when i was in middle school (i’ll pause while you remove that wretched flashback from your mind) i often struggled with insecurity and feeling like everyone was talking about me, or laughing at me…or some other horrible thing behind my back. thank God for parents like mine, who taught me about life and the real world.
i will never forget the night this all came to a head for my ever-so diplomatic father. our dinner routine consisted of a discussion of everyone’s day. mind you i am still harassed for not letting anyone – particularly my little brother – get a word in edgewise, which i’m sure comes as a complete shock to you, but anyway…we are having such a discussion one night when my feelings of insecurity came spilling out like gravy over my mashed potatoes after which my father looks at me and says:
honey, do you want to know the truth? no one, absolutely no one is thinking about you that much.
now he goes on, from this tender moment, to explain how wonderful i truly am, but there it was from the mouth of my father. i wanted to protest…but was so shocked i couldn’t find the words. only that thought i could not ignore hung in the space between us. one that was completely alien to me…but one that, eventually, i came to be grateful for and accept as the truth.
and it is true…no one thinks about you as much as you do or as much as you think they do. except in india.
when i came here the first time, a couple of the last scriptures i read before leaving the country were from I Thessalonians 4:11 to lead a quiet life and from Philippians 4:5 let your gentleness be known to all. such challenging words then and now…
in india i stand out just a little bit. my height, hair, skin, eyes are polar opposite to those around me. and for the record, indians are curious. i love that about them. at the same time it can be rather awkward to be very obviously watched and starred at…everywhere.
i am becoming used to it and no longer feel that western compulsion to respond to it all…making the transition to understanding it isn’t as impolite as it feels to just keep focused on what i’m doing or where i’m going and ignore as much of it as possible. today, however, i realized the current application of these wise words from paul. for this season, my purpose is to live a quiet life and let my gentleness be known to all the eyes upon me.
i don’t need my words so much.
in a way my life is diametrically opposed to that of my former middle school years…i thought everyone was looking at me when not many were, but now many are looking at me daily…where i’m going, what i’m doing, how i act, the tone of voice i use…even if they never understand a word coming out of my mouth.
so with renewed passion my prayer today is…Father, as my life is a bit of an open book, and while i have the attention of so many who are far from You…let my gentleness be known and help me lead a quiet life so that those that have not heard and do not know…will see You
in my gentleness