8/27/09

Just One Word


Thursday~August 27th, 2009


I think the required training I attended was on tolerance. I was in social work at the time, so we had to fulfill a certain number of hours of training on topics regarding human relationships every year. To be honest, most of these sessions totally stunk, but I enjoyed this one.

We professionals sat around the room in a semi-circle and were asked by the instructor to choose a one word description of ourselves. We were then asked to say it out loud, just that one word. The person next to me started. Then it was my turn, and because I had recently become one, I said "Mother." The man that had started the exercise stopped the process by abruptly chiming in with, "Oh! That was a good one." That struck me funny so I responded just as abruptly with my nervous laugh. My nervous laugh is loud.

Everyone shared their one word, labeling themselves with whatever they felt was the most important thing to share at the time. Besides the outburst of laughter it was utterly quiet between each word spoken, an awkward pregnant pause between each person's reveal.

Labels. Tricky things.

A person can say one word and it will cause a different reaction for twenty different people.

We humans are an interesting bunch with our preconceived notions, our personal perceptions based on experience, and sometimes our complete misinformation.

To be honest, this is yet another thing I love about blogging. I can describe myself in more than one word. I can paint the picture the way that I'd like it to be seen, the way that I see it. As narcissistic as that is, it's also quite freeing. A reader can get to know my heart before their mind draws up a slanted notion of the labels that I hold. This is not to say that I'm making things up to paint a certain picture. I'm simply describing through blogging, rather than shouting out one word and leaving it at that. In my describing, I have the chance to be seen not as the mold of a certain label, but simply as me...with labels that are shifted and transformed to fit my unique mold.

I suppose this is why I don't like writing bios that are supposed to describe me in just a few sentences. I'm a wife and a mother, a friend, sister and a daughter...

Just words, really.

It's also why I hesitate when writing about my faith. I attempted to describe it once before, but I'm still convinced it's impossible to describe with words. Maybe it's just me, but I think it needs to be seen in more than one way. And even though I don't shout it from the rooftops, I really hope this space is peppered with it, with the attempting to live it.

It might not be that a person comes here and finds my faith obvious, because I don't proclaim it with a one word description often. But I hope that when I'm describing my life and speaking from my heart, it's slowly revealed, painted with my very own personal colors chosen from my very own personal experience and perspective.

Most likely it looks very different from the ideas that would come to mind if I said it often and left out my thoughts and stories.

Maybe this is why Jesus said so little outside of story-telling? His parables spoke to hearts, made faith tangible, and played off the everyday things of the time He was in. Just about anyone could relate and walk away changed because of the way He chose to communicate. It was personal. It was raw. It was the real deal.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not professing to blog like Jesus would blog, I'm simply thinking here. This space is for thinking.

And I'm a thinker.

And a mother.

And a wife.

And a daughter.

And a sister.

And a friend.

And a blogger.

And a Christian.

And I'm anxious and I'm tired and I get depressed and I'm forgiven and I'm wounded and I'm redeemed and I'm thankful and I cry a lot and I'm at peace and I'm sarcastic and I love the colors of fall leaves because they are grace embodied and so are lakes and mountains. And I'm not conservative and sometimes I say I'll pray for you but then I forget and I don't really like it when I'm asked to raise my hands in church when I don't feel like it and I'm utterly reliant on grace and I doubt and I fear and I worry and I remain full of joy all at once.

There is no such thing as a label with a mold. I know because I've broken the mold, I'm nearly the opposite of it. And yet I still believe in this thing that starts with a label. I have a one word description for that...

Miraculous.

40 clicked right here to comment:

Susan B. at warmchocmilk said...

I love it Heather. There are so many words to decribe you, you are very complex. (that's a good thing, in my book). I like posts like this that make me think. I wish I could write more of them. You do a great job. I'm inspired :)

mandiegirl said...

Um, didn't you know? He made us all different. ;) I know what you mean. I think that's why it's hard for me to share all that's in my heart on my blog, too. I get nervous that it will be taken the wrong way, or that one day I'll be a hypocrite and someone will call me out on it, or a lot of other reasons...blah, blah, blah. I like this post because it's real. Thanks for keepin' it real.

Carrie said...

Nice. Yes, I think it is very hard to describe yourself truthfully in a word or just a few words. But you've done a great job here - describing yourself, and also the predicament behind blogging - thanks for sharing. :)

Angie said...

My one word(s) for you?

Truth. Grace. Beauty.

I could go on, but I won't. :) You bless me and I know you bless so many others.

blueviolet said...

We are imperfect people and within our imperfections lies true beauty.

Jen said...

I love how you speak to my heart and soul. You really do have a beautiful gift.

Roban said...

Your words tell us who you are... every sentence, line, and paragraph. And I'm enjoying getting to know you!

Elizabeth said...

I always enjoy your writing, but this post is especially wonderful.

Corinne said...

I especially like your second to last paragraph (I too will often say that I'll pray for someone... and then forget...)

You always have a way of putting things so well!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Lovely.

How's that for one word?

sara said...

this was my favorite part:

But I hope that when I'm describing my life and speaking from my heart, it's slowly revealed, painted with my very own personal colors chosen from my very own personal experience and perspective.

Deb said...

you are a gift, that's what you are.

you know what they say... WWJB : )

Jo@Mylestones said...

Ditto what Deb said. (Repeat!)

Janet said...

WHY oh why don't we live closer? I feel like you're my long lost sister (or something less corny, but you get the idea!). I'd love to meet you!

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

Being a woman is so complex. We are so many things. The least of which is one dimensional. More than just one word.

Nice post

Manic Mother said...

Funny you wrote this, I was just thinking today about how we were talking religion the other day. You wrote that beautifully, religion is a tricky thing to write about...even on your own space. You did it perfectly!

Kristina P. said...

So much more defines us than one word. It's hard to sometimes break free of that.

jubilee said...

Well said. (couldn't think of one word that said it better than those two words!)

The Rambler said...

Always, always I find your posts so thought provoking and so honest and real. I find myself nodding in agreement and understanding every time I read your blog.

Blogging for me gave me a chance to express what I wanted to say and show another side of me that I wanted people to know. Another label I wanted to add to being a mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend.....

xoxo

Melissa Stover said...

"blog like jesus would blog" - snicker!

i feel the same way. i feel fake when i try to talk about my faith in what seems like abstract ideas. unless i am going through a trial or a specific situation in which i see an opportunity to reveal how my faith helped me deal with it, i often don't think about writing about it. and sometimes i feel like i should.

Dave said...

your faith has been very obvious

Laura said...

...and now we really really need to make that date to have coffee...

Kazzy said...

Sometimes when we live our religion conspicuously it really plays out in inconspicuous ways. Our little children, or thoughts on certain topics.

You are a great example of a faith-filled person. I see it in your writing and in your questioning, ironically. You are the coolest!

deb said...

I've been blog thinking about this a bit. Posted a faith quote.
Oddly as I've looked back through the words and commenters, I 've portrayed the soul of me way more than comes across in my daily speaking voice. Mother and friend and neighbour chatter. Honestly , I think people would know me as a Christian through the way I live , I don't think I use the lingo much at all.
But when I use precious life moments to think with my clicking, there it is . My thanks for grace, and trying to live a bit like Jesus. Except he didn't have 5 kids!
You are the best... I love reading what you have to say always.

Aunt LoLo said...

We've all got our own flavor to bring to life.

Thanks for adding yours to the mix. :-D

Melanie J said...

This whole post is kind of wonderful but the line, "the colors of the fall leaves are grace embodied" is just downright beautiful.

DeNae said...

I'm interested in the fact that this all took place at a tolerance seminar. I think "tolerance" was the beginning of the end of understanding. The general idea was - is - that what or who you are is uniportant to me. I'll tolerate you if you'll tolerate me.

No wonder you were asked to reduce everything that makes you "you" to one word. The religously "tolerant" don't need more information than that.

I would rather be understood, even if it meant being resented or disliked, than merely tolerated.

And I absolutely love the way you write, Heather.

Heather of the EO said...

DauNae,

What I enjoyed about the seminar was actually the rest of it. I only included the story of the beginning. The title of it was "tolerance" but it had a lot more to do with watching ourselves with our perspectives, realizing that these ONE words leave a whole lot out about a person and we generally draw inaccurate conclusions if only focusing on that one word and not the whole person.

If that makes sense.

The point of having us say one word was to show us how little we know about each other if we only know that much, how we make conclusions that take something away from the whole of a person.

I would rather not be tolerated, especially based on just one word. That's what the instructor was trying to get us to see.

And thank you for saying you love the way I write. Too kind :)

Heather of the EO said...

Sorry I spelled your name wrong ):

Chele said...

After reading your whole post the word I thought of was normal! Thanks for keeping it real my friend! :)

Growin' with it! said...

another great post from your beautiful ♥. thank you!

Eowyn said...

What a spectacular post. And so true. The reason I picked my blog title was because I see myself this way--a person of so many different colors that change so frequently that I can't be put in to one red or green mold.

Well said!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Heather this is beautiful and I do believe you've spoken the word quite well.

Steph

Debbie said...

Oh yeah. Miraculous completely sums it up! Love it.

Motherboard said...

One word? SPECTACULAR!

I agree with everyone. Your writing is simply beautiful.

Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry said...

So POIGNANT. So perfect.

Faith is so much larger than the one word that describes one's faith. It's so much bigger than the hour one spends in a church. You represent that perfectly, here.

Thank you.

charrette said...

Perfect.

I love what you said about Jesus and parables and storytelling and blogging. I had never looked at it quite this way before. But I love the connection.

Wonderful post. I actually read it right when you posted it, but didn't have time to comment, so I marked it to come back to...I didn't want to forget.

You are divine.

L.T. Elliot said...

Beautiful words to describe a beautiful woman. There are so many good words for you: kind, beautiful, insightful, thoughtful, Godly, tender, home, safe, and friend.

Tiaras said...

and the paths that took us to each of these labels are just as interesting!

Boy Crazy said...

Clicked over to read this from your current post, and just wanted to say you nailed it. Again, now that I know you these comment boxes just don't suffice for me. I want to talk over coffee instead.

Love you. (so much.)

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