Friday, August 17, 2018

Confidence Check: Being Confident in Not Being Bubbly

I work with students who often question their capacity to have a certain characteristic/personality trait. It is easy to think we lack or possess certain characteristics that might be a classification of Mormon culture. For example, when I was single, I dated some introverts. They often described the church as being an 'extroverted' church, and felt that they didn't have a place to be introverted. This mean they tried all the could to become extroverted in some ways in order to appease the culture - and really, they were unhappy. 

I might add too that, it isn't the church that is extroverted, it is the culture. 

During one of our council meetings in Relief Society, we talked about ministering and its difference to the visiting teaching program. I found it interesting that our conversation turned from the higher meaning of creating true genuine friendships into 'the how-to's of ministering,' which seemed to portray the 'check off the box' and (potentially frightening extroverted) approach we are trying to get away from. 

I couldn't help but think of my introverted sisters, who have a gift of honing strong bonds, yes....but whose approach is so very different. All the 'how to's' that we kept escaping to seemed to go against all of the approaches that this group would use to cultivate true relational experiences.

Today, my friend shared this quote from Pat Holland (speaking in the third person), wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church, which I find profound and beautiful - not just as it relates to the situation above, but to any of us who find ourselves in situations where we aren't being our true self. I made some highlights of areas that stuck out to me:


"For many years I tried to measure the ofttimes quiet, reflective, thoughtful Pat Holland against the robust, bubbly, talkative, and energetic Jeff Holland and others with like qualities. I have learned through several fatiguing failures that you can’t have joy in being bubbly if you are not a bubbly person. It is a contradiction in terms. I have given up seeing myself as a flawed person because my energy level is lower than Jeff’s, and I don’t talk as much as he does, nor as fast. Giving this up has freed me to embrace and rejoice in my own manner and personality in the measure of my creation. Ironically, that has allowed me to admire and enjoy Jeff’s ebullience even more.
Somewhere, somehow the Lord “blipped the message onto my screen” that my personality was created to fit precisely the mission and talents he gave me. For example, the quieter, calmer talent of playing the piano reveals much about the real Pat Holland. I would never have learned to play the piano if I hadn’t enjoyed the long hours of solitude required for its development. This same principle applies to my love of writing, reading, meditation, and especially teaching and talking with my children. Miraculously, I have found that I have untold abundant sources of energy to be myself. But the moment I indulge in imitation of my neighbor, I feel fractured and fatigued and find myself forever swimming upstream. When we frustrate God’s plan for us, we deprive this world and God’s kingdom of our unique contributions, and a serious schism settles in our soul. God never gave us any task beyond our ability to accomplish it. We just have to be willing to do it our own way. We will always have enough resources for being who we are and what we can become. (LDS Women’s Treasury: Insights and Inspiration for Today’s Woman, p.98)

As a follow up, I do not think this means that we shouldn't try to improve by learning other characteristics. For example, I am not a very meek person, but know this is a quality and strength that I would like (and really need) to gain. If there are areas that you want to strengthen, absolutely seek guidance in strengthening those areas....even if you choose to be more bubbly.

On a separate note, I also discovered something beautiful in the wisdom of learning how to do this thing called marriage. Here is a poem to demonstrate my thoughts.

On Marriage

Kahlil Gibran


You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

1 comment:

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