Sunday, October 19, 2014

Martha was OK, Too

Even before posting that recent introvert/extrovert article I'd been thinking about how my makeup has affected my life and relationships. The world greets extroverted people-persons (the Mary's) with open arms while paying scant attention to the introverted, task-oriented "Martha's." Most of the time I am quite all right with that. As a people pleaser I can sometimes be taken advantage of. Sometimes that's ok.

Some people would be surprised to learn that I am an introverted, task-oriented person. Being around people can be fun, but it wears me out and makes me long for time alone. Having a 40-60 minute commute helps. Convincing others to do the things I like to do and organizing the complicated logistics, particularly to my preferred arrive-early timetable, is usually too much trouble - so I often go places alone. How often am I doing things with others? People have commitments and problems of their own. It was so much of my busy friend Reid to volunteer to give up an evening at home with his family and stay out late to help Matthew and I look at a guitar in a dark, faraway Kroger parking lot. 

Ceil's father gave his children an amazing gift: he called them EVERY day. He didn't worry about long-distance charges. Though long in the tooth, he kept up with the technology needed to communicate with subsequent generations - first email and later text messaging (which are free). Mr. Miller also relentlessly kept in touch with friends and other relatives. He never judged or told people what they should do. In return Ceil and Rusty and the grandkids and nieces and nephews communicated back, visited, and came to family gatherings. Story after story was told at his funeral about how he kept in touch for all those years. Looking back, it is really quite amazing.

I am not like that. My first thought is that my kids wouldn't want me hounding them every day like that. Give them space. But I'm wrong. Deep down I'd hope they want to be loved and cared for, as bad as I am at showing it. By spending time pursuing other interests, I am robbing them of the strong father they so desperately need. I keep thinking that one day they'll figure out that I'm not that bad a guy, but if I'm not careful I will run out of time.

But being introverted makes it so much harder. I shouldn't use it as an excuse. When things don't work out the way I want I can get really down. Being turned down for vacation or not being invited to a golf tournament that I'd been promised an invite to. Policies change without notice, and people forget promises and what you tell them (and that's just today). Even praise for good work doesn't make me feel better. I often wonder why God made me this way, though I'm thankful he did.

With five family members going five different ways, with bills to pay while living paycheck to paycheck, with four cars to keep serviced, while living with people raised to look at things differently than me, all while working 13 hour days (plus the two hour commute), many important things mistakenly fall by the wayside - things that will inadvertently hurt loved ones, people who won't understand no matter how hard you explain. Others make unwise decisions. They could care less what I think is the best way, grow defensive when I try to help, and still wonder why I don't take action when their plan is failing. Lots of people are like that (including me). Some think others should be like them, but that's not the way God created people. All this can just shut me down further.

I should to be thankful for what God has blessed me with and not take it for granted. I need to continue to prove myself every dad, as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a friend, as an employee, as a co-worker. I so often fail, and often don't even try. I rationalize supposed reasons, and selfishly fail to give and serve like should. Sometimes while someone else is talking I find myself daydreaming or going on some other mental journey (at work more than at home). I need to gift others by listening to them, and not spend that time formulating my response (or relating a similar story about myself).

It would be great to come up with some awe-inspiring conclusion to all this, but right now I'm not sure what it is. As Forest Gump said after he ran across America, as his followers leaned in to hear something profound: "I'm gonna go home now."

The challenge is making the time count.

No comments: