My dad called me yesterday, after reading some of my recent posts. It’s a funny thing, blogging, because so much of what I write here is intensely personal but at the same time I know that my friends and family (and often complete strangers) may read these words. I can’t explain the dichotomy that blogging is in my life, only that somewhere along the way, for better or worse, this blog became an integral part of my process – a way for me to be vulnerable and allow what is inside of me to dwell somewhere outside of me… whether I have ten thousand people to share it with, or just ten. So my dad (being one of the ten) called to let me know that he’s here for me, whenever I’m ready to do more than write about the things I’m going through. Over the course of that conversation, he told me three wonderful, beautiful, important things that I wanted to share:
1.) You’re never who you used to be. And that means we never have to be who we used to be. We are free to choose a different path at any point. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Don’t be consistent, but simply be true.”
2.) People remember how you make them feel, not what you say or what you look like. My dad makes friends everywhere he goes, I think because he’s discovered this secret. I may not be able to change the way I look, and I may frequently say the wrong things and be a little bit conversationally awkward, but I can – at least to some extent – choose how I make other people feel. I can choose whether to show love and acceptance, whether to say edifying things or tear someone down. I can choose whether to treat someone kindly or harshly. Those are the things people will remember and carry with them, and those are the important things, anyway.
3.) People aren’t thinking the things you think they’re thinking about you. Most of the time they’re not thinking about you at all (and to think they are can be a form of narcissism.) In her book Rising Strong, Brene Brown writes about the importance of recognizing the stories we tell ourselves (as in “the story I’m telling myself about the fact that you didn’t take out the trash is that you don’t care about me.”) We are constantly making up stories to believe about ourselves and those around us – stories that often aren’t true. Every time I worry that someone will think X and Y and Z, I’m making up a story. And the saddest thing about this is that I often base my actions and my thoughts about myself on a story that isn’t even true and exists only in my head. I’m allowing something in my mind to determine what I do and how I feel about myself. That’s insanity. (Not to mention narcissistic, which I suppose you have to be… at least a little… to keep a blog [or facebook page] in the first place.) ;)
And lastly, a thought from my friend Patrick:
4.) When you let God’s ideas form your ideas, that’s called salvation.
Yes and Amen.