I was probably an irritating child. Not on purpose, of course. Not at all. I was shy, so that meant I was often quiet. School stuff came easily to me, so “conscientious” is the word that appears on all my youthful report cards.
From a very young age, I liked church more than anyone else in my family. I actually listened to sermons at the age of 8 or 9, and spouted the minister’s advice to my parents (okay, I only remember doing that once, but still, that’s young!). I read my entire Child’s Story Bible by the age of 10, all 705 pages of it. (And, oh, do I recommend it. A great next step from the Jesus Storybook Bible, my other favorite.)
When I read Little House on the Prairie and watched the TV show, I loved Mary – the good, dutiful daughter – the best. Not the spunky Laura Ingalls. Even my own mother thought that was strange.
So how did I end up a feminist stay-at-home mom who is arrogant enough to want people to read her words? A children’s worship leader who is having a hard time not cussing now that both her children are teenagers? An accepting friend who gets irritated (and maybe a teensy bit self-righteousness) way too easily?
There are answers, but it boils down to this: I’m a mixed bag.
I’m still the girl who wants to wow her teachers, who wants the people in the room to know that I know. But I no longer operate from a fixed perspective, thinking that if I struggle, that means I’m “bad at” something, and I should just give up. I’m embracing a growth model and trying things that are new (like flash fiction) and continuing to work at things I’m not immediately good at.
Since starting this blog, I’ve been open about my failures. And my victories. I’ve discovered strengths that exist side-by-side with my weaknesses. I’ve read my childhood diaries and wound up a better parent to my young teenagers. I’ve mined my family history for great and not-so-great stories.
That’s what I love about the Old Testament: it’s full of real people who are total mixed bags of failure and faithfulness, fear and trust. I can find myself there – and I do, all the time.
Why do you think I’ve wound up telling the story of David, an irritatingly upstanding young person, yet see myself as more like Saul, the person with good intentions and experiences of God’s presence but who can never quite keep it all together? (The Giant Slayer, first in a trilogy, forthcoming this year.)
Let’s explore our mixed-bag-edness.
Let’s listen to each other.
Let’s let our listening help us grow in wisdom and love, in compassion and faithfulness.
And let’s have fun doing it.