Who Am I?

I am a dinosaur. Not literally, obviously. At least I don’t think I have dinosaur DNA, but figuratively I am. Why? Because I still subscribe to the newspaper. There aren’t many subscribers left. I’m not sure why. Not much beats a morning cup of coffee and the newspaper. Of course, I still prefer holding a book in my hands and turning the pages instead of scrolling pages on the iPad, so maybe I do have dinosaur DNA.

I don’t read all the paper because it’s depressing. But I do have to check up on my Spurs, see how irritated I can get reading the editorials, and then move to my favorite section—MySa. Dear Abby, Miss Manners, Heloise, puzzles, TV shows, etc. That takes up most of my time. Once a week, MySA runs a News of the Weird column. That is normally good for a chuckle or two, because it’s usually about someone doing something incredibly stupid.

A few days ago, one of the snippets was about a judge who got a jury summons. He wasn’t against serving and thought it might actually be a good idea for him to see the courtroom through a juror’s eyes, but in that particular case he would be the presiding judge. He was smart enough to know he couldn’t be a juror and a judge at the same time. The jury summons people? Not so much. They told him they couldn’t do anything about an exemption for him and he’d have to talk to the presiding judge on the case who was, oh yeah, him. I’d loved to have been privy to that conversation. They eventually figured it out, but how something so simple can get so convoluted amazes me.

One last week was probably my favorite story of all time. A woman in Iceland joined a search party to help look for a missing woman. It took a bit, but they finally figured out that woman was, in fact, the missing woman. That begs the question. How could she not know she was missing, and hundreds of people were searching for her? I read the article to Ed and he couldn’t stand it. Living with me as long as he has, he’s developed a curiosity that almost rivals my own, so he googled it. Come to find out, the woman was on a tour bus but left part way through, changed her clothes, and rejoined the group. We don’t know why. I think she probably spilled coffee all over herself, but it doesn’t really matter. When she rejoined the tour, they didn’t recognize her, so they reported her missing. She didn’t recognize herself from the description they gave, so she helped them search for the not-so-missing-woman. Seriously, how funny is that?

Like most things in life, that got me to thinking. Could I recognize myself from someone’s description of me? Probably not. We don’t see ourselves as others see us. If we’re asked to describe ourselves, we’ll normally list our height, weight, hair color, etc. Physical characteristics. When people describe us, that’s normally the last thing they say. Kind, caring, obnoxious, smart, etc. Other people focus on traits; we focus on appearances.

I told someone once that if I could give them any gift, it would be the gift of seeing themselves as I see them. We’re too hard on ourselves. We spend so much time focusing on the negative, we lose sight of the positive. Sometimes, in fact, the negative is all we can see. We forget how kind we are and avoid mirrors, so we don’t see our too-large nose. We worry about our weight so much we forget how many people would be devastated if we weren’t around. We worry about the things we can’t do and forget how much stuff we can do. We look around and see what we don’t have and fail to appreciate what we do have.

We need to stop. If we spend all our time dwelling on the negatives in our life, we’re going to fall into such a pit of despair we’ll never find an exit. So how do we get out? It’s not as simple as grabbing a ladder and climbing out. It’s more like trying to climb your way out of a deep hole where the dirt keeps falling back down on top of you. You scrabble to the top with all your might and the only thing you accomplish is blisters on your fingers and more dirt in the hole. There is an easy solution and you know what it is. God. We need to try to see ourselves as He sees us and not as we see ourselves. He doesn’t care about our big nose, our fat rear end, or that our days of running a marathon are long gone. He loves us in spite of ourselves. So…if it’s good enough for God, it should be good enough for us. That’s why I stopped pulling out my gray hairs. Seemed pointless and I decided to be happy with the factory issued version of myself. Plus, I’d go bald.

Of course, that’s all well and good, and it’s easy to say, not so easy to do. So, here’s my suggestion if you can’t seem to find your way out of the darkness. Get a piece of paper and make two columns. A “good” and “bad.” (Bearing in mind the fact that there is no such thing as “bad” because God doesn’t make junk.)

In the “good” column, list everything in your life that’s good. That’s a hard column to fill in, because we just don’t like to say nice things about ourselves. Pretend you’re evaluating someone else if that helps. Be honest! That time you gave the homeless person a dollar? List it. The stray puppy you rescued? List it. The potato salad everyone makes you bring to a picnic because it’s so good? It won’t be as good as mine, but go ahead and list it, too. You get the idea. There’s probably more in your life you should be proud of than you realize. Put it down on that paper.

Now do the same thing for the “bad” column. This one may be easier, because you’ll probably find a million things you don’t like about yourself and/or your situation. Your nose is too big. (Easier to smell that great potato salad.) Your ankle hurts because of arthritis. (At least you have an ankle. Some people don’t.) You lost your job because of your health. (Maybe God has a new plan for your life. Go pursue your dream!)

I might have cheated on the “bad” column examples, because I’m pretty sure you picked up on what I did. Once you see it all down in black and white, sometimes you can rearrange your thought process and the “bad” entries can move to the “good” column.

Life is about choices. I have a wooden flower on top of my refrigerator. It’s so pretty and it says “I choose joy” on the front of the flower. That’s my choice. I refuse to get so mired down in self-pity over some perceived imperfection that I lose sight of what’s really important in life. Like the God who adores me, the people who love me, and the kitty babies who want to be in my lap even if they are a major pain.

If you’re like the lady in Iceland who didn’t recognize herself from the description and joined the search party for a missing woman, don’t give up hope. Try to see yourself as others see you and I think you’ll be amazed at how great you really are. The vast majority of the time, your “good” list will far outnumber your “bad” list if you only give yourself a chance. So, go ahead and give yourself a break. You’re worth it.

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