It seems that when you meet someone, there’s a list of facts about yourself that you routinely share – safe things. For example, I like telling people I was born in California, raised in Missouri, spent a few years in Kansas before moving to Minnesota, where I currently live. I suppose I feel there’s a preemptive apology in there somewhere in case I fail to pronounce my O’s like a proper Minnesotan, or if I slip up and ask them what “casserole” they brought instead of calling it a “hot dish.”
I tell them I work at an insurance agency before quickly moving on to a subject that strikes a little less fear into their hearts. After all, who wants to sit and visit with someone who might try to sell you insurance, right? At least I now have a job to discuss. The months I was unemployed were the worst! I was relieved to discover the phrase “community volunteer.” The only danger there was having someone figure out that my husband probably didn’t earn enough to allow me the luxury of being a “community volunteer”. Know what I mean?
In any event, I’ve learned that the longer you know someone, they eventually find out what your favorite foods, books, movies, singers, and sports teams are. You’ll tell them what you really don’t like about some people, what you like about others. For some, it’s the beginning of a great friendship.
Maybe not so much for you, though. Will they ever become acquainted with the person you see in the mirror? The one that even your own family seldom sees? How do you ever introduce that person?
Hello, my name is….
Did you know that today I had a hard time getting out of bed and getting dressed? I just wanted to keep sleeping because that’s where I can avoid the ugly thoughts that won’t stop going through my head. And getting dressed? Let’s face it – you can put lipstick on a pig, but…. Still, I knew I would have to put on a smile when, in all honesty, I want to cry. In fact, that’s why I wear water-proof mascara. I know that at some point, I will go to the ladies room and cry, and I don’t want my mascara to run. And, no, I don’t really have allergies. That’s not why my eyes look puffy sometimes.
Did you know that the reason I don’t welcome you into my home is because I wouldn’t know what to do with you? When I was growing up, we didn’t have company over and other kids weren’t allowed into the house because we never knew what mood Dad might be in. So, I’m sorry, but I can’t bear the thought of you coming in for a visit. Can we meet somewhere else?
Did you know that I’m sorry? I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry if I make you wait or if I say the wrong thing. I’m sorry if I talk too much. I’m sorry if I don’t talk enough. I’m sorry for taking up too much room. I’m sorry for breathing too much air. I’m just…so sorry.
Did you know that I’m afraid you’ll want to be my friend because I don’t quite know how to handle that level of intimacy? I’m afraid you’ll want more from me than I’m able to give. Some people have wanted everything I had until there was nothing left for me. But I’m also afraid you’ll leave me if we do become friends. I’m afraid that you’ll learn what I already know about myself – that I’m a worthless pain. I’m needy and insecure and ugly. I’m unlovable. And I couldn’t bear for you to discover that and reject me.
Do you really have any idea who you’re talking to? Let’s just stick with the name on my name tag, huh? It will be easier that way. I’ll smile. You’ll smile. Then we will both go home none the wiser, OK?
But that’s not OK with God. God designed us for relationship! As his children, we’re meant to encourage and love each other. In fact, other people may need exactly what you might be hiding. You’d be surprised at who is waiting to get to know you. You might even find someone who’s as scared as you are.
As C S Lewis said:
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.
No matter how flawed you might think you are, you’ll be surprised at what can happen if you just give relationships a chance. It may be a learning curve, but with God’s help you can do it. Remember: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV). Now, go make a friend!