Dec. 16, 2014

Suspicious of Perky

I have used the word charismatic to describe my children on more than one occasion.  It is, quite frankly, my favorite thing about them.  I delight in watching them explore and navigate their world and the people in it with perception, empathy and a heavy dose of magnetic wit.  As one who enjoys the study of human behavior I will often stand to the side and observe their interactions.  More often than not there are beautiful lessons to be learned about myself in the very organic way that my children navigate their own journeys.  My youngest child, by 8 minutes, is a fascinating old soul.  He is exceptionally bright and impossibly witty but struggles at times with the sensory overload that is planet earth.  Things are quite often too loud, too big, too soft and too bright for his hypersensitive neurological system.  As a result he simply has no filter.  As a newly minted 12 year old he speaks with the vocabulary of a skilled linguist but what strikes me most is his absolute inability to tolerate inauthenticity on any level.  Not only are his physical senses highly tuned but he has an emotional IQ that is quite possibly off the charts.  His ability to disseminate sincerity and truth in others is profound.  Several years ago I observed an interaction between Jacob and a woman with whom he was mildly familiar.  I listened intently as she spoke to him in that high pitched condescending tone that one would use when engaging with a toddler not a school aged child and I immediately shifted uncomfortably in my chair.  I watched as Jacob’s mouth twisted into a perplexed frown and I took note as one eyebrow began to lift upward.  Fortunately he tolerated that conversation and smiled politely as the woman waved goodbye and headed in the opposite direction.  I held my breath as he turned toward me, and as his wide blue eyes met mine I waited for a reaction. “I’m suspicious ofperky”he spoke resolutely before depositing a quick peck on my cheek and darting off in search of his next adventure.  I sat for a few moments reflecting on his words before it struck me that he had, in a matter of seconds, defined my own take on life and relationships. You see, as a recovering perfectionist I am new to the beauty that is imperfection.  I spent so many years trying to distance myself from the parts of my life that didn’t fit with who I thought I was supposed to be.  I was constantly trying to prove my worthiness over and over again, people pleasing and performing but what I failed to understand was that my worthiness actually lived within the honesty and truth of my story.  The spectrum of human emotions is rich and full and by ignoring the dark parts of my life I was actually dimming the light.  When I came to understand the value of my story, it became clear that sacrificing who I truly am, the person I’ve been created to be by a God who loves me for the sake of what others think is not at all worth it.  Choosing to live imperfect in a world that misunderstands authenticity and prizes perfection takes courage when it would be much easier just to be “perky”.  And so in those moments as I reflected on Jacob’s perception of the woman with whom he spoke, I came to the realization that I too am suspicious of such things.   What I want for myself and for my children is the experience of deep connection that occurs between human beings when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to be seen in the light, in the dark and in the shades of grey in between.   Authenticity is a choice that I make as each new day dawns.  I have to decide to show up, to be real, to be honest and to be me whatever the cost.  Living in the fullness of my story invites grace and joy, it transforms a life once reduced to mistakes and failures into a life lived in the freedom and fullness of who God has shaped me to be, because it is for this that I was born.