One of these things…

There are parts of my life that don’t seem to line up. Like, I’m not quite hip enough for all the shows I go to. Or don’t have kids hanging off my arms like most of the other women at church. Or I don’t look old enough to do the things I am capable of at work. Or maybe I’m not musical enough for what people expect in relation to my incredibly musically inclined husband.

It seems like I’m never quite what “they” wanted. Sometimes I want to shout in return saying, “I DON’T FIT IN HERE! I KNOW IT JUST AS MUCH AS YOU DO!” Yes, I get it, thanks. Because trust me, I feel even more awkward about it than you do. It feels as if my life is hanging in the balances, tinkering on the edge of total discord and absurdity.

So maybe we don’t have the same amount of money, number of kids, personal beliefs, musical talents, magnitude of eye makeup, years of experience or extensive vocabulary. No matter where I turn, I don’t seem to be matching everyone else there in some major life area. As uncomfortable as that can sometimes (often) be, I think there’s something incredibly valuable in it, too. Because instead of continuing on our own little paths, we get to learn from each other and grow from each other. That can’t happen if we all look, talk, act and think the same way. So maybe it will take a little more effort to bridge the gap. Maybe we’ll have to take those differences in stride and assume the best of each other. I’d much rather live amongst a crowd of differences than live a life removed from those who have different experiences and understandings than my own.

Sound familiar? Well, to be honest, this is a recycled post because I ran out of time to blog today and this seemed like it suited the topic fairly well. Being caught in the awkward stage and feeling like I don’t belong or fit in with others is not easy. But it has been in these moments that I have learned the most, both about others and about myself.

31 Days: Finding Self | Moving PeacesThis post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.

Misrepresented

One thing I fear almost as much not being myself is misrepresenting myself.

Do you ever say something and then immediately realize it in no way reflects what you were trying to say or who you are? You reach for the words and try to stuff them back in. Or what you said completely confuses the other person and they think you said the exact opposite of what you were trying to say. Or you are having a bad day the first time you meet someone and you walk away thinking, “Wow, they’ll never want to see me again.” Or worse, you bring up a valid point but the manner you do it in sets the other person off and all you want to say is, “Wait, wait! That’s not what I meant by that!”

I hate being misrepresented. If I feel it has happened I have the unfortunate tendency of fretting for hours about what that person must be thinking about me. I try relentlessly to correct the error, be it by telling the person a few more times what I was trying to say/do/mean by that or by obsessively running it over and over in my mind doing it differently each time.

There’s a weight behind the things we say and do. It reflects on us. On our families. On our friends. On our faith. And I just don’t ever want to mess that up. So if I ever come back to you and say, “No, no, wait! Let me try this again!” that’s why. I think our tendencies as humans is to react quickly (I am definitely one of those humans), but it’s worth giving people grace and benefit of the doubt. If I’m asking others to be understanding when I come back and ask for grace, I want to offer the same.

We all have bad days, say dumb things and misunderstand each other from time to time. Let’s learn to love each other and give grace in the process.

31 Days: Finding Self | Moving PeacesThis post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.

Why We Fit

Why We Fit

When the hubby and I first started dating (over seven years ago…whoa!) not everyone understood it. Our close friends thought it made perfect sense as they had watched us become friends and flirt, pursue our dreams and decide to date. They saw how we reacted to different situations, together and apart.

Why We Fit | Moving Peaces

At the time, his family and band lived a few hours away. They didn’t watch this natural progression nor did they have any idea of who I was. So when they met me, they were puzzled. Her?

I got so many questions as they tried to get to know me and understand why he wanted to date me. What instrument did I play? Did I like camping? Did I even like music? Why did I go to school so far away? What were my hobbies? What did I do in my spare time?

All fair questions to ask a person when you’re getting to know someone I suppose. But it didn’t translate. Why would my music-loving, multi-instrumentalist, boy scout, barista boyfriend want to date me? The girl who played no instruments, had never been camping and was an academic overachiever going to school in another state.

When you put it like that…hmm. Well? (Let me also mention that I was a broke college student, so he wasn’t after my money). We were both pressed by these questions of what we had in common and when put on the spot, couldn’t quite come up with an answer. We fought in circles, questioning expectations of each other and searching for answers we didn’t have. Those questions tripped us up because while they ultimately aren’t key factors in a relationship they were being treated as such. We knew we liked each other, but was that enough? Why didn’t we have all of the same hobbies and skills? Should we? Who should change?

It wasn’t until we realized we had the same values that we understood why we made total sense as a couple. Sure, we each have a hobby or two that the other has no interest in. We also both support each other and try to understand one another’s interests. All of that is fine and good, but our interests don’t truly define us.

We both see hospitality as a way of life. We believe creativity is of worth. We are deliberate in our spending habits. We care deeply for our friends. We love the same God.

These values made up who we were as a couple. Likewise, as individuals, our personal values have a greater impact on who we are than our hobbies do.

 31 Days: Finding Self | Moving PeacesThis post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.

Finding a Job or Finding Self

Elephant | Moving PeacesLet’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?

In May, my job ended. Since then I’ve had my share of interviews and opportunities and then even more rejection interviews. I’ve tried everything, tried nothing, doubted, and questioned. I’ve loaded my schedule and have taken on more freelance work. I’m currently volunteering and even working a 3-month contract position with full-time hours.

Through all of it, I’ve questioned everything. I questioned why this happened and if I could have/should have done something different. I mentally revisited every job I had ever taken or turned down and questioned if I had made the right decisions. With each rejection this summer I questioned what I did wrong in my interviews. If my cover letters or resumes were bad or if I didn’t wear the right outfit. I questioned what my friends and acquaintances must think of me for being stuck in this situation. Did I seem like a quitter or a failure? Did they even take me seriously any more? It seeped into everything else I did as I questioned my abilities across the board. Was I good at project management? Did I make any impact on the work I did? Did I know how to move a project from an idea stage to fruition? Was I actually a valuable member on a team? Was my writing any good?

Before all of that, I had talked about a job not defining a person. I meant it, too. I’ve had a few jobs that haven’t quite suited me, but I always had a job. So when I didn’t have one, I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what my purpose was and wasn’t confident in my abilities. I tried to claim different things and own different passions. I practiced saying a sentence summary of who I was in the car while running errands. I stayed up late and woke up early to show that I was using my time for something. I stayed inside more often than an unemployed person should in the summer time just so I wouldn’t have to explain myself to the neighbors.

So does this all have a point? Have I reached that epiphany and know who I am now? 

I’m working on it.

I had an unsettling feeling that this whole thing would shake things up a bit. I don’t necessarily like learning things the hard way though and hoped it would all pass quickly. I’m still searching for a job, but also still hopeful. Some days I come off as confident and other days I likely sound more desperate. But when it comes down to it, I have a better idea of who I am and what’s important to me now in regards to work.

I’ve found that I don’t have to wait for a job offer to do the things I like doing. I can write as much as I want on this blog and work on growing my online presence. I can learn presentation skills on stage while playing music with my husband. I can plan events at church or by volunteering with various organizations. I can help people without working at a nonprofit, and I can manage projects that are my own instead of someone else’s.

Knowing that I can do all of that right now, without waiting for someone’s approval or paycheck, is incredibly freeing. Do I still have self-doubt and tears and wonder when I’ll move forward professionally? Of course. The difference between now and six months ago is that I’m actually doing all of those things wholeheartedly. While this journey hasn’t been easy, it has given me a much greater sense of what I am capable of doing and what I want to do during my life.

 

31 Days: Finding Self | Moving Peaces

This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.

 

Hidden Dreams

I think we all have some untapped passions in us. There’s a side of us that we have that plays out from time to time, but we never see it until we go after something that almost falls into our laps.

If you had told me three years ago that thing would be women’s ministry at church I would have never believed you. But if you ask me to stop and consider it–how I love connecting women to each other, I love talking about real life and why our stories matter and how I care so deeply about the relationship between people and church–it starts to make more sense.

A little over a year ago, I jotted down some dreams for what women’s ministry could look like. In the middle of the night I wrote down all sorts of thoughts and ideas, never thinking it would amount to anything. I shoved that notebook back into a drawer and didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t think it was my thing or that I was the right person for the job. Months later I came across an opportunity that I had to bring up. I wanted to shake it and go on pretending it didn’t matter much to me, but it did.

I’m excited to tell you we are less than a week away from a women’s event that I’ve been helping plan at church. And oddly enough, a lot of it is in line with those hopes and dreams I wrote down ridiculously late that one night. There’s still a bit to do, but I’m eager to see how it might impact those that attend (if you’re reading this and local, please consider yourself invited)! While I might not have wanted to claim this part of me previously, I know now that it is a huge passion of mine. It may take a different form than others, but it is something I’m so glad I pursued.

 

IF Promo Video from Lifepointe Church.

I believe God gives us dreams and passions for a purpose. I’m still learning and discovering what mine are, but I know they are intended for use. So even though I didn’t realize this was something I would be involved in, I kept putting those different skills and loves into practice and tried to stay open to what that might mean down the line. Anyone else had a similar story? Found yourself in the midst of something you never would have imagined and then looked around and realized it all suddenly made sense?

 

31 Days: Finding Self | Moving Peaces

This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.

Guest Post: What It Took

Guest Post: What It Took

Samantha’s Note: Writing for 31 days is a great challenge, but one I quickly realized I couldn’t keep. I had more than one dream and area of focus that needed my attention this month. I found myself with too much to do and realized there was some rearranging to do. Thankfully, within the blogging community there were more than a few people ready and willing to help, and I’m so glad to have a few guests posts now throughout the month. Finding self isn’t about just me. We all have a story to tell and hearing from others can help us with our own. Today’s post is by Natalie, and she’s got a great perspective to share.

 

I think we will find ourselves over and over again throughout life. New parts of ourselves, hidden parts of ourselves, sometimes painful parts of ourselves.

Natalie - Finding Self | Moving Peaces

The most significant transformation I’ve seen in myself brought out a new, hidden, painful part of me. It happened like this.

A few weeks after graduating from college, I packed up to fly over an ocean to live in a small house with seven other adults and twenty small babies. Each day, I did my best to give those little babies all I could. Downtime was infrequent, and trips to town were rare. I got poop on my hands more than a few times.

But it was a sweet time God used to confirm my belief that four years of journalism were going to be used, for sure, but social work — orphan care, foster care, adoption — was where He really wanted me. I felt like I had hit my stride. I poured out every inch of me to love and serve that summer. And I’m so thankful for that stride-hitting and confirmation-feeling, because the next few months were hard.

I came home after eight weeks and promptly moved to a new city for grad school. I knew no one. Not even my roommate. All the friends and streets and favorite spots of familiar Iowa were far away. I no longer had the physical closeness of friends with whom I had gone to middle school, high school, and college. I no longer had my familiar routines I played out for four years in a little college town in the middle of Iowa.

I started a social work graduate program. And I have to tell you, God felt distant. I struggled to find my groove in all the areas — church, friendships, and school. But He wasn’t distant by His own doing. The only times He is distant on our journey to find ourselves is when we let Him be distant.

He was there. He pursued me. And through His closeness, I felt comfortable to pursue a deeper faith, good friends, and all these new passions. I found a great church community, I found my niche in the social work program, and I found my husband.

So, what did it take to find those parts of myself I discovered in 2010? It took the removal of all that was familiar and the realization of a God who was always there freeing me to be shaped into this me.

 

Natalie | Moving Peaces - Guest PostNatalie is a part-time social worker and waiting adoptive mama. She lives with her husband and dog in Indianapolis, and she blogs about adoption, foster care, faith, marriage, and home at little things + big stuff.

This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October. To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.

That Thing You Do

That Thing You Do

That Thing You Do | Moving Peaces

There’s a reason I don’t usually blog on Fridays. By the end of the week, the last thing I want is to be tied down to something I have to do or manage. No one needs chores on a Friday. I’d rather sit on the porch to watch the rain or finally catch up on some reading or just have a good long conversation with my husband.

But I thought you loved writing? Oh, I do.

The thing is, we have different priorities and different interests. Just because I love writing doesn’t mean I always want to do it. Sometimes I have to force myself into keeping up with the discipline but other times, it’s worth pursuing another facet of my life.

I think it’s easy to get caught up in thinking “this is my THING!” and therefore pour all of ourselves into it. There’s a time and a place for that…but it’s not all the time and all the places.

Having a “thing” we do, whether it’s running a business or writing a book or playing music or climbing the corporate ladder or chasing a dream is not bad. But when it becomes our only thing, other areas in our life suffers. I’ve met so many incredibly talented musicians and painters and start-up company owners and otherwise who are crazy successful in their respective fields. But past that one thing, maybe their relationships with others are severely strained–be it in their marriage, with their children or with former friends. Or they find themselves with incredible debt because they became so focused or infatuated with a dream that they neglected to realize its cost. Or their health and mental/spiritual/physical well-being were simply out of control. Life was too far off balance.

They felt justified because someone was saying, follow your dreams with all your heart. But they misunderstood and followed only one dream without stopping to consider the consequences that one dream would have on all of the other ones.

So if you find yourself buried too deep into one thing, stop for a minute. Take a breath and take a look around. Is this really where you want to be going? Where is this ultimately going?

I’m constantly having to check myself to see where I’m actually putting my time, energy and resources to see where it leads. Sometimes it seems to be in the right direction and other times, it’s clear that it is completely out of line with who I want to be.

 

31 Days: Finding Self | Moving PeacesThis post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.