love stories: the purse - part I

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)

14 comments:

Kathleen@so much to say, so little time said...

This is a great post. I stopped carrying a physical purse long ago--freshman in college--but I still struggle with trying to do too much, though not for the same reasons. You're right, parenthood empties the purses, both temporal and symbolic. :)

PaperYarnGirl said...

Wow. I've never thought about my life with an image like this, but I have carried this purse around a lot - literally and figuratively. And you're right - as the kids came and life demanded more of me, there were times where the purse was something I could no longer carry... until I'd pick it up again, item by item. Great post with wonderful insight. I'll definitely be mulling over this today!

Heidi said...

Like like like this post.

Maureen said...

Often, we exchange one kind of purse for another. Not the physical kind we sling over the shoulder but the kind we hide inside ourselves, the kind that empties and fills over and over, depending where we are in life. For long periods it gets by on empty, somehow. Babies fill it up, a spouse can fill it up, a friend, too. Loss empties it. Hurt empties it. Somewhere along the way, He finds it and adds to it, day by day. He transforms it, eventually, into the heart, making it beat strongly. Keeping it filled.

Melissa_Rae said...

Great post Kelly! I think many women have this tendency. I know I feel defined more by what I do than by what I am. When someone asks about me I fill up that space with Wife, Mom, Christian, etc. I forget to think about what that says about me: lover, nurturer, believer, etc. I can't wait to read what's next!

S. Etole said...

powerful thoughts here, Kelly ... thank you

Marty said...

The imagery is so simple yet so...right. The human mind can go to extraordinary lengths to find whatever it thinks it needs to be fulfilled and loved.
I love reading your stories.

Stephani said...

Wonderful post. None of us can be all that others need, or think they need, but we can lead them to WHO they need. :) Thanks for your openness once again!

Anne Lang Bundy said...

WOW.

What an intuitive, personal, powerful post. MOST thought-provoking.

Suzanna said...

I can't wait to read the rest! I've talked to several women lately who have struggled with friendships and really loving people. It's isolating until you hear other people's stories and realize it's hard for others too.

Corinne said...

I used to think of it as playing mom to everyone.. same idea. And left me in the same place as you, worn down, worn out. Feeling powerful for those few minutes never made up for the loneliness I know I felt growing up.

Having children really does empty that purse, doesn't it?
I love how you wrote this - and can't wait for next week :)

deb said...

this resonates with some of my story, Kelly.
beautifully shared, as always.

This Heavenly Life said...

Wow, this is beautiful and deep...I like it. I'm excited to read more of your revelations next Thursday!

Jenn said...

wow, this is outstanding, right on! I did this for so long too! I stopped the over-nurturing role lately and it has been so freeing! ;) what a beautiful love story! onto part II! I started with part III! gorgeous gorgeous God-work happening here! hugs, Jenn

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