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5 Jun

“Pastor Lindsay seemed quite shy and had difficulty engaging in conversation with others.”

There it is again.

This isn’t the first appearance of such observations.  When I was going through candidacy [the process through which the ELCA approves pastors for ordination], I was required to take a psych eval and meet with a psychologist to go over the results.

I remember driving to this strange office building in Madison and sitting in a sterile room with this doctor.  He drew a line on his white board.  On the left side of the line, he wrote Introvert.  On the right, he wrote Extrovert.  Then he put an X where I had come out on the exam I had taken.  It looked something like this –

Introvert                                                                        Extrovert

He told me engaging in the world as a pastor and such an extreme introvert would be difficult.  In a candidacy meeting that followed, the committee told me I should “work on my introvert nature,” which I took to mean as change.  Being an introvert wasn’t acceptable for a pastor.  I had to talk more and be more extroverted is what I heard them telling me.  Introvert became a dirty word.

The first line of this post comes from an evaluation I just received.  It came from people whom I only met once; that was their first impression of me.  Quite shy with difficulty engaging in conversation.  You know, maybe I was.  But that certainly wasn’t my goal.  I tried so hard not to be.

And the truth of it is, I met with this group of people one night for a couple hours and I was exhausted for the rest of the week afterwards.  Literally – the rest of the week.  I spent so much energy to be – what I thought was – talkative and out-going for those couple hours.  [Because that’s what an introvert does – becomes exhausted from being with people and doing their best to play an extrovert.]  And still, my version of talkative and out-going was their shy and disengaged.  *sigh*

I am an introvert and sure, I suppose that sometimes might come across as shy or disengaged.  That’s not intentional  Sitting in silence doesn’t bother me one tiny bit, neither does listening more than talking.  Sure, I will avoid small talk when I can [Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, calls small talk a horror for many introverts.  In certain situations, I could agree.]; if I see someone I know in the grocery store, I just might go down a different aisle  to avoid a hello and how are you.  [That’s sad but true.  But, of course, I’ve never avoided you.  Promise.]

Punch to the gut or not, I’m owning it.  This is who I am.  Hello, my name is Lindsay and I’m an introvert.  Let’s have an in-depth one-on-one conversation and then have quiet time by ourselves.

A Saturday slump. And goodbye, Facebook.

13 Apr

Sometimes I think quitting facebook would be a really, really wise decision.  I read this article the other day and it has stuck with me – Instagram’s Envy Effect.   If you don’t want to read it, allow me to summarize.  When people post on social media [instagram, facebook, etc.], people share a partial truth about their lives.  A perfect family photo … but not the fight that happened five minutes before.  The perfectly decorated party … but not the mess that came afterwards.  Etc, etc.  It’s so true.  I don’t instagram photos of hacked sewing jobs before I take the seam ripper to them.

The other part of this equation is that we refresh our twitter/facebook/instagram feeds [I’m guilty of all three.] when we’re bored or feeling sad or lonely [yup, occasionally all three].  Right?

When you’re laughing at a meal with friends, are you scrolling through Pinterest? When you’re in labor with your much-prayed-for-deeply-loved child, are you checking to see what’s happening on Instagram? Of course not. We check in with our phones when it seems like nothing fun is happening in our own lives—when we’re getting our oil changed or waiting for the coffee to brew.

It makes sense, then, that anyone else’s fun or beauty or sparkle gets under our skin. It magnifies our own dissatisfaction with that moment. When you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, the majority of your friends probably aren’t doing anything any more special.

But it only takes one friend at the Eiffel Tower to make you feel like a loser.

This happened to me this morning.  I already wasn’t looking forward to my day.  There were a couple things on my to-do list that weren’t real high on my I-want-to-spend-my-Saturday-doing-this scale.   I checked facebook only to find glimpses of more people engaged, more people having cute babies, and more people traveling and doing fun things while I faced my Saturday with less than any enthusiasm.  One more real life example of what the article articulated.

That being said, I’m not quitting facebook.  But you won’t see me there any too often.  We’re going to spend some time apart.  I think it will be good for me.  And then I’ll have more time to do other stuff.  Like go to quilt shops and go for walks with Mabel and call my mommy, all of which I did today and all of which were very good additions to my Saturday.  See, it wasn’t all bad.  But at 8am this morning when I was catching up with facebook happenings – those small, perfect glances into friends’ and acquaintances’ lives that make mine feel boring and behind compared to my age demographic – you would have thought the world was ending by my reaction.  Enough of that, lady.

Enough of that.

This week –

9 Apr

I’m trying to be a better, healthier, more whole-food eater and trying all sorts of things as a result.  Salads in jars, more Thai chicken quinoa, date-and-peanut-balls, and HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS.  That’s in caps because – holy shit – they are delicious.  It might be the coconut oil.  And the dried cherries.  And a little bit of sesame.

The other part of my better, healthier being is figuring out my sleep.  Goal: In bed reading at 10.  Lights out at 10:30.  That goal has failed in execution more than it has been successful.  The early bedtime was instated because I can’t. get. out. of. the. bed. in. the. morning.  Ever.  But really I just end up sleeping more because I go to bed early and still stay in bed just as late.  Enter new app.  It’s pretty cool and wakes me up within the best place for waking in my sleep cycle.

The better, healthier Lindsay is also – thanks to awareness from her counselor – becoming aware of her distorted thinking.  Distorted thinking is when I am hard on myself, when I assess situations to be all or nothing, when I discard compliments I receive as not true.  Distorted thinking is basically how my brain works so it’s being aware of my negative thoughts, turning them around, and “telling the negative committee inside my head to shut up.”

That’s my week, along with meetings, two-hour long pastoral visits [I need to work on leaving.], rain, and hanging with confirmation kids.  How’s your week?


27 Mar

This post begins with the connection between Rachel Held Evans and Henri Nouwen.

That sentence might make you say who?  Rachel Held Evans is the theologian and author of the book I quoted just a while ago on the blog.  Henri Nouwen was a theologian and priest; an author of many, many books, one of which I too just quoted a bit ago here.  I follow Rachel on twitter and read her blog.  I have more than a couple Nouwen books on my shelves and I pull them out from time to time; I find them full of enriching nuggets of faith and comfort.

This week, these two separate worlds collided in a super meaningful way.  I clicked on a tweet from Rachel with a link to her recent blog post; she’s been facilitating a discussion on gay marriage on her blog and using two separate books to guide the conversation. Both books are by gay men of faith but while one has chosen celibacy, the other believes a relationship with another man could be blessed by God.  [Curious more?  Here is the post of which I speak.]

Here is where my mind was blown: one of the books Rachel uses speaks of dear Mr. Nouwen at length.  I did not know that Nouwen was gay; heck, I didn’t even know that he was a priest before I began to eavesdrop on this conversation.  I knew that I loved his writing and that was about it.  But now, as it turns out, I love it more because I can relate to the places from which it comes.

Henri Nouwen was lonely.  He wrestled intensely with loneliness, persistent cravings for affection and attention, immobilizing fears of rejection, and a restless desire to find a home where he could feel safe and cared for. [p. 87]  To quote Rachel who quotes the book which quotes Philip Yancey –

Nouwen, who later in life confessed that he had known since he was six years old that he was attracted to members of his own sex, would, in lectures and books, “speak of the strength he gained from living in community, then drive to a friend’s house, wake him up at two in the morning, and, sobbing, ask to be held.”

Now granted, I am fully aware that I am not a celibate gay priest [really?  really.], nor am I in the least  marginalized because of my sexual orientation, but gosh, to some degree, I can relate to that.

I have begun the very healthy and wise practice of seeing a counselor.  We’ve only met twice but I can see why people do this.  It will be fruitful.  Just this last time we met, I was talking about something or other and her response to me was, It sounds like you’re lonely.  Bingo.

I’m still not super sure what to do about that besides – for some insane reason – choosing to be super vulnerable with the world and spill it on the blog.  [As if you didn’t already know.]  Knowing what I do about Henri Nouwen and as I google search and order his biography to learn more, I find myself drawn to his writing in deeper ways.  There are perhaps some other life changes looming on my horizon, too. I realize that I need to facilitate the move from being lonely; I think I’m working on it.  We’ll see where life takes me; hopefully in the direction of community, new friends, and a world of less lonely.

It’s not going to be easy –

11 Mar

It’s not going to be easy to listen to God’s call.  Your insecurity, your self-doubt, and your great need for affirmation make you lose trust in your inner voice and run away from yourself.  But you know that God speaks to you through your inner voice and that you will find joy and peace only if you follow it.  Yes, your spirit is willing to follow, but your flesh is weak.

You have friends who know that your inner voice speaks the truth and who can affirm what it says.  They offer you the safe space where you can let that voice become clearer and louder.  There will be people who will tell you that you are wasting your time and talents, that you are fleeting from true responsibility, that you fail to use the influence you have.  But don’t let yourself be misled.  They do not speak in God’s name.  Trust the few who know your inner journey and want you to be faithful to it.  They will help you stay faithful to God’s call.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love


31 Oct
Happy boo-day.
I think the goblins are out to steal my focus today.  I’ve been sitting at my desk for the last half hour with nothing to show.  [Except to discover that the Smitten Kitchen – a blog I will partially credit my love of cooking and exploring recipes over the last few years – has a cookbook.  It appears to be nothing short of gorgeous.]  I plan on writing a sermon at some point.  And going to buy candy to hand out tonight.
I think my introvert was taxed tremendously yesterday and I’m still in recovery mode.  It was a full afternoon of pastoral visits and then a 2.5 hour evening meeting with pastors and lay folks.  If I didn’t have to talk at all today, I think that would be my picture of perfect.
I know you’re wondering – did you dress up today, Pastor Lindsay?  You might look at my hair and think so.  I tried a new curly-hair drying technique [scrunch with tshirt and dry upside down] and my head resembles that of Medusa.   My hair is a fright.
I don’t really know why I tell you all of this.  This is likely to be one of the most random blog posts I’ve written but perhaps spitting this all out here will prompt me to focus on, oh, work?  Here’s hoping.

dear insecure self,

8 Sep
I’m trying to not let you ruin my evening but you’ve made a strong appearance tonight.
I’m trying to remind myself that I’m just coming off of a great retreat.  Really great.  The kids had fun and I hope learned at least one thing about the Bible.  We had a campfire and went hiking and stayed up too late and ate camp food.  It was fun.  jD and I plan awesome retreats.  [Did I tell you that?  jD and I planned together and forced our confirmation kids to make new friends with each other.  They like it.]  You probably want to return to your adolescence just to go on one, right?  
But now that I’m home, I’m questioning everything I did.  Was I enough fun?  Did I lead that one thing right?  Was I too snarky with that one kid that I’m always snarky with?  Did I get a little crabby without any Lindsay-reflection-time for 24 hours?  Do my confirmation kids now wish they had much cooler Pastor jD as their teacher instead of me?  Was I too square?  [Probably because at one point I said, Paths are here for a reason!]  Insecure self, you make me question the awesomeness of the retreat and I loathe you for it.  
Now I have a sermon to write for tomorrow because, of course, I wasn’t able to get it done before I left for the retreat because it was crazy with everything else.  A friend sent me hers to read to see if it would spar any ideas of my own.  What do I do when I read someone else’s sermon?  Realize that mine will never be as insightful, engaging, or competently written.  I should just preach hers [she gave me permission] but I feel like that would be cheating.  AND then I fear everyone in my congregation would love it more than they’ve ever loved a sermon of mine before.  Insecure self, you suck.
There is more but I should probably stop spilling every insecure thought in my soul.  Enough for tonight.
I must now plagiarize Paige’s sermon for tomorrow morning.
You win for now, insecure self, but this isn’t over.


30 May
It used to be a dirty word in my world.  Like I should wear a scarlet I on my clothing to warn people to stay away.  [Huh.  Somedays maybe that actually isn’t a terrible idea …] I’d like to think the negative connotation of the dirty word is finally changing.
I remember meeting with my candidacy committee, way early in my process to become ordained as a pastor.  They told me I needed to work on my introvert nature.  I took this as a low blow.  Perhaps they didn’t mean it as such but to me, it sounded like they wanted me to change, and that without that change, I wouldn’t make a good pastor.
Then I recall taking my psych test for the candidacy process.  [Do you like to read auto mechanic magazines? was a question on the test.  Um … no?]  I met with the doctor to go over my results and he drew a line on his whiteboard.  On one end were extreme extroverts.  On the other, extreme introverts.  He put an x on the line at the extreme introvert side.  I once again got the impression this was not good.
Add to that one of the main reasons I’d felt for years I couldn’t be a pastor was because I was such an introvert.  I was not getting the idea that seminary would not work for this quiet, introspective gal.  I wasn’t sure they [the powers that be] were going to let me go through with it.
Enter my time at Trinity in Stillwater and one awesome coworker named Jodi.  I finally learned that my introvert nature didn’t need to be changed.  That I could be who I was and still be a pastor.  And – not only that – being an introvert named Lindsay was awesome.  Because it’s all part of my unique design as one of God’s children.
Ever since then, I’ve been intrigued by the introvert/extrovert types and how I fit into one so obviously and not the other.  I’ve been amazed at how true it is – how sometimes just ten minutes of stepping away by myself can make all the difference in the world.  It’s made me incredibly self-aware in the last years and months and weeks about my limits and my own self-care.  I’ve also been amazed at how still some people don’t honor it, or still think this extrovert ideal is the best approach.  Boo to them.

I just started in on a book about introverts [I think I’ve told you about it before.] and I’m loving it.

What I’m not loving is the suggestions B&N gave me to purchase in addition.  Are you suggesting I’m ill, B&N?  And The Loners’ Manifesto?  Really?  Slightly offended.  And slightly laughed at the connection.  Now leave me alone.  I need to be by myself so I can write my manifesto while being ill because that’s what I do.

just kidding.  
I love you.  
But sometimes I do need time to be quiet and be by myself.  Don’t take it personally.

such a nut.

24 Apr
I’ve known for a long time that I care too much about what others think of me.  I fear being judged by others.  What I’m realizing recently is how frequently those thoughts dominate my being.  I certainly do care how my closest friends and family see me, for people who know me best help me be truly myself by being dear, honest people.  [And that’s not judging.  That’s knowing.]  But when I consistently care how perfect strangers are perceiving me, I think it borders on unhealthy.
Here’s an example.  I mowed my lawn on Monday night, and I did it successfully.  [Lindsay:1 Mower:1]  But it wasn’t done until Monday so on Sunday, when it looked like a South American jungle of grass and dandelions, I spent most of my morning wondering what the congregation was thinking.  Did they think I was lazy for not mowing it?  Did they say to themselves, why in the world isn’t the parsonage lawn mowed?  Maybe they did.  Maybe they didn’t.  [Truth is the lawn mower was being serviced all of last week – hence the jungle.]  But then, as I mowed it on Monday night, too many more judgmental thoughts came to mind.  I wondered if the people driving past thought, my, she’s driving that lawn mower slow.  Or maybe they thought, why in the world is she doing it like that?  Did any of the cars driving past seriously think any of that?  Probably not. And so what if they did?
I realized how often I think about others’ perceptions of me when I was driving somewhere new.  I don’t even remember where I was going but I recall making a wrong turn.  I knew I had to turn back but there was a car behind me.  I distinctly remember thinking to myself, I’ll just drive another block before I turn around.  That way the person behind me won’t know I’m slightly lost.  Why in the world should I ever care what the car behind me thought?  I didn’t know the person and never would.  But for some deranged reason, thoughts like that plague me all the time.  I’m nutty and I want to not be.
Then put me in a position as a public leader in a church and my what-do-they-think-of-me? goes crazy.  I want everyone to like me.  I don’t want anyone to think that I’m dumb or lazy.  I want them to know that I’m doing my job as best as I know how.  This fear of other people judging me – in addition to my need for processing time and introversion – likely leads to me saying next to nothing in new group settings.  [But then they just judge me for being quiet so really it’s a no win.]  I feel judged.  A lot.  And, really, honestly, I’m probably not.  I’m paranoid.
New goal: To not let my perceptions of other peoples’ fictitious judgments ruin my day or infiltrate my thoughts.  To know myself that I’m doing the best I can and have that be enough because I am enough.
[You’re judging me right now, aren’t you?]

the curse of two.

11 Nov
Number two.
[no.  not that.]
Enneagram number two.
The enneagram is a personality system.  Nine numbers, each with different manners of thinking, living, and acting in life. I find both comfort and challenge in knowing my enneagram and being able to see the ways I feel and live through that lens. 
I’m a two.  A giver/helper.  And one cursed to always feel like I’m disappointing other people and foregoing my own needs to be in service to others.
In ministry, this has its place.  Definitely.  But lately, I’m feeling more how it drains and consumes me.
I hit a certain low today.  It’s my day off and I can’t help but feel all the ways I’ve failed/let people down this week.  It didn’t help any that work called me away to a conference for two of my workdays [which was a good thing until the stress of today].  I didn’t return the rake to the proper custodian closet and he had to go get it himself.  I should have called about the microphone issues we’re having earlier in the week instead of scrambling to fix it on Thursday, perhaps now facing a Sunday without my microphone in working order.  I didn’t make any visits this week and upon discovery of the previous pastor’s milage reports in the file cabinet today, I find he visited at least one person a day.  Things that have been on my to-do list for weeks still remain, consistently being pushed further back.  It’s my day off but I’m spending it doing everything I think I should have done earlier so I won’t let anyone else down.
And really – have I let anyone down?  No one has told me such.  But that’s what I sense.  That’s what I feel I know.  I have this fear that I’m not living up to the congregation’s expectations of a pastor.  I need counseling.  [Seriously.  I will be exploring the avenue of counseling as soon as I figure out how to find someone in my health care network.  The synod encourages us as pastors to find a counselor.]  I don’t hear much positive feedback [except that I have great children’s sermons] so I’m always wondering where I really stand.  [So, naturally, I think they don’t like me when in actuality, maybe they’re simply not vocalizing what they’re thinking.  Apparently I crave feedback.]
I’ve heard again and again from other new pastors that in the first year I must be patient with myself.  I need to give myself grace and remind myself that I’m always learning.  But do I really need to face a whole first year of feelings like this?  I sure hope not because that would suck.  [I should also add that I realize this is not an exclusive number two issue, but it’s how I can easily put into words my own issues.]
*over-exaggerated sigh*  So that’s my current emotional state.  Please excuse me now while I eat a bowl of chili [mmm.  with noodles.  comfort food.], begin a Harry Potter night of both Deathly Hallows films [#2 was released today.], and exercise the self-care I have lacked so far today.  [Another facet of the two: two’s will often care for others and their own needs remain unmet.  That’s not good either.]  
I’m trying and trying to do my best.  That’s all I can do.  [Right?]

ps. I blogged here again today.  And I’m thankful for you.

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