Who Do You Think You Are?
I was attending a new church for the first time. The congregation was about 360 strong. So I was pretty much ignorant of these folks and what they were about (All churches have their own little family identity.)
Before services an elderly lady came up to me with a huge smile on her perfectly made up face. Her silver hair was my first clue that I was about to enjoy this woman. She reached for my hand and started her conversation with a detailed account of how wonderful she thought the garden party was.
As I listened to her words it was becoming more and more clear that she thought I was someone I was not. Having already been told I remarkably resembled the minister’s wife, who was on vacation and I had yet to meet, I assumed that the fine lady thought I was the minister’s wife.
I gently asked her, “I strongly suspect you think I am Mrs. Smith.”
With a most sincere smile, she patted my hand, which she had yet to release and said “Well, Dear - who do YOU think you are?”
We had a good laugh after I explained I was new to the area and just happened to look like the minister’s wife. She relinquished my hand.
This event surfaced to my mind the other day and it will not go away. So I decided to put my thoughts here in words.
Just who do I think I am? I found that a very hard question to answer. Now I was just talking to myself, no one else. I had to be totally honest.
I know I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a niece, a sister and a child of God. However, does that really define who I am? That defines the various positions in my life and the various jobs entrusted to me.
Time to dig a little deeper.
I know that I used to want to be someone else. Anyone else but myself; I never cared for the me that I was. Until I was able to really ponder on this, nothing changed. I was indeed an unhappy person, even though folks would praise my smile and my persona - as they saw it.
I have often been the person folks turn to and share their confidences. I did not gossip - never have and never will, on purpose. Gossip is an ugly contagious disease.
I can also interject here that my “lack of gossip skills” did not endear me to the ladies groups at church. It did the opposite and I am sure I was the topic of many a gossip session. And that’s okay. If I am being discussed, then no one else is.
For as long as I can remember, I have had the gift of locking the bad and the unthinkable that happened to me, away and not let it surface to interfere with my daily life. I have not thought about that in quite a while.
Needless to say, there have been triggers that caused me great pain and sometimes I’d cry and sometimes I would just swallow and be sad. There was so much I needed to know.
For instance, I was totally ignorant of the importance of these bad events in my life actually having a huge part in shaping me to be who I really am. They dictated a great deal more of my actions and thoughts than I would have consciously wanted.
The trouble with pushing things down is you are so totally unaware that you are subconsciously motivated to act a certain way. I had not a clue why I did some of the things I have done.
Now it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty in life - the self conversation where I am totally honest with myself.
Wow! This is turning out to be a most difficult task. Evaluating myself is so different than evaluating some one else. Duh! There is neither a magic formula nor any tried and true method to do this. I must find my own path as each of you must.
Here is my path - perhaps it will help you, if you have a need.
1. I had to find out why everyone liked me as much as they do. With each reason I determined if I agreed with them - why and why not. (I put it all in writing. That keeps it real.)
2. I wrote down who did not like me and why I thought they did not and did I agree - why or why not.
3. I went to each person and asked them point blank what it was that made them unhappy with me (mostly these were my children) They had no problem telling me. One child was so grateful for the opportunity that they took five days to tell me. I listened. (Actually I did not go to “each” person. Some are not easy to approach and I know they will never change their opinion. I filed them away in a special compartment in my brain. They do not play a big part in my life anyway.)
4. I took this information and wrote it down, prayed about it and evaluated it. If this sounds easy it is not. It is eye-opening and humbling. And it consumes a lot of time. \
I learned so much about who I really was than I thought I could handle. I appreciated everyone’s honesty. No one wanted to hurt me, and in the long run, they did not. They may have saved my life. I am such a better person, I think, than I used to be.
Through another’s eyes we see much differently.
For those things that were done in ignorance, yet still wrong, I sincerely and humbly apologized. I made no excuses. This came from the heart.
I repeat - this is a hard path to take and not for the faint of heart. Most likely there are few that even need it.
5. Armed with all of this information I spent a long time (weeks) deciding which parts of me I wanted to keep and which I wanted to discard.
6. I first tried to describe exactly who I am, on paper. Believe me, it was next to impossible. After many tries, mission accomplished to the best of my ability.
7. Finally, I started writing in one column the traits I have that I like and wanted to strengthen.
8. In the next column I wrote those things I did not like about myself and needed to eliminate. Consciously, if I saw, heard or felt myself committing a word, act or thought in this category, I would talk myself out of it.
NOTE: It only takes six weeks to form a habit - some even say four weeks!
I learned to no longer take every word others used, personal. I learned to take their words at face value and if I could not understand, I learned it was okay to speak up and say so.
It amazes me to this day how much I have been able, with help, to dictate the person I am presently.
Therefore, if you asked me today “Who do you think you are?” I can with confidence say,
I am a woman who loves deeply; has great compassion for others; loves life and all (almost) of God’s creation. A woman who lives life day to day and has truly put the past behind her and knows that grudges are ineffective and refuses to hold them; I am a woman who has learned to forgive and forget.
I love life and adventure (not danger) and I am filled with God’s Spirit. I am, for the most part a happy woman. My moods do not dictate how I treat others.
I am at peace within my soul. I seldom see stressful days and hummingbirds make me smile.
I try with all my being to use the golden rule.
Am I a paragon of virtue? Heck no! I’m like every one else on this planet; human - capable of good and not-so-good.
What sets me apart from some is simply I know who I think I am.