Monday, March 4, 2013

Who would you be if you could be you?

As a Christian, I firmly believe that the hard and painful events that I experience can produce good things in my life and the lives of those around me, if I turn to God in my pain and rely on Him for wisdom, strength and guidance.  This isn't a Pollyanna thing.  The Bible often describes these sorts of things as akin to giving birth.  Or planting  a seed - laborious, painful, life from death.

I hope that as I write about my life here, I in no way give the impression that the belief that my suffering is meaningful leaves me lilting through my digitally remastered world singing, "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..."  It just ain't so.

Still, there are moments when I realize what I have gained in the midst of the losses.  One of those gains has been a clearer perception of who I really am.  Over the past several years, rejection from my primary community and some significant people in my life has left me deeply wounded.  And surprisingly, free to start the real me.

Does this mean that I was faking all along? Of course not.  Very few of us are fully aware of how we are shaped and molded by the ideas and expectations of those around us. It's just not that cut and dried.  Even those of us who consider ourselves individualists and rebels often define our rebellion by what society considers normal.  Sometimes, making a choice to be different is, in itself, a reaction to societal expectations and not a true representation of who we are. What if we really do like Taylor Swift songs?  Or Kraft Dinner?  Or...*gasp*...reality shows?  We are all in the process of becoming, and the path is a twisted, winding one.  We do the best we can with what we know.

As much as it hurts, there is something strangely freeing about being rejected by one's community and significant others.  It gives us the opportunity, not to re-invent ourselves, but to find out who we are and to become more fully ourselves.  Ideally, in any healthy community or relationship, the freedom to grow and be ourselves in an accepting, intimate connection with others exists.  Failing that, though, being tossed out on one's keister is the next best option.

I have been experiencing this over the past several years, and it is an adventure.  To be honest, it's more of a  "taking the One Ring to Mordor" adventure, but an adventure none-the-less.  I have a handful of precious women who have remained close;  strong, compassionate and brave women who have loved me in the midst of my messiness with the passion and dedication of God Himself.  I have also been making new relationships.  This is where the fun (and scariness) comes in.  I am 46 years old.  I want to enter new relationships as myself, not conforming to what I think people might expect from me. But who am I?  How much of who I am now is me, and how much of it is about trying to move safely through the world without getting rejected again?

 This is especially hard after so much rejection.  Rejection for being me.  As I grow and heal and learn, I am discovering who I am, and becoming more comfortable with myself.  I am also becoming more comfortable with the fact that some aspects of who I am will not make me popular with others.  The people-pleaser in me is dying a slow, painful death.  Ouch.

I sometimes find myself making almost formal announcements about who I am to myself, in my journal or in my own head.  To sound it out. To gain courage.  To get to know me.  So, I'll be lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and inside my head my "public speaking" voice comes out and I will boldly announce to myself - "I am the kind of person who cares more about the well-being of the people around me and less about the fact that I don't have one piece of new furniture in my home...and probably won't for a really long time."  or " I am the kind of person who does not let go easily, who is deeply hopeful, and who will never allow myself or my child to be pushed around or abused again."

And then, there's this, "I am the kind of person who turns to goo whenever anyone says that they read my blog.  Because I am proud of it.  I might get all gushy and excited.  Or giggle.  Because I truly am honored that anyone reads this stuff.  I might even make you cookies..."

You know what is really special?  As I am travelling this road, and becoming more real, I am discovering a rich, loving community that seems to be perfectly fine with who I am.  I know I keep going back to the idea of community, but you cannot imagine how valuable you all are to me.  Or maybe you can.  While I don't want to be defined by my community, I am learning who I am partially by seeing myself in their eyes.  Last fall, while I was sitting on a friend's floor playing with his dogs, he commented that the dogs liked me because they sensed my character, and that it was good.  For him it was probably a random thought.  For me, it was a gift. You see me like that?  Even when I am being really, really me?

God is my Creator, my Transformer, the One who guides and leads me.  My community is the beautiful forest that I get to grow up in.  I'm not absolutely sure who I will be as I grow to be me.  I do know that God has promised to complete the work that He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).

So...who would you be if you could really be you?

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