I am and who I can be, that Gift will be much more visible.

But first I have to start taking down some walls. And if you're a wall-builder like me, I'd encourage you to start doing the same thing.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jewelry and wedding dresses

This morning, I read something from the book of Jeremiah that got my attention. If you're familiar with Biblical things, you'll know that Jeremiah is known as the "weeping" prophet. He pretty much cries about the state of God's people for chapters on end. It's pretty pathetic. But after getting this image in my head that I'm about to share with you, I can understand why he mourns...and it's an image only a woman would understand. This is what he says...

"Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? No! Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me."

If you're female, you know how important your jewelry can be to you. There are days when the ring on your finger, chain around your neck, or posts in your ears can make you feel like a completely different person. It can change the way you feel about yourself. It can also change the way people look at you. I know that when I've spent enough time and attention on myself to add those extra little touches, people notice and will sometimes comment on how nice I look. Sometimes they'll only comment on my earrings, but mostly it's about the whole person.

And then there's the image of the bride. If you've ever gotten married, you'll recall the importance of "the dress". Women spend thousands of dollars on wedding dresses (not this woman...but many women). No matter what the cost of the dress, it is one of the most important details of the wedding day. It is costly, takes time to choose, and it is the one garment the bride has chosen to be with her on what probably feels like the most important day of her life. For many, it's as much a part of the wedding day as the groom is! Certainly, a bride would never choose a dress only to then hide it under a potato sack.

But here is Jeremiah, likening God's people to a bride who has chosen to hide her dress. She has spent hours choosing the most beautiful, the most flattering and the most amazing dress she'll ever wear in her life...yet she doesn't want to show it to the people closest to her.

God is the most valuable garment we will ever have. When we choose him, we don't do it lightly or without cost, or at least we shouldn't do it lightly or without cost. Sometimes, we give up our habits, we give up our time or we give up our former way of living because that's what we're "supposed" to do when we become his person.

I'm afraid, though, that, like the woman who doesn't care enough to put on her jewelry, we just forget that it's important to add that extra touch that can change everything. Maybe we're too busy trying to get out the door in the morning, that putting on our God and spending time talking to Him or learning from His Word becomes unimportant. Maybe, like that pearl necklace you're saving for a special occasion, your Bible just sits in a drawer. It's never seen, but you know you've got it if you ever need it or have the extra time. Or, maybe like your wedding dress, it was nice for one day, but the day-to-day responsibilities of life require dickies instead of silk.

I think there's something I've learned in this last year, that I didn't know before...and it's reflected in this passage. God makes me beautiful. Granted, I'm not perfect, and not everyone sees the beautiful Leanne all the time...and sometimes my pearls and my wedding dress are locked up for no one to see. But when I spend the extra time learning God's word and being reminded of who He made me to be, I'd like to think that people notice something about me. And I hope that what they notice is not me, but Him and His beauty and worthiness to be worn not only for special occasions, but for every occasion.

Just an aside about this video. I chose this because it's acoustic, not because of the pictures it shows. There's a version with Bethany and her guitar when she was younger that I liked a lot better, but it cut out at the best part. The important part is the words.