I have decided that the 3 year old in me who was incredibly "slow to warm" when it came to most people is still very much alive and well. On occasion, I will meet someone that I instantly like or feel close to, but, for the most part, I don't make my mind up until weeks, months, or years after meeting a new person.
I like to observe and listen and take notes before I open my life up and let someone new in. I am beginning to realize that this quirk is going to clash with the way I am wanting to live my life. Especially in regards to those people who are also a part of the body of Christ. I think I'm entering into one of those seasons of being stretched and pushed and molded into something better. It's a difficult process for me. I can see the need for growth and I can acknowledge the benefits that will come from it, but as it's happening to me, there are times when I feel myself saying, "Really, Lord? Is that really something that has to be addressed right now? Really?" And the answer to date has always been a resounding YES.
One area that I feel some pain in already is the boundaries of being content pressing even tighter inward. It seems like my husband and I will go through a season of learning to live frugually and once we accept it and walk in it for a length of time, something unexpected comes along and we're able to take care of some of our more pressing "to do's". Then, we'll have a season of not having to watch everything so closely while still living well within our means. This time around, our carefully calculated annual budget had to be readjusted in a major way a few weeks ago. We made the finanical decision together that I could stay home with J when he was born because there were several other sources of income that equaled the salary I was bringing in. It's been smooth sailing since then but due to changes at P's company, we're not going to receive all of the extra income unless something miraculous happens. We're going to be okay thanks to us using our more prosperous times to completely get out of debt with the exception of the house, but we are going to have a lot more rice and beans nights and a lot less bargain shopping (my vice) and probably a lot less Direct TV/Fox Soccer Channel (his vice). I'm really thankful that my husband and I are on the same page and that he has had the foresight to use the extra income from last year to pay our mortgage this year. It has left us just enough room to buy exactly what we need for the rest of 2011 without me having to leave J and return to work. It also means we won't have the added cost of childcare which would most likely end up using most of any salary I could bring in. It's encouraging to me that even in the midst of the lessons, He still knows how to take care of our needs. It increases my faith a lot.
The second area that I think I am probably going to have some growing in ties back to being patient with EVERYONE (not just the people I like) and having a lot of wisdom about who I can allow to spend a lot of time with J. It's all about finding that balance of being loving and transparent and open with everyone without dropping my guard about who is influencing is my son. For example, there are a few people who have expressed that they would love to spend more time with J. They have expressed disappointment over not being able to hold him until he was several months old. They have gone out of their way to buy him presents and offer parenting advice. But, because of my tendency to watch, observe, and take notes, I haven't been comfortable with allowing them to have a lot of access to J. I have observed them with other children and other parents and have noticed a pattern of them taking a lot of liberties with other people's children once the door was opened. Tattling, bossing around, giving unnecessary instruction, handing the children off to other people without checking with the parents first, and feeding babies table food without the parents being asked are some of the behaviors that concern me. I don't want someone thinking that because they have held J once, they will always have the right to come up and take him away from me without asking me first. As a result, I have been very protective with J and have preferred to keep him with me whenever we are out and about. If I have to leave him, I prefer my mother or my sisters to come stay with him. He was almost 4 months old before I took him to the grocery store because I didn't want anyone touching him or breathing on him. Overprotective, probably yes, a little. But, at the same time, he is my most precious gift and I would never want to allow anything to come into his life that could have a negative effect.
But, now that he is getting older, I think I am going to have work through some of this "slow to warm" mentality with those who are in the Body of Christ and be more willing to interact with all the members, regardless of what they may or may not have done that lines up with my parenting mentality. I have to realize at some point that I need to be more patient with those who are working through things. And even more patient with those who might not yet realize that they have some things to work on. If I want patience extended toward me, I have to be willing to give it. If I want openess and kindness, I have to be willing to show both. If I want forgiveness, I have to be willing to forgive.
Growing up is hard...but I have been promised that it will be worth it. And letting people in will be worth it as long as I'm using a lot of wisdom and discernment to figure out who, when, and how much to let in at any given point.