About 10 years ago I participated in a summer christian leadership training program called Josiah Project. It is run by Rock the World YMA . I lived with four other 20ish-somethings and we participated in team building activities, inner-city mission work experiences, youth ministry opportunities and cross-cultural mission projects in Belize. After spending 3 months living in close quarters we got to know each other really well.
At the end of the summer one of the directives was to access each other's good and not so good qualities. We lifted each person up with encouragements, thoughts on their future, prayers, and all of the amazing qualities we could see in him or her. Then we used our ears to hear and our eyes to see the rough places that could use improvement or that could possibly cause a challenge for his or her future.
All in all it was a great activity. I heard things that would not come up in normal life conversations.
I've gone back to the lists several times in the last 10 years when I've needed reminders about my strengths and also when I want to check on my progress at fixing those things they saw that might block me in my endeavors. Helpful and interesting. One of the obstacles someone said they saw for me was my tendency to act and speak provocatively. I was surprised that someone was actually calling me out. I knew I was flirty (the attention gave me a confidence boost) and I knew I liked to cause people to react at my words, but I didn't know that I was beyond the ordinary. Among other things I did that summer and on other occasions near this person- I walked through a church hallway from the bathroom to my sleeping room wearing nothing but a towel, wore skimpy bathing suits, stood on top of a suburban wearing a short dress, enjoyed surprising people with my vast sexual vocabulary (I could talk a good game), somehow caused a grocery bagger to leave his name/number in my bag of groceries, made out with someone (not that summer but on another Christian mission project)... I'm sure the list can go on. And that's just how I was being sexually provocative. I also encompassed this word on another level.
I love to question authority. I rarely take things at face value. I constantly seek for more and I enjoy pushing people beyond their limits (and often patience with me). I don't want to be the status quot. I want others to be provoked by what I say. I like starting and continuing conversations versus small talk (does anyone enjoy this?).
The other day I took both my girls to Target. When I shop with both I put Niva in a front carrier I've concocted out of a long piece of material so that I can chase Zola through the store as needed. I went in to Target to drop off a prescription. One guy came to the desk to help me and then called another guy over to help too. About 20 minutes later as I went to readjust Niva in the carrier I realized her foot had caught onto my tank-top strap and pulled my shirt down to my waist leaving my totally hot, beige-colored nursing bra out for the world to see. This is the extent of my flirtiness these days. Sweatpants, unwashed hair and an exposed nursing bra.
While my desire to be sexually provocative has waned over the years (having much to do with being married and loving every minute with my husband), my desire to provoke people in other ways is still burning bright. But somehow my spirit seems tame these days. It's been a while since I've offended someone (at least on purpose). I'm the authority now as a stay-at-home mom, so I guess I could question myself? I knew staying home would be hard but I am just now realizing the reason...it's not merely about other adult interactions because then grocery store encounters would suffice... I miss being frustrating. I miss inciting others to action. I really miss pissing people off- in a good way though, not in a way that flicking someone off in traffic could take care of. I miss the intellectualness of being a challenge.