Monday, April 06, 2015

The Tug o War of Too Much, Not Enough

I have become an accidental field researcher in tweendom in recent months. In addition to having three versions of 'almost 11 year olds' in my home, I have served as co-teacher of a 5th-6th grade girls Sunday School class since the Fall. Many of my peers are muddling through the new adventure of parenting pre-adolescents, so I hear common concerns and fears. 

Social awareness is budding. While this is a normal part of the growth process, with positive points like the death of habits like nose picking and dirty faces, there are other implications. Our children are developing opinions about haircuts, wardrobe, how photos depict them. Stories I once told freely are now carefully weighed for how they may reflect on self esteem and image. 

Little people who once burst with personality and freedom in their own skin have begun to turn in a bit in social situations. They are beginning to ask themselves: Am I approved?  Where do I fit? Am I like everyone else? I have observed two extremes in this age group: attention seeking or shrinking. Both hurt my heart a little.

As I was thinking about it this morning, I realized that some of my angst about this change is that I know it sticks around for decades in many hearts. At 2am I found my middle aged heart in the epic tug-o-war of "I am TOO much and just need to calm down a bit" and "I am not enough, so full of inadequacy. I've got to get it together."

image borrowed from CBS
Suddenly, I am that twitchy tween...two extreme versions of the same self. " I am TOO (fill in the blank: hyper, expressive, flighty, passionate, radical, opinionated)... I need to be MORE (fill in the blank: organized, quiet, circumspect, thoughtful, traditional, lighthearted...)" While I understand that reading social cues and being self aware can be healthy to overall maturity and growth, when taken too far it is ineffective. An exhausting internal struggle renders me tangled, frozen and crippled. Additionally, when all of my energy is focused inwardly on how to improve myself and other people's experience with me I have become self absorbed rather than others' focused. What starts with good intentions leads to too much concern with self image. Focus on self eclipses focus on love and purpose. 

I laid awake early this morning with an exhausting dialogue rolling around in my brain: I should quiet down about this. I am making people uncomfortable. I can tell from the look on so-and-so's face when we talk, she has no idea what to do with me. I need to step it up in this role. I should be doing more in this part of my life...So-and-so serves quietly and gracefully. I can't shut up. Why did God wire me to be such a communicator? Ugh! Dial this down. Dial this up. Quiet down. Go off the grid a bit...

I realized the tug o war has pulled me into the mud. I am serving my pride not my purpose. And now more than ever, for the sake of my own heart as well as all the tweens in my life, I want to model a peace in my purpose, a humility in my attitude and a resilience in my concerns about what other people think. 

Right on cue, I opened Beth Moore's Children of the Day. "No one else can fulfill your calling. Other people can do what you have been called to do, but child of God, they can't be you doing it. That's what makes your footprint here unique." 

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2:7-10 The Message

As insecurity and fear threaten my peace and cause me to question my equipping for this next phase, I need to hear these words. My chant should not be "I'm too much...I'm not enough" but "He is enough, I must trust."

"We don't need to look like any other human on this earth. Jesus rejoices in the version of us that loves Him with everything in us." -Beth Moore

So I am recommitting to buckling my seatbelt and getting comfortable in the story God is writing in my life, to be the woman He is sanctifying me to be, doing the work He has led me to this place to do. Empowered by Him, at peace in my skin, I will exhale the insecurity and follow Him expectantly into this week and the days to come. 


Jeannie said...

This is just what my heart needed to read today. I could have written this post myself if I could articulate my heart into words like you do. I, too, have an ongoing dialogue in my head to myself about measuring up and over analyzing people, situations, reactions, and on and on. Thank you for the wisdom you have gained. I join you in seeking Him foremost and watching Him write the rest of it! Always enjoy your insights, Jen! Thank you!

Denise Ross said...

Gosh you could be in my head too. I'm working now to refocus on Jesus and as Beth Moore wrote in a post a ways back, who we are is who we are when we are filled with Jesus and eyes focused on Him. Taking my eyes off of me and putting them on Jesus gets rid of the me out of the equation and puts God back into it. It's a continual lesson but one I'm slowly learning thanks to God. Blessings to yin and yours for the journey you are preparing for. I. Sure it will be a God focused adventure filled it's many blessings to all.

Keri said...

I love your reflections on this topic! I've found myself doing more self-analysis (or is it self-criticism?) lately, for some reason I haven't yet discerned. It feels crippling sometimes, doesn't it? Beth Moore's wisdom quoted here is spot-on, as is the Ephesians passage. Thanks for the excellent food for thought....