marriage, relentless journey, story

“I’m Chad Cannon’s Wife” – Words I Hate Saying

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Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, Chad, and I love being his wife. It’s just that sometimes I dread having to say it to people. Not for reasons you may think though. This issue is fresh on my mind as I find my soul stirring coming out of the Q Nashville which was held in my hometown of Nashville this week. Q is an organization all about advancing good through the reclaiming of our culture as Christian leaders. They host events around the country and I was glad to be a part this year. I left overflowing with great information and inspired with new ways of thinking.

I love going to these events. I love hearing what the church is doing and affirming that it is alive and well. I love being challenged and reinvigorated to go out and, as Q would say, advance good with the gifts and talents God has given me. I, however, have a love/hate relationship with the part where there are a whole bunch of fascinating and talented people in one place that I will have to interact with on some level. I’m an introvert. I don’t even toe the line of extroversion. So meeting new people and figuring out how to fit into these situations scares me more than most anything.

Small talk and open ended questions are among the most dreaded of things for me. Inevitably this question comes up at the beginning of every conversation, “what do you do?” It’s a natural question. But I hate it. And I envy those who are good at it. I find it hard to define what I do in one of those fancy elevator speeches. Complicating things, the past two years have involved a lot of redefining what it is that “I do.” I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with what that looks like moving forward and am confident to talk about it. If I had my way, I would much rather do that over a long conversation in a small group, but that’s not always reality. Beyond that, I am much more interested in learning about others, being the one that asks the questions. You see, what “I do” is I love to ask and listen. Personally, I love to make people feel valued through whatever it is I do, photography or in my writing, through being a friend or meeting a stranger. So when I’m put on the spot, I clam up, get nervous, and inevitably end up here, “I’m Chad Cannon’s wife.” Oops, I did it again! (cue Britney…)

Why?

I think there are a couple of reasons.

Because we all struggle and strive to find our identity and to matter in some way. I have found this to get harder, not easier, as I get older. In some ways I’m more confident and aware of who I am, but I still struggle and stumble over ways to share that with people, especially given small windows of time. Not because I’m ashamed, but because I just haven’t defined it enough quite yet. Or maybe I feel it isn’t enough. What I want to say is this. I’m a person who operates from a place of empathy and a willingness to listen. Not always sexy. I’m somebody who puts deep consideration into how that ties into my passions, be it photography, writing or hosting a dinner. And I’m hoping that one day that will fit into a box that I can explain, but for now, it’s just easier to talk about Chad. Because he has something that is easier to define. And he is respected in what he does. And maybe somehow, the fact that he married me may help my cause…whatever that is? It may buy me more time to have that conversation that I’m comfortable with.

I realize this is messed up on so many levels, but it’s my story right now. It’s the reality of the thoughts that consume me when we gather in “our circle.” Which sounds funny to begin with, lets be honest. I think, if I could just say I was a mom at least it would add some legitimacy to me as a woman. False. I think, if I were devoting my life to a non profit, then these conversations would be easier. False. I think, if I had just built my business back to where it was in San Diego than I could confidently say, “I’m a photographer.” False. I think, if I could just be honest that I think I have a purpose in this writing thing, that people may actually take notice. False.

You see, I don’t need to put my best foot forward in the hopes of impressing people in 60 seconds. Some people can do that. I am not one of them. What I need to do is trust a process, and maybe you do too. It’s been hard to develop friendships and find where I fit in in this phase of life. What is weird is that I’m more willing to share on all aspects of my life than I have ever been. But at the same time, looking around at the people we are constantly around, it never seems enough. The irony? When I talk to one of said people long enough, they are just as insecure and unsure as I am. It just looks different for them.

I have a lot of single girlfriends. They are impressive women. Intimidating in some ways. Their insecurities look different than mine, but at a closer look, they are much the same. Every phase of life brings its different challenges. Getting the job won’t give you answer. Nor will making the friends you want to make, or dating the guy you want to date. Getting married will fix you though, right? Nope! I have found that out first hand. Chad has never squashed my dreams, in fact he has always supported me with his whole heart. I am thankful for that. But no matter what he does, I still feel inferior. I still feel the need to identify as his wife instead of just me. In big groups, I still don’t feel like quite enough.

It’s hard to conclude this because it is ongoing. I bet these same thoughts, on different levels, will always have their way at consuming me. On the other side of a week like this, I look to this verse, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9). I’m pretty sure God was aware that as sinners, one side effect would be insecurity. That no matter what phase we have graduated from, the next will meet us with a different set of challenges before us. But if we could surrender to this, than it would make a huge difference. That, for me, I don’t have to be “Chad Cannon’s wife”, that I could just be Julie. I love being us, but us is compiled of two ones. God cares about both as individuals and as a couple.

It is my hope that no matter where you are, that you can find your story here. I’ve traveled through many different seasons in life and suspect that as they do, they will continue to change. Nothing will “fix you” or “complete you” like the presence of God in your life. Though it sounds cliche, it’s the ultimate truth. I struggle with this and I bet you do too.

So I ask, where do you feel like you need to be less than yourself, and why? I would love to hear your thoughts as I have poured out mine. I think there is still so much to learn.