Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To Know Me is to Love Me

I don't make good first impressions. I am not sure that my second or third impressions are all that good either, but eventually I win most people over. Which is why I don't like having to get to know new people. I know how to be friendly and outgoing. But eventually within the first few minutes I will say or do something that comes across as arrogant, judgmental or self involved. Actually I am not sure that is how I come across but at some point in an opening conversation I will end up interrupting, correcting or arguing with someone about something that at the time seems very important to me. Not a great way to make friends.  Thankfully my friends looked beyond my flaws and love me anyway.  

I did that again today. I am back at my old church with people who have learned to love me. I was asked by a leader to help her co-lead her small group, made up of women I do not know at all. I love this woman, who is a former leader of mine, and jumped at the chance to spend time with her and lead a group. But as I walked into the room last week I remembered that while I make bad first impressions in most situations I make horrible, foot in mouth, did I really say that out loud mistakes when I am in a new small group. It comes from my insecure need to prove who I am. To prove that I am smart and not just a stay at home mommy of small kids. This is my only intellectual outlet most of the time and I want to be taken seriously. 

So today we are in our small group and some lovely lady starts to say something about politics and religion, or at least that is what I think she is going to say because I jumped on top of her first sentence so fast that she stopped talking. I realized right away how rude and selfish I was being. I apologized and asked her to continue which of course she did not do because how could she knowing I was the supposed "expert" in what she was talking about and had discounted her point before she started. The big irony though was that our study this session is called "Conversational Peace" and just yesterday I did the self assessment that showed me that needing to quarrel, interrupt and be proven right were a huge problem area for me.  

Thankfully the woman had enough grace to talk to me after group and I was able to apologize. I realized that I was so caught up in her details (which struck a soft spot of frustration in me) that I missed her point altogether. 

I do that a lot.  Get caught up in the details of the words and conversation and miss the heart of what my friends and loved ones really need heard. I miss their heart which is truly tragic because I want to really know the deepest parts of the people around me. I really care about the joys and pains of my friends and family. But I often miss the important stuff.  So feel free to tell me if I am not listening to what you really want to say.  


  1. You know, I think (if I remember correctly) the first time I met you over artichoke dip at Stanford's, you challenged something I said fairly early on as well. But my reaction was "yeahhh!!! Bring it on!!!" I think it depends on the person you're addressing. So I understand where you are coming from; it's also very hard for me to be quiet and responsive to others when I feel like I have something to say.

  2. Jennifer, I love how honest you are! So happy I found your blog (and you found mine)! Nerdy mothers unite online! lol!

    I wish I was in your small group, I'm doing the Thursday night Conversation Peace! And let me just tell you... there is no one in that room who can use this guidance more than me. Foot In Mouth should have been my middle name(s).

    So glad to reconnect with you, you're a blessing even if you don't see it as easily as the rest of us do! Don't be so hard on yourself!