I must admit that this “being open” thing is really hard. It is sometimes only possible when I am chatting via Facebook or text. I can hide behind a screen, cry, type, and pour out my heart. In person, with anyone, it is really hard to do, unless I am pushed to do it. While I am not necessarily a very private person in general, I struggle deeply with actually being my full self with anyone.
Sometimes I wonder if even my husband has seen every corner of my soul.
So, I chatted with a friend one day about this very thing. I don’t remember a lot of the conversation, but something came up that got me to thinking.
She learned something about me that she had never known. At the end of a long day for her, she felt needed, and though my load is heavy, it somehow made hers lighter to know that I trusted her enough to talk with her.
**2 years later**
This topic is hard for me to visit, because it goes back a long time ago. I have come back to this draft, time and again, typing, deleting, and re-typing. Never settling on the Right Words.
“Who really cares about this anyway?” a voice whispers to me. It’s just a first-world-white-girl problem.
So I stop typing, sigh, and walk away from the keyboard again.
And really, in the scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal. Except that it is. It affected me deeply as a teenager, and I have never been the same since.
I talk a lot, in case you haven’t noticed. I always have. I’ve finally learned to just accept that about myself, along with conscious work to listen more, but that is another post for another time. This one will be long enough.
I was punished for this once. By my closest friends. I arrived at school one day to find that my three closest friends wouldn’t talk to me. They wouldn’t look at me. They got up and left when I sat next to them. I was shocked and didn’t understand.
I finally cornered the softest-hearted of them at lunch, and made her tell me what was going on.
“We all agreed that you’ve been complaining too much lately, and we wanted to teach you a lesson.” I was dumbstruck. “We’re tired of hearing you whine about everything.” I didn’t know what to say. She continued. “It was ___’s idea to just ignore you all day until you got it.”
How, exactly, I was supposed to “get it” when no one had told me what was wrong is beyond me, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time.
Instead, I immediately felt shame, guilt, and deep remorse. I apologized to them. Profusely. (Think Anne of Green Gables, but not as beguiling.) I resolved right then to do better, and became far more conscious of every word that crossed my lips. In some ways, that was good for me. I became more aware of how my words impacted others.
However. It left me wounded, though I didn’t understand its depth until much later. After that day, I never knew if I lived up to my friends’ expectations of me. I never heard about this topic from them again, good or bad, but our friendship was never the same.
Not long after that, we each grew apart as we began to pursue widely varying interests, as high school kids do. But I never knew if there was more to it than that.
Ever since that day, I have dealt with the nagging feeling that perhaps people merely put up with me. That I’m nice enough, and useful enough to have around, but that’s about it. Does anyone really actually like me, or am I just a giant loud-mouth know-it-all nuisance?
Even now, I want to delete this.
How could anyone see this as anything other than a plea for the Interwebz to please-oh-please do say you like me!?
I don’t even know what the point of sharing this is.
Other than it explains a lot of my inner turmoils and insecurities.
No, it is not their fault that I have issues. I’m an adult, and the issues are mine. It did illustrate for me how actions in childhood do have lifelong impact. (Cue the mom guilt.)
Words really can’t be taken back. Neither can actions.
Treat others the way you want to be treated isn’t a trite saying. It’s the core of “Love God, Love Others.” The very heart of what it is supposed to mean to be human.
This post has taken me literally years to write. Months to refine. Weeks to publish.
Here are the takeaways I am left with from this:
One. I no longer feel shame about my talkativeness. It is a gift the Lord has given me to use for his glory, to build up his Kingdom, and to edify his children. Sure, I stumble more often in my words, simply because I allow so many more of them to come out of me, but this is why Grace was invented.
Of course, I do not use this as an excuse to be careless in my words. I still make every effort to insure that my words bring life, not death. But I will not carry guilt and shame over the simple fact that I am verbose. And I won’t apologize for it any more.
Two. Talk to people. And listen to them. Never assume that they’ll know what you need if you don’t speak it. If my friends had come to me with concern, I might have reacted defensively (I won’t deny that), but I would have received it. I likely would have walked away unwounded.
What they did hurt. So much. I don’t ever want to do that to anyone (though I know I have–nobody’s perfect.) I would rather risk injury by using my words, than hurt through my silence in assumption.
Three. I am still a mess. A work in progress. A sinner saved by grace. I have not attained what I have been made for yet, but I’m no longer that insecure 15 year old who doesn’t know the difference between legitimate conviction and false guilt.
Thanks for listening.
Grace & Peace,