When I was about 12 I remember having all of these very 'monumental' thoughts about who I was and who I wanted to be. I felt completely alone in the task set before me of determining what my personality was, how others would think of me, my likes and dislikes. I secretly felt as though no one else really thought about these things, certainly not at 12! Little did I know that I was as normal as you could get in all that. What is so heart-wrenching is that so much of our entire identities is determined from 12-18. The course of our life can be set in motion with hormones raging, insecurities blasting and a partially-formed brain. That is definitely one of the topics I'd like to see covered at the "What You Always Wanted to Ask God" conference in heaven. Why? Why send us through acres of land mines with no eyes? :) Anyway, this identity that we form often stays very close throughout adulthood. Sure, life changes, but I've found in myself that the way, the people and the things I identified myself with haven't changed all that much. And sometimes this is a very bad thing.
One of the triggers I mentioned yesterday was encountering people and situations where we don't agree and approaching it as an attack on my very identity. I was thinking about WHY disagreements register as an identity attack with me and I came to a couple of conclusions. First of all, the way I developed my own identity growing up (I think) is looking for someone who I liked or felt good about - and this almost always meant that I agreed with them on some important things (or better, they agreed with me). If the opposite were present (we didn't agree), I wouldn't like much about them and discount any identity building aspect as not good. That sounds a little confusing already but not sure how else to say it. Isn't that part of human nature a little bit? Those that we like we start to identify with and those we feel similar to/identify with we like more? So that is normal, but living as though everyone who sees the world a little different than you is attacking your very identity and you cannot be friends/colleagues/alright with each other in any way unless you completely agree is dumb. I live that way even in my marriage sometimes and I admit it - it is dumb. Randy has helped me see it more clearly by often saying that just because we are disagreeing doesn't mean I stop loving you. The idea that I can be loved and disagreed with at the same time felt odd to hear out loud. It was then that I realized how much of my life was functioning as though agreement was mandatory for maximum love.
Especially in regards to my walk down pride path, there is a second issue that arises. This need for agreement to validate identity often results in me throwing around guilt like it's nothing. If you aren't acting, thinking, being how I see the world, then #1 I feel attacked and #2 in order to protect my attacked feelings I attempt to guilt you into seeing the world my way. Another way of saying it is throwing around guilt is my way of (trying to) controlling the situation. And of course, all of it points directly back to pride, specifically a protective pride.
I guess the one thing I can take from all of this 'disagreement discussion' is to slow way down every time I encounter a disagreement and think long and hard before any action occurs because a chain reactive pride is undoubtedly loitering in the wings waiting to jump out and dance out of my control! (Thanks Shannon for the visual inspiration!)
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