I published my first blog in November of 2016. I remember the anxious feeling of letting my heart speak through my words and hitting that green button on the screen that would launch my words into the world of potential readers and social media. I heard someone say once that when you put something on the internet, there is no getting it back. Even if deleted, it’s out there forever traceable by someone somewhere who knows how to access it. Great, I thought. No pressure. But also a good bit of wisdom in being mindful of what to disclose. I had to overcome the fear of not knowing who would possibly be reading my content and had to release the care of how I might be perceived by others. Yikes. I assure you that it’s an ongoing process and some words get typed and then deleted.
Vulnerability is a scary thing, but it does get easier over time and with practice. We like to present the best version of ourselves. Which is why our vacations and achievements and our post-salon visits fill our news feed. Not our worst day. Not the bed head and mismatched pajamas or the notice of an in-school suspension or the pet urine on the carpet. We present the socially acceptable version of ourselves that makes us look as though we at least half have it together. Whatever that means.
We fear being rejected. And rightfully so. Some of us have experienced conditional love through parental fractures and people who should have stayed but left and by broken marriages with vows that should have said: "I love you until." Some of us have been ghosted in friendships or conditionally loved and rejected by a church, the one place that should be a haven of safety and enough grace and room for error.
I was recently confronted with a new level of vulnerability through a video of my story. I wish I could tell you that I braved it courageously and without fear of public opinion. Not the case, and also not something you would know without me disclosing it to you. When I first saw the video, I cringed. I couldn’t even finish watching it. I was overly critical of myself. Like hearing yourself on voicemail and thinking, is that really how I sound? Nasally and pre-puberty. Come on. You know you’ve thought that about yourself before. I critiqued my hair. Why in the world would I wear it like that when I knew I was being filmed? But it was raining, and the messy bun seemed like the best option at the time. Why did I wear that outfit? Why did I say this or not say that? I could go on.
I am sad to say I wrestled with it for several days before reaching out to two friends that I knew would speak truth to me because you know, one is just never really enough. (insert eye rolling)
Their response was a unison of encouragement that I needed. “I’m honestly just not seeing what you’re seeing. I think it’s great. You should put it out there.”
Also followed by a hard truth: “and you should take this time to pray and ask yourself and ask God why it matters so much what other people think.”
Oh. Ouch. Why does it matter so much what other people think?
Here is what I’ve learned after pressing through and being confronted with my own fears and insecurity. Somewhere deeper than heart level is a core belief that maybe I am not worthy. Not accepted. Not unconditionally loved. Not enough. That perhaps someone else’s opinion determines these things.
I have been loved well by many throughout my life and in my present life. And yet I have found that it’s not something that human love can settle in this heart of mine.
Only God can settle that. I have also found that I am not alone in my struggle. That most people wrestle with the concept of being unconditionally loved by the Father. But the more I lean into that truth and lay all my brokenness before Him, allowing myself to be loved even still, the more I am able to face vulnerability. The more I am able to present myself authentically and not cover the areas I struggle with. The more I am able to be more human and more relatable and dare I say even more likable because other people can see themselves in my story.
As I once heard a writing mentor say, “once you make peace with your story, it no longer matters what other people think.” Aha. Yes indeed.
What is it that keeps you from being honest with where you are on your journey? It’s an important question for reflection. It’s worth learning the answer to.