In some ways I am an open book. Generally, you can ask me almost any question and I will answer it truthfully. I am not ashamed of my past, most of my experiences or my political leanings. You can ask me about books, movies and places I have been. If I have a story, and I think you are listening, I will tell it. If I think I have discovered something, I may just share it with you and see what you think.
But when it comes to talking about love and relationships and matters of the heart I have tended to shut the door, lock it thrice, barricade and hide inside. If you have ever read the beginning of The Diary of Anne Frank, you get the picture. Hidden stairwells, blackout the windows type of hide inside.
Over the last week I tried to share some of the pieces of my heart. Painful, lonely, disheartened pieces. I was desperate to voice the inner workings of my soul and, even throwing them into a virtual unknown was better than harboring them any longer. I threw the words out there without analyzing and I stopped myself from worrying about who would read them and what they might think so I could be as honest as possible – just me and a white page until the words were accessible to the world.
I am happy to report that this act of sudden and vulnerable expulsion didn’t cause me to explode!
Over the past week I have gotten comments, texts, messages and feedback that proved that my fears were unwarranted. Instead of being looked down on or seen as releasing negativity into the world, folks have understood, sympathized, encouraged, been encouraged and voiced their support. Instead of comments that have made me feel even more lonely or pitiful, others are admitting to having the same feelings, the same hurdles when it comes to real community and the same doubts and fears when it comes to love.
This has got me wondering –
IF WE ALL WANT THE AUTHENTIC SO BADLY,
WHY DOES IT SEEM SO HARD TO FIND
AND WHY IS IT SO HARD TO BE OPEN?
A couple of years ago I went through a period of being extremely jaded by the church. I was processing through questions about life and the injustice I had seen overseas and I wasn’t finding answers within the sermons and happy verses that seemed to be what the church was content offering me. It was an empty place where I scooped down to the dregs of my beliefs and threw out all sorts of assumptions that didn’t work when faced with some of the real problems I witnessed and real people I met across borders.
For the most part I kept this all to myself. It was hard to admit that I was having some major doubts about things that most of the people around me didn’t seem to be questioning at all. Not only that, but it was tough to go from being called a missionary – a position that has certain inherent expectations – and admit that I was doubting the very faith I was supposed to be proclaiming around the world. I felt a lot like a sham.
With doubts and questions buried deep inside, I just slipped away from the gatherings, the people, the smiling happy faces that seemed to have it all sorted out.
Fast forward a couple of years and I have sat with a number of people that have recently been through a period of refining their beliefs and priorities in light of questions and struggles they have come through. We all thought we were islands. None of us actually were.
I wonder how much less of a fraud I would have felt like if I could have just stepped up and said one day “I think I’ve gotten some things wrong…” or “I am really questioning whether ____ is true,” and not been afraid of the response of the greater church community.
As I step through these 31 blogs before I turn 31, I think about who I want to be in the next year(s) and this one, vital bit comes to mind: I want YOU – whoever you are reading this – to know that I am not afraid of your process. I am not afraid of your questions or what it takes you to figure some things out. I am not afraid of listening to your fears and I won’t think you are making mistakes, going to hell, or about to ruin your life if you share with me your doubts and feelings and other hidden truths of your soul. Actually, quit the opposite. I am pretty damn tired of the nonsense. And, apparently, I am not the only one.
Here is your invitation: Come, voice what you feel, think, dream and fear. Be the you you are inside a little more openly. Uncover a few things you have festering. Find someone to tell and be the ears to another because we all need a little more authenticity without feeling like we are screwing everything up with our honesty.
Go ahead, I dare you. (and I just dared myself, too.) (no take-backs)