Friday, April 20, 2007

The dark side of putting the Z in Zeal


"When a woman of many words says nothing, her silence is deafening." King Monkut, Anna and the King


Okay, so today is my day off, a day I reflect more than any other, because it's the one day I have time to. And today my friends, I'm going to share with you one aspect of my personality that is both blessing and curse, and something I've never known quite how to deal with. Maybe if you make it all the way through this post and have an idea, you can tell me what you would do if you were me. (I know, I know it's totally scary to even consider being me for 2 seconds, but...)

Remember when you were a kid and you were instructed by parents, teachers and other responsible adults, "if you don't have anything nice to say...don't say anything at all"? Well, I try to live by that, but many times am vilified for doing so. Allow me to explain.

I talk. I mean, I REALLY talk. I'm a communicator, both naturally and it's what I do for a living. One time a friend and I had an eight hour phone conversation from Tampa to Maryland. All good stuff. We were just "catching up." It was on my day off, she called me, and it just...went that long. I know, it's crazy. My husband says, "WHAT IN THE WORLD DID YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT FOR EIGHT HOURS?" Unless you know me personally you are probably shaking your head and you have no comprehension. If you are just an anonymous peeker onto this blog you think, "that's insane" but if you are one who is personally friends with me right now you are saying, "well yeah, it's insane, but that's just Deanna."

Not only can I talk until the cows come home (I always used to get in trouble for it at school) but I'm a very animated talker. And usually when I greet people it's with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. In my Sunday School class or when I am preaching you never know if I'm going to jump up on a chair and talk, or take a lap around the room. I mean, sometimes I just can't help it. It's just how I'm wired. When we have a women's event, I rarely eat - I just work the room. 200 people may be sitting there and usually by the time I get up to preach I have greeted everyone of them, and most times hugged every single one of them.

All this to say - if I'm happy, I'm talking. If I'm sad, I'm not. Talking is something I do in big doses when all is right with the world in my life. If I'm quiet, you know something's wrong.

So when I'm mad about something and don't have something nice to say, I just tone down. Not silent-treatment-quiet, I just completely mellow out. I talk to people, I normally converse with them, I even smile when I am talking. There is just an absence of the "talking 100 miles and hour with great enthusiasm" talking involved. In other words, I just start acting like most "normal" people when I get mad. All the animation stops, and I just calmly talk, discuss whatever needs to be discussed and I don't go looking for opportunities to converse and I certainly don't hop up and down with glee. If I have nothing good to say about something or to someone, I just...chill.

So what is so wrong with that? Well, when you are a person who put the "Z" in zeal, people see something really wrong with it. This is something I've been attacked for time and again. When those I am in relationship with see that I get quiet (again, we're not talking about the silent treatment - I do see what is wrong with that) they tend to get very angry. If a church member notices I'm just not as animated with them, that I am just even keeled when I talk, and not overly zealous, they realize, "she's not herself." And then comes the, "Pastor Deanna is not treating me the same!" cry.

Well, would you treat someone exactly the same if you have been betrayed or attacked? I'm not saying you would refuse to forgive them, or not speak to them again. I am simply saying that when someone betrays or attacks you or even simply hurts you, I don't think that calls for having the same exact relationship with them. There are times, simply put, that I am not excited about my relationship with somebody. Even when you work through forgiveness issues with someone, the fact is, if the hurt was bad enough, you don't feel like jumping up and down with excitement when you see them. You're doing good just to smile and greet them nicely and carry on normal conversation. I have literally had people say, "you just don't have that air of excitement when you see me." WELL HELLO...................................

Typically when this happens with me with someone I am still hugging them when I greet them, still speaking to them many times even before I'm spoken to, and carry on a conversation that if someone who didn't know us was listening in on, would say, "that's a perfectly normal, nice conversation with no negative undertones at all." The problem lies in the fact that for people who know me well they know that I have very few nice normal conversations, and a lot of high octane, enthusiastic, passionate ones.

I have thought before of purposely and painstakingly changing this dad-gum personality of mine to just be even keeled all the time, to not jump up with excitement when I see anybody - therefore I wouldn't be putting anybody out when I stopped jumping when they made me mad. I've thought of stopping my eight hour conversations with people, and given up on being the hugger that I am. I have considered mellowing out my usual attitude and becoming more melancholy when I talk to everbody so it doesn't stand out when I am just even with some. But I don't want to do that. Because I like being excited, fun, animated and I love communicating.

But I'm just really sick of being accused of being a terrible person due to the fact that I don't jump up and down and talk for 2 hours to somebody who has just emotionally or verbally hit me upside the head. I'm really sick of that. It doesn't happen every day or every week or even ever y month. Usually this kind of thing happens to me on average once a year. But it happens enough to drive me crazy sometimes. So, by now you are probably thinking, "why don't you just force yourself to be animated with people you are not happy with?" Because that is so fake. And I just don't like fakeness. I love being real as you can tell by my open blogs which sometimes drive my husband crazy. :-) I just want to be genuine. And my excitement is very genuine. I don't just jump around and get excited and hug people as some fakey thing, I really MEAN it when I do that. I am honestly excited about what I am talking about and my gushing is totally honest gushing. I want to be "what you see is what you get" real.

My husband has even asked me sometimes, "please just keep gushing even when you don't feel like it because it would just spare us a lot of problems..." but it just makes me sick to even think of going around living fake like that.

When I saw the movie Anna and the King and King Monkut said what he did, I immediately had that quote imbedded in my head because it describes perfectly my personality. I am a woman of many words. If I say half the words I normally say, or for some reason I just say nothing, it's like the silence is absolutely screaming in the room.

Have you ever heard of a person getting verbally crucified for just being even keel and acting how others act on any given day of the week?

That's me, and short of becoming an absolute imposter, I really don't know what the solution is. Pastor friends of mine have told me, "can't you just be animated by faith?" What the heck does that mean? Take a step of faith and be animated with the person hoping I will feel the same way I used to about them, in the future? Go around excitedly saying things I don't mean in the least? That sounds kind of hokey to me.

I'm not one to shy away from facing my problems/issues or refusing to change negative things about me. I wouldn't be in life coaching and working on improving myself as a pastor, and as a person in general if I wasn't open to change. I'm wanting to learn, grow and change things all the time. But when I consider this issue, I really truly don't think it's one I need to change. I think that when people get angry because I'm not animated and something has happened I wonder if it's not the conviction of the Holy Spirit over what they have done, rather than my problem because I am not as enthusiastic as I normally am.

Do you really expect someone who has been hurt, betrayed or attacked to be ENTHUSIASTIC? Jesus wasn't jumping up and down on the cross. He still loved and forgave but he was not throwing a party.

Sometimes I have literally asked God, "WHY IN THE HECK DID YOU GIVE ME THIS PERSONALITY?" People always tell me they love my energy, enthusiasm, and animated nature. That is, until I'm suddenly not jumping off a chair when I'm talking to them.

7 comments:

Pastor Lisa said...

My first thought was how in the world could you change your personality and not be completely miserable for the rest of your life? It would be like asking fire could you not be so hot anymore? How about just warm?

This is one of the down sides to being transparent. *sigh*

Dynamics in relationships change. Some intensify, some mellow out over time and it's really a good thing when we learn to accept this.

I have relationships with folk that will NEVER be what they were. We're still civil...we can speak kindly...laugh, sit next to each other in church but it will NEVER be what it was. And I'm ok with that. It takes awhile to get there because you want it to be the way it was.

These folk that hurt you want you to get over it and let's go back to the way it was. Sometimes it can, sometimes it can't. They are the ones that need to compensate. Sometimes it may take just a little time.

What to do with folk who don't have that understanding...I don't know!

I will be praying for you. It's a tough spot to be in.

For the record, I can't hide either. My face will usually tell on me. Now this is something I can definitely work on!

susan lilly said...

Pastor Deanna, I love you just the way you are. I always enjoy being around you and I love your energetic personality. I wish I could be more like that.
Love you, Susan.

Pastor Lisa said...

Talk about irony! Today on my lunch I ran into someone we used to go to church with. The relationship is obviously different -- we were civil, friendly, cordial -- we hugged. But it's different and I'm ok with that.

We didn't expect any more from each other.

It was cool. As a matter of fact, I saw her first and made sure I spoke first!

Pastor Deanna said...

Thank you Pastor Lisa. You confirm what I have always felt in my heart, but you know when people have not come to this realization they are so convinced you are somehow spiritually wrong for a change in behavior.

What I truly feel is that sometimes people are not mature enough to realize that there are consequences to their behavior.

I went through a situation of disloyalty/betrayal in a relationship and when I simply wasn't my "enthusiastic" self they got really mad and said, "it hurts so much, you are not like you were with me the first year of our relationship." Well, duh...the first year of our relationship you stood by me and didn't side with somebody trying to annihilate me. We didn't have this problem, and everything in our relationship was positive. Now, you want to do this and still have things the same. It is incredulous to me the sense of entitlement some people have.

Thanks for being my friend. :-)

Still praying for you about your CD's...

Pastor Lisa said...

I still haven't found them nor I have torn the house up looking for them. Maybe they're in my closet...I'll check.

I'm going to seriously invest in a laptop if my CDs are gone. That's after I have a real good cry!

And tell Pastor Lindsay only a MAC will do! ;)

Love you and thank YOU for being such a wonderful friend! Man, your words of wisdom have kept a sista!

Hey, we're having a four-week bible study for single women in September...the theme...The lies women tell themselves...

I know you've got plenty on this topic! LOL! I'm excited myself and can't wait!

Coach J said...

Well! I'm glad to know that I'm not alone. Really. This is getting really real, but someone in authority over me has hurt me, and I cannot act the same way around them. It's been about 2 years now, but I still don't want carry on a conversation with her past the "surface stuff". I'm very cautious where she's concerned and I've forgiven her, and keep speaking forgiveness over that situation. I just thought I was not getting past it. Do we do this to avoid being hurt again? I found you through Sharon at a Hoosier Family.

Pastor Deanna said...

I don't believe that forgiveness always means restoration.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends.

We can't be stupid. Forgiveness doesn't mean "check your brain at the door."

It takes time to trust a person again and sometimes you never do.

Yes I do believe we do this to protect ourselves. We can't shut ourselves off from everybody (and be healthy) and we can't love fully unless we are a bit vulnerable but IMHO that doesn't mean with everybody.

I will pray for you as you come to mind...thanks for being real!