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Monday, July 14, 2014

Thick Skin

I do not have thick skin.

Back in high school/early 20's, I wanted to be a Broadway actress/singer....or just a singer.  You know, a star!

I remember my dad cautioning me that it takes someone with very thick skin to pick that line of work.  It didn't take me long or too many local auditions/rejections, for me to realize how smart my dad was.

It takes very thick skin to put yourself out there for judgment from strangers.

I used to care a ridiculous amount what people thought of me.  What I wore.  What they thought about me wearing what I wore.  Whether that boy or that boy thought I was cute...or sexy....or stupid.  You know what I mean?

I have gotten better with age.

I care less what people think of me.

I mean, I know people think I am weird for homeschooling....and liking it.

I know people think I am weird for having 6 children....and wanting (even hoping for) more.

I know people think I am weird for the colors I paint on my walls in my house....and wanting just one more happy color in the room.

I know it.

I am able to laugh about it.  It doesn't keep me up at night.  It doesn't make me cry.

It is what it is....and that is okay.

But, recently, I accidentally got into what I am going to call a scuffle, on Facebook.

A family member's significant other had expressed outrage and anger over a recent current event.  I expressed my opinion....which happened to be different than theirs.

I wasn't mean.

I wasn't derogatory.

I wasn't harsh.


One of my things in life is that I always try to see the other guys side of the story.  Always.  It is one of my qualities that can drive Rainman crazy.

For example,say  there is someone driving under the speed limit.  Rainman has a tendency to get angry, perhaps he calls them..... Jack........explains to them where the accelerator is, and tells them to get off the road.  I, will be in the passenger seat saying things like, "Maybe they are lost." or "They are old."  or "Maybe they are sick and don't feel well."  You know, helping them to have a valid reason for their poor driving choices.

I really try to at least understand where people are coming from.....even if I don't agree with them.  On the flip side, I like to get people to see my side of things too.....even if they don't ever change their minds about it.

For instance, lots of people don't understand homeschooling as a valid educational choice.  But, I think, most people after talking to me and the kids, and getting to know us better, end up with at least a slightly better view of homeschooling than before.

So, when I made this comment on Facebook expressing my opinion, I was really just trying to let them see a glimpse of the "other side".

What I got in return was.......hmmmmm......I am still not sure exactly what to call it, but it felt awful.

It made me cry.

It made my heart race and my hands shake.

It made me sad.

It made me angry.

I was personally attacked for my opinion.  My level of education (or lack thereof, in their opinion) was attacked.  My religion was attacked.  My belief in God was attacked.  My intelligence (again....apparently the lack of it) was attacked.

I was attacked by the family members significant other.....and their cousin.  That is not even a euphemism. Literally, their cousin jumped in the argument with one goal in mind.....take me down.

My mom was actually on Facebook at the time and started a private conversation with me while the attack was going on.  She was shocked.  She kept saying, why are they attacking you? God? Christianity? Your intelligence?  You didn't say anything about that.  You didn't attack them.  You just expressed your opinion. Why are they being so mean?

I didn't have an answer.  I didn't know.

(The Taylor Swift song, "Why Ya Gotta Me So Mean?" did jump into my head though.)

Suddenly, I didn't feel like a confident 40-something woman who lived her life the way she wanted and didn't care what others thought.

My friend, Bruce and I have been friends since high school(really elementary school, but really got to know and like each other in high school).  He and I are on the opposite sides of the spectrum on most things....from religion to politics, and beyond.  We send each other articles to read to get the others opinion....because we know that we don't agree.  We want to know what the other thinks about different things and ideas. We have had some awesome discussions explaining our opinions to each other and why we feel that way.

After my scuffle on Facebook, I sent him a message thanking him for the respectful way he has treated me over the years in all of our discussions.  He has never once made me feel stupid...or as though he thought me and my opinions were stupid.  They were just different than his.  I didn't know how much I appreciated his friendship....even with all of our differences.... until I saw how it was on the other side.

Bruce was not only a State Champion on our high school's debate team, but he went on to be the National Champion, as well.  He can debate.  If he had wanted to, I am sure he could grind me and my opinions into the dust citing valid sources and references along the way.  He didn't do that.

There was definitely a reason that I was not on the debate team in high school.....because a girl who gets emotional and weepy when a debate turns ugly would not have been an asset to the team.

Whenever he and I were done with one of our little discussions, I never felt bad about myself.  I never worried that his opinion of my had changed.  It was just two people exchanging opinions and ideas. I never worried that he didn't like me anymore.

You see, I have a dirty little secret.

I like people to like me.

I am generally a positive, happy person that likes to see the best in people.  And, I usually can.  When someone else is mad at someone or talking bad about someone else, I am usually the annoying one in the corner saying stuff like, "Well, at least they are......(fill in the blank)"  I can almost always find something good and positive.

When I left this Facebook scuffle, I couldn't find anything good in either of the people that attacked me.  I thought horrible things about them.  I even said a few horrible things about them.

I actually felt a little physically sick from the whole situation.

I blocked any further conversation and notifications.  And, I made the decision to unfriend this individual.  I decided that I couldn't take on trying to make the "other side" understand me better, because that is not my gift.  And, that is okay.  There are probably people better suited to enjoying healthy debates like this (although this particular one was not a "healthy debate").  Bruce comes to mind.  I am not well suited for that. I am peacekeeper, at heart.

I actually did one of those little quiz thingies on Facebook the same day of the scuffle that was supposed to determine what my temper is.  It said mine was .....

Calm - You abhor anger and violence.  You have no respect for those who show negative emotions on a regular basis.  You value peace and harmony above all else.  You'd make a great parent or teacher.  You always try to see things from the others perspective.

If a Facebook quiz says it, then obviously it is true.  Right?  But, this one is right on the money.  I do value peace and harmony.  I do always try to see things from the others perspective.  I hate anger and violence.

I think that is what got to me the most....that the disagreements were hurled at me with such anger....and were directed at me, personally.

I have been thinking about expanding my blog a bit, getting more readers, maybe make a little money.  I have also been encouraged by numerous friends from different parts of my life, to consider writing a book.  ( Ever since my Sunday School class did the Bible Study called Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer - I pay attention when my life seems to be getting "thematic"....and people telling me to write a book keeps coming up.)

So, I have been thinking about it.  I have been praying about it.

But, this scuffle scared me.

I was really shaken up by the hatred these two people had for me and anyone who thought like I do.  It truly ruined my day....and even a little bit the day after.

Do I really want to open myself up for more of that hatred on a more popular blog....or as an author?

Could I handle it?

Then, this morning, my pastor preached a sermon that got to me.  It went along with our youth mission project this year, that finished up on Sunday.  The theme was called "Lord Make Me....." and their Bible verse of the week was Micah 6: 7-8.

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Throughout the week, the kids filled in their own words, like, Lord Make Me....Peaceful.....Thankful.....Loving.....pick an get it.

When I was listening to the sermon, I thought....hmmm...that is nice....but it didn't really hit me hard.

Then Pastor Greg started talking about his dog, Samson.....who had just died the week before.  Stick with me, because this is when God started opening my eyes....via  slightly scary looking, biggest sweetheart of a dog you could ever meet, Samson.

Pastor Greg talked about being dependent on God and for our self worth and for who we are and not being distracted by the voices around us.  

He talked about taking Samson on walks through their neighborhood. They would walk by the other houses that had "little pocket dogs" that would bark at them through their fences. Samson was not distracted or deterred from walking by his side. He only gave them a passing look, because his importance, his identity, was found in him....Pastor Greg (his master)..... not the yippie little dogs.  

We should all be Samson, calmly and confidently walking by God's side.  

We aren't ignoring the things going on around us, but we aren't charging off to bark back at the little yippie dogs through the fence either. We aren't being drug back onto the path, only to be interrupted by another yippie dog on the next street....and for the drama to start up all over again.  

We are just walking along with our Master.

Depending on God for our identity, not the world.

I know that in my mind.

I know that in my heart.

Doing it, though, seems hard.

I began to think....hmmm....I wonder if that is how Billy Graham operates....or ....pick a president....any president.

I have always just thought that those types of public people were built differently than me and that people saying mean things about them just didn't matter to them.  That they were just so supremely confident, that what the masses said, didn't hurt them or bother them.

I imagine that is somewhat true....and that they, like my dad would say, have much thicker skin than me.....but, maybe they really just have a higher calling,  a true purpose. They are following their Billy Graham's case....God....and his opinion and voice is the only one that matters.   

They are Samson.

Can I do that?  Can I be Samson?

Last night, I read J-girl's latest blog post called Confidence for One, Please.  In it, she talks about how she let  her insecurity and low self esteem steal something that she was excited about.

I wonder how often that happens to us in life.

I know I have done it.

I still sometimes do it, as a 40 something grown up.

I was letting insecurity and, in my case, fear of attack, steal a chance to try something new and potentially exciting from me.

So, I  have come to the reason for this long and somewhat rambling post.

I am going to try to really and truly only listen to my master, God.

I am going to try hard not to care if people say mean things about me, or my choices.  (I may not get into anymore scuffles on Facebook though.....I am considering those my "yippie dogs".)

I will try to grow some slightly thicker skin.

I am going to write a book.

I don't know what kind of book.

But, God is getting thematic with me.

I am going to be Samson.....

...... and just calmly listen to my master.....and walk by his side, knowing that I will be fine wherever He leads me.

On that note, anyone have any book topic ideas in mind for me?

What kind of book would you read, with me as the author? Emoji