Thursday, October 24, 2013

Apparently I Have A Pride Issue...

Throughout this journey, Jon and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family and even strangers.  Completely overwhelmed.  People have been generous with their time, recourses, thoughtfulness...  And to be honest, it has been extremely difficult on me.  I basically suck at "the art of receiving."  For as long as I can remember, I've had a hard time with it.  I know I'm not alone.  I would assume almost everyone struggles with being on receiving end of things - whether it is receiving gifts or receiving love.  It's an awkward place to be.  I remember when I was in college, (APU! Woot, Woot!) ;) I would sing a solo with the University Choir and Orchestra and afterward, people would come up to me and say, "Wow, you sounded amazing.  You have such a beautiful voice." And every time, do you know what my response was?  "No." Seriously!  I told them no!!!  I would say it softly with my head down a bit.  And honestly, I didn't respond that way because I thought I sang badly.  I responded that way because I didn't know how to accept a compliment.  I thought I was being gracious.  I truly thought if I said, "Thank you," that would be arrogant.  So instead I just said "No."  It sounds so crazy now, 10+ years later.  I'm so embarrassed that that was my response. But I didn't know how to just say "Thank you."

As time went on, I noticed this problem seeped into other areas of my life as well.   When Jon and I were dating, he would pick me up for a date and say, "Wow, you look great!" and I would reply with, "No.  No I don't."  Again, it was not because I thought I looked ugly.  It was because I honestly didn't know how to accept a compliment.  I remember Jon telling me that after it happened so many times, it became really frustrating.  In an attempt to be "overly humble" I was insulting him.  Ouch.  He even confessed that knowing I would slam down his compliments every time, he became hesitant to express them.  Double ouch!

I know I have matured and grown in this area over the years - at least to the point where *most of the time I can at least respond with "Thank you." ;)   However, I still struggle with people doing kind things and giving me kind gifts.  On my 30th birthday, my dearest friend Jen planned a day filled with surprises.  She drove me all around San Diego where each place we stopped had a gift and a clue to the next location.  And at each location, different friends were there to surprise me and join me on that "leg" of the journey - whether it was a pedicure, coffee, shopping, etc.. And at the final "stop" of the day, all of my girlfriends were there for our final celebration meal. Here's the thing:  Do you know what my response was each time I saw a new friend show up at a location?  "Oh my goodness, I am so sorry!!"  They would look at me, puzzled, and ask why.  I would say, "I feel horrible you had to rearrange your day." or  "Oh man, you probably had to hire a babysitter!" or "It was probably such a long drive for you to get here!"  What I realized was instead of squealing in delight with the sight of each face, I pulled a major SNL "Debbie Downer."  In my attempt to be humble (as I truly was overwhelmed with their presence) I actually stole some of the joy out of the moment.

It's at about this point in my typing that I'm getting super embarrassed for just admitting all of that to you.  It sounds so immature.  So lame.  And honestly?  It is immature and lame.  But I have to assume I'm not alone in this struggle. Accepting people's love/affection/affirmation/gifts/time is hard.  It's humbling.  Hm.  Humbling.  That word implies that pride resides somewhere in the mix.  Ugh.

Fast forward all this to about 3 weeks ago.  Jon and I are going along our merry way.  Life is good.  Busy, but good.  Having 4 kids is kicking our butts, but we're hanging in there.  Then BOOM!  Brain tumor.  ICU.  Brain surgery.  Hospital stay.  Rehabilitation.  Our lives flipped upside down.  I will never forget - I texted my friend Jen in the middle of the night to tell her the news.  She texted right back that she'd be driving up from San Diego first thing in the morning.  I told her no.  I told her there was nothing for her to come and "do."  She ignored me.  She came.  And literally held my hand (and my purse and my diet coke) through the entire process.  I texted my life group girlfriends to let them know.  They texted back, "What do you need?"  My knee-jerk response came out, "Nothing!  We'll be fine."  Clearly.  At 7am, Jessica had a hot breakfast for my kids at my house.  At 7:40am, Nicole picked up the big kids for school.  At 9am, Sara picked up the babies.  Jon was in ICU.  I was by his side.  Whether I liked it or not, I needed help.  Fast forward a few days and as the "needs" were well taken care of, the "extras" began happening.  Jaime organized meals.  Jill showed up with Starbucks almost every single morning.  Heather baked treats.  Then I got a cold.  Tami brought medicine.  Andrea and Katie brought essential oils.  Michelle brought Trader Joes treats.  I can't go on because I could write an entire blog just listing names, but you get the point.  I could list name upon name and how they blessed us. (Did I mention Brian and Yvonne drove down from Fresno??  Or the fact that my sisters and our parents took on juggling 4 kids over the 14 days??  Oh, and the fact that we spent 14 days in the hospital and never once had to eat hospital food!  Can I get an AMEN!??)  ;)

Throughout it all, I have tried to get to the bottom of my issue with being on the "receiving" end.  Every time someone showed up with a card or balloon, and I said, "Thank you" I realized I was so incredibly grateful, but there was also a tiny part of me that felt, well, kind of dumb.  I felt needy.  It was uncomfortable.

Then we started getting phone calls and emails.  Thoughtful people were inquiring about our medical expenses. They asked how much of Jon's salary was covered/not covered by Disability.  They asked about things I did not want to talk about.  So we didn't.  And then several people asked if they could open some type of "account" to go toward expenses we had.  I was horrified.  I was embarrassed they even asked!  And then a dear friend and mentor stopped by to see us.  He asked us some of the "hard" questions and challenged us to think of every possible outcome here - even the worst case scenarios.  I told him about all the people inquiring and offering to open some type of "love on the Ramsays" type thing.  I laughed a little - with a "could you imagine?!?" type of attitude.  He looked at me, and gently said, "Deanna, you preach about community.  You preach about God's provision.  But you have a pride issue.  You can live out what you preach or you can choose your pride.  But you can't have both."  Wow.  Everything in me wanted to say, "But, But!..."  Except I knew he was right.  I knew allowing someone to do something like what he was talking about would be the most humbling experience of my life.  Hm.  Humbling.  A word that implies pride resides somewhere in the mix.  Ugh.  Yup.  Pretty much.  But what will people think?  Wow, pride indeed.

And so earlier today, our good friends Jeff and Jessica (Claire) Norwood posted this.  Jessica has been named one of the Top Wedding Photographers in the World (American Photo Mag) and Top 10 Most Influential Photographers of the Decade (Photo District News).  I mention this, because as much as she loves me and this blog, she just "could not" use any photos I had posted from my iphone on her blog.  LOL!  So at 9pm, she told us she would be meeting us at 5pm the next day to take her own photos of our family.  She's assertive like that, which works for this girl who always just says "no."  ;)

Anyway, the page they posted, the words they wrote, and the accounts they set up are beyond generous.  They are humbling.  And if I'm totally honest, "allowing" them to post this really isn't all about them or you.  It's about me.  Stripping my pride.

So here I am.  "Linking" their page to this blog, as I promised them - and our friend/mentor.  No obligations to you.  Just me stripping off another layer of my pride.  It's a vulnerable space to be in.  But if I can come out of this process a more gracious, humble person?  That's a gift in itself.

Jessica's Blog:


  1. deanna. i want to email you about something. will you email me at my shop email? katygirldesignsshop @ gmail . com.

  2. Thanks for being so honest and vulnerable. My hubby and I also share in the struggle of accepting the very things you shared about. You aren't alone.. even though you are assuming this reality, it is always nice to actually have it affirmed :) I'm so happy to hear you guys are being blessed beyond measure right now, even if it feels incredibly awkward to accept gifts and such. Even from a distance of TX, and having a friendship marked primarily by UCO, you have been a blessing to me in making me laugh, feel, and think. Whatever you do, don't tell me you haven't been ;)

  3. amazing honesty and awesome to see what God is working out in YOU through this is journey... thanks for sharing and for opening your lives to us... with you in prayer

  4. Deanna, I have followed your family's story through Gina Walders. I have written a few comments on your links. My husband, too, had a brain tumor and was at Mission Hospital under the care of Dr. Robert Jackson. We consider Mission Hospital to be the place where our angels live. You're journey has been one I can relate to and I have cried and prayed for your husband, your children and FOR YOU!! I understand what you are going through. I will tell you what I was told (and down played and shrugged off) - you are an amazing woman. You are a strong, caring amazing woman!!! You can do this! You HAVE DONE THIS! A saying that resonates more than any truth I had heard - You never know how strong you are, until you have to be.
    I will continue to pray for your husband, your children and for you! I feel like we are a type of kindred spirits and we don't even know each other! God never gives us anything He knows we can't handle!
    Love, peace & comfort to you!
    Robyn K. Moore Hubbard

  5. I started following your blog through an APU Alumni page. Instantly, I fell in love with your family. Each night, I earnestly come home to check for an update. Many nights, especially tonight, I have chills down my whole body while reading. You are one BLESSED lady!

  6. Deanna, Oh My Gosh! Talking about a Godsequence!!!! I didn't put 2 and 2 together until I read your post this morning and especially after I saw the beautiful portraits your friend took and her post on her blog!!!!! I remember hearing you sing at Hume Lake at the Women's conference years back!!!! I bought your CD's and yesterday I was home as a day to deal with my grief of losing my husband a year ago to brain cancer, it comes in waves and when the emotions begin to erupt you just have to let God carry you through it and cry to release the pressure upon your heart. I played your CD "Prayer" and I just cried because that was one of my beloveds favorite CD's to listen too especially towards the end of his life. Since Sheryl Geisbrecht asked to keep you and your precious family in prayer I have done so fervently and will continue to do so. I know God has great things planned for you and your sweet Jon, things that will astound normal people and many who don't have a eternal relationship with God will not understand how our might Savior and Lord can perform such miraculous healings, but in the end all that has taken place will be to give GOD GLORY. Know you are loved and being prayed for. (((HUGS)))

  7. Hi deanna. I actually remember you and your family from Hume Lake Mother Daughter retreats when I was younger and started following your journey through Emmy (handmade community). This post really spoke to me, the Lord has been teaching me a LOT about humility this year and the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. One phrase has held me strong and its "simply at His feet" praying for your sweet family. Blessings.