Author: Joy York
Truly Seen – Part 2 of a series on courage
She walks into the room smiling wide, bravado and swagger in her stride.
She notes the girls all around, the glances of judgment, the words and sound.
Later she cries inside her room, the smile is gone, nothing but gloom.
The false face replaced, the tears too real, forgetting in time how to simply be real.
Validation, intimacy, connection- all require a hefty dose of courage. If courage is the response to fear, the fear of being truly seen for who we are is a mighty one. We become so practiced at our surface impressions that we forget that in order to have intimacy, it requires allowing others to ‘into me, see’? We can talk about fears of flying, public speaking and spiders, but I wonder if they truly impact day to day like our ability to be vulnerable and authentic with each other?
It’s a more obvious metaphor for most to use the physical self. Most people would be mortified to find themselves naked in front of a group of people- especially if they are unequally so. (Naked and afraid…) Our insecurities of body displayed for all to see, while not ranking in the top list of fears googled, perhaps it is just the rarity of it happening rather than lack of frightfulness (or maybe it’s a feminine issue). I think there is a parallel for our minds and souls. I have a tendency to be guarded. To reveal only reciprocally, and even then to measure out what is appropriate. I have an irritating tendency to want to be liked, to want to be admired. I want validation, intimacy and connection without the risk… But is that even possible?
What good is validation for a performance that doesn’t reflect who you are? What good is intimacy if based solely on an impression or carefully selected exposure? How can one connect without an opening of vulnerability, without a possibility of rejection? And how the heck can we get past the fear and find the courage to reflect our true selves?
There has been a poster campaign in my school based on good intentions of improving self-worth/esteem. One that I have seen frequently is “I am enough”. I even used it a few times myself, but something didn’t settle quite right. I have decided that I am not enough, but the I AM is enough. You see we are instructed as Christ followers to fear not, but also instructed to fear God. So the way I wrap my head around what seems a bit contradictory is to realize that I struggle to find my worth alone. I struggle to connect, to be authentic, to be vulnerable, but Jesus came so that I can do all these things through Him. He says, I am worthy because He is worthy. I am worthy because I am His daughter. I am worthy because He died for me.
I am still trying to figure out what that looks like in a room full of people that are showing their ‘togetherness’. And I mean that in the sense of ‘they have it all together’, because I wonder sometimes if the ones trying the hardest to appear together actually have struggles being together? Togetherness should really be about love and acceptance for each person in their part of the journey. The most courageous path is to follow that most important commandment of loving God and loving others. Loving God because He first loved us, loving others because God first loved us. 1 John 4:7a- Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.
In time one is found who listens without shame,
The revelation of love, the refocus of frame.
A love without condition, a love without end
Finally truth in the shape of a friend.