The fear of never being known masks as insecurity, loneliness, depression, bullying. Oddly enough, the fear of being known can wear the same masks. I have seen such a work's progress in me as I am noticing being more open and vulnerable. Is this the confidence of my 30s as some magazine articles would lead me to believe? Or is it the constant refinement of the Holy Spirit and an answer to prayer?
Last week I attended Northeastern for a class and connected with several from my cohort, particularly one woman. We're the same kind of people, you know?
We bonded on the second day when she asked, "Is that dress from Lands' End...because I definitely have it in several colors and patterns?" Yep. I said that even though it was cotton, I'd felt spoiled with all the other dresses I have become accustomed to since they have pockets. Oh my, what a conversation about pockets in dresses. We're the same kind of people.
I turned away from a vending machine that wouldn't give me some cold caffeine lateish at night. Then, I watched her get rejected too. So she walked with me to another machine in another building and paid for my drink since my dollar was rejected again. A small but appreciated service to me. It's the little things that matter.
Like asking someone on a first date, I asked her the next day to get dinner (Maggie--note my social aggression!). We had such a great time. As she let her guard down too, she shared that she has three guilty pleasure tv shows, including Honey Boo Boo. As she sought to nervously hide her delighted shame, I could see her wanting to be known. I immediately dished about the crazy guilty pleasure tv shows I watch when dogsitting, which typically includes shows like Flava Flav, Hoarders, Sister Wives, medical documentaries like the one with the man with the giant scrotum or people who eat non-digestible objects. I watch a lot of other weird shows, and I hardly ever admit it. Because...judgment and vulnerability.
If X is exposed about me, what will others say, think, do? But avoiding that doesn't really help my relationships, it helps me continue practicing not being vulnerable. It helps me continue to be guarded and distant. Over the last years, and especially months, I have been practicing authenticity and intentional vulnerability.
And it feels...awesome. Even better relationships are building, a sense of community, and I am acknowledging when I need help and need to depend on others. The last is the most difficult for me, but wow, I have seen growth in my words and thoughts. I think much of this growth comes from knowing my Knower. The closer I have become to my Knower, the closer I have been able to allow myself to know and be known by others.
This is what we all desire. This is what I desire for you. And I hope that I can encourage and help others in that journey.