I am in the process of rediscovering myself. All these years I've been aware of my surroundings, had pretty strong intuition and critically, yet accurately, analyzed others. But one thing I couldn't explain was how I felt and what I thought. I was driven by perceived expectations others had of me. I would assume my own presumptions and would act in the ways I thought I was supposed to act. People would always tell me that I was too hard on myself, and that no one expected as much as I did of myself. Pleasing others was what drove me. I would always think of others and want to make sure that no one was upset with me. I was fearful of what others would think of me. This fear is what drives me to an attempt at obtaining perfection. I would stive to grow - to become better and better at something.
What about simply being me?
To do that, I need to know: Who am I? What do I want to be like? These are questions that I am asking myself now, at nearly 30. They are questions that I scoff at, as I thought I knew the answers. But I don't. I put so much energy into thinking about others. I compare myself with others, as if there is a set standard we should all conform to. Exhaustion and frustration overwhelm me, and become stress to my body when I think so much about what I should be like. All because of fear. Fear of what? That I'd be left out and not have any friends? When I think about it, I'm not exactly sure what I was afraid of...just what other people thought.
Jesus walked this Earth as a living man. I have no doubt that He felt disappointments...felt lonely...felt confused...felt hurt. But one thing He did with those feelings is turn them inside out and love the people around Him. He cried to His Father to forgive them, for they do not know. He loved purely and simply. He did not accept or tolerate certain behavior, but He accepted the people and tolerated being near them. He was not stressed out by fears. In fact, He rebuked fear.
I find myself saying "Reduce me to love, Lord!" when I think about my pride and self-centerdness. I am afraid people will hurt me. I act like the world has disappointed me and isn't worthy of my time. It pains me deeply to think about this attitude that I display. It's the fear that drives my desire for control...fear that I wouldn't get hurt, as I just can't take the pain.
I have pain that is deep - almost entrenched. The pain subsides when I allow God to heal it when I stop clinging onto it. The wounds may remain, just like in Jesus' hands, but they can serve as reminders of His grace, mercy and love.
Last night I had a difficult interaction with my son, Gabriel. His respect for my authority as his parent dissolved for the time, and he exhibited free will. (Oh boy did he!) When I asked him to surrender the rocks that he was holding, which were a token from our time on the lake the previous weekend, he simply refused. "I'm not going to give it to you, Mommy, he-he-he-he-he." I thought: What the heck?! I'm his mother. He needs to listen to me and do as I say! His grip on those rocks was so tight and try as I might to pry them from his tight little hands, I couldn't to it. He won the game, and he knew it. For awhile anyway.
Eventually Gabriel came to me and said that he'd give me just one of the rocks. I chuckled inside, despite the anger that remained. Several things went awry during our interaction with each other last night and I realize only a part of it. I've since confessed for my outrage and explosive anger. I've thought about how it sure is interesting to think about how people can influence others. Gabriel became nearly equally explosive in his anger and we both were enraged. We both had such a grip on our anger and we weren't ready or willing to surrender. Just like Gabriel's grip on the rocks, I was not about to back down in my attempt to control his submission to my authority. But God ever so gently asks us to losen our grip - to surrender. Like Gabriel, I refuse. I laugh like a four-year-old child - "I'm not going to...na-na-na-bo-bo!"
So our Father waits. Patiently. He doesn't wrestle us for it. He doesn't pry it out of our vice-like hands. He waits. And He stays close by us. He doesn't walk out the door and give up. He is patient. He knows that eventually we'll losen that grip and give Him at least one rock. And even though we may think it's for His benefit, like Gabriel thought I wanted his rock, He doesn't need for us to know, at least right away, that it's for our own benefit. He simply enjoys the opportunity to have us draw a little closer to Him, just like Gabriel did to me by the end of the night as he snuggled close and wimpered "Mooommmyyy...".
The human perspective is to say "who do you think you are (for that behavior)?!" My Father in Heaven tells me that I am His. I am His beloved. He knows my pain. He knows my struggles. He knows my weaknesses. Yet, He loves me through and through. He accepts me. My actions hurt Him every day, just like we face disappointment and hurt by others every day. Our responsibility is to live as God has called us. He has a purpose for each of each of us. We are to live according to His expectations of us, not others' expectations of us. If only we would receive His love and believe it. Maybe there really is truth to the saying that you can't love others if you haven't experienced love for yourself. Hmmm...reduce me to love, Lord...reduce my fears to love myself.