Today I’m reflecting on my surname, being a ‘Marshall’. Birthday memoirs are not a place for airing the family dirty laundry, so let’s keep it to the good stuff. The photo of the ‘old man’ above about sums it up, normal is just not part of the ‘We are Marshall’ mantra.
Being a ‘Marshall’ in some counties is a convictable offense. In some neighborhoods and most board rooms, the very name harkens a response of excommunication and a circling of the wagons. They are a clan of trouble-makers. Almost by definition, the characteristics of a ‘Marshall’ are: brash, opinionated, obnoxious, loud, trouble-making, talk back, question authority, cynical of systems and systems thinking and often does nothing considered status quo. They color outside the lines, ask too many questions and expect that what you say is actually what you mean. They are ardent Protestants, with protest being the key term. Agitators, the whole lot of them.
With their emotions on their sleeves, Marshalls can also be known to cause a scene and perhaps . . . and I may be stretching it here . . . they may have a tendency to over-react and exaggerate their response to a given scene. In general, Marshalls exaggerate like it’s their native tongue. It may not be all true, but dang, it’s a good story. In terms of a scene, I was never quite sure in any public gathering at what point my Dad would break into a rousing chorus of “We are Family” and start doing his mummers 2 step dance up a sidewalk. You are left with a choice to be humiliated, or join in. If you’re a Marshall, typically the rythymn gets you and you join in and only wonder later why others think you’re odd.
With all the extroversion, Marshalls by nature are fun. They know how to throw a party and tell tall tales. There will be a lot of talking . . A LOT of talking, the clan never shuts up. They know it all, they have a story to tell and a punchline to give. In general, don’t give them a microphone, they like the spotlight and may not relinquish it. The jokes are bad but they are given in genersosity of spirit. Humor is like air they breathe, making others laugh is a building block of life. Generally, even if their opinions are at times over-the-top, Marshalls are fun to be around and others will gather around.
Whether right or wrong, Marshalls take their faith very seriously. They pursue their spiritual longings with a ferocity that is at times unsettling to the systems of religion that claim the same pursuit. They have a long history of trouble-making when it comes to the things of church on earth. Perhaps at times a family pride, and at others times a prophetic and apostolic call to the truth of a Kingdom that has come. We are all perhaps a mix of both. But what I highly value is the intensity of the pursuit that is genuine and all consuming.
No family lineage or make-up is perfect, sometimes all we have is the purity of our heart’s pursuit and let the results come what may. Over the years, I’ve tempered and harnessed some of my ‘Marshall’ ways. I strive to listen to others viewpoints (listen in general), be less brash in communicating my convictions and be more respectful of institutions and systems of religion. At the same time, I am not afraid to be the agitator or trouble-maker in the room if that’s what’s called for and under God I have to trust my instincts on that. Leading against the flow is in my nature, I am ‘Marshall’.