He’s hesitant and cautious. He’s a thinker and an introvert. He observes and analyzes. He watches and listens. He makes his friends slowly, and he likes his space.
He is Caden, and he is not me.
And though I know this fact to be true, and I love my son dearly, I sometimes struggle with the reality of our differences.
I struggle when I want him to be adventurous and brave.
I struggle when I want him to emote and be extroverted.
I struggle when I want him to talk and feel.
I struggle when I want him to join and engage.
I struggle when I want him to hug and be known.
I struggle when I want Caden to be me.
And if I were to be gut-wrenching honest with myself about why I struggle with him being different from me, it’s probably because I sometimes assume that me is BETTER.
Because when I struggle with who he is and how he operates, I’m basically believing, “It’s really better to be an adventurous, emoting, engaging, extrovert that likes to hug and be known by everyone.”
And well… that’s just a bunch of untrue, unfair, unhealthy YUCK!
So what grabbed my heart’s attention and highlighted this yuck?
Oh, ya know…someone else’s yuck…because it’s a whole lot easier to be an extroverted yuck-spotter than an introspective yuck-finder.
Cue: Crummy Conversation in the Church Parking Lot
Random Extroverted Woman (reaching toward Caden): Hey buddy!! How are you?
Caden (backing up and hiding behind my leg): s i l e n c e
Random Extroverted Woman (grabbing my daughter’s hand who is smiling and squealing): That’s okay, little boy. Your little sister has enough personality to make up for your shy personality.
Exit: Random Extroverted Woman
Caden: Mommy, why am I shy?
Cue: Infuriated Mama
I truly believe it was the Lord who kept me from
trachea-punching drop-kicking twisting her ears giving her a piece of my sinful, extroverted mind!
WHAT?!?!?!??! Did that just happen!?!? Did she really just say that to my son?!?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!?
My inner mama-bear had been irked; my cub had been unfairly labeled; and I was livid!
Who does she think she is? She doesn’t even know Caden! Make up for his personality? He doesn’t have to be like his sister, for pete’s sake! Who says that extroverts are better than introverts? He’s three, and you’re grabbing for his arms; I’d probably hide, too!
Somehow my inner rants must have carried me all the way to the car because shortly after, I found myself driving home while swallowing back my angry, mama-bear tears. And as I stewed and rehashed the horrible, crummy conversation in my mind, the Lord whispered two, ouchy questions to my offended heart.
Jessica, though you may not speak it, are you really any different from the insensitive lady in the church parking lot? Don’t you sometimes struggle with his introverted tendencies, too?
OUCH and DOUBLE OUCH.
It was true, and it felt absolutely awful as past thoughts played in my head.
Why can’t he just give a stinkin’ hug?
Why in the world does he need 10 feet of personal space?
Why does it take him six weeks to warm up to new people in a new setting?
Why does he have to be so cautious and measured like his dad?
Why can’t he be more like ________ ?
How arrogant of me! How egotistical of me! How unfair of me! How incredibly unloving of me!
Caden is not me because he’s not supposed to be me.
No, God fearfully and wonderfully made each one of us (Psalm 139: 13); He created us in His image (Genesis 1:27); He created us for His glory (Colossians 1:16); and He has a plan for every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11).
Me is not better. Me is not best. Me is me, and Caden is Caden.
And though I hate that this is even a struggle on my parent-radar, I know that the Lord is using it to teach me, stretch me, grow me, and change me.
And if this is what God needs to use in my life to make me more like HIM and less of ME, then my extroverted heart is ready to receive.