Some kids are the cool kids growing up, surrounded by classmates that want nothing more than to emulate their every move. That was not me. I was the one the cool kids thought was…just a little weird. In fact, I would equate my earlier years to that of dancing the jig on a tight rope, precarious to say the least. Being a shy book worm with corny jokes was not the high road to popularity.
At 37 however, I am well-adjusted with great friends and an AWESOME sense of humor. At least that’s what I like to think. Every so often though, I find myself going back to grade school. The insecurities I thought long gone creep back in. I am supposed to have it all together as an adult right? And yet I find those past demons coming up to take a comfortable seat on either shoulder, starting a nice little conversation in my ear. In fact this happened just the other day.
I had a project that I was working on. The problem was that part of the project included sketching. And I draw about as well as I jig on a tightrope. So I asked a friend if she would mind helping with it. She agreed to help and later that day I approached her about it while she was sitting with someone. We chatted briefly and when I walked away I noticed that they immediately spoke in hushed tones. I thought, “What did I do?! Seriously! I hate people talking behind my back!” Then there was the rush of anger, hurt, insult, and a cry for justice that rose from the depths. No matter that I had no idea what they were saying; it had to be about me!
Now it is in my character to want to confront things (imagined or real) on the spot. Push through, justice for all! Especially if the justice meant bringing up how someone offended ME. I started rehearsing 5 minute monologues in my mind. About how rude it is to gossip and other such recitations of indignation.
But then I had this gentle nagging deep inside; something along the lines of “overreacting and loving others”. I tuned it out. In fact I started to walk back to my friend to have an immediate chat. And the warning started to get slightly stronger. So a few minutes later I found myself heading to the local store instead. I knew what the nagging was about. Get a gift card. Make sure she knows how you feel about her help. “Hmmm ok yes, I’ll do that. That will be the perfect intro to segue into my speech.” “No Jess, give her the card and shut up” came the stillness. “In fact ask her how you can improve, because you CAN improve.”
I approached the door back at the building still not convinced that my monologue wasn’t a better answer. But, I sighed and looked over at my shoulder where pride was sitting with a raised chin, then raised my own hand to flick her off and to the curb. And I saw self-righteousness on the other shoulder sitting with arms folded so I resolutely sent her flying too.
I sat down across from my friend, gave her the gift card, and told her what she means to me and the ways that I appreciate her. Because I do. Then I swallowed the lump of insecurity in my throat and asked her what she saw in me that I could do better. And she was as she always is, kind and gracious. She encouraged and gave some great advice. She even shared a story with me from a time that she asked others that same question; about the insecurities that she felt and had to work through. And she also told me how she was just telling the person she sat with that day about my project and how great it was. Without me even bringing any of it up.
Little insecure Jess from grade school…sometimes you just need to chill out. Look beyond the tip of your own nose; it’s not always about you.
Instead. Perhaps there are times that grace is more important than justice. Grace for others and sometimes even a little grace for ourselves.