Monday, October 27, 2014

On the Sidelines

I've always been an introvert. 
I've always been HIGHLY observant. 
I thrive just sitting back and soaking in what's around me. 

I sometimes get more joy just watching than actually participating in many activities. 

I  kept thinking about how true that was this weekend.  We spent the weekend away as a family celebrating my husband's 50th birthday.  We have decided that as much as possible, physical gifts aren't on our "list" and that we'd rather make memories instead of collecting more "stuff".  With that in mind, I planned a trip that I knew would create lots of opportunities to make memories with him and as a family.  The weekend was CRAM packed full of fun adventure that was definitely *their* thing---the craziest water slides, go carts, lazer tag, trying to ride the biggest wave in the wave pool, mini golf, ropes courses, bumper boats, arcades, and MORE and MORE water slides.  Though few things on that list were *my* kind of thing---I completely enjoyed nearly every second of our trip.  Not once did I want to hold them back from their adventures, even if it wasn't *my* thing.  Kev kept almost apologizing every time he and one of the kids would run off for "just one more" turn on a thrill ride.  I kept telling him to go that I was TRULY ok waiting and watching. 

I really was.

I was in MY element.  People watching, observing, and soaking in each of my family members thoroughly unwinding and having fun. 

I didn't feel on the sideline or pushed aside.  If it was something I wanted to do with them, I did...and if I didn't, I loved watching them.

That's me.

I THRIVE on watching and observing. 

I love to people watch and I love to soak in the details of everything around me. 

I've recently learned that many of my *quirks* and things that make me---me.....are actually not just personality traits but are also part of my actual intellectual make-up.  I've known for many years that I don't read normally.  I love reading with a passion, that's an absolute.  However, the actual reading process is different in my brain.  It's not normal to read a full size novel in an hour or two.  It wasn't until college that it was actually pointed out that my brain was seeing and processing an entire line of print (or at the least a half line if the font is smaller), where most people see one word.  I'm not speed reading or reading so fast that I don't comprehend.  In "my" head, I'm just reading at a normal pace, it just happens to be a line at a time.  That's also a large part of the reason that reading out loud always freaked me out---I always tripped over my words making it seem as if I wasn't reading well.  In reality, my brain had already seen and "read" much more than my voice could spit out.  It's why I was able to learn to easily type at such a high speed, I can see the whole line of what's needing to be typed and hold it in "memory" without looking back down. It's also why I LOATHE being read to---if I'm handed a document or an outline of some type, it gets completely under my skin to have it read back to me because in actuality, within a few seconds, I've read it.  It's why my husband and I can't read the same book side by side.  When we are doing couple's studies, we have to read at different times and discuss it together later because I go insane if we try to do it elbow to elbow.  It isn't that he's a slow reader.  He's normal.  I'm not.  (Hey, Sweets,  you can forget I just said that.  I don't want that to come back to haunt me in a future conversation. HA!!!!)

I'm also VERY observant.  I remember details and see details that people might miss.  I LOVE logic games and "smart games" as my son calls them.  I've always found myself easily overwhelmed in large crowds and in new environments.  For hours after the fact, and even days and months, I will remember things about a situation that most people wouldn't have even noticed to begin with.

My husband has always said that this is actually a gift.  It's what makes me so intuitive and it's where a great level of my empathy comes from.  I'm known for guessing when a friend is pregnant, well before they've announced it just because I notice the little things.  I'm one of those that sees beyond the smile that someone might be giving and know there's something else going on because of body language, tone of voice, or just the little intricacies.  All of this "noticing" didn't just come from being taught in social work and psychology classes in college to look for details and red flags, it's just who I am. 

It's me. 

As if I'm not already being vulnerable and transparent as it is, I'm going to go even deeper because I am going somewhere with this train of thought.

Sometimes this *me* can get hurt VERY easily and the hurt feels DEEPER than it should.  Because I see and feel so much more, it's harder to shut out.  My brain really does run with many more tabs open than the average.  Because I see below the surface so many times, I DO overthink.  Because I notice so many details, I do tend to struggle with perfectionism.  I do try to control too many variables and have struggled for many years with just "letting go".  I do get easily aggravated on the inside (even if I wouldn't dare show it on the outside) when people think they are "pulling a fast one"---because I do remember details.  I do unintentionally keep records in my head.  This often gets overwhelming in our world of social media. It's one of those things that causes me to get so aggravated when someone says one thing and does another. 

These *quirks* have often kept me from participating in multiple things.  For so long, I really thought that I must be the introvert of all introverts. 

But then....

I read something recently that described me as if there was a person inside my head taking notes.  Notes of thoughts I didn't dare voice.  Even thoughts I wouldn't even write, even just in a journal for only me to see.

I learned these things that make me---me.....aren't so strange after all.  It may be rare.  It may be awkward.  It may be difficult to navigate at times.

But not strange...

It's actually part of something considered normal---in an abnormal way.

It goes back to my reading.  Not that I have insatiable desire to read, but in HOW I read.  The way I see the words on the page.  The way I see the world. 

It's all about sensory and how the brain is processing all aspects of everything that enters in.

It's me.

The study I was reading even included something I've said OFTEN----I may sing a song in worship countless times, but it will feel like an entirely new song when I see it on the screen with words.  It suddenly has REAL meaning---just because I have read those words and my brain has processed it in such a way that it finally clicks.

It described my way of thinking so perfectly.  Even down to how I process a new situation, even going into a new store.  Even describing many of my fears, idiosyncrasies and quirks, PERECTLY.

It's me.

Everything on this study was like a breath of fresh air entering my heart because I realized that though I may not be normal, I am normal.  :)

Here's my REAL vulnerability showing through----for so long I thought there was something "wrong" with how I think and feel.  A family member not so kindly once pointed out (ok---more than once) that I was just a social phobia freak.  She jokingly said those words----honestly joking---but it stuck with me and hurt.  Because I do feel different and I do process things around me differently, I thought it was a curse.  I thought something was WRONG with me.  My husband has always graciously told me it's something he loves about me because I do always notice the details and those details allow me to see when something isn't right, when someone is hurting and it gives me a level of empathy that many people overlook.  It also allows me to multitask and accomplish things more quickly (but can also be a trap of doing too many things at once and not seeing the PERSON in front of me!).


Finally seeing there is something that explains the me that makes me--me.....was absolutely FREEING like I can't describe. 

But here is where I'm going with this.....


How often do we sell someone short because we think they are different?  How many times do we sell OURSELVES short? How many times do we sell GOD short?


That's where I'm going.

"No, God----I can't do that. Surely, you aren't calling me to THAT.  That's out of my comfort zone."


"God, are you sure you want HER to do that task? Don't you know that she's .........fill in the blank with that or the other..........? "

We judge.  WE really do.

We say we don't because that's not how we are supposed to act, but in reality we do.

We look at the outside and make assumptions about people.  We can see what a person is incapable of doing, but fail to see what they are capable of doing.  We can get caught up in our limitations and not see our capabilities.  We can see our weaknesses and not see our strengths.  We can see our strengths and not see our weaknesses. 

God knows us best.  God knows FAR BEYOND our limited vision what we can do if given the chance or if we would just step forward in faith. 

What if we would just offer hope to one person?  What if we just rallied behind one person and helped them develop their strengths, encourage them through hard times in ACTION (not just after the fact by saying....oh....I was praying for you or thinking of you), or walked beside someone that we know is struggling and help them carry the load on their shoulders?

What if....

What if, today we decided the things that make us different from the person sitting next to us might not be a curse or something wrong with us----that it might actually be a gift.  What if took that difference and found a way to use it for a positive?

What if we walked with ours back straight and heads held high and truly embraced those things that make us different?

What if....

What if we asked God to allow us to see through HIS eyes.

HIS eyes that see what others can't see or refuse to see.
HIS eyes that see our differences is what makes us capable of accomplishing more than we can conceive.
HIS eyes that can see below the surface and can reveal a need.
HIS eyes that can see our value when we are blinded to it.
HIS eyes that can see the direction He wants us to go because He has a purpose and a plan.

What if we JUST kept our eyes on Him?

What if? 

Quickly: back to this weekend. 

It was in my observant, people watching comfort zone that I noticed.  I noticed the broken.  I found the moments to just offer a little bit of a helping hand to the struggling mom.  I saw through the façade of the smile and saw the hurting woman whose husband would look at every woman walking by, except look at her.  I saw the parents that kept buying and buying for their children, but all the child wanted was the attention of the parent. I saw the ones that kept refilling and refilling their cocktail hoping to find what they were searching for in the bottom of the glass.  I saw the little child that slipped away from his distracted parents (easy to do in such an environment) and watched every move he made from upstairs while waiting for a staff member to put in place protocols to reunite parent and child. 

Perhaps, it was most profound for me in my watching stage to see things that I often miss in the rush.  I saw just what a true gift it was to have a happy, healthy, intact family THRIVING.  I saw what a gift it was to have a husband that I TRULY enjoy being around.  Not just two individuals coexisting---but ones that cherish togetherness.  I saw my youngest tackle fears one by one, even if he didn't tackle as many as his older siblings wanted him to.  I saw how much my children had grown physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I saw areas that are still greatly lacking and need chances to mature or to change.  I saw my own issues---places I'm thriving, ones I'm failing in, and ones that I just need to surrender to Him. I saw their joy.  I saw their adventure.  I saw memories in the making.  I saw countless moments to treasure.

Sometimes it's wonderful to jump in and be active.  Life IS about living.

But there's something also very special....

about just sitting back and watching.


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