Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Filter is Rubbish and Other Shocking Epiphanies

Here is my epiphany for 2014: I am not as nice as I think I am.

In the spirit of full disclosure…I must say I was shocked and disturbed to realize that the “nice person” I think I am (that mostly just exists in my head) is not necessarily the same person you, and other people, may know.

So sad…but apparently too true.

I admit that with this pregnancy I have been sassier (to put me in the best possible light) or perhaps we should just call it what it is – uncalled for!  

To my horror…in many of my responses I seem to exhibit no filter at all (from what I’m thinking in my head to what I say out loud).  What’s worse…I don’t often realize it’s happening.

Karl will often say, “Why are you so punchy today?” 

Hmmm...it could have something to do with the highly imbalanced and volatile hormonal state I'm in at the moment.  Maybe. 

Let me give you an example. Burger King has recently come to Cape Town but you must drive a ways to get there.  We stopped a few weeks ago, and I was so excited to get a chocolate shake.  

Of course when we got there, the shake machine was broken.

I thought I handled this with great flexibility and grace.  I calmly walked over to a nearby ice cream shop and ordered a chocolate shake.  How different could it possibly be?

Ha! It was literally like drinking chocolate milk with a few ice chunks in it.  I was not feeling so flexible and full of grace now.

I asked the owner calmly…trying not to sound as annoyed as I was, “Is this normal? This seems very liquidy.”

He said flatly, “Yes…that’s how it is.  If you wanted it thicker you should have ordered the ‘Double Thicky’.”

I took a long pause…letting this unusual upgrade sink in, “Oh…I didn’t know that was an option.” 

He said nothing and the implication was clear: I am in the wrong. Double-thicky?? Who has ever heard of that? What kind of description is that?? And why would the average person presume they needed extra thickness in a normal chocolate shake?  

Can’t he see how pregnant I am?  I am in no mood for semantics.

I walked away…sipping my so-called shake and trying to convince myself it’s not that bad.

But the more I drank – the worse it got.  It most definitely WAS that bad.

Now perhaps a saner person would have re-ordered it correctly or would have just “let it go” (as they all seem to be singing these days). But not me.

I feel justified in my total and utter customer dissatisfaction.

As we are about to leave, I walk up to the counter, gently place (aka “slam”) my Non-Double-Thicky-Still-Quite-Full shake on the counter, and say (more like shout) to all who will listen, “This is THE WORST chocolate shake I have ever had in my ENTIRE LIFE.” (strong emphasis on ENTIRE LIFE).

The owner and employees don’t flinch…barely look up – totally unconcerned about my loud and unfavorable pronouncement of their product.

And with that, I walk away in a confident power-stride (OK – more like a very pregnant waddle)… not asking for my money back nor taking the shake with me.  I leave it there to emphasize the fact that I will not be finishing it….EVER IN MY LIFE.

My filter has failed me but fortunately in this case, no one seems to care. I have made a stand.  I have no regrets.  I may be acting like a crazy woman…but this is chocolate we are dealing with here, people.

Apparently this is Double-Thicky Style

Then…the other day we made a purchase at a store where they check your receipt on the way out…peeking in your bag to make sure the items match your receipt.

The checkout counter was SO CLOSE to the door, that when we got to the receipt-checker-outter-person who had just ONE job they clearly took pride in…I blew right past them. 

In my mind we both saw eye-to-eye on this procedure…knowing it was a good general practice but totally unnecessary in my case (as she had clearly watched me check out and pay for all my items and there was no way possible I could have shoved a final stash of unpaid for chocolates in my bag in the 5 seconds it took to walk to her).

I was confident she understood the purity of my integrity and fully endorsed my desire to just skip this little step.  I continued to walk quickly to the car.

Karl called me back.

In my mind I thought I gave a “helpful smile” in response as I returned, cheerfully showing her the contents of my bag and matching receipt.  She barely checked it, confirming my belief that she and I were on same page with my unquestionably character, and I was sure I must have said “thank you so much” with another bright smile as we left again.

I was convinced she felt I embraced her like this.

In the car on the way home Karl said, “Now you realize you came back in a huff and scared that poor employee so much she was too frightened to actually check your bag.  When you saw that she didn’t even check it – you let out a loud and sarcastic, “Ha!” – at the ludicrously of her calling you back for a token bag check.

Hmmmm…that isn’t QUITE how I recalled the interaction….but I am sure Karl’s observation is more accurate.  Not only do I have no filter for my responses…I have no perception of how I am affecting others.

Which brings me to my main point.

A few months ago a very good friend of mine came to me with a concern. She was so kind to share openly and lovingly that she was hurt about a negative vibe I was giving off about someone close to her.  I couldn’t believe it! This was never my intention, and I was completely unaware of how my behavior was being perceived and affecting her.

Of course I was horrified and apologetic – eager to change any hurtful behavior.

But then it occurred to me…it took a lot of courage for her to come to me and share her heart.  I began to think, “What if others feel this way?  And don’t feel like I am approachable and can share their hurt with me? How can I make this right?”

I looked back over my life and realized there had definitely been times in the past where my strong emotional reactions had been unsettlingly to others. Sometime causing lingering pain to only be uncovered years later.

So I began a journey.

I decided to go to as many friends as possible and share my heart with them one-on-one.  It went something like this…

“I am on a journey to love and honor people better.  And I just want to ask for your honesty…have I ever hurt or offended you and you didn’t know how to tell me?  Or perhaps I have some blind spots in my life that I’m not aware of?  I really value you and want to know how I can love  better.  Please tell me!”


It’s a scary question to ask…but so good to go deeper with people.

In most cases I was relieved that I had not hurt or offended ALL of my friends.  A few people said…”You’ve never offended me…but I’ve HEARD about you.  I was warned you can be difficult.”


Clearly there must have been a few times where a strong reaction in the past had made me seem disagreeable or unkind.  Perhaps not “seem” – let’s face it…I have been known to slam my Non-Double-Thicky shake on the counter pretty hard and make some loud and unfavorable pronouncements.

I am so grateful for the chance to learn how I am sometimes perceived and my flippant words can affect others.  It’s much better to know and be able to apologize – than to just have people think this (sometimes for years) without telling me how they feel.

This has taught me a great lesson… I don’t always have an accurate perception of how I am affecting others.  I want to me more self-aware, kinder, gentler.

Soooo…please.  I know this is not an ideal forum to ask this question – but if I have EVER said or done anything that hurt you…or perhaps you could help me learn something about myself and how I can be perceived…please tell me!

Especially if you are now thinking, “Should I tell her??  How do I say it?”  Please tell me!  I need you in my life.  I need your honesty.  I need your realness. We can chat about it over a Double-Thicky shake if you’re here in Cape Town…or shoot me an email and ask me to call you.

I want to have a life earmarked by grace, love and honoring others. I invite you to join me on this journey, as we go deeper together and love better.

Help me make 2015 a new year…where this verse is truly a reality in my life, “Let your gentleness be known to all.” (Philippians 4:5)...with or without the Double-Thicky Shake.

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