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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Grace For The (Not) Alone

There are days it wraps itself around my throat, threatening to steal breath away. There is this fragile bit of me that haunts me as I let God lead me into community and friendships with others. We all have something right? Some beat of a drum plays behind us as we walk further into the circles of people or some whisper of a word or thought that plays on repeat as we put ourselves out there and make ourselves vulnerable to others.

It happens to me, the whispering words. And I can feel them begin to stick inside the walls of my chest and then my throat. Still, I try to swallow them down and away for good but somedays I lose that fight.

People send me encouragement and tell me I'm brave. I shake my head every time I hear those words. No.          See, if they could see inside my heart, they would know that scared girl and see how not brave I am. They would see how hard the lean is from that girl on the arms and in the hands of Jesus.

The lie that sings in my ear? "Eventually, you're going to mess up and your 'friend' is going to forget all about you." My fear is that I'm going to be misunderstood. I know myself and my intentions. I know that I want the people in my life to know that I love them and I am for them. But I worry that I don't do that well enough or I don't show that convincingly enough. I'm afraid I'll make some mistake that I won't even know I made and lose anyone who is close me.

And to type it out, it looks a little silly to me. Why? Why would I be so afraid of having a well-intentioned heart and being misunderstood to the degree of abandonment? I nod as I remember the day she told me that I only think about myself and I don't send enough cards or call on the phone often enough. I remember how hard I sobbed, right in front of her. I had no idea what I had done wrong but I couldn't have been more sorry...

...back I fell in my mind, at that moment with her, to the controlling relationship I was in just a few years before that night. How I always said I was sorry? How I always was to blame? And I never knew why. I never knew of one concrete thing that I had done wrong and I knew I didn't do anything intentionally but I was sorry because I was scared to death to lose the one who had me convinced I was unlovable.
...only, maybe he was right? Because this cycle...

She told me she was just done. Years and years of piled up "remember the time" stories - You know the stories that make you laugh so hard you can't breathe and your face is soaked from tears? Even now I have a lump in my throat as I remember those times and how I believed I must have messed that all up because now it was like none of them were enough to make her stay with me in friendship.

That story didn't happen a week ago or even last year. But the whisper I hear makes me feel like it was just yesterday.

So now I've come to this place in life where I know God wants me to reach out to women and tell them "I understand how wounding we can be to each other but I just want to show you that it doesn't have to be like that". He's brought me to these circles where this shy introvert is being asked to reach out and love and encourage those around me. He's given me the most beautiful friends and one in particular that I feel like I am free to be who I am when I'm with her.  But I'm telling you, no matter how great the blessing is in my life, there is always opposition. I am always tempted to cling to the fear that I've said the wrong thing or I've said too much or I didn't ask the right questions or I come off as conceited.

But I've learned something along the way. I've learned who God sees when He looks at me and I've learned to trust Him so. And as I've let His love become my focus, I've felt more sure of His design in me and I choose risk more than running. I choose to be friendly even in the face of my fears. You see, I know I'm not alone here. I know I'm not the only woman in the world walking around with scars. I know I'm not the only one who panics if someone falls off the grid for a few days, worrying that I've upset them somehow. But He has held my hand through these memories and has helped me forgive those who have hurt me and He has also helped me forgive myself.

And even if I'm tempted to believe the lie again, I remind myself to remember the time I surrendered all of this to Him and I keep on going. Sometimes that means I'm standing awkwardly silent in a large group of people while I try to find the words to say and work up the courage to say them, and that's OK. I choose to be brave. I choose to stay. The more I stay, the more grace I find to keep on staying in community. {And y'all sometimes the awkward words are just clumsy and I end up laughing at myself. But I let community laugh with me as we nod together, knowing that we're all just human and sometimes words come out all jumbled.}

Take heart, friend. I know hurt...more hurt than I'm ready to share in this space {but maybe someday...}. And because I know hurt, please believe I know healing...and how it takes time sometimes but it comes with new mercies every day. He means to restore each of us and use that process to give us unique ways to reach out to others. He means this pain to bring comfort in ways only He could orchestrate. And right now, in this moment, maybe He means you to know there is no "alone" with Him.

You're not alone. 

My heart rejoices in knowing He is with each of us and for each of us and loves each of us just the way we are.



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