Friday, January 6, 2017

I. Am. Entrovert.

This Father's Day 2013 photo was taken because of an upward-soaring eagle,
the dark spot is the eagle, and it is what an entrovert sees
and the unexpected surprise of a Father's eye is what an entrovert senses.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror
 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like

(James 1:23-24)

My brain is the way it is. It is a streamlined and crowded circular expressway, with many entrances and exits. It processes things horizontally, vertically, and diagonally and uses metaphors... because that is what an entrovert's brain does. Like my experiences driving on busy LBJ Expressway in the Dallas area or on the complicated Beltline in St. Louis, I might miss an exit or two and become lost on one of those expressways. And my thinking and the way I write might take an extra turn or two.

Within the paragraphs and sentences in this blog and my other blogs is a vulnerable weakness. It is sensory sensitivity with stuttering "I, I, I's". This snap-chat begins after watching the movie, Martian, and thoughts about life's purpose. Martian is about a fictitious astronaut stranded on Planet Mars and his story of not only surviving, but thriving. 

Many thoughts swirl, with questions that come to mind. If push came to shove, and I ended up cast-away on a deserted island, or stranded on an uninhabited planet like Mars, alone, who would I be? What would I do? Pitch a fit because it was not what I was expecting? Deny my circumstances and die? Or maybe, on the island, dig deeper and dialogue with an imaginary friend created from a volleyball. And build a legitimate saving plan and escape raft. Or, on Planet Mars, resourcefully figure out how to communicate with anchor NASA, and on that frigid planet somehow grow vegetation.

If left stranded and alone, what, or with whom, would I communicate to thrive?... and how? I would really prefer to have a personal anchor, because that is what an entrovert wants. And I want one who is greater than NASA. I live in comfortable Hometown, USA, surrounded by distractions and people, not merely wanting to survive. But to somehow discover and unearth my deep-down gifts and strengths. To fulfill purpose in life. To state it bluntly, I expected more purpose-wise than that with which I ended up. Because an entrovert feels entitled in that regard. 

In The Ugly Duckling fairy tale, a swan egg hatches with 10 duckling eggs. Being raised with ducklings, he searches for identity and purpose. With no appropriate role model, swan naturally attempts to be duckling. But a long neck is unusual for a duckling, so confusion and even teasing occurs. The story line is the now-and-not-yet; the within of the duckling is beautiful and blooms to swan. A long neck actually perfects the role of regal swan and swan's purpose.

Ugly duckling/underdog stories are common. One girl's scrawny figure matures, for her to hone the future advantage of sleek model. Weakling boy's disciplined nature matures to buffed Ninja Warrior. A study of three successful higher education presidents reveals that all three had alcoholic dads. With dysfunctional starts in life, they could have themselves ended up as highly dysfunctional. But as adults, all three ACoAs overcame this and adopted identities of their own. They became leaders, and all three took on the challenge of turning around struggling learning institutions that were headed for financial disaster. Something within drove them first to take on their challenges, and then to press on to hone leadership identities.

But what happens if the pattern plays out in reverse? If duckling is raised as regal swan? A King Edward VIII story occurs. It is a tale of two brothers; a tale of two kings. Charming Edward was raised to take the throne after his father's death, with years of preparation and expectation. After less than a year as king, he abdicated the throne to his stuttering "Ugly Duckling" brother who was actually a swanDespite his verbal impairment, dutiful younger brother was able to rule for 27 years. He was a most beloved king, until his premature death. 

King Edward followed his passions, throwing to the wind royal protocol and marrying a three-times divorced woman. Finding love, but never fulfilling his gifts. He felt like an odd creature who had lost his purpose: Half man, with uncontrollable passions; and, half crown, with a sincere belief in its continued existence.

When a person believes that he or she is regal swan, raised with that belief for years, and actually within is not, the misdirected early-bloomers, like King Edward, can end up taking unplanned dives or unhealthy diversions. Troubling insecurities create abdicated thrones and coping mechanisms, like numbing addictions and/or cynicism. Disappointments occur because expectations exceed reality.

If a child is disappointed, because he or she expected a wrapped birthday package to be a hoped-for Pokemon-themed gift, that 6-year-old is understandably caught off-guard when the gift turns out to be an ordinary game. The child momentarily feels entitled to Pokemon, because the package had the look. But he or she must learn to face reality and unfulfilled expectations. Maybe charming Edward's winsomeness would have created entitlement in other avenues than just marrying whomever he loved. A long-term position as king might have been more restrictive than he preferred, in a variety of ways.

Now, for a sharp curve on black ice with a safe donut-spin that segues to personal identity. Because sharp thought-turns are an entrovert's area of expertise. If talents lie dormant because of distractions, or entitlement is denied, or if there is communication interference, flailing and failing can occur. For 55 years, I dabbled with busy, but ultimately ended up facing feelings of failure. Expectations were unmet, and cynicism was knocking at the door. Introvert was never my identity, and as much as I felt entitled to it, neither is extrovert. Glamorous duckling/swan, runway model, Ninja Warrior, astronaut, king, and higher education president are identities of the few.

Through the years my identity has varied, as satisfactory-level student, assistant pastor's wife, worker, and mom. It would help to include introvert or extrovert to the list, because a succinct adjective or category helps provide, at some point in life, an "aha" moment. When a disposition is sensitive and different, or more challenging to uncover; or, when a young child is left motherless with no role model (as was kindred-to-me ugly duckling/swan) if the sensitive one is misdirected or stifled, relationships are either uncomfortable or ingenuous.

At times, a longer than expected 4-year work sabbatical felt like I was on a deserted island, or on an uninhabited planet, partly because most everyone my age works outside the home. I had time to process. Without even being aware that it happens, extended and purposeful alone-times, like that experienced by the Bible's entitled (adopted) Son of Pharaoh Moses in the desert, or a fictitious astronaut stranded on Plant Mars, help to put together bits and pieces of a self-puzzle. Forced solitude can actually bring with it very good gifts. I am finding my found, finding myself, as my knees and my ego hit the ground; as I lay my entitlement crown down.

I still face now-and-not-yet. Being suddenly and unexpectedly left motherless, at early and immature age 35, and role-model-impaired, I was an odd creature. I floundered. In need of a mother or some sort of finely-knit direction. Sabbatical time brought that. Now, it feels comfortable to be back in the work saddle again, opening one very oddly-wrapped purpose package. I am half crown and half person: I organize, but misplace things. I write, but I am not a writer. I have ideas that belly-flop. 

Through God's eyes and serious determination, I will be accurately useful anyway. The jury is still out whether or not I will fulfill my purpose(s). I. Am. Entrovert. In other words, a mash-up of focused-entitlement, hyper-sensory, validation-seeking, and (as corny as it may sound, but surviving cancer brought death so close I could almost taste a fifth dimension) a child of the King. I love my King and my Savior, with a passion. 

Don't worry, Houston. In faith, before hell freezes over or I experience my last breaths, God, the deep Anchor, will provide clearer coordinates and maybe a kindred rescue crew. And possibly less obtuse blogs, but I hope not. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb
(Psalm 139:13)