Monday, June 14, 2010

Smile, nod and slowly back away...

I have always been an honest person, and even when I have tried to sugarcoat the truth or hide how I really feel the truth is written plainly all over my face. 
This has been a characteristic that has won me favor with a lot of people, and caused me great trouble with others.  I'm not a phony person.  Often times I wish I had the ability to be thinking one thing but be able to smile and nod and slowly back away.  Instead, I - so full of tact - stand there with a "you've got to be kidding me" expression on my face just long enough to offend the person receiving it.  I know it is a shortfall and unfortunately, as hard as I try, I have yet to overcome it. 
Let's put it this way:  I am not the friend you come to when you just got a bad haircut to tell you it looks great.  I am, however, the friend who will give you the number of someone who can fix the haircut for you.
With that said, I am constantly aware of my inability to hide my feelings regarding people.  Try as I may, there are just some people that I just don't like.  I don't think God wants us to like everyone, but I know that God wants us to love everyone.  And the way that translates into real life?  I'm still figuring it out, but maybe it looks like how I feel about cats - I don't want to be around them, I don't want one as a pet but I don't want them to be hurting, hungry, cold or sick (I would just rather someone else tend to them.)  Ok, that's totally not biblical, but I'm still growing in maturity spiritually - just being honest.
Along with not being able to be tactful or discreet regarding my feelings most times my other shortcoming is compassion and mercy.  I'm definitely not the person you come to when you are totally screwing up for an encouraging word.  I will, however, tell you that what you are doing is totally wrong and that you are screwing up your life and hurting people around you - there's that honesty thing again.
Where is all this going?  Good question - I'm getting there, be patient (another one of my not so developed qualities)!  Recently I was around someone who I, well let's just say, am not the biggest fan of.  And OF COURSE they enforced all the reasons that I am not a big fan.  And yes, my kids were present (which, really, when aren't they?) and yes, they were watching me and what I did and said...because They. Are. Always. Watching.  So when this person decided to show all their wonderful attributes (sense the sarcasm?) I grinned and walked away before my face could do all the talking for me.  I didn't open my mouth, I didn't tell them what I really thought, I didn't even take a second in that place to contemplate a response.  I just walked away.  It was hard, let me be honest.  Melissa, who I really am, would much rather have stood there and explained to them all the reasons that I am justified in feeling this way regarding them.  Ya, ya, I know - it's totally not biblical...but human, and there is that whole maturing work in progress thing.
My kids are doing this new thing which drives me crazy where when they get mad they yell, "I don't want to be your friend anymore!" or "You hurt my feelings, I don't like/love you (depending on the offense)"  or "I don't want to be around you anymore."  It irritates me so much, and often more than the offense that spurred the comment, because words can be so hurtful and when we speak from our emotions, we often don't think about our words until it's too late.  Kids are resilient - but not always, and you never know when that hurtful word is going to be the one that really cuts deep.  I've been working on that with them, without much success, but slowly but surely.
As I was walking away, inside I was screaming, "I don't want to be around you anymore!  I don't like you anymore!"  Inside, I was jumping up and down clenching my fists wanting to stomp my feet and throw a fit because I had been wronged.  In that moment, I understood my children.  I realized that the only difference between them and me in that moment is I understand what is socially acceptable and unacceptable for that matter.  I understand discretion - although often times, it proves quite difficult.
The other thing that they have recently started is tattling which drives me just as crazy, because with four kids I am inevitably being tattled to CONSTANTLY.  I really want them to solve their problems among themselves.  I don't want to consistently be dragged into the middle of their routine squabbles to listen to even more whining.  So my new automatic response to all the tattling is, "figure it out."  But what did I do in that moment?  I walked straight to Dave and tattled to him like a four year old.  I told him all the reasons that I was wronged and was innocent.  Dave, due to all of his managerial experience, is much better at keeping his mouth shut while hearing complaining.  But I knew I was acting like a child.
So, as I was processing the whole dumb situation, I realized something.  My kids aren't acting badly when they scream and shout and tattle.  They are being completely and utterly human.  They don't know social norms. They don't understand discretion and restraint.  Yet.  I am, like I said earlier, working with them on it.  I am trying to teach them the art of being discreet and restraining themselves (which after writing this, maybe Dave should be the teacher on that one).  They are growing and maturing and learning, constantly - as am I, apparently.
I am really trying to be more Christ like, and as I'm succeeding in some areas I am reminded how far I have to still go in others.  I know my kids will get it, eventually and I know I will too God willing.  In Phillippians 1:6 it says, "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  I'm definitely being stretched in my feelings towards cats as we apparently have a new OUTSIDE stray pet cat who has been named Susan.  Who knows, maybe God will start stretching me in my feelings towards this other person.  I would have said, "ya right" but I just put a dish of water out for a cat.  Miracles never cease.


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