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a-punch-to-my-introvert’s-stomach.

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 –

  _x________________________________________________
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.

Dear Lindsay of middle school,

24 Apr

As a pastor who loves working with confirmation-aged kids, I catch glimpses of my own past middle school experience as the confirmation kids share their own experiences.  I slightly remember* what it was like to be awkward and a seventh grader.  It wasn’t easy.

I was so incredibly lucky to have awesome friends.  More or less the same awesome friends I still have now.  [Dancing Banana shout-out!]  But there was still drama.  There was judging.  There is terrible shit that goes on in middle schools.  And I can’t imagine it if one doesn’t have awesome friends.

There are a couple gals in my confirmation class that often only have lows to share in the rounds of highs & lows.  A lot of time, those lows are there’s just lots of drama at school.

Ugh.  Drama.

What I want to say to them is much like what I would say to my own middle-school self –

Dear Lindsay of middle school,

Being popular doesn’t matter for shit.  Forget those queen bees.  They suck.  You should just be nice to everyone.  [And probably not say people suck.  That wasn’t nice, future Lindsay.]

Be friends with the people who make you happy and people with whom you can be yourself and silly.  Form a gang.  Call it Oatmeal.  Make cardboard necklaces for everyone in the gang with raw oats glued to them.  Your name as gang leader shall be Raisin. **

The boys are pretty cute, aren’t they?  But don’t worry about them.  Just because they’re eye candy doesn’t mean they’re worth crying over.

School work is important but trying to get straight A’s isn’t worth sick stomachs and sleepless nights.  And hey – good job on that newspaper writing competition.

Please, quit wearing the over-sized flannel shirts and carpenter jeans sooner than later.

That one day, after school, when marching band rehearsal gets out late and everyone sprints back to the band room – hold onto your flute a little tighter.  Trust me.

The drama will end.  It will be okay.

Signed,

Future Lindsay

I started to write this post before confirmation met tonight.  I finish it after confirmation.  After the one confirmand who-never-has-a-high-and-her-low-is-always-drama had a high that the drama has ended.  Hallelujah.  Confirmation was awesome tonight.  Not only did every seventh and eighth grader have a high – if not many – we threw out our lesson for the night because all they wanted to do was ask questions.  About God.  About the Bible.  About doubts.  We tackled a few tonight the best we could and they made a list for next week.  Here’s to the freedom to ask questions and doubt in church.  Important stuff.

* I quite literally remember NOTHING about my seventh grade year.  It’s a blur to me.  I remember some of sixth grade and some of eight but seventh?  Nada.

** True story.

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.

Connections.

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.

A meditation.

21 Mar

[A meditation.]

At any given moment, I’m in the middle of approximately five books.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  Currently, they’re all non-fiction and non-fiction books & I get along in the beginning.  But we rarely make it to the end.  I’m about half-way through all of them.  I’ll pick one up, then another, all while forgetting about the third [and forth and fifth] still sitting on the shelf.

One current read is A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  It’s delightful; I don’t think I’ll have trouble making it to the end of this one.  And within its digital pages on my kindle, I found an ancient meditation by St. Teresa of Avila that I love.  I should pray it each and every day.

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

God alone is enough.  Amen.

Friday Favorites.

15 Feb

[Friday Favorites.]

Gosh, I love everything about this.  Post-its, fun messages to leave around the house [though I don’t think Mabel can read], and endless possibilities all around.

This is my crazy cousin, Molly.  I love her and seriously think she may have a future as a professional lip syncer. 

I LOVE the idea of an indoor herb garden.  Oh, to have cilantro on hand.  Have you had any luck with indoor herbs?  I seem to kill them off.  Maybe [you and] I can find a few handy tips here.

Salted dark chocolate popcorn, you sound absolutely delightful.

You know how I get about Thai food.  Do you also know how I get about the Pioneer Woman?  [Love her.  Want to be her.]  Take those two hands and put them together [said like Joey from Friends].  I present to you Thai Chicken Wraps by Ree.

And, last but not least, this I need to believe and begin to live:

great love involves great risk.

22 Jan

[great love involves great risk.]  One of the readings that Kay and Peter chose for their wedding ceremony was from the Dalai Lama.  I simply cannot get it out of my head.  I love it.  I’m sharing it with all of you.

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

And that a loving atmosphere in your home

is the foundation for your life.

Be gentle with the earth,

be gentle with one another.

When disagreements come

remember always to protect the spirit of your union.

When you realize you’ve made a mistake,

take immediate steps to correct it.

Remember that the best relationship is one

in which your love for each other

exceeds your need for each other.

So love yourselves, love one another,

love all that is your life together

and all else will follow.

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.

less than perfect.

4 Nov
Two songs: F**kin’ Perfect by Pink and That I Would Be Good by Alanis Morissette.
I’m never totally up on the music scene so excuse me if I’m way behind the times.  I just heard the Pink song on the radio a few weeks ago.  The second song is an older one.  I recall listening to it in a pastoral care class and my recent renewed addiction to Dawson’s Creek has brought it to my attention again.  It was used in a recent episode and caught my ear.  They’re good songs, people.  Good songs. 

You’re so mean when you talk about yourself … change the voices in your head … make them like you instead.  Pretty pretty please don’t you ever ever feel like you’re less than – less than perfect.  Pretty pretty please if you ever ever feel like you’re nothing, you are perfect … to me.  

... that I would be good even if I got a thumbs down … that I would be good if I got and stayed sick … that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds … that I would be loved even when I’m not myself … that I would be good even if I lost sanity … that I would loved even if I wasn’t myself …

I like these songs particularly lately because I of all people need to hear them.  I resonate.  I may be mistaken as a confident young woman but, more often than not, I’m insecure, unsure, and fearful.  
I need to change the voices in my head.  My thoughts of late are constantly filled with judgement, self-doubt, and mistakes.  I second guess my decisions and consistently tell myself that I don’t do enough.  
It’s not that I’m not given grace.  It’s not that I’m not learning and growing in skill and confidence.  It’s not that I’m not supported.  Perhaps it’s how I function and a little enneagram #2 coming into play.  [I blame my 2-ness a lot.  Perhaps that needs to be a blog post of the future.]  Perhaps it’s how my history has seasoned me to act.  Perhaps it’s greater culture.  
Whatever it may be, mission: attitude change must begin.  A colleague told me that someone once told him that this pastor tells himself, “I am okay.”  Perhaps I need a personal mantra.  Something I can tell myself and believe.  Something maybe like:
I am a child of God.
I am gifted.
I am loved.
I don’t have to do everything.
I must take care of myself.
I carried a watermelon.
[strike the last one from the record.  but name that movie and I’ll give you an air high-five.]
You should repeat every one of those statements and know it to be your truth.  
Say it.  Believe it.  And I’ll try and take that advice for myself too.

Confident.

26 Aug
While I was in Austin, the interim pastor and I drove to Rochester to check out the Mayo hospitals and stop in at the synod office.  I was stoked to stop in at the synod office because, though I had been there a couple times before, there was a new face to greet.
My Stillwater “mom,” Karen [at whose house I stayed last night], is now on staff at the southeastern MN synod!  We first worked together at Trinity Lutheran in Stillwater, then she joined me at seminary, and now we’re both in the same synod.  It’s quite awesome that she follows me around.  *wink*
I was excited to see and hug Karen and chat a bit about her work at the synod.  When I arrived, she was in the back conference room, meeting with a member of the synod staff whom I had not yet met.  We talked for a bit about my call, about the drive to Alaska, and about the ordination that had taken place on the same day as Karen’s big annual parade party.  [When Karen’s husband, Mark, heard that my ordination was going to be on the same day as their parade party he said, “It’s too bad that Lindsay will have to miss her ordination to come to the parade party!”]  It was a quick visit but it absolutely made my day.
Yesterday, when I arrived at Mark and Karen’s in Stillwater, Karen shared what her colleague [the woman on staff whom I had never met before] said after I left.  The synod staff member said something to the tune of “what a confident young woman!”  Me?  Confident?  That would often be one of the last adjectives I would use to describe myself, let alone someone else who just met me.  I’m well aware that confidence in myself and what I do has grown significantly in the last years but I never imagined that people would see that in how I present myself or interact.  
This post may border on bragging [apologies] but it felt awesome to be described in that manner.  Kinda makes me feel even more confident in who I am and the ways I’ve grown in the last years.  Confident.
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