Here's my hunch:
Nobody's secure, and nobody feels like
she completely belongs. Those insecurities are just job hazards of being human. But some people dance anyway, and those people have more fun.
~Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior
When I was a young teenage girl growing up in Seattle, Washington, I knew I was "different."
Certainly I was visibly different. Everyone I knew
had two perfectly formed hands. Beautiful fingers where rings could slide on and perch and sparkle.
Fingernails to paint with a rainbow of iridescent colors.
I used to look at those girls and wonder if they really appreciated what it was like to have ten fingers.
And then I realized that most of us, myself included, often don't appreciate what we have until it is gone.
Most of us have a difference of some kind, be it physical or just inside. And along with that difference we may feel unworthy and insecure.
It's part of being human to feel like that.
Growing up I didn't talk much about only having one fully developed hand and one smaller hand that had a form of congenital amputation. For some reason the fingers just never grew properly. Only small buttons where those fingers were meant to be.
I didn't talk about it because in my family we just didn't get that real. We pretended that all was well, even when it wasn't. We pretended that we felt secure, even when we didn't.
I'm not sure how old I was before I realized that in this culture, and in most families, we long to have perfect children. All together children. Children we show off as an extension of ourselves. And if our children look good and perform well, then maybe we look even better in the process.
I spent years trying hard to look good and fit in.
I looked at other girls and thought they had it all together. I assumed that they felt secure and whole and worthy.
Looking back now, I can see that I was wrong.
In those days, no one came forth and said out loud that they were "one, big, hot mess." In those days no one said out loud that they were scared or insecure or so imperfect that they felt like they didn't belong anywhere.
We all longed to talk about who we really were, to lift the veil of pretending to have a perfect life. The truth was that we were all so far, far away from perfection.
Pretending to be perfect is draining and pointless
and unreal. It robs us of intimacy with other people.
Yet, perfection lies to us by saying...
"Don't let them see the real you. If they knew you
were a phony they would get up and leave, right this very minute."
The call to perfection is like that. We are in a catch twenty two. If I leave off telling you about the messy and beautiful parts of my life, I am lonely. If I tell you about those messy and beautiful parts of my life will you stick around to hold my hand through them?
We give others such a gift of grace when we allow them to be who they really are, no matter what.
And we give ourselves a gift of grace when we admit we are insecure and unsure and not so perfect after all.
One of the gifts of growing older is that I just don't have the energy to put up a false self any more. It's exhausting to do that. I've been there and that practice only wastes days that are precious. I don't have time, at 68, for any wasted days.
And like Glennon Doyle Melton says in her mind-blowing, authentic-to-the- core book Carry On Warrior,
"Here's my hunch: Nobody's secure, and nobody feels like she completely belongs." Amen to that, sister warrior!
Yesterday in my Conflict Management class I had an authentic, here's who I really am moment.
I mentioned that the most helpful thing I learned to do that improved how I did conflict management was to stop drinking. I mentioned that I had been clean and sober for over 26 years and that I would never take a drink again because it wasn't worth the risk that I might not take just one drink.
You could have heard a pin drop.
Sometimes when I am about half way through a quarter and it's appropriate with the curriculum content, I slide into first base and let out the fact that I have been through a divorce and that I don't use alcohol to make myself feel better.
When I say those words out loud I usually get a mix of responses. Sometimes clapping. Sometimes silence. Sometimes a look of "Did she really just say that?" Isn't that awfully real for a classroom.
Afterwards, after the dust settles, almost always someone comes up to where I am sitting and whispers...
"Could I talk to you about that...what you said about drinking? Didn't you worry that if you said that they would judge you? I'm too insecure to let it be known that I have a problem."
And I almost always say, in a corresponding whisper, the bravest thing you will ever do is to really be yourself.
It takes great courage to set aside your fear of "what will they think?" and then go and give that fear to God.
And then, with His grace, just be you.
Tell the truth about who you are and where you are. We are all in that insecurity boat together.
Our very honest insecurities, and the hole they leave in our heart, are a God-sized hole that only He can fill. Pretending to be perfect certainly doesn't fill that hole. It only makes it bigger.
When we share out loud and in writing and whisper in God's ear that we are scared and insecure and feel alone, we can feel His presence and love come flooding in. And we can also feel others move toward us. Those sisters and brothers on this same journey of being authentic and transparent.
Then we can hold someone's hand and say "You are not alone." And when that happens to me I can dance in the midst of how insecure I feel. And as Glennon says, "some people dance anyway, and those people have more fun."
And I am all about having more fun!
Today I give myself permission to feel insecure. I look insecurity in the face and wrap my arms around her. That little girl with just one hand pops up from time to time. Sad. Afraid. Terrified to be real.
I remind her to just be who she is. After all, God made her, one hand and all, and she is enough.
May God bless you and keep you and hold you in
the palm of His almighty hand!
"We are all just walking each other home." ...