A disquiet follows my soul

A disquiet follows my soul

I’m a difficult person to get to know.

Recently I’ve become more and more willing to admit this about myself, and now I’m admitting it to everyone. The recipe for this is likely a mix of one part introversion, one part bald and scary-looking, one part quiet-spoken, and about eleven parts ridiculously insecure. While I was sitting here staring at the first few sentences, trying desperately to come up with an excuse not to use the word “shy” in the lines that followed, Merriam-Webster offered up this definition of the word: “3. hesitant in committing oneself : circumspect”. It then defines circumspect as “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences”.

Almost a year ago now, I joined my first community group at City Church. That story is for another day, but one of the first ice breaker questions we answered was what one movie best depicted our lives. After thinking for a while, I eventually chose Groundhog’s Day. If you’ve never seen the movie, Bill Murray’s character gets stuck living the same day over and over again, and basically he spends the majority of this experience trying every way possible to win the girl, finding 10,000 ways that don’t work before finally living out the perfect day in such a way as to achieve his goal, winning over the heart of Andie McDowell’s character. I then proceeded to tell everyone that this is pretty much what goes on in my head constantly. I play through all the various scenarios, seeing how each one fails, carefully considering all the circumstances and possible consequences of my actions (see: circumspect, ridiculously insecure).

When I’m unsure which of those various scenarios will play out, I happen to know there’s one that produces a very constant result: doing nothing. So in a room of twenty people I don’t know, I tend to lean back in the corner and just watch. Almost as if in the back of my mind I can hear my inner self chanting, “the only winning move is not to play the game.” This, as a general rule, is fine when the game is global thermonuclear war, but not so great as a modus operandi for life.

I’m a difficult person to get to know.

Earlier this week, I was doing some work for one of my client hotels down in Greenwich. Unlike my typical work wearing a suit schlepping microphones around, this time my clients hired me to build shelves for their storage room. I brought my dad in to do the work with me, so he got to step into my world there for a couple of days and meet the people I work with in Greenwich quite often. In particular, he got to meet one of the housekeeping ladies that I’ve come to admire over the past couple years.

Everyone in the hotel knows and loves Madame. It’s pretty impossible not to. She’s one of the biggest personalities I’ve ever met, wrapped in the tiniest five-foot frame of a petite woman. Madame does not understand any of the first three paragraphs I wrote. She does not understand the things that go on inside my head. In her world, there is only expressive love and much of it.

I can’t remember the first time I met her, but I don’t remember a time where I did not instantly like her. She, without hesitation, simply recognized there was a face in front of hers that she did not recognize, and that had to be rectified. Without pause, she introduced herself to me. Gave me a hug. Made me feel appreciated. Loved. I believe the proper New England response to this is to ask, “who is this short woman hugging me, and why is she touching me anyways?”

Madame scolded me this week, because when she first saw me standing there in grubby work clothes, drill in hand, I did not immediately come over and give her a proper hug. Now, when I say scolded, I don’t just mean she asked why I didn’t come right over and greet her. I mean, she scolded me for about a solid five minutes, going on about how she is always the same person day in and day out, about how there are no days she doesn’t want to be hugged and greeted, no days where she feels extra loving. She is just Madame, and Madame expects to get her hug and greeting. And yes, she understands in this country it’s not the normal, it’s not the expected social policy, and that that is very hard for us Americans to overcome. But it’s no excuse. She will get her hug, do you hear me?

I’m a difficult person to get to know.

After being scolded, I introduced her to my father, and then she proceeded to tell him what a good job he had done raising his son, and said many nice things about me, and about him because of me. And the whole time all I could think is, “Who is this firecracker of a lady whom I barely know who exudes this much love not just to me, but to everyone she meets?”

In the past few weeks, God has been working in my life in some pretty unexpected ways. I’ve spent the last decade or more of my life trying to figure what exactly it was I was supposed to do with myself. Wrestled with whether I had a calling to ministry. Worked a steady job for five years. Quit that and spent some time learning to fly airplanes. And now, approaching my first 29th birthday, I have very few answers to those questions of purpose and heading. But I know what direction I’m going.

You see over the past year I’ve become more and more convinced that God is much less concerned with what we do with our lives and much more concerned with who we are. I’ve ambled through a whole lot of years not understanding this, only to largely lose myself in the process. This year, God has only one desire for me: to focus on being the person he wants me to be. That’s it. Tomorrow will worry about itself; my responsibility is to zero in on taking care of who I am today.

So I’m working on a list of what originally began as New Year’s resolutions. We’re three weeks into the new year and the list isn’t done yet, so I don’t suppose it’s appropriate to call them that anymore. They are becoming a treatise of change, a systematic review of the facts and history, and the direction I am establishing to move forward in the days to come. It’s a shift in the focus I have had for most of my life, a shift I welcome more with each passing day.

I’m a difficult person to get to know.

The funny thing is, I keep saying that to myself and yet I think the truth is that at the core depths of my being, I’ve known who I was all along. Maybe that truth has been clouded by poor choices, lack of discipline, and laziness. But a disquiet follows my soul–the work of an almighty God who for some inexplicable reason cares enough about me to stir those feelings within–and I can no longer coexist with this disquiet. My first reaction may be to tell myself that the only winning move is not to play. But I think it’s exactly the opposite–the only winning move is to play with reckless abandon.

That’s not to say there aren’t times when it’s good to be “hesitant in committing oneself : circumspect.” Certainly one of the last phrases I want running through my head is “reckless abandon” as I strap into the controls of an airplane to go punch holes in the sky. But I withhold too much, too often. And now I’m refusing to be content to wallow in mediocrity and disinterest.

In the days to come I’ll be wrapping up my treatise of change. Much of it will be a return to things I used to do and somewhere along the way forgot how. It will include things like going hiking, camping, and backpacking. Dusting off piano scales and getting proficient at music once again. Finding time to play sports. Setting new health and wellness goals (20-week workout program starts next week!). But also things like breaking the Groundhog’s Day cycle. Exuding love like Madame. Playing the game with reckless abandon.

I’m a difficult person to get to know. But God is teaching me about who I am, and more importantly who he wants me to be, and maybe I’m finally starting to listen.