Monday, December 5, 2011

My Thorn

This post is categorized in the "just keeping it real" category.

. . . there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
--2 Corinthians 2:7

Occasionally you are given the opportunity to see yourself through the eyes of others.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a compliment, praising something you said or did that changed their perspective or made them think or helped them in some way.

Sometimes it comes in the form of gossip--"Did you know that _____ said _____ about you?"  Usually this is negative, but I generally dismiss it because it's gossip, and I'm pretty thick-skinned.

Sometimes it comes in the form of genuine criticism from someone you love and trust, and it comes in a way that can't be ignored or dismissed as unfounded.

Sometimes it comes in the form of reaction and emotion in your child's face when you know you just hurt them.

Like Paul in the New Testament, I have a few thorns in the flesh.  I've come to realize, over the past few years,  that I don't come across to people the way I think I do.  Confidence can be interpreted as arrogance or lack of concern.  My "get-it-done" attitude can be construed as "just get out of my way."  Speaking whatever is on my mind comes out as cutting and mean instead of factual.  And my pride will not allow me to often see my errors.

Yesterday I found out that something I said was so hurtful (although I felt it was factual and necessary at the time) that this person classified it, weeks later, as "no one has ever spoken to me like that." 

This sudden, shocking revelation made me reflect on my goal for 2011: finding balance in my life, taking time for people and not check marks on my list.  I saw that I have made little to no progress on the goal I set for the year, and my take-no-prisoners attitude is harmful--to others and to me.

I wonder what I would think of me if I could meet me at book club or Target or Church.  Sad to say, I probably would feel dismissed and unimportant and probably wouldn't like me.  That's a hard realization, one that I'm trying to be objective about so I can try to address the issue.

First, if you know me in real life and I have ever offended you, please forgive me.  I must tell you that in most cases, it was unintentional.

Second, I am going to change.  A few weeks ago I was discussing with some friends the potential to completely change a personality trait--whether negative or positive--and whether it's truly possible.  I believe and trust in a God who says with Him "nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37), so I will be placing my trust in Him to soften my heart and help me see when and how I need to change.

Third, please be patient with me.  I've indulged this flaw for 42 years now, and it will take time to change it.  Just know that I am trying to be kinder, less hurtful and more aware of the power of my words.

And to my children--I hope I haven't screwed you up forever.

Change hurts.


  1. Pretty hard on yourself aren't ya?

    I don't know the circumstances, but the only thing that you have the power to change is yourself, not how someone else took it. It is sad if someone felt hurt, but I don't think you have the capability to have a mean bone in your body.

  2. I get it, and I read an earnestness in this that makes me think you will make a huge effort - and that it is very important to you.
    Long ago I was told, by someone I trusted, that people found me aloof and that I'd been called arrogant. It was hard to hear because I was actually quite shy. I decided then and there to try to step out of my comfort zone - to think about others more than about how uncomfortable I felt. It helped.
    You can do it, because as you said, in Him all things are possible.

  3. I come from a family that has the "sensitivity chip super glued in", but I married into a family who is, much of the time, lacking the "sensitivity chip at all". Oh boy I have struggled.
    But I have learned 2 things - I can choose to react in a good way or a bad way - so I have had to change myself to remember that the way I respond is totally up to me. When they are especially bad I say something- and it has helped to some degree. I also have become more realistic about things - translation: not overly sensative.

    The second is that they usually do not mean things the way they come out of their ever loving mouths - doesn't mean that it makes it right but I try to remember that.

    I've seen change through the years but it is a process.

    Don't be too hard on yourself - Holy Smokes if someone out there is perfect I want to meet them!
    Haven't we all said things that someone took the wrong way.

  4. I hate that mirror. But, I too believe in the impossible...through Christ. I think you're great!

  5. It would be nice if self improvement was easy, but we all know it isn't. Someone told me that it can take as long to undo a fault as it took to perfect it. All you can do is keep trying and I am sure you will see progress. Meanwhile, we love you no matter what and your good qualities FAR outweigh the bad. With the Savior's help, you will accomplish this worthy desire. (You know, some of what you want to overcome is in your genes - remember Aunt Grace and Grandma Rosey? Then there was Great Grandma Serila...)

  6. You are humble and teachable, and that will get you through. I admire you.

  7. I have some of that same tendency...My personality is pretty strong, and when I get up a full head of steam it can be a bit overpowering. Years ago, I had a similar experience to yours, where I was allowed to see myself as others sometimes perceived me. It wasn't accurate as far as what was in my heart, but it was a perception others sometimes received, and I wanted to change it.

    To a great extent, I have, though I still revert to form sometimes. But there's definite improvement. The trick is to realize it. Once you know, it's always do-able, with the Lord's help.

    By the way, I actually like the kind of personality you are and powerful and pulling no punches really works for me. I do like a straight shooter! Which is probably one of the reasons I like YOU. (So don't change TOO much.)

    Having said that, we can always (each of us) find room for improvement. And I have a feeling you will succeed at whatever you put your mind to.


  8. Thinking about you. My daughters have told me I do the same thing.

  9. Too bad we can't see ourselves and everyone around us as we truly are, with our good and kind intentions. Love you! I had to laugh at the Aunt Grace reference :)

  10. Oh, I resemble that remark. Call me brutally honest, but call me honest. I try to soften my words when I feel it's needed, but at the same time, if you have an important message to deliver, it's important that it gets through. The trick for me, always, is to know when it's important to deliver or it's just me being little miss know it all.

    Fine line, but a hard one to step back over once the words have left the tongue.

    Just keep working at it, I tell myself. ;)

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