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March 4, 2012 |

I am inept. Thank you for understanding.

BY Jen Hatmaker

I spent last week at Verge 2012, teaching a teeny bit, but mostly listening to simpletons like David Platt and Alan Hirsch and Dr. John Perkins unpack Scriptures and exegete passages with such precision, I’ve decided it is a travesty people are ever subjected to my teaching and I am, in fact, a legitimate threat to the kingdom. Plus, half the other speakers had foreign accents, and I simply cannot compete with that. I simply cannot.

Because my mind is simmering with some bothersome little nuggets David Platt dropped on us, namely that I am in violation of the Great Commandment in terms of taking the gospel to all people groups, and every time I try to process it, my brain screeches in protest and says I DO NOT WANT TO FIGURE THIS OUT AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME LA LA LA LA, I’m going to write about something else instead.

Let’s talk about things I’m bad at, then you can tell me what you’re bad at.

Sound fun? Mkay.

I don’t mean things I possess no natural skill set for, like playing the pan flute or sticking the landing on a vault pass. I mean things I regularly fail at that I should be pulling off. Tasks that grown-up, mature, responsible people accomplish with ease, and my malfunctions suggest that perhaps I am a moron.

I cannot manage and maintain a chore schedule.

You don’t understand. I cannot do it. Please do not tell me your method. It doesn’t matter. I can’t keep up with it. I mean, I can, for like three to four-and-a-half weeks, and then it sinks under the weight of neglect. I find a way to sabotage the system every time. One inevitable Wednesday, I will let them play with their friends at the park instead of folding the laundry. Why? Because they are at the park instead of here. I don’t even know why I have to explain this to you.

Plus, after I get them all excited about scrubbing toilets because they are going to earn points or credits or Hatmaker Bucks™ to convert to cash, it turns out I never actually have cash, so I just tell them I’m “keeping track” of it all, which I may or may not actually be doing (not). So they may or may not actually ever get paid (not). I believe I owe my children approximately fourteen million dollars in defaulted allowance. This doesn’t bode well for team morale.

I am on par with those heinous fundraising abusers who come to the elementary schools, peddling their wares, working the kids into a frenzy over the junk they can earn if they sell $750 worth of processed cancer cookie dough, sending my spawn racing home screaming I CAN EARN A LIMO RIDE and I’M GOING TO WIN A LIGHT SABER MADE OF PLATINUM and I’m all, we’re not selling that crap and I throw their fundraising packets into the recycling bin and crush their little dreams.

I cannot answer my phone like a responsible grown up.

You might think answering your phone is not really a skill one needs to master, but you would be wrong. I don’t know how to defend my breakdown in this department, but this is simply how I am. I believe it has to do with my neurons or my atoms or the plasma science. My phone rings, and I think NO. I WILL NOT ANSWER IT. I just can’t. I just can’t answer the ringing phone. I just cannot talk. These irrational thoughts flood my brain and I think them. I listen to the thoughts tell me that answering my phone is just not doable, and I think, “Yes. My thoughts are correct.”

My friends – my friends, the ones I’m supposed to be friendly with – will tell you that I only answer my phone during one perfect storm: when I am driving somewhere. If I am doing absolutely anything else – sitting on the couch, doing important Facebook work, eating chips – I will let all calls go to voicemail.

Then, against all reason and explanation, I will not check the voicemails. My husband actually has nightmares about this. My thoughts have ideas here too; they tell me, “If you don’t listen to the message, then you don’t have to do anything about it. It’s like it doesn’t exist.” My thoughts are always looking out for me, helping me avoid the dark struggles of life, like talking and answering questions.

Right now, I have 17 unlistened to voicemails. I don’t know how I have any friends.

I have a small issue with planning ahead, meaning I don’t.

I mean well. I have good intentions here. My thoughts try to tell me three weeks or nine days or four hours in advance that I need to do some preliminary work, like arrange childcare or order books for an event or take a shower. They try their best, the thoughts.

But then I remember my thoughts also tell me that answering the phone could potentially ruin my life, so I don’t listen to them.

As I mentioned before here, I married a person who is exactly like me in this department. OPPOSITE DAY! This behavior actually makes Brandon hate me. I believe Mr. Planner wishes me physical harm for these transgressions. This is the man who can’t even handle a spontaneous invitation for lunch, because it messes with his “game plan.” (My dad also references his “game plan” approximately twelve times a day for the last 37 years of my entire life, so I frequently marvel that I married my father.)

I procrastinate, therefore, I scramble. I panic email. I pay double for expedited shipping. I beg and make promises and swear. I make my poor planning someone else’s problem, which is why I’m so popular. I create systems to check-and-balance myself, then I stage a mutiny against my own regulations. I am like Jim Carrey who beat the crap out of himself in the bathroom in Liar Liar. (“What are you doing??” “I’m kicking my own a**!”)

I’m super bad about getting ready. Worse than you think. Worse than you.

My high school BFF once wrote a paper on “contrasts.” She talked about how she was tailored pants and belts and I was jeans and a t-shirt; she was hot-rollers and I was ponytails. Yes, I was seventeen when she wrote this description, but I’m sorry to tell you I have not evolved in twenty years.

The universe is conspiring against me here. Listen, I have problem hair. You don’t understand. It is curly and course and it doesn’t ever feel like behaving. In order to be pretty, it must be round-brushed and smoothed with product then flat-ironed and coddled and baby-talked. Then my hair acts like Charlie Sheen and starts throwing punches and cussing innocent people out, getting all drunk and sloppy screaming, oh yeah? You think I’m goin’ down like this? I HATE YOU! I’ll do what the #!*$ I want!

And then I put it in a bun, because it is just so naughty.

And because I need to be somewhere in 20 minutes and it’s a 25-minute drive (see #3), I throw on jeans and a t-shirt and flip-flops and race out the door with my bun. This is how I look always. Also, I wear hats. In the winter, I wear a hoodie and TOMS. I barely wear make-up. I recently learned about the special spray that makes your filthy hair look not greasy, and I’m on my third can.

This is all well and good for a nineteen-year-old college student or a missionary in Kenya, but I’m a 37-year-old author and speaker with daily access to a shower and electricity. This is not okay. (Shut up, thoughts. You can’t shame me into caring.)

So until I’m ready to talk about taking the gospel to unreached people groups, this is where we are expending our emotional energy together, Reader. I know you’re not bad at anything other adults are perfectly capable of, but maybe you could share the deficiencies you see in other people?

What does everyone else manage that you could just perish over?