Even if we do become friends and I see that the person is willing to stick around for a while, I still wonder. I may never voice it, but deep down inside there's always that doubt slowly gnawing on the bud of our friendship.
I recently had to tell a close friend of many years that I still wasn't totally convinced that she loved me. (And this girl has shown me that she does in more ways that I can count!)
I don't know why it is so hard for me to accept that others love me. Why can't I recognize and receive the love that others often will give to me more freely than I realize?
I've thought about this for a long time. I've always wondered if it was just an insecurity of mine I would never get rid of, like the scars from chicken pox that show up when you get a tan. Maybe I just have to live with it, and hope it will fade with time.
But I don't think that's true. I think there is a real issue behind my insecurity: that I never let enough of myself be visible for others to love. So, because they never (or only rarely) glimpse the true me, I'm always left wondering if they'll really love the true me. I'm very good at adapting and meeting others' needs and seeking out what makes them happy - but I'm very bad at letting them do those things for me.
It's as if I put up a puppet of me, the Rachel As Friend to So and So, and that friend interacts with and loves and cares for that puppet. While I'm hiding below the puppet stage, only willing to let myself be seen in glimpses, like when the happy face won't work or the puppet stage breaks down. I've started to be willing to be open in the hard times, but rarely do I let the real Rachel out when all is fine and the puppet mask works just as well as my real face (or even better). Besides, who would want to see the real me anyway?
The real me may not be concerned about your problems.
The real me may have too many problems of her own.
The real me may be deeply hurt by something you just said.
The real me may want to talk about what God's doing in my life even though it's all still a big mess.
The real me may not have all the answers.
The real me may be more vulnerable than I even realize.
The real me may need to cry on your shoulder, instead of always being the one to take care of you.
I think I need to bring this real me out into the open a bit. In fact, I need to burn down the puppet stage and throw away the puppets. I need to let the scared little Rachel come out into the light. Stop pretending and hiding - from others, myself, and especially God. I need to be willing to let God hold me by the hand instead of handing Him the Perfect Rachel puppet.
Please note, I am not saying that my relationships need to be all about me, or dictated by my needs. No. I have been so out of balance in this area that it takes a more extreme wake up call to shift me over to the middle. You might be on the opposite side - always putting yourself at the center of your relationships instead of others. That's no good either. We have to find balance.
And the only way we're going to get there is if we let God take us by the hand, pull us out into the open, and let others see our true selves.
I'm scared, but willing.
Friends - this post was hard for me to write and share with you all. But I believe I needed to write it. Please pray for me to continue discovering how God wants me to grow in this area, and help me be more of my true self with you.