community & freedom

the past year (or two..) i’ve become increasingly aware of what community is and what it is not.

it’s odd, but the further you drift away from it the more aware of it you are it seems.

i can’t pinpoint the exact time when i realized this, but i now see how desperately lonely i have been. my answer, of course, is to distance myself even further and convince myself it’s for the best because then it will all hurt less.

this really isn’t surprising when i consider my past and how i grew up, but you would think that once this crossed my mind and i had a professional opinion confirm it that i would make effort to change things. nope. not i. 

okay, truth? yes, people will let you down and it will hurt. but it is far, far more painful to suffer alone. we were DESIGNED for community, and to have relationships with others. ignoring this fact doesn’t make you any stronger or better off (i’m talking to myself here, but you might relate).

my friends and family know that i don’t like people touching me. eye contact makes me nervous, and i have a terrible handshake. but i’ll let you in on a little secret – i don’t hate it the way i say i do. what i hate about it is how intimate touch feels, and the reality is that i am simply scared of letting anyone get too close to really see me. which is why i shy away from holding eye contact or hugs.

i’m that person who suddenly wonders what i’m supposed to do with my hands while i’m talking to you, and where on earth are they supposed to go?!

(all of this makes me sound far more socially awkward than i think i actually am. but i could be wrong.)

step one is admission – here i am admitting my fear.

but you know what? when i walked into a friend’s house one night, to have her ask how i am only to have me respond with sobbing breaths and runaway tears – and she asks if she can hug me – i realized something.

my friend held me and handed me kleenex and sat and listened to all my feelings just pour out of me within minutes. i wasn’t rejected. i was lovingly brought closer without any judgment. and for a few minutes i stopped wondering who might think i was weaker for it.

and that, my friends, is real. real to know that i could have driven to any number of homes of friends and they would have welcomed me with open arms, and i would not feel so alone.

God blesses us with many people in our lives, and i have been so utterly wrong to avoid it. the cost of fear is simply too high for me to keep paying it.

(on a related note: i’m reading What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith right now and it is so, so lovely. Angie is so honest and real and I love the way she uses biblical stories to point out the truth about our relationship with God.)

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