Thursday, March 25, 2010
I was never one for the popular crowd. Or rather, they never thought they were one for me. I was always a bit on the outside - well, quite on the outside. It is odd to me to hear that I am pretty, that I say things that are worth hearing, that people would like to meet me, that they would like to spend time with me.
I do not think of myself this way.
I was a dork when I was growing up. I talked too much, laughed too loud, stood too strong. I did not wear the "right" kind of clothes, either. It took me a while to grow up into myself. It's not so bad now.
But then, I compensated.
I would do almost anything for the approval of people, particularly the people who insisted on rejecting me. I was terribly good at compliments. They didn't seem to make much difference, though. Nobody seemed interested in conversation - in fact, I still don't know what I didn't do to earn their friendship.
Still, I needed to find something to win friends.
By sixth grade, I had picked up on the fact that it is human nature to respond when someone offers something we need. I decided that I would be the one to have it, and The Purse Idea was born.
I packed tissues, highlighters, pens, pencils, gum, paper, journals, erasers, makeup remover, spare change, Chapstick, you-name-it into granny-size purses for years. Just so that I could have whatever someone needed when they needed it. As I became more style-conscious, I downsized my purse, but The Purse mentality carried over into my life.
It meant that I would go the extra mile to serve in church. I'd sing if there was no one else to do it. I'd play the piano - weddings, funerals, church services - unpaid. I'd babysit for free, every time. People took advantage of me; I didn't mind. I felt loved if they asked my help again.
But when I started collapsing during my freshman year of college, I dropped The Purse. I couldn't carry it anymore. It was too heavy for me. Others stepped in to meet needs that I couldn't meet.
My weakness only made me more determined. I learned to take pictures. I shot weddings for practically nothing. I wrote when asked, said "yes" to everything, volunteered whenever there was an opportunity to help. I was winning friends and influencing people.
I was restocking The Purse.
But I wasn't building relationship, and the people I helped weren't seeking it.
So I was left alone.
Having children has emptied my purse. I barely remember to pack a diaper bag when I leave the house, let alone make considerations for the masses of people around me who will have needs.
But need-meeting isn't always love. And it is love that fills us up, that nourishes relationship, that changes a life. I am only beginning to understand that. My two have a lot of needs. Some I can meet; some I can't begin to fathom.
The Purse I carried was really my way of trying to be God to others in my life. The love I thought I was offering wasn't love at all.
To be continued, next Thursday.
(Image © Informal Moments Photography)