Chasing Contentment

Monday, November 21

I've heard more than one person say they chose a particular career because he or she sees himself or herself as a 'people person' or because 'I just love people.'

I'm a relationship person, though not necessarily a people person. For better or worse, I am defined in so many ways by the relationships I keep.

In my list of 100 Wonderful Things About Me, a good handful of those things were directly related to my relationships, to my friendships. Several more of those things revolved around the concept of honesty.

On Friday, I had a conversation with my oldest friend that made me think about both my friendships and myself in relation to honesty. I spent my weekend brokenhearted, wondering if my perceptions of myself have been badly skewed... terribly wrong.

I've written recently about what I believe to be my spiritual gifts. I have for years thought that both my nurturing and my desire and ability to keep in touch with people were gifts from God, personality traits that I was to use for Him. What if, however, I was wrong? What if I'm just a friend who can't let go, who can't see the forest for the trees rather than a woman with a calling from God to nurture those around her?

The situation at hand isn't important to this story, per se, but the ideas are. The woman who has known me longer than anyone outside of my family wasn't able to be honest with me and found it easier to simply not communicate with me at all. What does that say about me? I clearly am not the friend I thought I was.

At various points throughout the years, I've gotten my feelings hurt because I've kept up with this person or that, and he or she didn't keep up with me. I've spent time sad because I felt as if I didn't matter. But I continued with the things I do because I felt like God could use my actions to touch someone's life. Now, I'm not so sure that's what was happening at all (not to slight God's abilities to use me in any way. He is more than capable!).

In mulling this over these last few days, I have come up with an analogy that makes sense to me. In the world of friendship, I'm a doormat. Everyone needs a doormat - wants one, even - but they don't pay much attention to it. One day, however, we've got muddy shoes, and we're in need and so very grateful that we've got a doormat. We say to one another, 'oh, my goodness, I'm glad I have a doormat like that.' But then the rains stop, and we forget that it's there. That's me. I'm the doormat friend, always there because of this never-ending loyalty thing I've got going.

Instead, I want to be a quilt friend. Warm and comforting, made with love, soft from the breaking in process, cherished.

I am quite sure this is a crisis of something for me. Not faith by any means, but of something unnamed. I am vested in my relationships, and I'm not at all sure if I should be. But changing that changes me, and I don't know if that is right either.

For now, however, I'm quite confused as to whether or not I misread my spiritual gifts.

Nov. 22 Addendum... I've had two friends - and Mike, of course - all insist that my 'doormat' analogy isn't so swell. I'm sure more people feel like I matter than I imagine at this moment, but I do feel taken for granted lately. Aleece says she'll come up with a new term for my 'doormat' analogy, but I'll be sticking with this until she gets something better.

A big thanks, though, to those people - Aleece, Mandy, Mike, LeeAnn, Stacey, Julie - who have helped me feel better this week.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, November 21, 2005  ]


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