Braving the Darkness for Light

I'm going to get super vulnerable here.  I suck at making girl-friends. It gives me anxiety. Women scare the bananas out of me. Girls can be so judgmental, passive aggressive and less than authentic. Trust me, I am one. But this fear of making girl-friends comes from a long time ago when, as a young girl, I was less than included in a group of girls that I desperately wanted to be part of.

These girls were already a group, bonded together by grade, age and church. I was, (only slightly) younger and they seemed wonderful. Always laughing together, doing fun things and just very close. I wanted that. I tried to be part of it.  I tried to attend some of the youth group gatherings where they were, but I just didn't fit. I don't know why, I never will, but I don't think knowing is that important anymore.

These girls were never mean or hateful to me, but not being able to "plug in" to that group shaped the way I saw, managed and made girl-friends. I was young, and back then I was unable to grasp the fact that sometimes you just don't fit into a certain mold, no matter how badly you want too.

Throughout my middle school and high school years I changed who I was to fit in with the girls I saw as my best friends. I wore clothes and shoes that made no sense to me. I spoke in ways that now seem ridiculous. I dated boys that I never would have given a second thought to-- because they were part of the group of girls I thought I wanted to be part of. 

And it didn't stop there. After the girl friendships heartbreakingly faded away, my pattern of changing who I was didn't change. I carried that pattern into college, changing myself into the girl I thought my boyfriends and girl-friends wanted me to be.

It was a bit of a wakeup call when, the first girl-friend I made, that didn't go to my high school, decided she was going to "break up" with me during my first or second year of college. I had blocked out the reasons why until my first week at MOPS. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

While watching the video with Jen Hatmaker talking about how real friends will confront you honestly, even when it hurts and how that may shake your relationship for a while but it will only strengthen it -- I realized I already had a friend like that. She'd been super honest, painfully so, in accusing me of changing who I was for every person I knew.

She didn't want to be friends with a fake person. That hurt, but thankfully, that friendship was saved and I began to allow her to see me.  The real me.  And whooda' thunk, she stayed.

But that still wasn't going to be the miraculous wakeup call I needed...

It wasn't until well into dating my now husband that I began to allow myself to be me. He is a brutally honest man and I am thankful for it. He helped me find me. He forced me not to allow myself to fall into the trap of faking who I was in order to be accepted.

So, who am I? I'll tell you.

I'm Jordan. I'm 31, born on my Mama's birthday. I'm a big sister. I am a full blown boy mom in a sea of moms who have only girls or one of each. I love superhero and medical tv. I love wearing yoga/sweat pants, or anything stretchy, and hoodies are my go to top of choice in the cooler months. I wear flip flops year round and I don't care what you say about it. I love to sing but won't volunteer to. I am a massage therapist and a volleyball coach. I hate my hair short and I rarely wear more makeup than mascara. I don't like coffee and I don't drink alcohol. I'm stubborn to a fault but will rescue you at 3am if you called. I'm a terrible housekeeper but I'm a great mom. Helping other new mom through pregnancy, labor and the early stages with their newborns gives me more joy than just about anything else, and my best friend lives a country and an ocean away from me. 

But I've begun to realize that none of this is enough. I need more of a tribe. I need women who aren't related to me. Women who will be just as much there for me as I am and will be for them. Don't get me wrong, and please don't misunderstand, I love the women in my life, all of them, but my heart needs something more. I need some mom friends that carry the same beliefs that I do.

 That is where Mops comes in. After joining, I vowed to be me -- the real me.

On September 8th, I attended my very first MOPS meeting and it took some serious nudging. Because of those past, painful, female relationships, I've developed quite a bit of anxiety about being around women I don't know and for that meeting I had to walk into a room of over 80 of them! Let me remind you, I don't do well with lots of new people. New situations scare me. I REALLY like having control over my environment.

I got everything ready the night before and was out the door on time, both boys in tow. Once in the car I began to have that inner shaky feeling. You know the one. That feeling you get right before you go on stage to perform? And the feeling only got stronger the closer I got. I pulled out my "Anxious Mama" essential oil blend that I had made a couple night back and slathered myself in it, all the while listening to Oli (Oliver is my oldest, 3) sing "we're going to mops school!" from the backseat.

I pulled into the parking lot and part of me almost pulled right back out. I gathered the boys and walked inside and thanked the Lord that I wasn't the only person in bright orange Bronco clothing. After a very tearful childcare room drop off (the boys, not me) I wandered back down to the main room, grabbed some food and picked a seat. 

It was tough. I was still shaking internally and couldn't stop. We were given a welcome and an overview and then we watched the video from Jen Hatmaker that basically made me want to cry. She hit the nail on the head with all my feelings about friends. Ouch. Thanks Jen, thanks... And then we introduced ourselves among our groups. Tough, again.  I, of course, waited until the last moment to speak about myself, just hoping I could keep it together. I did.

I guess this is all to say that I'm ready for this next phase. I'm mean, that's the point of MOPS, right? To meet new women, moms, and friends? To find someone you can be real, open and honest with? To find a common ground in your beliefs and to snuggle each other’s children when they fuss in the middle of the discussion while mama looks for the bottle?

I'm still scared and anxious, but I'm ready. I'm not a child anymore. I've been through a lot in 31 years and I have a lot to give. It's time I found my place, my tribe, and maybe, just maybe I'll be able to completely be myself without judgement, fear or anxiety that these girls will love me any less for it. Maybe, just maybe, I'll find where I belong.

  Jordan Garner is a native of Colorado. As a married mom of two boys, her life is surrounded by all things superhero, cars and bouncy balls. She loves music and volleyball and has a black belt in taekwondo, but she mostly enjoys loving on women and their small children while helping them to know that they aren't alone and that they aren't ruining their kids ;)

Jordan Garner is a native of Colorado. As a married mom of two boys, her life is surrounded by all things superhero, cars and bouncy balls. She loves music and volleyball and has a black belt in taekwondo, but she mostly enjoys loving on women and their small children while helping them to know that they aren't alone and that they aren't ruining their kids ;)