I Hate Hiatuses

As a longtime reader of blogs, I always hate it when a favourite blogger goes on hiatus. Selfishly, you want them to write all the time so you can read it. When you start blogging yourself, you realise that sometimes life gets in the way. Between school and other real life things, there’s been no time for me to do it. However, I’m starting to blog again for two reasons: 1. I need something to do with my free time, and 2. I’m starting to work out again, and I need someone to whom I am accountable. Even if it’s just the four people, who read this regularly. Since leaving a very physical full-time job to go to school, two years ago, I’ve slacked off considerably. I hate shopping, so the prospect of having to buy more (and bigger) clothes is extremely unappealing. So, starting Monday, I’ll start writing about getting back in shape. Make no mistake, this won’t be a fitness/lifestyle blog. I love when my friends choose healthy and active lifestyles, but as encouraging as it is, it’s boring to read about food and exercise all the time. (Even if you love them, which, I don’t) As a disclaimer, I’ll say that there’s going to be some complaining. I am not the raging fitness nut that I used to be, and it shows. I barely like exercising, and I love junk, so this will be a struggle all the way. In the end, it will be worth it. At least, I hope it will. I don’t want to carry on the family legacy of having high blood pressure and diabetes, so to counteract that, I need to stay fit, which means, no more lounging. I started with a light workout yesterday, and I actually felt better after I did it. I still hated it, but my body didn’t.

Since leaving a very physical full-time job to go to school, two years ago, I’ve slacked off considerably. I hate shopping, so the prospect of having to buy more (and bigger) clothes is extremely unappealing. So, starting Monday, I’ll start writing about getting back in shape. Make no mistake, this won’t be a fitness/lifestyle blog. I love when my friends choose healthy and active lifestyles, but as encouraging as it is, it’s boring to read about food and exercise all the time. (Even if you love them, which, I don’t)

As a disclaimer, I’ll say that there’s going to be some complaining. I am not the raging fitness nut that I used to be, and it shows. I barely like exercising, and I love junk, so this will be a struggle all the way. In the end, it will be worth it. At least, I hope it will. I don’t want to carry on the family legacy of having high blood pressure and diabetes, so to counteract that, I need to stay fit, which means, no more lounging. I started with a light workout yesterday, and I actually felt better after I did it. I still hated it, but my body didn’t. Sometimes, you have to do something you do not want to do to attain what you want.

Sometimes, you have to do something you do not want to do to attain what you want.

Story of my life.

Warm regards,

Eri :)

Sharing Sunday: 10 Things I’ve Asked Myself Since Moving

In no particular order:

  1. WHY ON EARTH DO I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF?
  2. Who keeps putting plastic in the compost bin, and why don’t they know what ‘compost’ means?
  3. I can live without eating potatoes, right? Because I don’t want to buy a whole bag and then have them growing those weird sprouts in my cupboard.
  4. Is cleaning considered procrastinating if it needs to be done anyway?
  5. If a cupcake is the only thing you’ve eaten in the morning, is it considered breakfast or a snack?
  6. Do I have to shovel my designated parking space if I don’t have a car?
  7. Is it OK for me to play music if it’s not loud? It is my apartment, after all.
  8. I walked to the grocery store to buy nachos. Does that count as cardio?
  9. Why do I think all the makeup I brought with me is boring now that it’s not in my budget to buy more?
  10. Why didn’t I do this before?

Happy Sunday, y’all.

I Didn’t Know What To Call This, But I’m Back

This is usually the part where the blog writer explains his or her long absence with a list of reasons why they haven’t blogged since August of last year. However, my reasons for not blogging were kind of boring (Depression, school work, blah, blah, blah) What I’ll do instead is just move right along to the next topic.

In the past seven months, I have noticed a change in how I approach reading and writing. I’m a lifelong bookworm, and in 2012, I successfully completed 100 books. Since then, I’ve completed one year of university, and now, when I read anything, my inner editor automatically picks up the punctuation errors.

A few days ago, I was reading a response to a question on the Ask FM app (in which the people submit anonymous questions). My first thought was, “Dang, girl, ease up on the commas! No one takes that many pauses when they speak.” Then, I remembered that I was not reading an essay, so the person could put the commas wherever she wanted to, and her mark would still be the same. (Zero, because she’s answering questions about her life, not being graded for her writing.)

I also moved, and found out that I spent most of my time working acquiring stuff that depreciates in value. You know what’s mildly depressing? Having to fill out a form for renter’s insurance and realizing that you don’t have anything that would qualify as an “asset.” What I do have is a bunch of stuff that is valuable to me, and perhaps, my niece. (My makeup collection is enormous, and she loves it.)

A few weeks from now, I have to do a presentation about the “Desert Saints.” They were a group of Christians from the 4th century, who believed that struggle and self-sacrifice were an integral part of one’s spiritual development.

I have to say, that it’s something that I connected with right away. If I’m too comfortable, complacency sets in, so for me, some discomfort is necessary to keep me on track. Since I’m an introverted person, it’s easy to find things that make me uncomfortable.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my life as a Christian has been full of adversity. There are years of my life that I wonder how I got through them without completely losing my mind. I love being comfortable. In fact, I prefer comfort, but there’s something about going through a good battle and coming out alive that energizes me and reaffirms my faith in the God who got me through it all.

I always hate going through the tough times, but with each level I pass successfully, I learn something new. Life isn’t just about pursuing happiness, getting what you want, and making sure your people are well. It is about passing along what you’ve learned to others.

One interesting thing about Antony, one of the desert saints I read about, is that, while he lived in isolation for much of his life, he didn’t keep the blessings from God to himself.

He taught people and prayed with them, miraculous things happened, as a result. He wasn’t just eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. He used his years of struggle and sacrifice to allow God to work through him to help others.

I was initially attracted by the “away from people” aspect of his spiritual life, but I also know that I can never completely disengage because there is always someone who needs encouragement or support. A life in ministry is not one I would have chosen for myself, but now that I know “what”, I have to keep the “why” in perspective.

The first act of my life was all about me. My job; my feelings; my wants and needs, but the second act is all about what I can do to serve God best.
So far, I’ve got being kind and respectful to people with different belief systems, and being less hostile to fellow saints whom I believe are too exclusive and cliquey.
(It turns out, I’m much better at the former than I am at the latter. Oops)

Before I started school, a friend told me that the person I’ll be once I leave school will be different from the person who started. I didn’t know what she meant, at the time, but I’m already noticing a difference. Whatever happens along the way, whether it be a struggle or a peaceful journey, I pray that my experience will help someone else.

Flashback: Introvert Qualities

  • You can always tell when someone is authentic and when they’re insincere.
  • Sometimes you are totally unaware of your surroundings; your outer world can be in complete chaos, but you don’t notice until someone or something finally attracts your attention. (ex. a loud crash)
  • If there are feelings of sadness, anxiety, or anger in the room, you can immediately feel it—no matter how large the room. (or how great a number of people)
  • When talking to people, you can immediately see past what they’re saying, and discern what they mean.
  • Hidden agendas are rarely (or never) hidden from you.
  • Both praise and criticism affect you the same way; you become embarrassed by the unsought attention.
  • It’s easy for you to uncover the insecurities and weaknesses of other people, and you can play on them whenever you feel attacked or cornered.
  • When you like someone, you become attached instantly and scare them off. (This occurs more in romantic relationships than friendships)
  • When someone betrays you, you forgive easily but are perfectly fine with never speaking to them again. (And you usually don’t)
  • Sometimes you withhold your true feelings and opinions from someone because you want to ‘protect’ them.
  • You hate conflict, and avoid it at all costs.
  • You comfortably slip into the role of mediator when others are in conflict because you can easily empathize with both sides. (See previous)
  • Once you’ve identified someone as insincere, it is difficult for you to take anything they say seriously—and you usually avoid talking to them altogether because their superficiality is off-putting.
  • You’re an open book. If you like someone, they know it; if you don’t like someone, they know it.
  • It is difficult for you to hide your feelings, and you spend a lot of time biting your tongue when something or someone upsets you. (Thankfully, that changes as you get older and your less dominant functions develop; by then you’ve gotten over your need to please others and will speak up when something is wrong)
  • You’re overly concerned with how you appear to others and what they think of you. (Again, this changes when introverted thinking becomes more pronounced—you won’t care at all then.)
  • You’re more idealistic than realistic.
  • Silence is rarely uncomfortable to you.
  • You feel the need to “fix” every-one’s problems.
  • You place your needs aside to help others, and they are more than happy to take advantage of that.
  • If you are a spiritual person, you notice that your intuition becomes stronger as you grow spiritually.
  • You’re excellent at making observations about others that they didn’t think anyone else noticed. (The usual response is dead silence)
  • Complete strangers confide their deepest secrets to you because you ‘seem like a nice person’ and you listen without judgment.

Flashback Friday: Forgiveness

(Originally Posted June 16th, 2011)

 

I can hold a grudge like a champion. If harbouring malice were an Olympic event, I’d win the gold medal, easily. If I feel you’ve wronged me, I can live my entire life without ever acknowledging your existence. I can cut you off in a second, and not even lose any sleep over it.

It isn’t something that makes me proud. There’s no place of honour for being malicious and bitter. You don’t win any prizes for finding faults in people. There’s no medal awarded for having animosity towards someone. All I’ve ever gained from resentment is anxiety, wasted time, and heartache. So I choose forgiveness.

It wasn’t easy for me, being a champion grudge-holder, and all, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

A few years ago I made a request to God, “Help me to forgive as you do.” What I didn’t know at the time was that when you ask God for anything, rather than giving you exactly what you want, He places you in situations which test your capacity to do what you’ve requested.

Shortly after I made that prayer, I happened to overhear an acquaintance talking about me behind my back. My first instinct was to walk right up to her and tell her exactly what I thought. Fortunately, I chose better–at the time I was too angry to speak rationally. So for the sake of peace, I let it go.

A few days later, I heard her talking about me again. This time, not only did she mention me by name, but she went through a laundry list of everything she felt was wrong with me. She said I was two-faced (I’m not), and I wore too much make-up, my perfume stinks, I’m not that smart, I think I’m better than everyone else and I’m “unpleasant to be around.”

In her eyes, I was a rotten human being, and the world would be a much better place without me in it.

Or something like that.

My anger turned to rage. When she was around me, she was so full of compliments it was a little cloying, but behind my back she was totally opposite. What a phony. The entire situation disgusted me. She disgusted me. After much thought (and prayer) I decided I would confront her.

I can be brusque on a good day, but when I’m angry I’m vicious. I didn’t know how she would take me, so I tried my best to be jovial and said, “So I heard you have a few things to say to me?” She was full of questions; what did I mean? What things? Who were you talking to? Then she said, “I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I don’t have anything to tell you.”

Since that approach didn’t work, I tried something different, “If you have any problems with me or what I’m doing, you can tell me to my face.”

What she said next shocked me;

“I would never say anything about you behind your back.”

Then she proceeded to tell me what a wonderful person I was and how glad she is to have someone like me in her life. All I could think was, Liar. Liar. Pants on Fire.

A few days after she insisted she had no issues with me, I heard her tell someone that I was lazy and disorganized.

(She obviously had issues, but none of them had to do with me.)

Still, I spent a lot of time being angry with her. In my mind, I was justified because she talked about me and then lied about it to my face. Of course, she deserved my blatant disregard! She needed to be punished and treating her like she was the dirt beneath my shoes was my way of punishing her.

However, every time I picked up my bible to read, I always seemed to find scriptures about love and forgiveness. The one that spoke to me the most was Matthew 5:44-45;

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

In God’s eyes, we’re equals, and by showing forgiveness–especially when the person did nothing to earn it–I would be clearly defining my role as a follower of Christ.

I had been going about this the wrong way. I thought that by cutting off contact with her, I was preventing her from continuing to lie to me. In reality, I was nurturing my grudge against her. Even when she said something kind to me, I rejected it because I just couldn’t trust her anymore.

Then I thought about God and how much mercy he has shown me. There are many times when I’ve lied to him, made promises I didn’t keep, betrayed trust, and defamed His name by how I treated others. In spite of this, Gid forgave me and showed me mercy instead of wrath. Every single time.

In Colossians 3:13 Paul writes,

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

When God forgives, it’s unconditional. It means that the slate has been wiped clean. There’s a new record. God doesn’t hold your past against you.

In order to let this go once and for all, I had to forgive her genuinely–whether she was still talking about me or not.

I had to accept the fact that I am not the gossip police, and I will never be able to stop people from talking about me. It was her decision to make picking me apart her full time hobby, and it is one with which she will have to live. Even if what she said was 100% true, it didn’t change anything. I’m still me. I’m still living my life, and I’m still enjoying it.

I had to choose between my relationship with God, and holding on to the resentment. When I examined the situation closely, I realized that holding onto my resentment of her was like giving her squatters rights in my mind. 

I had to evict her.

God has already done more for me than I will ever deserve, and His approval is infinitely more important than hers. Besides, how could I feel anything other than pity for a person who: a) didn’t even have the good sense to whisper while talking about people in public, and b) was too much of a coward to own up to it when confronted.

I can honestly say I forgive her for what she did. I pray she has a wonderful life, and that people who are positive, loving, and supportive will surround her, and give her the encouragement she needs. Most of all, I pray that if she’s still holding a grudge against me, that she’ll let it go. For her sake.

Harbouring resentment clouds your judgment, it blocks blessings, delays promotions, impedes personal growth, distorts your sense of reality, and makes you bitter and insecure. It also creates an atmosphere that attracts unfavourable outcomes in ALL areas of your life. In other words, instead of destroying the target of your wrath, clinging to feelings of resentment will destroy you.

You will never be able to realize your full potential until you make a conscious choice to eliminate bitterness from your life.

There are few things more humiliating than finding out the person you’ve directed so much negative energy combating isn’t even paying attention to you. While you’re wasting time plotting and scheming, trying to find ways to discredit them and ruin their reputation, they’re leading happy and fulfilling lives. They aren’t thinking about you at all. You’ve spent all this time hating them, and you’re not even an afterthought. It stands to reason that trying to reduce someone else by your words and your actions only serves to emphasise your deficiencies. That is the opposite of what you want.

By choosing forgiveness, I choose a life filled with love, peace and contentment. I can sleep with a clear conscience because The chains of bitterness do not bind me. I’m confident because I’m becoming the person God created me to be. Because I’m confident, I don’t need to talk about anyone else to feel good about myself. The fact that I have a loving family, and a loving God is an excellent reason to be joyful.

As for my loose-lipped acquaintance? She probably still thinks I’m two-faced, and conceited, and stinky. And she might even be telling people about me at this very moment, but that’s okay. She’s allowed to think and say whatever she wants. I hope she’s prepared for the consequences.

1 Peter 3:10-12

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

I’m not waiting for peace to find me; I am actively pursuing it. (With a club) I may have to bite my tongue at times, or perhaps take a vow of silence for the day, but I will not allow my words to be my undoing.

I’ll end with a quote from C.S. Lewis because I can’t say it any better:

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

I forgive because I know what it’s like to be forgiven. 

Peace,

Erin

I Missed My 2 Year Bloggiversary

Has it been two years?

Wow…time flies. When I started this blog, I didn’t have a set theme. It was just another place for me to “contemplate my navel” with impunity. (As I said from the start, why I chose to do this online instead of a personal journal is anyone’s guess.) 

It was an outlet for me to express myself, and I enjoyed it. I still enjoy it. The only difference is, I am 100x more self-conscious about what I write because I know that someone, somewhere is going to see it. 

I’m thankful because I had this blog to chart my progress and give me the space to practice the skills I didn’t even know I’d need. (You need a 15000 word essay? No problem. I’ve got blog posts that long.) 

  For my first foray into blogging, I focused more on beauty and cosmetics. (Not linking to it because it’s horrendous.) Since I was a hobby blogger, it was just a fun thing to pass the time. For others, it was a job. I was only in it for a few years, but I saw a lot of ugliness, both within the blogging community and from the readers.

 I was never on the receiving end of the negativity, but I saw many of the people I started with abandon their blogs because of feuds with other bloggers, harassment from readers (Seriously. They asked people for free makeup, and everything), and the stress of having to keep up with, and write about, the hundreds of collections released every year.

It wasn’t my scene. 

In the six years since my first blog, and the two years since I started this one, much has changed in my life. I’ve completed my first semester of university, with a 3.78 G.P.A. (That’s 94.5%; y’all. NINETY-FOUR POINT FIVE). I’m no longer the beauty-junkie who just *has* to have makeup from every new collection, (working with a student’s budget will teach one how to prioritize immediately.)

I am a bit easier on myself now. I felt like a moron the entire time I was in school. However, once presented with empirical evidence to the contrary, I had to admit that, while I don’t know everything I need to, I do know enough to get excellent grades and occasionally relay what I’ve learned to others.

My motto for the semester was not, “make it perfect”, but “Get it done.” When I had setbacks, or felt out of my depth and alone, there was always a heaven-sent soul to encourage me, through either word or deed. I had to take a giant leap of faith to go back to school, and even though it was terrifying and often uncomfortable, I felt–and still feel–a sense of peace about my decision.

took a break from blogging after school ended because I couldn’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) without picking apart my writing for not being academic enough. Since I’ve set a goal to publish something every single day in July, (and I’ve documented it here) I’ll be posting more regularly. If only just to sharpen my skills before September rolls around.

To everyone who has been reading this blog, either since the beginning or later on: Thank You. I don’t know what led you to my small corner of the internet, but I’m grateful for your presence.

Peace,

Erin

Love Liberates

You see, love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says I love you, I love you if you’re in China, I love you if you’re across town, I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you, I’d like to have your arms around me, I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now. So, I love you. Go.
Maya Angelou, Love Liberates

Rest in Peace, Dr. Angelou.

Put Your High Horse Back In The Stable

Intolerant. Hypocritical. Phony. Judgmental. Cliquey. Mean. Exclusive. Unloving.

 

Those are just some of the words I’ve heard non-Christians use to describe us. The word “love” is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible, but when people think of us the word ‘love’ isn’t even on the list. In theory, the church is comprised of people who are spirit-led and kingdom minded. Many of us are. The rest of the world doesn’t see that in action as much as it sees our nastiness. Instead of us extending the right hand of fellowship to outsiders, we give them the backhand of condemnation. There’s not a welcome mat on the church doorstep, but there is an invisible ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. (When we’ve been disturbed, we’re not shy about saying so.)

We say we want ‘whosoever will’ to enter our fellowship as a brother or sister in Christ. However, when they show up, we venerate the ones we like, and ignore the ones we don’t. Should we fire our image consultant for misrepresenting us? Or should we scrap whatever agenda we have and follow Christ by loving one another as he loves us? This issue is one that is close to my heart because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a condemning Christian backhand, and it hurts like hell. (In both the figurative and the literal sense.) When I hear people use the eight words at the top of the page to describe us, I can’t even disagree with them because I’ve experienced it firsthand. I expect to be an outcast from the world because Jesus warned that I would be hated for his sake. I did not expect hostility from the body of which I am a member. But, I’ve had to get used to it nevertheless.

The pastor of the church I serve once said that Christians are one of the few groups who purposely shoot their own troops in the midst of a battle. (He’s a military man by trade, but if you think the combat analogy is out of place, you’re in the wrong faith.) Some of the old saints used to say, “The devil is busy” whenever strife and offenses found their way into the church. (And that was all the time.) I’m of the opinion that the devil doesn’t need to be working as long as he has a gang of Christians who are open to his suggestions. We unknowingly do his work for him whenever we devalue one of our brothers and sisters in Christ–or anyone else for that matter. The poor reflection the secular world has of Christianity points directly toward us because we’re its ambassadors. We’ve lulled ourselves into a false sense of security by thinking that we’re doing a good job of following the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind.

We may succeed at loving God, but our success rate with loving our neighbours is mediocre at best. We’re hurting because we do not know how badly we’ve missed the mark. The love, mercy, and acceptance that the world needs are the kind that only the Spirit of God can give. I think we’ve got it, church, but we are so reluctant to share it that it’s obvious to everyone. On the other hand, we can heap judgment on with a shovel. If you need criticism, we can do that too–especially that of the destructive, soul-crushing variety. If you want to be gossiped about, we’ll either disguise it as a prayer request and call it a day, or not disguise it at all. If you want love, you’d best take comfort in the fact that God loves you because we may not be able to give you what you need. Or we hate your sin, but we love you. Or we love you, but only if you’re just like us.

In the book, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy writes, “Someone dear to me can be loved with human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.” If I make any claim to being led by the Spirit of God, his leading must be evident in how I treat other people. If I want to love as Jesus loves, I must be sincere. In my nearly 14 years as a retail worker, I learned that it is impossible to encourage, empower, lead, or mentor anyone if I believe I’m superior to them. In order to be effective and authentic in my walk with God, I had to shelf my invisible pedestal; put my high horse back in the stable, and get back down to earth where the real people are because that’s where God needed me to be. God is no respecter of persons, but, unfortunately, we are.

A few months ago, on another social media site, a story went around about a pastor who dressed up as a homeless person to see how his new church congregants would respond. He asked for change, but no one gave it to him. Most people refused to make eye contact, and when he sat down in the back of the pews, all he got were scornful, dirty looks. When he was introduced as the new head pastor, people clapped with joy and enthusiasm…until he stood up. Wild clapping turned to stunned silence. His sermon text was Matthew 25:35-40, and many of his congregants cried or bowed their heads in shame because of their actions.

Matthew 25:35-40 is a popular sermon text because it teaches us that by serving the practical and spiritual needs of others, we’re serving God. The irony is that we’re not as good at putting this into practice as we are at teaching it. I can’t claim to be a Christian then refuse to abide by one of the most basic laws. I cannot love everybody of my own power. I can barely love myself of my own strength. My prejudice limits my capacity to love, and my personal preferences determine who gets more or less of the love I give, but if I love with the love of God, my ability to love is limitless because He is limitless.

I am nowhere near where I need to be in this regard, but it is becoming glaringly obvious that God has given me His heart towards outcasts. I find that I cut them a lot more slack than those of us who are in the body because we should know how behave, but we (and I am including myself) frequently choose wrong. Whereas they choose wrong because they’ve never been taught to choose right. One thing that my non-Christian friends made clear to me is how well they can see through all the disingenuous displays of love. They know it’s a put on even as we deceive ourselves into believing our hollow pleasantries and fake smiles are reaching them. I don’t believe it’s possible for us to be perfect, but it is possible for us to love one another as Christ loved us. We just need to stop getting in his way with our own petty egos and agendas.

A well-organized essay this is not. I’m not sure if I’ve made my point clearly or if my emotions have gotten in the way of me articulating how important this is properly. We [in the body] have singled out political power, prestige, and our ability to influence the culture as our greatest sources of strength. The real source is the love of God. It is the one thing we have that the rest of the world does not. Instead of using the love of God to build, we’re tearing each other down and dragging the rest of the world into the battle. Rather than honouring the gifts we see in others, we dismiss the people whom we find the most threatening to our own success, and devalue the ones who aren’t essential to us.

I am hopeful because, through it all, God will still be in control. He can reverse any of the damage we’ve caused by our unwillingness to put our needs and wants aside to serve the whole. He’s the only one who can heal the hearts of those we’ve broken in our quest for preeminence and recognition. Occasionally we need to be reminded that serving God means that we must also serve others. We do not get a choice in whom we serve, and ranking people based on status is still a sin in God’s eyes.

I’ve rambled on for long enough, so I’m going to end it with the word of God:

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

“I give you a new commandment–to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples–if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

PEACE,

Erin

I Don’t Know Squat

It has taken me the better part of two decades to figure out that I do not know everything. There are topics in which I can speak of with encyclopedia-like detail. (The modern history of Russia in the post-Soviet era; books; nail polish, and hockey–to name a few) I can talk about myself until people get sick of hearing about me (which they do often). I have always had a thirst for knowledge, and I am continually seeking new ways to learn about the mysteries of life, and what it means to be human.

In my early years, (between the ages of 15 to at least 25) my desire to learn manifested itself as pretentious arrogance and a blatant disregard for anyone who did not share the same values and interests as me. If  people agreed with me, they were decent, intelligent, and interesting. Anyone who did not agree was a moron—no exceptions. It was near-impossible to get me to admit I was wrong. If I did, I did it in such a way that still made the other person look like the bad guy. I remember an argument I had in which I realized halfway through that I was dead wrong, but I kept on fighting because I was “winning”. I didn’t win anything, but the fact that I used my logic and reasoning (and bullying) to get a person (who was right) to back off was enough to validate me.

However, with unreasonable pride comes a fall, and I fell hard. For years, I found myself in situations where all of my experience and information could not save me. I lost the thing that has always given me the most confidence; my intelligence. I don’t remember the exact situation, but when I found out that learning is continuous rather than complete, it opened up a whole new world for me, but not before making me feel ridiculous for believing I was infallible. Admitting that I was ignorant made me more free to learn, rather than relying on what I already knew. It also made me more willing to listen to points of view that differed from mine without rejecting them as false. (Or stupid)

Getting knocked off of a high horse can make a person insecure, but I can see now that I was insecure already. It just looked different because I covered my insecurity by making other people feel stupid. Being humbled in that way enabled me to see the myriad ways in which other people can contribute. Not just with their intellect, but with their experiences, talent, and support.

I can ask other people to help me with the areas I am not as well-versed in, like anything science-related. I can freely admit that I am not good at everything, and I do not feel any pressure to try. It is difficult for me to ask for help, but I can do it without feeling ashamed. How much I do not know does not define me, and admitting when I’m wrong takes more courage than pretending to have all the answers.

I will probably be a solitude-seeker until the day I die, but I also value the cultivation of relationships. The know-it-all part of my personality alienated me from people because it exalted being right above being kind and respectful toward others. Making mistakes is an integral part of my development. By getting things wrong, I can see what is right. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I have also grown from them.

That is not to say that I don’t still have moments. Occasionally, I find myself doing an internal eye roll at the things that some people say and do. I have to guard my mouth daily, so I don’t say anything snide, rude, or dismissive, and I still think that some people behave like morons. On the other hand, I am aware of it now, whereas before I would stubbornly refuse to acknowledge my failings.

Carelessness can destroy any rapport that I may have with people because I don’t think about how my words and actions will impact them. However, now that I have confirmation that I don’t know squat, I can learn from anyone without erroneously believing that I am somehow better than they are. One of the most intelligent people I have ever known was my maternal grandfather. He was a champion of logic. An intellectual with decades of life experience and wisdom, and only a 7th grade education. His brilliance was not just in what he knew, but how he applied it to his life. I once witnessed him win a debate with a person who had a master’s degree. The MA had several years of education to back him up, but that was no match for my grandfather’s 80+ years of living and applying knowledge.

I never know what other people will teach me, so I am no longer self-important enough to think that I cannot learn from them. Personally, I am proud to admit when I do not know something because being the one with all the answers is annoying.

(Seriously. People asked me questions all the time, and got upset when I could not answer them. No, thank you.)

That is all for now,

Erin