Today did not go as I had planned.
A personal ministry at which I felt I was enjoying some success did not turn out today the way it usually does when I visit with this particular group. Less than half the size group I normally get to hear me speak turned up. As I put a lot of thought and effort into my presentation and supporting materials, it was disappointing. And a little ego-deflating. But that’s what God does sometimes – prunes our egos to remind us it is His will, not our own, which rules.
Outwardly, I seem like a very patient person to most. People mistake me as being quiet, timid, and modest. Inwardly, I am none of those things. Because my outer façade doesn’t match my inner personality, I think it is the reason that some of my relationships end up falling into trouble at some point. What people see is not – over time – what they are truly getting.
It is not an attempt to fool anyone. It was years of childhood training to be unfailingly polite, never ask for anything, never grab at something unless it is first offered to you, always say please and thank you, “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” As the child of alcoholics, I was always a pleasant surprise to the parents of other children when I was finally invited into their homes. They expected a wild child. Instead, I distinctly remember one mother saying she wished her own children were as well-behaved as I.
In some ways I have much in common with the Geisha: trained to wear my face as a mask devoid of emotions, to never be a bother to anyone, to accommodate whatever the other person wants.
But inside I am every bit the lion of my birth sign: waiting for my chance to roar and make my presence in the jungle not only known, but respected for its royalty. It is frightening to people when someone who seems so mild in demeanor turns out to have a bite that can be devastating. They believe the train has gone off the tracks when your true self emerges. They become leery. The weakness they presumed in you hides a strength they didn’t know existed. They expected permanent acquiescence and are caught totally off guard when they meet the stubbornness of your “no,” or when you just simply say “enough is enough” and walk away, not looking back.
I am sure there is some happy medium, some blending of the personas to be had that leaves people feeling less like they have run into Ms. Jekyll and Hyde. But try as I may to integrate my outward and inner selves, I have never been very successful at it. Again, another job I am afraid only God has the power to produce.
In the end, though, all I really crave is peace. To be the lioness that I am, but one stretched out lazily in the sun, letting the dust motes chase themselves in the sun’s rays while the grasses blow in the breeze, tickling my nose. I want to yawn widely and stretch my body to its fullest length and feel like time has ceased to exist and there is only the ever present moment of now.
Is that what a Geisha feels when her day is done and she slips into the darkness of night, slips off her geta and cools her feet in the chill of a pond? Like time has stopped and there is only this moment under the silver moon shining through the blossom trees?
Perhaps the Geisha and the lioness have more in common than I thought.