We’re approaching January 1st – that day when a lot of us have a bit of apprehension, wondering when we’re going to fail at all our best laid plans. Will it be January 7th? 14th? How many weeks will it take for you to be back in the same rut you were in on December 31st? This sounds pretty cynical, but I woke this morning feeling that a lot of the time, changing the things you do on a regular basis is one thing, but changing who you ARE, is an entirely different challenge. And I want to change who I am.
I was raised in an incredibly straight-forward speaking family. There was really no passive-aggression; you always knew where you stood with another person, what you did wrong, and what you needed to do to make amends. Sometimes this was nice. There was never really an instance where I was unsure if my mother was upset with me. I knew. She either was or she wasn’t. Same went for my brothers and my dad. This was nice because you always knew how the day was going to go. The times our verbose manners weren’t nice, were the times we just wanted to stew for a while; be mad for being mad’s sake. Very rarely could we have a bad attitude and it not get called out for discussion within the hour. Set yourself straight, be happy, “get glad in the same britches” and move on!
This has affected my friendships and my relationships in a lot of ways. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that “Alisa tells it like it is” or “Alisa will be honest, so only ask if you really want to know what she thinks.” I’ve even been called a “Grammar-Nazi” – not because I’m constantly upset or yelling about the mistakes or complete lack of concern for the English language, but because I’ve made it known that it’s important to me to care about properly spelling or using a word. Taking a stand for anything is often seen in a negative light.
I’d also like to think of myself as caring and forgiving and generous and helpful, but sometimes the negative aspects of my personality are the ones highlighted; the ones I can’t escape. If you are a fellow strong personality, you know that you can fly straight for months, not offend anyone, be especially passive, but these strides are not remembered by people who have known you longer than a year. What’s often remembered is how you were short tempered in a certain situation, how you couldn’t hold your composure in a conversation with a difficult family member, or how you prefer the dishes in a certain household appliance to be loaded in a certain way…
It’s hard to change. And harder than changing yourself is changing how others see you. It takes years and even then, in conversation, it’s your old ways that usually come up as an example of “the kind of person you are.” This is disheartening as I look into 2013. I want to be more patient and kind and helpful, and I believe over the past 10 years I really have developed some of these traits through my marriage and through learning to die to self, even if just little by little. But it’s only the “little by little” that people around you can see. Take a little step forward, take a little step back, inch forward, propel miles back, and so forth. The grand picture is seen only by God and if you’re lucky, you catch glimpses of where you’re headed from time to time, as well.
I challenge myself and you, whoever you are, to let people around you change if they want to. This means not bringing up what they did yesterday, but simply exist with the person they are today. The person they are desperately trying to be, if only they could shake away the ghost of the person they were yesterday.