If you could use just one word to describe yourself, what would it be? Sounds like a personal narrative writing prompt from high school doesn’t it? When I see questions like that, I try say something deep or unique, but I’d actually have to answer it with…
I’m not bashing myself. I’m just being honest. I have a lot of bad habits, and I act on my pendulum-swinging moments of inspiration/desperation and then frustration. I’ve (temporarily) been a raw foodist, a vegan, a vegetarian, someone who eats in moderation, and one who regularly exercises. Then, I get sick of lettuce (get out of habit, get really tired one morning), say “Screw it” (perhaps with more colorful language), and then I eat sweets, sleep in, and get tired all the time. I’m more into thinking and researching than actually doing. I often procrastinate, and then I either work late or get my weekend things done late at night (or not at all). After my bout with procrastination, I’m frustrated with myself, and I’m tired the next day when I can’t sleep in as late as I want.
I’m currently participating in a write 500 words a day, 31-day challenge. I started on January 2nd or 3rd; today’s the 13th, and this is my second day of writing. Did I also mention I’m great at beating myself up? I put off writing in the same way that I put off exercising—there’s always something else that has to get done, or I’m too tired because I waited till bedtime (and I’m sleepy). On the first day that I wrote for the challenge, I kept it in my writing journal because it’s hard to put my writing out there when I don’t feel like I have something important or interesting to say. So, here I am putting myself out there in spite of my internal protests that keep arguing that “this is dumb; no one is going to want to read this.” I’m not sure why I feel the need to write for other people. The writing advice I’ve read is to write for yourself so that you can express yourself. Here is me doing some expressing. I’m pretty sure I’ll find typos or other errors when I re-read this later. Believe it or not, I get paid to edit sometimes. When I write, I always catch more typos after I hit the “Publish” button, which is why I warn my students not to rely on self-editing (Our brains like us and want us to feel better about ourselves. Errors-shmerrors!). My Word document didn’t like that last bit; made up words are always a “misspelling.”
Another way I am ever-so-inconsistent is in my faith. I claim to love Jesus, but this whole loving my enemy thing is hard. My “enemies,” really just people who piss me off, are always offending me, but the problem is me because I don’t need to take offense. I was reminded of this tonight while reading a great book by Brant Hansen, Unoffendable. In talking about our self-righteous nature as human beings, he says: “So humans are judgmental? Okay. Established. There are self-righteous people who self-describe as Christians, and there are self-righteous people who self-describe as atheists. They’re self-righteous about different things, sure, but it’s a very human thing to the core….Look, you have free will, and you can be perpetually shocked and offended. But be honest: Isn’t it kind of exhausting? This is not cynicism; this is living with realistic expectations—the very same understanding of our human nature that Jesus has” (37).
I’d like to be less offendable; I’d certainly be less angry, especially when people drive too close to me when I’m already speeding (a little), or when they walk in front of the yogurt I was about to grab off the refrigerator shelf at the grocery store. I want to be more consistent too, which I know is based on my daily habits (and mine suck most of the time). As I’ve been reading another book, Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith, I’ve been learning just how important the seemingly insignificant habits can be. As he frequently says (and references Augustine as he says it), “We are what we love.” My habits show that I love sweets, sleep, and being easily angered. I guess I’m more consistent than I realized.