It’s too much trouble to impress you / my lies are never big enough / I use the truth to cover up where you’re looking

Sometimes I forget that change comes slowly, and that we can’t expect too much of ourselves. I think sometimes that I am learning about expressing my opinions and being vulnerable, and then something like last night happens, and I realize I haven’t made as much progress as I would want.

Last night at small group, the introduction to our study was the following two questions: “What are some things you find impressive?” and “What are some things that cause you to be saddened?” My first instinct was to say “childbirth” or “a newborn baby” for the first one, but as I was the only woman in the room who hadn’t given birth, I kept my mouth shut. And then the conversation turned a different way – to the Grand Canyon and to Niagara Falls and oceans and mountains and other beautiful things like that. Things that are indeed truly impressive. I had other answers, but they didn’t seem to fit with the conversation.

For the second question, the answers were, of course, things like September 11 and the Oklahoma City bombing (I actually said that one) and the recent tsunami. Several of my friends work with the poor in Greensboro, so I think the issues related to the tsunami hit home for them more than they do for me. It’s not that I don’t care about the poor, just that, for me, those issues aren’t the ones I think about on a daily basis. September 11 greatly saddened me (to the point that I am still writing about and working through my feelings about it), and yet, it didn’t affect me on a daily basis. I don’t know anyone who died. I don’t live or work in New York City. Columbine was another thing that threw me off kilter emotionally (my brother was still in high school and his school received bomb threats, which freaked me out), but, again, I didn’t lose anyone close to me. I wanted to say those things last night, to take it to a more personal level, but I lost my nerve. I was afraid of being inarticulate, so I kept my thoughts to myself.

You want to know the things that impress me? Childbirth and newborn babies. Forgiveness, especially when it’s hard. Love. Courage in the face of extreme situations, either physical or emotional. Marriages that have lasted a long time. You want to know the things that make me sad? Loneliness. When friendships fall apart. When my friends’ marriages fail. When people die young and those of us who are left still feel like we need them. When people I know have miscarriages.

I think I was on a micro level while my friends were on a macro level last night. It’s not that either set of answers is right or wrong . . . it’s just a different way of looking at the world. I think, though, that I missed the opportunity to be vulnerable with my friends, both about the things that are important to me and about the way I see the world. I can’t go back and change the way I responded last night, but I can try to be more forthcoming in the future.

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