For an extrovert I can be really shy …ok maybe not shy. Can one really be an extrovert and shy at the same time? Apparently one can according to a quick Google search. But this thing, it doesn’t seem like it is shy. For as much as I long for community and reach for it, I am beginning to realize how much I run from it when it comes my way.
I recently had the chance to begin moving into a deeper relationship with a woman I met through an (in)courage group. For some reason we connected via conversations about life, faith, children, and grandchildren. She sees something in me that led her to reach out. I was honored and blessed because I think she is a great writer and she is a hero in many ways. Yet each time we were supposed to chat via phone or computer, I suddenly “had something come up.”
Then you know that one friend who has seen you at your absolute worst? You know the one who has shared too many tissues, too much chocolate? The one you call when the tears are coming so hard she can’t understand you, but reminds you to breathe any way?
Yea, her… She recently moved even further away and we have talked about Skype time, but I just couldn’t do it. Why? Well…she would see me. I mean SEE me. The day off, tired, cranky, grubby clothes me who was in the midst of a pity party me. And that wouldn’t be pretty. (yes she has seen me at my worst, but this was “different”).
As I tried to unpack the baggage that goes with the disconnect between my love of connecting with people and sharing stories and this me that runs away from community, I realize this is nothing new.
It goes back to that same place I hid as a little girl and then as a teenager and later as a single mother. The one who was afraid to let people in because they would see the real me. The one who had secrets at home. The one who tried so hard to fit in she belonged nowhere.
If you don’t see the real me, you can’t dislike me, right? Or so I told myself (and others apparently).
When I finally was brave enough to be honest to the (hopefully still) new friend and my sister friend it was like an elephant crawled off my chest. Oh it wasn’t easy, but I did it.
I even lasted longer than 30 seconds on Skype. Joshua Brayden Beast stayed right there and let me pet him to stay almost calm. And I even said the words out loud. I. Am. Afraid.
Last year I read this great book and took part in an online study group about masks. For all I got out of it, I have quickly unlearned just as much. That mask taker upper has reemerged in my life.
As one who seriously lives a liturgical life (even my table cloth at home matches the season) I am living that desert time called Lent. That time of heading into the desert to face the tempter and temptations. The ones that take my eyes off God.
When I look in the mirror, I realize the biggest tempter stares back at me right there in the mirror. Her eyes that won’t quite meet mine. The tilt to her head that she thinks keeps her safe. She is frightened and that is sinful.
Because she is wonderfully and fearfully made.
By a God who loves her even more than the friend who sees her at her worst.
And that running? She isn’t running from intimacy with friends or even herself…
She is running from God.
There is no hiding.
And that has nothing to do with shyness and everything to do with fear and doubt.
So for Lent this year?
She is going to try to be brave. She is asking those who love her (including God) to not let her hide.
And maybe someday that mask taker upper can be patted gently on the head and thanked for helping her hide when she needed to, but now? Now she doesn’t need masks.
Because God has this.
Right in the palm of God’s hand.