Sometime around the age of 23, I decided I wanted to be in charge. I realize that’s a bit late since most 2 year olds come to that conclusion. But yes, I waited till around 23. I’d seen, in my opinion, a lot of life by then. I’d finished a college degree, experienced my first relationship and first real personal tragedy. I decided that I should just take that vast wisdom I’d accrued and use it to be in charge.
I pursued every opportunity at work to be the boss. I was managing 60 or so people by the time I was 24. I was leading the music for the youth at my church. And I was engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits like my photography and web design work.
I used that confidence to enter into relationships. That never lasted because, let’s face it, I had horrible taste in women… you girls know who you are.
When I met Nicole, I was OOZING confidence from every pore. There were a lot of reasons for that, but mostly it’s because that was a time in my life I was finally standing up for myself, eliminating the bad things from my life. I’d recently left a church, I had just gotten divorced, and I was feeling pretty darn truculent.
Ever since then, though, life has been dropping some science (90’s hip hop reference no extra charge), which has not shattered, but has definitely made my question the validity of my confidence. I believe that I’m reasonably intelligent. I believe that I have experienced a lot of stuff. I know that I have strong opinions on a wide array of topics. And I know that generally speaking, I’m a good guy. So when I say it’s made me question – I don’t mean that I have lost my confidence. I just mean that I’m starting to think maybe I should be listening more than I should be talking.
I am surrounded by people who are more socially aware, savvy, and pragmatic than I’ll ever be. I’m certainly surrounded by people who are intellectually superior, both in IQ and in raw knowledge. My wife has forgotten more about intuition than I’ll ever be able to learn.
Life has been making sure I don’t get cocky. Just one year ago, I was having the time of my life leading worship at a church. I thought I was doing well, and I was certainly in love with the experience. At the risk of sounding mean (which I don’t intend), I was booted for someone so green and raw that it really blindsided me. I always knew that the worship leading experience wasn’t about me. I wasn’t trying to put on a show, but I did try really hard to be well rehearsed and comIncredipetent, and it was always heartfelt. So it left me questioning my comIncredipetence as a musician, singer, and as a leader. And I was called self-centered and cocky. Was there a grain of truth in that comment or was it simply mean spirited?
I used to think people who got divorced were quitters. They just gave up to easy. Now I know better. Sometimes divorce is the best answer. Sometimes it’s the only answer. With that failure on my record, I was left questioning my ability to have a healthy relationship. Not because I thought I was bad to people or something, but because of my poor selection history. I dated several girls and ultimately married one that all had the same basic characteristics (narcissism, entitlement, anger, etc.), yet somehow I didn’t learn from those mistakes till I was divorced. And yes, I realize that all of those failures led me to Nicole and the most fulfilling, wonderful, God-centered relationship I’ve ever had – so I’m not complaining. But let’s just say I’m not about to be cocky about my relationship prowess…
Now I am part of a new worship team. I’m playing piano which is what I always wanted to do, but I really miss the leading. I miss singing, arranging, letting the flow of the service change the plan midstream… everything I loved about leading, I don’t do those things here. I want to make an impact but it’s just not my role. I’m not sure I’m even ready for it to be my role. So instead I’m learning to be content with learning an entirely new way of doing things, setting aside my preferences, and filling the spot where I’m supposed to be right now.
I’m learning parenting on the fly. Unlike if I’d been there since babyhood, there’s already a way of doing things in place. I’m the extra addition. It would be completely unfair to come in 7 years into it and try to change a bunch of things. And frankly, the way I would do things may not be remotely the right way to parent this kiddo. So what am I doing? I’m learning to follow Nicole’s lead. I fully accept that her way of parenting this little girl is what’s best – who knows her better than her own mother? I’d certainly say something if there was some big, terrible thing, but honestly, most of the day-to-day parenting stuff is little interactions, little boundaries, little consequences and rewards. It’s preferences. And preferences are barely ever worth making a change, and never worth arguing about. So I’m learning as I go, enjoying the good times, apologizing when I go off on some half-baked parenting notion that I learned, made up, or read somewhere.
When I was 23, I was ready to tell the world about my knowledge. At 34, I’m ready to sit back and listen to people wiser than myself. And if I accidentally listen to people that are NOT wiser than myself, hopefully I’ll be wise enough to realize it.
Living in the moment and listening. Thinking before I speak. Just a few of the things on my list of life skills to learn.