This weekend reminded me of one of my greatest fears.
Letting people in.
I love people. Like, I REALLY love people. I’m an extrovert. Building relationships is my lifeblood. I want to be a counselor. I build emotional attachments to TV characters when I spend too much time by myself watching Netflix. Ope. Just admitted that. Hello!
What I mean by “letting people in” is not a will-you-pray-for-me-I’m-going-through-some-personal-stuff-I-don’t-want-to-discuss kind of vulnerability. It’s the I-need-you-to-walk-alongside-me-in-this-struggle-and-see-it-all kind of vulnerability. But when I truly let people in, they see more than what I think they bargained for: pain, conflicted values, pride, care, envy, genuineness, deceit, love, insecurity.
Ew. Sick. GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
Why would anyone want to see that? And maybe I don’t want to see it in them either! Let’s all live superficially and be in emotionally distant relationships, ok?! You stay in your corner, and I’ll stay in mine. Let’s meet in the middle when we have something funny to share. Anything beyond the level of “OMG did you see this GIF?” should be kept to yourself.
Ok, no. I don’t mean that–most days. I really want to be known. I really want to know others. To love them fiercely and unconditionally. But gracious, it is hard and terrifying.
I just re-read a poignant, old blog post that accurately describes this fear that I’ve clearly dealt with for some time. I’m learning how to be known and to know others in this new phase of life. It takes a slower pace than I expected. It requires me to let my guard down. If I build the walls higher around me, they’ll only take longer to tear down. The process only will be more arduous and leave more scarring.
But isn’t that the nature of overcoming fear?
Admitting the fear, working toward a solution, taking risks, willingness to accept the process? That’s exactly what opening yourself up to others’ love, critique, and acceptance is all about–the process. We might get burned. People might disappoint us. Our vulnerability is at a level 10, and we only hope those seeing us so completely raw will respond with grace.
Grace allows the muck inside to be seen without judgement. It gives space to explore the uncomfortable emotions. Such grace places value on knowing yourself in the process of knowing others. How can we truly seek to know others and be known if we don’t first know and accept ourselves? Grace makes this possible.
Oh, how we experienced such grace this weekend.
A dear couple who has selflessly invested in and mentored us in ways we could never repay came to town this weekend. Señor and I spent hours being heard. We dreamed, planned, expressed fears, and received prayer. We are so blessed by their presence in our lives. They remind me of the importance of letting people into our life journeys.
It’s worth the risk.