Have you ever been defiant?
That used to be a character trait of mine, but somewhere along the lines it softened. Occasionally there are moments – brave, bold moments – when I feel a surge of defiance again. In certain moments, I feel with pinpoint accuracy and startling clarity exactly what should be done to defy the obstacle at hand.
But those moments are rare; they’ve been rare for a long time.
What happens in life to kill that defiance? Where’s the child voice in me that used to scream, “I’m alive! I’m unique! I will change this world, and you might as well know it! I will defy mediocrity!”
I’m not a fool. I’m not filled with any delusion of my own grandeur… I mostly feel like just a joker – dreaming impossible dreams, but still sitting in the corner of the room, pretending – trying – to be part of it. Doing and saying what is right to fit the situation. Trying to fit the scene and just survive until the curtain falls.
I may only be 26, but I’ve been around quite a few times in 312 months. I’ve heard – and observed – and understood at least more than a little in 1352 weeks.
But I chuckle now, perplexed to realize that much of what I learn I go on to use in the pursuit of people pleasing. I avoid making waves and ride silently through, seamlessly sliding back and forth in an attempt to negotiate spoken and unspoken expectations, adapting to cultures, keeping “the ones that matter” happy – while trying to simultaneously balance my concerns for dear ones even farther out on the margins than I can feel. I call it all “flexibility” and embrace it as a strength, even when it leads me into a spiral.
My mama. She and Dad had lots of conversations about her being a people pleaser. I remember relaying messages back and forth between the two of them one evening as a funny-faced 8-year-old kid. Dad said Mom was a people pleaser. Dad said Mom never knew how to say, “No.” Mom deflated when I delivered his message. I remember agreeing with Dad, thinking it was silly for her to always care about what other people thought. Dad was bold. Defiant. Brave. Adventurous. A bit quirky and unlike the crowd. But, Dad and I, we were alike.
I’m 26 now. Not 8 anymore. A few more trips around the planet taught me that my Mama loves people. And somewhere in learning about my Mama, I began to identify with her more. She cares a lot. Cares for others sincerely, and cares what others think of her deeply. That big heart of hers occasionally bites off bigger pieces of responsibility than she can handle – true – and Daddy’s nagging is occasionally a power play to get her to stop doing something for others so she will do something more for him. What a balancing act she lives. How do Mamas love so lavishly? Live lives that thin? Survive on so little sleep?
But this post isn’t about them. It’s about me. It’s about how I don’t steward well what’s been given me.
Yes, He told me that last week. He said it so kindly that I almost didn’t hear. But it was said. And when it sank into recognition, it stung a little. Stung like disappointment – that of all the ones I had been working hard to please, He was the one that missed out.
Now, I sit here wondering if defiance is still inside somewhere. Maybe I can muster it up to defy the good for the sake of the best. I want to live with a fiery heart again.