We celebrated every birthday together. We knew every minor detail of each other's families. We walked, prayed, laughed, and cried together. We didn't always see eye to eye on every issue, but we knew we had each other's backs.
"To be intimate with others is to reveal our innermost selves to them, including our emotions, thoughts and desires. For such deep sharing of the soul and spirit to occur, people must respect and trust each other. ... In a world controlled by sin, however, to choose to be intimate is to choose to be hurt. Yet Jesus calls us to this kind of intimacy with Him and with one another."
~ Kenneth A. Schmidt ~
Yet slowly things began to change. I can't put my finger on what happened exactly. Did I say too much? Did I do too little? Did I give off a bad vibe? How did I fail this friendship? It's easy to dismiss it as part of life. Relationships change, I know, but the knowledge does nothing to ease the pain that lingers in my heart.
I think I have a little Horton in me. "I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one hundred percent." When I give my heart away to someone, I consider them a friend for life. I may not give them the time they deserve, I may get annoyed or disappointed, but my heart does not waver. When I love someone, I will always love them. So when a friendship goes awry, it hurts. A lot. For a long time.
I look at the relationships I enjoy now and wonder how many will exist in five years. Will they get tired of me? Will they grow weary of my thinking? Will they think me too full of myself? Will I do something stupid to offend them? How long will it take for them to realize my human weakness? When will they see me for the sinner I am?
I have a friend who says she appreciates my transparency. I understand it is meant as a compliment, but opening myself up that way comes at a cost. For every person who truly sees me, how many others dislike what they see? Letting people in opens me up for hurt. Big time hurt. Do I want to risk that?
It makes me want to hide myself and say very little. Even as I write this, I am tempted to delete it all and not reveal so much of what goes through my mind, yet God tells me, "Be who I created you to be." This is who I am, a woman who over analyzes and sincerely wants to love and be loved. I am compelled, truly compelled, to talk about my struggles and victories in hopes that it may point others to my perfect, loving God. If people are aware of His presence and blessing in an ordinary woman, will they be attracted to Him? If I don't let people see where I've come from, how can they see God's transforming work?
Yet some won't understand. Some will miss His hand completely and see only the failures. Some will be disappointed. Some will expect more. Sigh.
I was discussing this with a wise man last week, explaining how past hurts made it hard for me to want to put myself out there. This man, who has seen his share of hurt at the hands of people he loved and trusted, said to me without a bit of hesitation, "But we have to. It's what we do."
I know he's right. Jesus is all about relationships and I must be too. Living with people can be exciting and fulfilling, but it can also be tricky and confusing and down right painful.
But we have to. It's what we do.
I have to risk it because I love God and trust He knows what's best for me. He tells me, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." So I will. I will love deeply and experience joy in my relationships. And sometimes I will hurt deeply and experience the comfort only He can give.
We have to. It's what we do.
Lord, give me courage. Give me perseverance. Give me grace. May I reflect You more than myself.
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