Although it's reductive, I categorize most families as either "sweet" or "spicy".
There are pros and cons to both,
with tons of overlap on the Venn diagram,
but still. In general, a family trends toward one or the other.
Brillo pads are abrasive.
I come from a line of spicy people. My mother was spicy. My grandmother, bless her, is spicy is a crazy sort of way. She might even spice things up by answering the door with her hinterlands showing.
I have a history of Spicy Moments. I don't know if President Ronald Reagan actually ever got my 3-page letter about the state of emergency that was the NFL, but I was certain he could see that he paid those players waaaaaay too much money, and couldn't he also see that there were starving kids in the world and could he please just spread the wealth around some? (I may not have understood the ins and outs of the NFL--namely that the pres doesn't actually have anything to do with paying the players--but I was absolutely CERTAIN that the actual PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES could fix what was an obvious problem. I was like nine. I was also a disappointed 9YO when the actual president did not write back.) I also wrote P&G, as in that little company called Proctor &Gamble, about using animals to test their Tide. And as an animal advocate, I joined Greenpeace (SAVE THE WHALES) and PETA. (Unfortunately I had trouble giving up my "I love you fluffy little animals but I also eat hamburgers" lifestyle and had to suspend my PETA membership til I could get things under control. That day has not come yet. YET.)
The stress of trying to please Them All, including my fellow life group members and Sunday School members and all the family members and Husband and also live up to my own unrealistic perfect expectations is literally driving me over the edge. I cannot take one more second of keeping my mouth shut simply because that's what I think I'm supposed to do. I'm a thinker and a sayer; I don't have the emotional energy to shove it all down and pretend that I am the Good Wife/Friend/Daughter/Leader/Instructor that I think I want to be. But I fear people's judgement--the Church is the worst of all--and swallow my words and my mishaps and hope people don't walk away. At least not for good.
I keep comparing myself, too. Jen Hatmaker, you are at the top of my I Wish I Was Her List (along with Doutzen Kroes, but I guess we can't all be stunningly beautiful because then it would actually be fair. My friend Stacey, one of the first outside the inner circle of People Who Are Supposed To Think You Are Pretty and Also Tell You (grandma) and also the boy who says I-love-you-you-are-beautiful-can-I-touch-your-boob, told me once that she thought I was stunning, and I will hold onto that kind gesture FOREVER.) and I say, with every single page that I read of yours, I WISH I COULD WRITE LIKE THAT. Only because I think you are hysterical, yes, and almost always right. That much insight and humor only proves that God is actually a thing, and not a figment of my imagination. (The me inside my head and the real, live, actual me fight about this.) I heart you. I actually think people should spend less time here and more time there, which evidently they do. The numbers don't lie.
I do feel like I must have some passion or creativity locked up in this head of mine, but that's exactly where it remains to date: locked up. And exactly what good does that do for anybody?
I might be feeling the slightest bit frustrated mixed with bitter (a dangerous cocktail leading to nothing positive) over my perceived lack of gifts. What, exactly, are my gifts? Because I can tell you that the test I took two weeks ago with the 133 Most Obvious Questions EVER wasn't all that helpful. I already know I like to have people over. I could have told you my best gift was hospitality without answering questions 8, 27, 46 and 84. (I do whatever I can to make visitors and others feel like they belong. Of course. I'm not a jerk.) It IS helpful to have people who want to come over, though. (Maybe why my spicy moments should be tucked back in.)
I know God has made us, each and every one, unique and individual. But that doesn't always make me feel so good when I feel like someone else's uniqueness is a lot better than mine. How is my uniqueness supposed to be touching the world and making a difference? I want big. I want bold. I want loud. I also want to be introverted and quiet and to hold back sometimes, because big and bold and loud make me nervous. I want to shout I AM COMPLEX. DEAL.
I did a bible study a couple of months ago (it was like two years ago. Where does time go?) that asked the question what does God want from me? And I answered the things any Good Sunday School Girl or Boy would answer: 1) don't cuss 2) don't drink 3) don't smoke 4) DON'T HAVE SEX (that one is huge, sexy time is strictly forbidden til you are good and married) 5) don't do drugs 6) be a republican. But by the time the study was over, the truth about what God wants from me was made very clear: faith. THE END. Because when centered around faith, everything else falls into place. When centered around rules, chaos erupts because no one is perfect, which is why we need Jesus in the first place. I found such freedom, such relief (a weight off my shoulders, honestly) with this revelation. Faith. He loves me even when I cuss (not often, promise, that's a total lie, I just try to keep that tongue under wraps, because WE DO NOT CUSS IN THIS HOUSE AND WE WILL ACT LIKE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN) and even when I have ultra spicy moments and even when I don't get it right or perfect because He is love and offers me the freedom of accepting His love and taking the weight of perfection off my own shoulders. I can still listen to other people (expectations) and listen to myself (expectations) and then accept those expectations and place them on my own shoulders, but the secret is that I DON'T HAVE TO.
I was so blown away by this new-found freedom that I immediately made an appointment to get it tattooed on myself, leading to one of the biggest and most drawn-out (we are talking days) fights Jon and I have ever gotten into. (He has an opinion on almost everything, including tattoos, and it is different than mine. It would shock me if things were different from that.) But I truly wanted a visual reminder of the freedom that I have, and also a reminder that I can and should shake off those expectations, because they hinder instead of help.
The world is not big enough for two Jen Hatmakers, because she has a job that only she can do, and honestly, the world is not big enough for two Heather's, either, because then it would be a world of one big spicy moment and nobody would get any sleep because of all the excitement. Accepting myself in this AS-IS state is only half the battle, though. The other half is living like I do.