When I was going through the process of having my own ADHD diagnosed, (let’s just say when my daughter was diagnosed I realized that “she’s just like me!” meant a lot of things.) I went back through all my old report cards looking for comments about what I was like back then. Turns out I was a lot like Tristyn. Anyone who knows my girl in real life knows when I say bubbly and outgoing it’s an understatement. According to my elementary report cards, I was very similar.
Turns out I was a lot like my daughter. Anyone who knows my girl in real life knows when I say bubbly and outgoing, it’s an understatement. According to my elementary report cards, I was very similar.
I don’t know when it changed.
Maybe when my world gently started rocking off of its access. We moved multiple times in my parent’s pursuit to be missionaries. My dad had a dream, a calling to translate the bible in the unreached jungles of Mozambique.
We moved 6 times between grade 4 and grade 9. While my parent’s marriage fell apart, I was left torn between the God who had somehow called my family to this mess and the God of the people who were there to hold me and love me when my world was crumbling.
What I thought was shyness, looking back I now think was the beginnings of anxiety. When I sat in church recently and had a full blown internal anxiety attack it was because we were praying. Suddenly I was taken back to every stage I’ve ever had to stand on while elders and pastors stood around us and laid hands on us. I remember feeling claustrophobic and trapped. Uncomfortable, all in the name of prayer, over and over.
I now know that I’m a very sensitive person. My sensory processing system fires differently. It’s how I’m wired. Maybe it’s ADHD, maybe it’s just being a Highly Sensitive Person. Either way too much of anything is bad. Noise, lights, and definitely strangers touching me. This is where who I am gets tangled with how I was raised.
I’m reading a book right now called After The Tears. It’s about adult children of alcoholics. In this book, under ‘female oldest child in a high functioning alcoholic household”, it’s listing my exact personality traits and I’m left wondering. What is me? How much of me is caused by my circumstances? What do we get to choose?
Somehow my life experiences have left me with a passionate bleeding heart and an overly sensitive, intuitive nature. I’m scattered and anxious, but love like crazy and have a way with words. I see my brave friends speaking against injustice in their writing on facebook, or in books and blogs and I’m left wondering what is my place? I want to be brave. I want to write about the things I see, but I’m conflict averse. I don’t like loud. I don’t like arguing.
I think the world needs a little loud and angry right now. We need people to speak out. I fully support them when it’s done with grace and truth, but anytime I push myself to “be like them” I can’t.
I was lamenting to my sister that I’m too quiet. That I don’t know what to say or how to say it. That I’m scared. During our conversation an old friend messaged me. A pastor who led a small coffee house gathering church that came into my life at a time when I was feeling very hurt and frustrated by church. I felt like my kids weren’t welcome in the way I wanted them to be.
He offered me the gift of a listening ear and even began involving the kids in the service in small ways. I saw it as all the ways he helped me, yet, he messaged me yesterday to tell me how much my words meant to him. How he learned so much from the things I had told him.
When I told him his message was very timely. That I was feeling like my quiet words didn’t matter he offered me this;
“And, as for your “too quiet” words, I think softly, spoken, but deeply lived words are ones that endure far, far longer than the angry tirades we so often see in social media. You’ve got more authority and are changing the world more than you’ll ever know.”
Just as I’ve reckoned with the fact that the picture I had of “a good nurse” and my inability to live up to that, had more to do with the picture than me, I’m now seeing that pattern in every area of my life.
In parenting, in our work, in our callings, we create a picture of how we think it should be. When reality doesn’t live up to that expectation we have two choices. We can cling tightly to that picture of how things should be, often holding to that belief so strongly that we have to see anything opposite as wrong, or…we can begin to realize everyone is different. We all have different skills, gifts, and talents. The world needs more than one type of nurse. It needs more than one type of love warrior. It needs people of all types and personalities, colour and culture.
I invested a lot of time trying to be the type of mom, nurse, wife, person I thought I should be. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30s now, but I just don’t have time for that anymore. This is the life I’ve got. I’m the person I am. Some of it is genetics, some of it’s upbringing. It’s still always changing, always growing, but there are certain parts of me that are what they are.
I offer something to the world no one else can. We each do. Maybe our job is to start discovering what we do best and doing it, even when it scares us, even when it’s not as glamorous as what other people seem to be doing. We can do it even when it seems like it’s not enough. Even if it seems too quiet. Sometimes all we can do is put our work, our art, our love out into the world even though we may never know where the wind takes it.
So once you’ve taken the time to sit with yourself in quiet, to discern where your convictions meet your passion, then go light a fire, or be a gentle wind. Trickle through the mountain like a stream or roar like an ocean wave. God is in the heated colours of the sunset and the cold hues of a full moon.
There is awe at the power of a thunderstorm and beauty in the quiet, colorful swirls of the northern lights. His peace can be felt in the calm of a meadow with warm sun on your back. Just as ice and snow bring with it death and brittle branches, so do sticky green buds in the spring bring the promise of new life to bloom again.
Just as the season pass from death to life and back again, beauty in the stark, cold death as well as in blooming colour of life, so are the seasons of our life. As the world outside slowly dies and the bleak canvas of snow makes an appearance, in my heart, struggling valiantly, are tiny buds pushing up through the snow.