Know Thyself

Recently I was the guest on a podcast for moms of young children. The host is a super successful CEO/entrepreneur who has built quite an empire in the mom market over many years. Moms of little ones have been tapping into her curated resources for as long as I can remember and she continues to build something really beautiful for that demographic.

The interview felt effortless and breezy. She’d done her research on my career, music, and book and asked thoughtful questions that flowed into natural and meaningful conversation. Toward the end of our time together she said, “Ok. I always ask everybody this same question at the end. Here it is. What do you do for fun?”  Everything went full underwater slo-mo as I stalled, pretending to be scrolling through the multitude of optional answers just on the tip of my tongue.

Hmmmmm……(nervous laugh).
Ok, um….
Well, gosh, lemme see here….

You would have thought that she’d asked me about Greek origins or Calculus.

Here’s the thing.

I’m such an introvert. SUCH a homebody. I have a black belt in solitude. Even during the college and young adult years of my life, I was always the girl who was the first to go home, the first to fall asleep at the sleepover, the first to make up an excuse about why I simply must stay in. A candle, a new journal and a sharp #2 pencil, is my holy trinity. My brain literally does not comprehend FOMO.  I do, however, feel JOMO deep in my bones. (Joy of Missing Out).

Several years ago the guy I was dating, was trying to figure out my likes and dislikes. He was especially hoping, I think, that I loved live music as much as he did, and had two Depeche Mode tickets in hand. I was like “Well I guess, as long as I can sit down and really listen, at the concert. I don’t really do the whole stand up and dance/clap thing, especially if it’s too loud.”

Look out, Party Patty.

So, the “fun” question always feels so loaded, because if I answer honestly, I’m afraid people will try to sneak antidepressants into my latte.

But here it is. The honest answer.

I actually don’t do fun. I don’t consider myself a fun, whimsical person. I have very fun people in my life, who coax me out of my cave, but fun is a word that feels weird on my lips. I like to try new recipes in my crowded, chaotic kitchen with my friends or family, laughing (or crying) and sharing stories over wine. I like to have long and meaningful conversations, travel to and explore new sites and places. I like to wander through museums, preferably alone. I’m fascinated by cemeteries. I have so many likes and interests…but fun? FUN implies adventure or silliness.  Sky divers. Kayakers. Trampoline owners. Those people are fun. That’s the kind of response I felt like she was looking for, and so help me I could not even come up with one fun fake answer on the spot.  How hard could it be, Nichole? Just make something up about competitive cupcake baking and finish strong.

Instead, after fumbling awkwardly for way too long, after the dreaded fun question, I actually heard these words come out of my mouth.

“Well, I mean, lately I’ve really gotten into meditation.”

I see.

Does it seem ridiculous to you that I would agonize over such an easy softball question? Not to me. Not to someone who’s been giving fake answers for so long.

I spend so much time looking into my 10-year-old daughter’s eyes and telling her to be exactly who she is, unapologetically. I implore to make sure what’s on the outside matches what’s on the inside. I want her to practice knowing herself now and clearly communicating who she is, even to a sea of confused or concerned faces.

I never practiced that. I never even thought about it.

As a little girl I was a people pleaser. Always morphed into whatever social norms demanded of me, in the moment.  Always dissolved into my friends’ personalities, acquiesced in romance, accommodated authority. Excelled. Shone. But never really knowing my core self. I learned to improvise on the fly, to shuffle and do a quick a Clark Kent costume change in the nearest phone booth, so I could emerge whatever version of me, you had just summoned. Cape included.

Fun! I am fun!

This was a shaky foundation upon which to build a life in the spotlight. A life with fans and followers, and worst of all, a life now heavily reliant on spiritual currency, to buy and sell approval. What’s your life verse? What advice would you give young women in this generation? How do you parent authentically from a Biblical world view? What is God teaching you right now?  Who is your accountability partner? What church are you part of? What does Proverbs 31 mean in your every day life?

You cannot begin to imagine the phony responses I have given to every one of those questions over the course of twenty years.

I was wholeheartedly committed to the answer someone else needed, and selling a tiny piece of myself with every transaction.

It is a beautiful and critical time to be a woman on this planet. Never before, has the world needed our authentic selves, more. The swirling, burning, stirring center of us, alive with the potential of what the Creator spoke to our souls before time. Never before, has the world needed more truth tellers. More healers. Dreamers. Warriors. Whistle Blowers. Peacemakers.

It has taken me most of my adult life to believe that whatever hopes God etched into my heart, are in fact, etched there, for such a time as this. Not my false self, not the self-deprecating, hair twirling, staring at your shoe’s self. But the holy roar way down deep. And to hear that roar, you must first know your own voice.

Last week, I called a Hospice Center in my town. My hope is to spend time as a volunteer, just sitting with people in their last sacred days and maybe sing them into the arms of their Creator. Or just listen. Or support the family in whatever way brings healing. I’ve wanted to do this for years. The process requires several written personal recommendations, so I called several friends who I didn’t think would mind, and as I was explaining it to them, I realized, self-consciously, how weird this request must sound. How weird it is that I even have this desire? And so, started the voices.

Every one of my friends told me that this was perfect work for me. That they couldn’t think of a person more suited for this ministry. And my one predictably irreverent friend said, “Wow, Nichole. That sounds really fun.”


Nichole Nordeman has been writing and making music for over two decades. Her music has always been inspired by her stories, questions, mysteries, doubts, weakness, courage, sorrow, revelation and truth.  A single mother of two she makes her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she enjoys mothering her kids, reading books in quiet spaces, laughing at her puppy Tiger and continuing to work out her faith with fear and trembling. You can find more from Nichole including her music here.

*Nichole is part of the team facilitating the Red Tent Confessional this July.