Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Three Questions

Tonight in my women's group, the speaker gave us three questions.  These are questions that we should periodically ask someone who knows us, loves us, and whom we consider a mentor or "accountability partner."   I jotted down the questions and put a little star beside them, reminding myself to come back and visit them later.  Initially I thought, These are good questions! I'm going to send them to one of my nearest and dearest tonight!  Now that I'm looking at them, I'm not so certain I'm ready to have them answered, at least not by someone who is going to be totally honest and blunt with me (which is what people like me need). 

1.  What is something about me that encourages you?

This first question isn't so scary unless you think there's the chance that someone will struggle with finding an answer.  I wondered what people would say if I asked them that.  I am generally an encouraging person, but that's not what the question asks.  What do I project or do that encourages other people in some way?  I have a hard time answering this.  It's not that I'm some inspirational person with a compelling life story.  I'm not sure anyone will look at my life and go, "Wow, if she can make it, I can, too!"  What part of me would anyone look at and be encouraged?  This makes me want to really step back and reevaluate how I present myself to the world.  It's not that I want to change who I am since I'm pretty comfortable with myself and don't make an attempt to present any type of facade.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like I'm one of those people that you meet and know within a couple of minutes if you're going to like me or not.  I figure there's no use wasting time on formalities.  The loud, goofy, "filterless" Amber cannot be suppressed for long, so why try to cage her?   No, what I want to reevaluate is my attitude and reactions.  I want people to look at my life and be encouraged, whether it's because of my disposition or something more specific.  I think my mouth and tendency to act on emotion and not logic get in the way of that.  I've always tried to be encouraging when my friends are in need, but what if my entire life radiated encouragement?  How awesome would that be? 

(Note:  If I am making absolutely no sense here, feel free to ignore me and read one of my earlier, more coherent blogs. I do believe the next section will be a bit less abstract, though.)

This picture is so outdated and really has nothing to do
with the blog, but it made me giggle.
2.  What is something you want to caution me about?

I like to think that for the most part, I have my life together.  But there's a part of me that wonders if I'm just basing this on my life now compared to ten or fifteen years ago.  You know, like the crackhead who says, "But I'm only smoking once a day now, not four. Go me!"   There was a point in my life that someone should have taken a "Caution" sign and beaten me over the head with it--literally.  Every time I turned around, someone was telling me, "You're going to get hurt" or "You need to be careful."  Depending on who was saying it (and their tone), my reactions ranged anywhere from appreciation to indignation.   I rarely receive any "cautions" now, but perhaps there are less obvious ways I am acting irresponsibly.  I'm not "actin' a fool" and putting my life in danger, but are my attitudes or words tearing down people I love?  Do I exhibit signs of some sort of mental illness that no one wants to address?  I mean, it's one thing to say, "You shouldn't drink so much."  It's an entirely different conversation that begins with, "I really think you need to see a doctor and get some counseling" or "It's your negativity that's ruining your marriage." I know those are extreme examples, but I need friends who will tell me what I should hear, not just what I'd like to hear.  Are there harmful areas in my life--emotionally or spiritually--of which I should be aware?  Is there something to which I am blind? 

3.  Is there anything else you want to say to me?

Okay, this last question just drives me nuts.  Though I love creativity and freedom, I also need structure.  Open-ended questions like this shut me down faster than anything, not because I can't think of anything to say but because I have so much to say that I can't begin to know where I should start.  But you know, there does always seem to be at least one thing we want to say to someone, but the  opportunity never presents itself in conversation.  It doesn't have to necessarily be something negative or critical.  Maybe it's a compliment that you don't know how to approach without sounding "weird."  Perhaps it's a favor that you're embarrassed to ask.  Then again, maybe it is something you've done to hurt someone or a situation that causes concern.  Asking this question (and being prepared to accept the reply) could be instrumental in your personal growth or in the nurturing of a friendship.  What would happen if we periodically went to those we love and said, "What do you need to say to me?  What is weighing on your mind or heart?"  The key is that if you give someone this opportunity, you can't use it against them or judge them or explode.  We all want the truth but how many of us are ready to deal with it?

I want to live my life in a way that I'm not afraid of the answers to any of these questions.  It doesn't mean my life is perfect--I just want to be aware of my weaknesses and of the areas in which I need improvement.   The speaker tonight discussed not setting your expectations without first knowing your weaknesses.  I am so prone to having these wonderful, grand ideas.  But I get into the middle of executing the idea and realize that I lack the resources or talent or even will to complete it.  I need to know me better.  And while a great deal of "knowing me" starts with me, I think I have much to learn from those who love me most and know me best. 

So I guess I'm asking.  I know some of you know me well and some only in passing.  Some of you only know me through my blogs.  But based on what you DO know, how would you answer any or all of these questions?  I'm not fishing for compliments and I don't need smoke blown up my ass.  I need honest answers.  I'm a big girl.  I can handle it.


Cilla said...

1. you are one of the kindest people I know. When I was sick and could barely drag myself out of bed, David wouldn't call in to help me with the kids, my parents didn't want to drive an hour to come get the kids, but you came over and brought me's encouraging to know that there ARE still people in the world who are not all about themselves <3

2. I would caution you to not let mommyhood burn you out. It's ok to ask for help!! It's also ok to let peanut cry for a little bit so you can handle the things you need to get done. She's gorgeous and perfect and deserves lots of love, time, and attention...but so does her mommy. Don't lose sight of yourself, you're important too!!

3. I think you're an amazing mother, you have a kind heart, and you're very giving. Those are wonderful qualities to have, just don't let anyone rake advantage of them. :)

Thothscribe said...

1. Your creativity leaves me breathless. Whether it's music or writing, you bring a vibrant, resounding voice of honesty and introspection to all of your work.
2. I worry that you can fall into the trap of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." When I read your blog about your giving birth to Amelia, I wanted to throw every book and computer into a fire, because I knew you had all kinds of information, but not much trust. Information isn't always knowledge or understanding. Sometimes the imagination that makes you great can lead to a place that seems real, or at least plausible, but, it is still make believe. Take it from me, don't go to the bad places willingly. Make them come to you. I have a hard time trusting in the professionalism and ability of others, but I have found that there are sometimes you literally have to put your life in someone else's hands, and when you get to that place in your head where you are comfortable with that, you free yourself from so many terrors.
3. I feel that I'm about as unfiltered as you are. If I haven't said it by now, I certainly haven't thought it! I would trust you with my life, though.