I’m constantly trying to figure out who I am. Should I go by my Twitter bio?
Jesus follower, wife, mother, daughter, Haitian-American, Presbyterian (PCA), Beatles fan, pop princess, non-mommy blogger, suicide survivor, and more…
My Twitter bio only allows 140 characters so I’ve always wondered what I would add as “more” if I had unlimited space. But I also want to define how I describe myself in my Twitter bio. So here goes nothing… Read more…
I’m a mother now. After nearly 5 years of waiting, a dream has come true. But I’m afraid. So many women become moms and their identity is swallowed up in their children. They forget they are individuals with likes and dislikes and revolve their worlds around their kids.
I don’t want that to be me. I want to continue being the Kass I was before I got pregnant without the incessant melancholy over infertility. However, I do want to pursue my own interests and take time to care for myself and feed my soul. I want to expand my interests and seek new horizons.
- I still want to be a part of the battle for others to overcome infertility.
- I want to champion awareness of mental illness: PPD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, and many other mood disorders.
- I want to expand my horizons professionally and attend conferences that will challenge me, engage me, and help me grow.
- I want to expand my horizons personally by connection with supportive women online and offline.
- I want to support non-profit organizations wholeheartedly, e.g., Postpartum Progress, Food for the Hungry, International Justice Mission, and Amnesty International.
- I want to educate the wider Christian community about fertility options and treatments.
- I want to enjoy my work as a library assistant.
- I want to enjoy my work as a freelance editor.
- I want to be a loving, supportive wife.
- I want to be able to splurge (occasionally) on myself.
I don’t want my identity to revolve around my son (as cute as he is).
I know, I know, I’m a Christian so my identity should be based on Christ. Perhaps it’s better to say that I don’t want my personality to be swallowed up by motherhood. The following is a list of things I plan to do for me—to remind myself life isn’t just about my son:
- I plan on treating a friend (and myself) to a massage for relaxation.
- I plan on registering for the Warrior Mom conference that takes place in 2015.
- I plan on being in a wedding in August.
- I plan on attending another friend’s wedding in August
- I plan on going to an editorial conference in September.
- I plan on attending an editor’s conference in March 2015.
I hope to enjoy life more. I want to blog more. A lot of people would add travel to that list. Nope, not me; I’m a happy homebody. I’ll see the Eiffel Tower on the Internet and not deal with turbulence on an airplane over the ATLANTIC OCEAN, kthxbai.
I want to see Justin Timberlake in concert again but not by myself. Alas, some dreams aren’t meant to be realized.
In August, life handed me a job description for the important role I’ve been neglecting since I got married 6 years ago: Chief Home Operations Manager (CHOM).
Congratulations! Upon marriage, you filled a part-time position for Chief Home Operations Manager averaging 30 hours per week, including evening and weekend hours as needed. Schedule is flexible based on other pressing needs and hours required may fluctuate depending on life circumstances.
The apartment seeks an energetic, motivated individual who can work well alone, is adept at managing household duties, and does not mind delegating tasks to a significant other. Candidate is a self-starter who should function well in a quiet environment without children. Detail-oriented is a plus. Primary responsibilities of the position will be:
- Caretaking of significant other as circumstances require
- Cleaning the bathroom sink, toilet, and shower
- Vacuuming the carpet
- Swiffering the bathroom and kitchen tile floors
- Washing dishes and putting clean ones away
- Wiping down the kitchen countertops
- Taking out the trash and recycling
- Overseeing the washing, drying, and folding of laundry
- Organizing out-of-place items on surfaces or other disorganized items
- Running errands outside of the household as required such as refilling stock of perishable and non-perishable groceries
Secondary activities include:
- Creating edible meals (original, appetizing, or enticing are optional)
- Scheduling of appointments and other activities
- Managing the household budget including balancing checkbooks, paying bills, overseeing responsible spending, and quarterly reviews
- Administration of insurance and medical claims
- Adept negotiation with vendors to secure lower costs on utilities, credit cards, or other other services
- Sifting through postal mail to determine junk and distribute important documents
- Occasional reorganization of closets and cabinets to make sure all items are accessible, active, and not expired
- Maintaining an pictorial archive of memorable moments
High school degree desired. BA or BS preferred. MA or PhD is ideal. 18 years life experience required; compassionate emotions, computer skills, and driving ability essential. Prior experience accomplishing household chores, using a calendar, reconciling a checkbook, and interest in home organization a plus. Good photography skills optional; will train on the job.
Wage begins at $0, regardless of experience. No reimbursement for travel. However, many hugs, kisses, and thanks are offered daily for a reward.
Affirmative Action Employer
Before I became a born-again Christian at 16 years old, my problem at that time was that I didn’t have enough “self-esteem” and “self-confidence.” I didn’t believe in myself enough, and I didn’t try hard enough to believe in myself (which to be honest, I didn’t because I was an angsty, grungy teenager who thought it was cool to revel in my depression and suicidal bent).
Enter in born-again fundamentalist Christianity.
Fundamentalist Christianity says that one must not believe in self and only in Jesus Christ. Fundamentalist Christianity has no room for self-esteem, requiring a believer to place his or her trust solely in Jesus Christ.
Then I entered Protestantism and encountered a softer version of the same thing: Solo Christo! (This really refers to a theological belief of salvation, but this is the prescription of many orthodox Christians when it comes to problems with self-esteem.)
For a long time then, I believed self-esteem and self-confidence were wrong. I eschewed these things because my sole worth should be found in God and not in myself. I engaged in “worm” theology: Oh, I’m such an awful, terrible sinner. There is no righteousness in me. All righteousness is found in God, and I’m poor, pathetic, pitiful soul. I suck at life and I’m so lucky God saved me because I’m totally worthless otherwise.
Beginning last week, I started reading Jillian Michaels’s book, Unlimited: How to Live an Exceptional Life, and started seriously thinking, Maybe it’s time for me to walk away from Christianity because I like what Jillian’s saying about reclaiming and recapturing my life. I want to have self-esteem. I want to have self-confidence. I want to stop obsessing and feeling like a poor, pathetic little shit all the time.
But as I got further and further into Jillian’s book, I realized that a lot (not all) of what she says actually lines up with scripture. (Her chapter on Forgiveness and Accepting Responsibility was so solid, it blew me away.) And I realized that self-esteem and self-confidence do NOT need to contradict Christianity and God’s word. How?
In Mark 12, a scribe comes up to Jesus to test him. The scribe asks, “What is the greatest commandment?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:29-31
So Jesus lays it down: we are to love God with everything we have first. Then we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The assumption is we already love and esteem ourselves. If we do not, how are we able to love and esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3)? So one must tackle the challenge of learning to love and esteem oneself first before being able to truly love and esteem others better. Consistently treating others better than you treat yourself leads to an erosion of self-love and a path to possible codependency and people-pleasing (needing the approval of others).
An example: think of the mom who sacrifices herself on the altar of her children. This mother is constantly shuttling her kids to soccer practice, gymnastics, ballet class, and Boy Scouts but never takes any time for herself, investing her life in her children at great detriment to her health. She will likely be one stressed out and unhappy mommy. She may have high blood pressure, feel dizzy, and tired all the time. Yet think of the other mom who shuttles her three kids to the exact same activities (still investing immensely in her kids) but once a month, goes to a spa to relax and get pampered. Three times a week, she jogs outdoors for 20 minutes simply to clear her head. Maybe she’ll even join a bi-monthly knitting group so she can engage in her own hobbies so she is invested in herself enough so that she can take care of her children. The latter mom is likely to be in an overall healthier position (mentally and physically) than the former.
A person who invests in herself first is better able to love and serve those around her. I do a better job helping people on 7 hours of sleep than I do 4 hours.
All this talk of self-love is probably making some Christians twitchy. It sounds odd and new age-y. But remember, Jesus assumed that we would already love ourselves and from that, commands us to love our neighbor. As Christians, if we don’t love ourselves, we are sinning. Read more…
A ramble/rant/possible form of incoherence.
I am trying to reconcile who I am with who God wants me to be as a married woman living in the Philadelphia area. More than that, I think, I struggle with trying to reconcile who I am with what I think Christianity expects or wants me to be.
I’ve written before about how I see differences between myself and other women. I am currently struggling with my role as a Christian woman within the church. I’m 28, married, and currently childless. I’m a minority at my church. Moreover, I’m suddenly starting to feel like a minority in my phase of life. I am having a difficult time accepting that I’m in the stage of life where many of my friends are married and having children and parenthood is not a place God has called me to yet.
I am also struggling with the idea of a glass ceiling in the church: how much can women serve and is that glass ceiling really ordained by God or by power-hungry, chauvinistic men hanging onto an archaic rule that served its purpose for that time and that culture? (My husband warned me that I sound all Brian McLaren with those thoughts, but I happen to think he’s a little biased considering he’s a guy and all.)
I spent the day crying (partially about what I don’t have but also) about what I like: social media; reformed theology; discussing mental health issues; writing fiction; blogging about topics that don’t include fashion, kids, or TV shows; pop music; and going to concerts. I am grieved by the superficial — apart from my faith, I share very little in common with the women of my church.
I whine about the days when I used to be able to call up a buddy and say, “Hey, want to go to a concert with me?” and she’d say, “Sure! Time and date, please!” and we’d just go. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have children that I still feel that kind of freedom. But even if I did, I’d hope that I’d still be able to go. (I attend concerts once or twice a year.)
I feel the need to live two different lives: a life with Christians where I act all Christian and do whatever Christian people do and a life with non-Christians where we share similar interests but nothing that unites as deeply as spiritual things do. Is it wrong for me to want the two worlds to collide? To want the crazy friend who dyes her hair pink and purple, loves music, literature, and Jesus just as much as I do (if not more), and would go to Hershey with me to see Justin Bieber? To want that friend who can say, “You wanna hang out on Saturday and find a place in Philly where a local band is playing?” or “I’m in a really dark place right now in my life. Could you come over, talk, and pray with me?” Perhaps it’s never too late to develop imaginary friends. Or, slightly less creepy, put an ad up on the Philadelphia craigslist. (Maybe imaginary friends are safer, though. Hmm…)
I have friends all over the United States who I connect with on different levels, but in suburban Philadelphia, an area I’ll likely call home for the rest of my life, I still feel lost. I still see myself as the freak loser even though I’ve never gone to school here and have never had anyone tease me here. I have lots of local friends, but when I’m depressed, upset, and hurting, I don’t have that “one” friend I feel comfortable calling. Mostly because I know they’ve all got their kids and their husbands, and hence their busy lives that have little room or space for me.
I keep wondering how to rectify the situation. How to find my crazy Christian friend who loves Jesus, loves pop music, lives within 20 minutes, and can educate me on the greatness of Proust and Faulkner.
Or maybe I’ll just stick to this solitary life of writing novels and keeping hoping and wishing that I had different so I didn’t feel so immature, so isolated, and so alone.
How is a Christian woman supposed to act? In the novel I’m currently working on, my protagonist gets a brief lesson on being a Titus 2/Proverbs 31 (Biblical) woman. I’m feeling about as flummoxed as my character. The Biblical woman is ever working, ever busy, ever faithful, ever diligent. Striving to be like the woman the Bible outlines is striving for perfection — a goal I’ll surely never attain. Why bother at all?
I struggle with ambition. I am an ambitious woman. I don’t know what I want to do but I want to do something. But all I can do is write. There’s not much of a need for that in my local church.
I could go on and on but the rest of my thoughts are a jumble, I’m feeling tired and depressed again about how I’m doomed to live with a 16-year-old mentality in a 28-year-old body and a New York mentality in suburban Philadelphia, and how I have no kids and probably too much time on my hands. I need to get involved in something in which I can utilize my talents regularly but I’m not sure what.
I was speaking to a friend about a topic—I don’t remember what it was; it doesn’t really matter—and she flat out said:
“Why do you keep comparing yourself to other people?”
I didn’t have a concrete answer then and I still don’t have a concrete answer now.
We all compare ourselves to others to some degree. As humans, we tend to look at those who are more monetarily well off than us with some envy and those who are less monetarily well off than us with either sympathy or contempt (usually not envy). But for some (like me), it’s quite the obsession.
Perhaps this is because I failed in the area of attracting friends at a young age so I always felt like I lacked the necessary quality to become the ultimate friend. I looked to others and thought, “They have a lot of friends. If I were just like them or if I had this one quality, people would like me more.” Since pre-school, the question “Why don’t people like me?” has plagued me. As a young child, it was a legitimate question, especially when I was double-crossed by the girl I considered to be my best friend. Now that I’m older, it’s more of an irrelevant question since the people who like me significantly outnumber those who do not but because I zeroed in on my foes (so to speak) as a child, it is a terrible habit I’ve retained into adulthood.
There was also the pressure to always be number one in school. When an intelligent rival knocked me off my top-of-the-class pedestal, I became competitive. And that is my first vivid memory of truly experiencing envy.
Now, envy is second nature to me. Read more…