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January 23, 2010

The raindrops are pattering against the window as we move about the house under the gray winter sky.  Rain.  If I didn’t see it for myself, I wouldn’t really believe it.  The roads are wet and slushy and our snowman’s head looks more like a skull under the leopard print hat.

Rain.  It is out of place.  The winter’s sounds do not include the pattering that drowns out the quiet.  The world is still covered in snow, but it is not the brilliant white snow of winter.  It is the dingy snow that spring wears before the green grows out of it.  Except there’s still two feet of snow.

When it freezes tonight, the world will glisten, like a newly frozen lake.  Shiny ice, that will make you tumble to the ground when you least expect it.  It makes everything feel tentative.  Unpredictable.

There are so many aspects of life where I feel like I am stepping out onto the newly frozen, shiny ice.  My steps are hesitant, slow.  Careful.  So different than my regular steps that quicken when I am in a hurry, that evoke confidence.  Or that slow, purposefully, in order to examine and drink in the beauty that surrounds me.

When I was young, I never slowed down, and I was rarely careful.  I missed out on the beauty and I slipped, fell and picked myself up a lot.  The falling didn’t intimidate me then.  I had that idealistic confidence in myself and my beliefs.  I argued my points, and probably didn’t stop to listen to the counter-points.  I probably offended some people without meaning to, and without noticing.

It seems like the older I get the more tentative I become.  It began in college–when another person had the gall to disagree with me.  The nerve of some people!  Suddenly, my confidence was shaken, though.  (Even though the professor took my side in the argument.)  It might have been the way I was attacked in front of complete strangers, in a new class, by a complete stranger, but it changed the course of my life forever.  And I let it.  After that encounter, I didn’t participate in class.  I didn’t share my views.  I was scared that I was wrong, and I was also scared that I couldn’t defend my position.  I still carry around that fear.  If I don’t know all aspects of an issue, I don’t share what is in my heart.

Even when I have strong opinions I stay closed lipped around most people.  I don’t like to argue a point, and I don’t want to offend.  I truly believe that everyone has a right to their own beliefs and opinions.  If I don’t agree, I am probably not going to talk them into believing what I believe.  Furthermore, if I let them know what my belief is, then this somehow opens the door for them to try and sway me to their way of thinking.  This is one of the reasons it was difficult for me to begin to comment on other people’s blogs, and even more difficult to begin my own blog.

I have been thinking a lot about being tentative lately.  And about taking more risks.  One of which is to be myself in all areas of my life.  To be comfortable in my own skin.  As well as to be okay with people disagreeing with me and vice versa.

Since I have started blogging, I have been introduced to many more blogs.  I am so impressed with the amount of confidence that comes through.  I still don’t want to offend anyone, but I am thinking that having a different view of the world shouldn’t really be offensive to anyone.  But, I also believe that the power of the opinions that I have been reading is that they do not attack other points of view.  They just state what they, themselves, believe.  Maybe that is the key.

I am not sure how to make this change in my life.  It has become part of who I am to remain on the sidelines and avoid being questioned.  How do I bring that quickened pace back into all aspects of my life.  I should be walking that way most of the time, not just when I walk with my husband or my good friends.  And, let me be clear, I do argue my points with them.  I question their beliefs and defend my own.  But I also don’t question their most intimate beliefs.  I may have not have the same beliefs, but I don’t try and tell them not to have theirs.  Is it possible that it is because I know that they love me and won’t judge me if I turn out to be wrong that I can take that risk?

What do you think about this topic?  Many of you ooze confidence and have no problem stating your opinions, respectfully.  Have you ever been attacked because of your bravery in sharing this part of yourselves?  Do you obsess about those attacks?  Or, are you able to take them with a grain of salt?  Do you move through your lives at a quickened pace despite the thin film of ice on the sidewalk?  Or do you hesitate and take careful, slow steps so you don’t fall down?

PS.  I am NOT really talking about politics here, even though after I re-read this it seems like I am.  And, I suppose politics could be one area where you share and defend your beliefs so it is a valid part of this discussion.  I just had my mind on other things.

  1. January 23, 2010 9:07 pm

    Great post!!!

    I sometimes feel uncomfortable sharing my views because I am a people pleaser. I didn’t want to cause a ruckus. Unfortunately it seems to be acceptable to openly attack people because of their thoughts rather than having a decent discussion. I could go on and on and on…..
    However, as I get older I get braver because the people that matter don’t care what I say and the people that do care do not matter in the big scheme of things. I think we need to have drinks : )

    • January 25, 2010 9:20 am

      You said it correctly: “it seems to be acceptable to openly attack people…” I agree, and it makes me wonder when it became acceptable? Why would making people feel uncomfortable be acceptable in this age of SUPER political correctness? It is a very odd contradiction isn’t it?

      February is only a week away….drinks it is!

  2. January 24, 2010 3:46 am

    What a fantastic post. I have a lot of confidence in myself and my opinions but I am still like you in many ways: I rarely speak up about them because I hold the same beliefs you do. People are entitled to their own opinions. I doubt I can change theirs, even if stating mine could open their mind, it won’t change it, and I’m often of the opinion that my opinions are nobody else’s business.

    I’ve been attacked for my beliefs too, but I try not to take it personally. It’s not necessarily ME being attacked, actually: it’s that person’s own doubt in their OWN beliefs that is being defended, if you know what I mean. Because I don’t like conflict and tend to shy away from it, though, I have a good radar for people who will bring the fight to a level I’m not comfortable with, and I avoid them.

    I think my pace is somewhere inbetween, actually. Skating away on the thin ice of a new day :)

    (heh, thanks Jethro Tull)

    • January 25, 2010 9:24 am

      You are one of the people I was thinking about as I wrote this post. I do have a couple of friends who hold very different beliefs from mine, and we have very good conversations. We disagree on things and question each other, but somehow it doesn’t feel threatening, and I don’t feel judged. I wonder what it is that happens between us that makes disagreeing okay and not hurtful. How can I teach my children those qualities? I think that they are so important.

  3. January 27, 2010 6:22 am

    I’m a people-pleaser too, and most of the opinions that make their way into my blog entries are never voiced to friends in person. Only my husband and maybe one or two other people know what I truly think from face-to-face conversations… and I fully acknowledge this makes me an honesty wimp. :)

    I HATE being attacked for what I believe, especially since most of my beliefs (about everything from politics to child-raising) are still in healing mode from my childhood. I think someone with a different personality might be able to roll with the punches more easily, but I get hurt, lose my confidence, and start internalizing again. The beauty in all this, though, happens when someone I would expect to disagree with me ends up agreeing or encouraging me. People can be full of surprises.

    What helps me to open up as much as I do is thinking about the people who have positively impacted me over the years… and they’ve all done it by being open about what they believe, what they struggle with, and who they really are on the inside. If I can reach someone with my honesty the way others have reached me with theirs, then it’s worth the occasional hate mail. (Though I’m still not to the point of opening my mouth in Bible study… hehe!)

    • January 27, 2010 9:22 pm

      You are so right, Bethany. There are people that I think will disagree with me that shock me too. One of whom is my mother. When we have an honest good conversation, she usually DOES agree with me, and makes me feel like maybe I am not so one-sided in my beliefs. My mom, politically speaking, is a pretty in-your-face conservative republican. I am not. I tend to be the “black sheep” in the family because of this. But, when we are just talking, sometimes, shockingly, we can be on the same side. It is only shocking because she is soooo staunch in her beliefs that I can’t believe we can agree on anything. (She and my sister tend to love Rush…) Not that I openly disagree with her…that would be futile.

      I also think that opening up helps others open up too. You have helped me with this–a lot. So, that is very encouraging to me. Thanks!

      PS. Do you really get hate mail?? Yikes.

      • January 28, 2010 3:56 am

        Not usually, but after the elections when I had an essay published about my personal experience needing government help and how my view of God made me especially grateful for a president who valued humans regardless of wealth or social status… well, I was told some horrible things by friends and even family. One extremely conservative family member went so far as to say we should have opted not to go through with my pregnancies rather than use government-provided health insurance with our girls. (Make sense of that one!) Those few e-mails basically negated all of the encouragement and excitement I had previously felt, and I think a few relationships are permanently over as a result. It’s amazing you can talk politics with your mom even from different party lines!

        • January 30, 2010 11:29 am

          Wow. I am so sorry that happened. How can anyone say that about your CHILDREN, especially family.

          My mom and I don’t really talk politics, but sometimes subjects have that underlying political air… like teaching, or healthcare. As long as I am very careful not to make it about politics, she usually can see my side and usually agrees with me. But, IF I mention anything government, she starts reciting what she hears on the “Patriot Station” on her radio. She continually tries to sway me to her party. I just stay quiet most of the time. It is just easier and there is much less heightened blood pressure.

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