I don’t want you to necessarily post your responses below, but think of a handful of words that you would use to describe me. Would quiet, shy, withdrawn, or cold be in your top five?
For the first half of our marriage, I made it miserable for my husband to get time with his family. And the words I mentioned above would absolutely be how my in-laws described me. In my 20s, I couldn’t understand it, but I would shut down when we went to see Sal’s family. And when I say “shut down,” I mean barely speak, just sit, give brief responses. If I were my in-laws, I would think my husband married a total _________. (Can’t seem to type the word I’m thinking when I know Mrs. Paige reads this stuff.) And forget about trying to represent my faith while I’m there. Who would want to be a part of something that made someone act like that?
That wasn’t my heart. Looking back, I was just intimated and overwhelmed, but rather than push through I withdrew. Being an only child, not being Italian, not being from New York … there were a few factors, but I wish I could have that time back. I wanted to have a great relationship with my husband’s parents and siblings, and they are all great people.
I can only imagine their confusion back then when they would visit Tennessee; especially when they would go to church with us. I would be up, running around, making jokes, giving hugs (sometimes) and talking in front of groups, but fly me to Long Island, NY, and I was a totally different person.
Sal and I spent ten years fussing about this dynamic, and he was right to be frustrated. I’m so thankful I have matured at least a little in this area. Or I thought I had …
We joined a couples small group. It’s a great group, with a great couple leading, and full of what, so far, seem to be great people. But I say nothing. It’s the weirdest thing. The other night there was a question tossed out to the group and people weren’t really jumping to respond. Ironically, that’s a feeling I am beyond familiar with. Yet, I’m still saying nothing. Sal tries to be clever and says as he glances at me, “What was that Jenn? Did you say you had something to share?” FYI – he has become quite the comedian since our move.
I didn’t really correlate this “alter-ego Jenn” until …
“How is the new small group?”
“It’s good. They really do seem great, but I just need to relax and get out of my head. I’m just not myself.”
“Is that kinda like how you’ve always described you were with your in-laws?”
Great. Now I’ve got to think about it, analyze it, and work on it. Thanks a lot amazing person that made a strong correlation.
Ever had a sort of “out-of-body” moment where you can see you are begin silly, or being uptight, or just not being how you want to be, but you just can’t stop being that “not you” way?
That’s how I felt for years at my in-laws, and that’s how I feel most of the time now.
I have this little wooden sign that I’ve had for years. It has Ephesians 4:1 in handwriting that is way prettier than mine …
“Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” (NLT)
This verse isn’t written to a specific church leader, so it’s not only for pastors or priests. It’s written to a group of people as a plea to walk out their faith in a genuine way. And it’s sent during a time and in an environment that was way more difficult to navigate than my in-laws, or a one hour bible study.
How often we get in our own way. How often we forget not only that we are called by God, but that being a less-authentic version of ourselves usually makes us come across in a way that is rarely flattering. It’s self-sabotaging.
It’s important to take an honest look at how we are showing up in the world.
So check in with me. Ask me if I’m really being me. And tell Sal to chill with the jokes.