We don’t all believe the things we say we believe. It’s why faith is tested. When pressure is applied, the truth comes out. What that looks like for some, is different for others. Assignments, the reasons we're here, look different for each of us. The president of an unbiased media conglomerate may need to withstand more tests of temptation than an elementary school teacher. The latter, may have their patience tested more frequently. One position is not greater than the other, you understand. Children need to be taught with care and true stories need to be told.
A little over a year ago I told my best friend all the things about myself that I’ve never had the courage to say to another human being. Not ever, and not all at once. I’d been trying to say these things for years. But the possibility of losing the one person who’d come the closest to truly knowing me, was unbearable. I didn’t want to lose my best friend.
It was a little over a year in the making. Negative experiences in my life were slowly piling up, and shame had kept me from sharing them. I’d internalized conversations about being a “bad influence” on him from almost a decade before. Convinced myself that if I wasn’t perfect, we couldn’t be friends. I suffered in silence alone for years. And that internalized belief permeated every relationship I’d experienced. But 2016 was humbling. It was the loneliest year of my life. Lonely, because it was starting to eat away at me that I had not had a single genuine relationship in 28 years. No one in my life knew me fully. I hadn’t been vulnerable with anyone.
The worst thing, the best thing rather, happened when I came across this book by Don Miller. Someone had mentioned it on Instagram, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy. “We will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we’re willing to show our true selves to the people around us.” That was the first line.
We all want to be seen. For someone we love to see us, flaws and all, and say, “There is nothing you can ever say that will make me think any less of you.”
I had fully walked into the conversation ready to lose the closest thing that resembled being seen by another person. I had withheld so much of my life because I was ashamed of who I was, the things I’d done and those that had been done to me. You must get to that place where you have to risk being yourself.
The miraculous thing was that I didn’t die. I say that all the time now, when coming out alive at the other end of doing hard things.
I was ready to lose that friendship, and subsequently all of them. I was ready to leave the country, to be a nomad, to spend my entire life alone.
I had come to the point where every day I wasn’t being seen was unbearable. I was so tired of living a lie. My voice trembled. The tears I fought back came pouring out of me. But, there I was, telling. And I didn’t die. When the words finally stopped, I heard my friend crying. Apologizing to me for being so hard on me, and for not being that safe space I could run to when I was imploding. I told and he didn’t run for cover, the world didn’t stop. I did not die.
We spend so much of our lives creating narratives, weaving tales of all the things we’ve done. Reasons we’re not worthy of love or kindness or forgiveness. The reality is that despite what we feel we deserve, God gives us his grace anyway. He loves us unconditionally. He forgives every bad thing we’ve ever done and faith in those promises requires that we live our lives authentically, despite feared repercussions.
Faith is tested when pressure is applied. Doing hard things in spite of our fears tells God that we trust him and believe that even when we can’t see how he will do the miraculous things, we believe that he will. We take steps. We do our part and we stand back and let his light shine through us.
I told my best friend that I had withheld my life because I was afraid of what would happen if I let him or anyone see me. And he told me that nothing that I could ever say about my life, would make him see me as any less. Ain’t God grand?