**I wrote this a few days ago and chickened out before posting...more to come...this is a journey in transparency...
An open rebuke
is better than hidden love!
Proverbs 27:5 (NLT)
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine quoted this verse to me...little did he know that verse would stick deep into my soul and cling to me like barbed wire... Of course, this verse is talking about care-fronting someone with the truth, even when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable...even if it puts your friendship in jeopardy.
However, there is a personal application that seems to be what causes this verse to reverberate through my core. For me, the meaning has a lot more to do with the "hidden love" part. I have never liked confrontation, when I was an RA in college and I had to confront people, it was VERY tough...but I would eventually work up the nerve and approach that person. Life is full of loving confrontation...alas, confrontation is unavoidable...especially if you really care about someone...sommetimes you just have to gently and lovingly point out their blindspot, for their own good. I have found that confrontation usually ends in one of two ways...
The first possible ending is that a friend or loved one will have an open heart and mind, they receive the rebuke and all is well again.
The second is probably the thing that everyone fears most about confrontation...rejection. Oh, rejection, the m'lady of the ages... the root word is a verb: to reject...defined as follows
1. to refuse to accept, acknowledge, use, believe, etc
2. to throw out as useless or worthless; discard
3. to rebuff (a person)
We all know that it much easier to reject (a verb) than to be on the receiving end of the noun, a state of being...and situation to be experienced...called rejection. Rejection, the act of being not accepted or acknowledged, being thrown out and made to feel useless or worthless...being discarded (or even disregarded as not a viable option)... We have all had ideas rejected. We have all had our resume or experience disregarded as non-applicable. We have all had our vulnerability thrown back in our face... Rejection is a place no one wants to visit and many people who do visit rejection find it difficult to return to assertiveness...
Ok, enough of my philosophical ramblings about rejection..I'm sure you get the point, it hurts and no one wants to be rejected, period. Hence the reason many people avoid confrontation.
So the first option is acceptance, the second option is rejection. Is there a third option? Quite possibly so. I have experienced that upon occasion, someone initially will reject the person that is confronting them, but eventually, after processing the information...they come to the conclusion that, yes, there is truth to their friend's assertion. Which brings me closer to my title...
A couple of years ago, another friend of mine made a very blunt statement (which is typical of her brutally honest, loving self)...she said (and I quote).
"Rachel, you tend to anticipate rejection."
Period. That was it. She did not even pose it as a question! And I, of course, immediately agreed with her. She is someone I trust dearly and we happened to be chatting about matters of the heart and I was trying to analyze myself (something I tend to do overly frequently). And it soon became something I was comfortable saying about myself...YET, I never took the time to process the concept of what it means...to anticipate rejection...
Lately, I have been doing a lot of people watching... I have noticed that most mature adults, especially those is committed healthy relationships, tend to trust people more easily...they tend to be vulnerable...they tend to let others know what is really going on inside of them...and they tend to do it as easily as taking a breath. I have found myself asking the question, how DO they do that? Please note that I used the words mature adults and healthy relationships (I am not so naive as to think all adults do this with ease). But, I'm learning that vulnerable and open communication and trust are a must in relationships.
Don't get me wrong, I am very good at giving people a glimpse into me...when it is necessary. I work with people...it is my passion...helping people find themselves, helping them find the Lord...helping them connect with His purpose... that is what I LOVE to do. However, in recent years, I have noticed (when I allow myself to be aware) that there is a vast difference between the things I know about others and what I allow them to know about me. I will share, but in a vague way, leave-it-to-your-own-interpretation kind of way...in a way that helps others, not in a way that helps me. There is a great divide...a chasm between my heart (the dreams, longings and desires that I keep locked away inside) and living up to the expectations and needs of others. Not a problem, you say? Well, boundaries are good, but hiding...not so good. There! I said it...I hide. AND, I think I hide because I am anticipating rejection...
According to dictionary.com, to anticipate means...
–verb (used with object)
1. to realize beforehand; foretaste or foresee: to anticipate pleasure.
2. to expect; look forward to; be sure of: to anticipate a favorable decision.
3. to perform (an action) before another has had time to act.
4. to answer (a question), obey (a command), or satisfy (a request) before it is made: He anticipated each of my orders.
5. to nullify, prevent, or forestall by taking countermeasures in advance: to anticipate a military attack.
6. to consider or mention before the proper time: to anticipate more difficult questions.
7. to be before (another) in doing, thinking, achieving, etc.: Many modern inventions were anticipated by Leonardo da Vinci.
–verb (used without object)
9. to think, speak, act, or feel an emotional response in advance.
When I looked it up, I realized how very much I do anticipate rejection. Anticipation is actually, and usually, a positive experience, something that intensifies pleasure. However, when juxtaposed with the word rejection, it is anticlimatic.Big words...I know :-) Basically, somewhere in between the concept of anticipating and the concept of rejection...there is a major fleeing sensation...a need to run for cover...and most accurately can become a deep sense of impending doom. Alright, drama queen, get to the point, right?
It is a powerful and ugly action too.What is absolutely ridiculous about this whole thing is that...I can say with full confidence that 99.9% of the time, people LOVE me. It's really bizarre because I can still remember being the new girl in kindergarten, I remember hiding. My first day of school, we went to recess and the other kids wanted to play with me but I turned my back to the playground, pressed my face against the chain-link fence and cried, the entire time! (Before you feel sorry for me, I did eventually make friend and I loved recess). Then again, in 7th grade, the worst school year ever, I had a girl named Angel (the antithesis of her name) who tormented me for months...she loved making fun of my face. Even in high school, I'll never forget when I took a friend with me to summer camp right before my senior year and she asked me why I was so different outside of school... You see, outside of school/society, I was the darling...everyone in the church world loved me... I was known for talking too much, etc. But at school , I made it my goal to be invisible...oh, I was always present...in fact, I was even involved in leadership all across campus... but I never let anyone into my heart. I gave and gave and lived to meet others expectations...to the point of pain.
Interestingly enough, I've often wrestled with the opposing question, "Do people only love me because of what I do for them?" What if I stopped being the "yes" woman...the to "go-to" person for everything (which I truly enjoy by the way).
I don't know if I am making any sense here...but I'm getting to the point...perhaps the area that has suffered the most from this anticipating rejection problem has been .... drumroll, please...trumpets (dundududAH)...my love life! Or, perhaps, more aptly put, my lack of a love life. I have always, ALWAYS heard this phrase (most often from men I admire)...
"Rachel, you are such an amazing woman...a gem, a treasure, a precious prize... (insert your own flattering remark)...you will make some man an amazing wife someday..."
And I think to myself...why thank you...why not you? Well, that was back in the day when I actually allowed myself to have close male friendships :-) Let's call that long season, the season of the broken heart... I'm sure this may sound like bitterness, but I assure you it is not... it was once...now what you hear in my voice is a questioning, uncertainty...why?
Let's back up, I always received those kinds of compliments because I was everything to these men...basically a third arm... I knew their thoughts and would finish their sentences... I loved them...genuinely, as truly as a friend could...because that's what I am supposed to do as a sister in Christ... but my feelings almost always transitioned into more... I made the mistake, once, of actually telling one of these dear men how I felt...and I will never do that again... he was the first of several heartbreaking friendships...platonic, one-sided friendships.
I am not still nursing those experiences, but they have been my reality, thus far, in my 26 years... I so wish that things were different, I wish that I had been able to experience godly Christian men in a way that still leaves my heart open...vulnerable. However, in recent years, I have dealt with this anticipated rejection...by hiding. Avoiding getting to know people, avoiding any real connection, trying to be invisible...while all the while...
HOPING Mr. Right...would SEE ME! and PURSUE me!
Haha, I know, what an oxymoron. Hiding, while hoping to be found. Wanting deep within my heart to know and be known...but hiding for fear of being rejected...for fear of being found wanting, not enough.
Ok, so let's bring it to the present...I was watching the Biggest Loser...a very inspiring show. But, let's face it, people get on the show because they are phyiscally in a drastic state of disrepair... Here was the beginning of my epiphony...most of these people had significant others... Now, don't judge me for confessing my next thought..."If these overweight people can have people who love them...why do I believe the lie that no one will love ME that way?"
To be honest, I am not quite sure the answer to that question. I have not been writing this so that people will feel sorry for me. Nor have I written this so that I will get some matchmaking help (although...nah) :-) No, I am writing because I want to quit hiding... I want this cycle of anticipating rejection to stop...I want to be free from this LIE once and for all...
Because, there is one more relatioship that this is effecting. It is the most important relationship of all...my relationship with God. For the past few years, I have often shared with confidants that I feel a certain sense of split personality when it comes to my spiritual life. I connect with God in a very real way whenever I am helping someone, when I am praying for people and ministering to them. But, when it's just me an Him, I feel MYSELF ( not Him) pulling away. Because no matter how much, I know the concept in my head...that God LOVES me...I still wrestle with feeling like I want to hide....feeling like intimacy with the One who knows me best...is impossible.
Somehow, I feel like being painfully honest and thinking out loud will help me get free. Let me clarify something...I love the Lord and I am certain that He loves me...but something is missing. Something is in between His heart and mine...something I am hiding behind... AND I'm not sure what it is... Plus, I know that I am not alone...I know others have felt this way before...or may be feeling it now...I want my journey to not hiding...to being vulnerable...to help you too!
So, this brings me to my thought about hidden love...if I love someone and hide it...it hurts worse than if I openly rebuke them. Who does it hurt? I don't want to hide anymore...I want to love with arms wide open... But for once, the girl with an answer for everything...is without one :-)
What about you? Are you anticipating rejection? Have you in the past? How do you stop anticipating...and starting being open?