catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 4 :: 2006.02.24 — 2006.03.10


Who are you?

?Who are you?? said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ?I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.?

I identify with Alice. Personality questionnaires of the ?describe yourself in three words? or ?give one or two sentences that sum up who you are? variety have historically always driven me crazy. I mean, really?how does one adequately package up 32 years of life and experience, heartache and hope in three words?

My answer changes every time I do one of these, so how accurate is it anyway? Today I may be ?friendly, funny, kind,? and tomorrow ?sullen, bitter, withdrawn.? Which is the real me? I usually try to pick words that describe more of my lasting character than feelings/personas I can change according to your whim or mine. But even these are bound to change. In fact, I filled out an inventory only a month ago and came up with what I thought were my three best choices ever. Today I can?t remember what I listed.

Regardless, there are some enduring things that make up my sum-total, some characteristics I?m happy to be known for at any given time, some I?d rather reserve for those ?need to know? moments.

In the former category: I?m a woman, wife, mother, believer-in-Christ. When I feel safe enough around someone, I may share with them that I?ve attempted to have epidurals with all four of my babies? deliveries, that our family is attending a reformed, Presbyterian seminary (though not always good ?ole ?company? folks), and that my husband and I once went to marriage counseling together. And then there?s those ?need to knows,? which I?m not sure anyone reading this needs to know?

Why do I choose to show sides A and B to one person and sides C and D to another? I think it has something to do with whether or not I have a shared history with somebody. Currently, we live in a unique communal situation where families move in and out every year and the longest amount of time a family stays put is three to four years. When we moved here I was very intimidated by this, as it was hard for me to get to know people because I didn?t allow myself to try. I certainly didn?t want to become good friends with someone who was going to leave six months later. This is very selfish thinking, but it?s honest.

In thinking through why I was having such a difficult time fitting in with the seminary crowd, I realized that the piece missing was history. Time, and more importantly, shared time makes all the difference and really determines whether or not I?m going to trust someone with the good, the bad, and the ambiguous. People who walked through the newlywed years with us are much more likely to see the side of us nine years later that struggles with our marriage than someone we?ve lived across from for only three months.

The way I perceive the bias of others also totally affects which parts and how much of me I allow them to see. I?m not sure if this is being dishonest or discerning, but if I?m around a group of militant homeschoolers, I?m more apt to pipe up that we homeschool too. (I conveniently forget to tell them that we don?t know exactly how long we plan to homeschool). If I?m around a demand-feeding crowd, I?m happy to share with them that I also am not a fan of over-scheduling (though we adapted the feed/wake/sleep routine with all of our babies and they all ended up being healthy, happy, and good sleepers.) These just aren?t hills I?m willing to die on; they aren?t gospel messages I want to preach.

What are? That?s the harder question because I?m a conflict avoider by nature and would much rather drive the long, safe way around issues than risk the rickety bridge of truth. I?m willing to identify with the presence of Christ in my life, working continually at what often seems to be the in-vain goal of sanctification. I?m willing to say I?m a stay-at-home mom to four beautiful girls, whom I don?t parent perfectly (though I wish I could say I did). I?m willing to say all of us are works-in-progress and, though sometimes I despair, I will push on toward that high mark.

This is what I?m willing to own up to. This is what I?m about. This is who I am.

Now who are you?

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